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Settling in to a sitting position

To hold the guitar in a sitting position, assuming you’re right-handed, rest the waist of the guitar on your right leg. (The waist is the indented part between the guitar’s upper and lower bouts, the protruding curved parts that look like shoulders and hips.) Feet slightly apart, balance the guitar by lightly resting your right forearm on the bass bout, as shown in Figure 2-1. Don’t use the left hand to support the neck. You should be able to take your left hand completely off the freeboard without the guitar dipping toward the floor.

Classical guitar technique, on the other hand, requires you to hold the instrument on your left leg, not on your right. This position puts the center of the guitar closer to the center of your body, making the instrument easier to play, especially with the left hand. That’s because your wrist is straighter, so you can better execute the difficult fingerings of classical-guitar music in that position. You also elevate the classical guitar, which you can do either by raising the left leg with a specially made guitar foot stool (the traditional way) or by using a support arm, which goes between your left thigh and the guitar’s lower side (the modern way). This device enables your left foot to remain on the floor and instead pushes the guitar up in the air.

To stand and play the guitar, you need a strap that is securely fastened to both strap pins on the guitar (or otherwise tied to the guitar). Then you can stand in a normal way and check out how cool you look in the mirror with the guitar slung over your shoulder. You may need to adjust the strap to get the guitar at a comfortable playing height.

If your strap slips off a pin while you’re playing in a standing position, you have about a fifty-fifty chance of catching your guitar before it hits the floor (and that’s if you’re quick and experienced with slipping guitars). So don’t risk damaging your guitar by using an old or worn strap or one with holes that are too large for the pins to hold securely.

Conclusion

Guitars aren’t built to bounce, as Pete Townshend has demonstrated so many times. Your body makes a natural adjustment in going from a sitting to a standing position. So don’t try to overanalyze where your arms fall, relative to your sitting position. Just stay relaxed and, above all, look cool. (You’re a guitar player now! Looking cool is just as important as knowing how to play . . . well, almost.) Figure 2-2 shows a typical standing position.

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