Before we can do anything we have to learn how to hold a guitar properly, the guitar string names, and proper tuning of the guitar strings. Proper holding of the guitar allows allows for ease of movement and protection from injury. Knowing the string names is important to knowing what strings to strum and pluck as well finger placement on those strings. And finally, proper tuning is required for proper reproduction of how the notes should sound when played.
How To Hold A Guitar – Standard Right Leg Position
1) Sit up straight.
2) Hold the guitar against the body where the right leg meets the hip. Using a footstool or prop can help elevate the right knee higher than the hip. This keeps the guitar from sliding down your leg. Wearing a strap helps this too. The strings should face the audience, not you. I know beginners want to see the strings but tilting the guitar towards your head is bad for the left hand.
3) The neck of the guitar should elevate at a slight angle and the head stock should face the area of the left knee.
4) For electric guitars, place your right forearm (not bicep) over the edge of the guitar and the right palm on top of the bridge at a 40-50 degree angle. We will use the bridge as an anchor and pivot point for alternate picking.
5) For acoustic guitars, place your right forearm (not bicep) over the edge of the guitar with half of your right hand over the sound hole and the other half over the wood at a 40-50 degree angle . Your right hand should float about a quarter inch or less above the strings.
How To Hold A Guitar – Classical Style
1) Sit near the edge of the seat with good posture.
2) Adjust the footstool so that your left knee is higher than your hip.
3) Place the side of the guitar on your left leg with the back of it against your body. The headstock should be near eye level causing the neck to tilt at a 40-50 degree angle.
4) Place right forearm (not bicep) over the edge of the guitar with half of your right hand over the sound hole and the other half over the wood at a 40-50 degree angle . Your hand should float about a half inch or less over the strings. Electric guitar players have the option of placing right hand on the bridge.
5) When using a strap adjust it to make sure the guitar is in the general position discussed under standard right leg position.
I recommend that you use an electronic clip on tuner at first to tune your guitar. I will cover manual tuning later on as we become more familiar with the guitar.
For now just follow the instructions provided. Do a search on Youtube for the particular tuner you have. There may be an instructional video for your tuner available. This video works for the Intellitouch PT 10 tuner. Most tuners work in the same way as you will see in my video.