Guitar Sitting and Hand Positions Tutorial

It’s important to learn and use the correct sitting and hand positions when playing guitar. Whether you are just starting or trying to improve your playing, it’s a good idea to revisit the basics periodically.


There are a number of possible sitting positions which will work well. You can adopt the classical sitting position or use a crossed leg setup. I use both depending on the situation and the music I’m playing.

The classical sitting position requires that you sit with your left leg raised. You do this by sitting your foot on a footstool. Having this leg raised allows the neck of the guitar to also be raised, giving you easy access to the frets all the way up the fretboard. I have also found that when sitting in this position I can get better hand set up and reach of my fingers.

The crossed leg position has you sitting with your right leg crossed over your left. The guitar sits more to your side but points outwards. I find I used this when playing more flamenco styles and also in inform gigs and rehearsals. I might switch to crossed leg set up when I’m taking a break from the classical position which can put your lower back under a bit of strain. I should also add that you need to take regular breaks from any sitting position and move around and stretch to stay healthy and aligned.

Hand Positions

The Right Arm should lean on the top of the guitar above the sound hole. The arm extends outwards a little to allow for some space under the hand. When the fingers pluck the strings they need to move in the direction of the guitar and therefore you need some ‘swing space’ for your fingers to go after striking the string.

The Left Arm will move up and your left hand will be mainly facing up. This will allow your fingers to spread out correctly and efficiently. The fingers will spread out and touch the strings at different angles in a fan shape. You will be working on getting the fingers moving more than your entire hand and arm. This will be difficult at first but over time it becomes an efficient way of playing.

Points to Remember

  • Use gravity to help you push down onto the string as a leverage
  • Allow for space under the neck of the guitar so that your hand is not cramped
  • keep a straight wrist.
  • Avoid pulling at the strings
  • don’t have the guitar perpendicular to your body.
  • You don’t need to see your entire finger so don’t crank your neck.
  • Be aware of tension in your hands, and arms.
  • You don’t need to press down very hard but it might feel that way at first.
  • Keep a relatively straight back.


Practice moving in and out of ‘default’ position. This will help you orient your hands to the instrument, and get a feel for where everything is.

Practice grabbing the guitar with your left hand to see what is the most natural shape of your left hand.

Google ‘classical guitarist or ‘flamenco guitarist ‘ to see the default position in other guitarists.

Become familiar with hand function and where the various muscles are that control them.

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