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playing guitar with good posture

Guitar Posture Problems: 4 Ways to Correct Them

Guitar posture problems can be a real pain.

When you are playing songs on guitar (or any instrument), you know you are in the moment when you put your whole self into it.

Everything is really clicking.

Moments like that are really awesome.

But, there are also times when putting our whole self into it can be detrimental to our playing.

Let me explain:

Many times we suffer from what I like to call Poor Guitar “Body English”.

And it can really hinder our playing and prevent any reasonable progress in our playing. It can be one of the main reasons our songs don’t always sound good, or a lead line just isn’t right, or that those chords don’t sound clear.

I do see it more with beginner players (which is normal) but I also see it with many who took on bad habits learning on their own or via the internet.

So what is Bad Guitar “Body English”?

While much importance is put on how we place our fingers on the strings, what can be missed is how our guitar posture can affect our playing.

And that matters. Poor guitar posture problems like, moving our arms, shoulders, and elbows in unnecessary ways really don’t help those fingers do what they need to do.

Here are some examples of Bad Guitar “Body English” . At the end, I’ll show you the right way.

Check your own self to see how you are doing.

Guitar Problem #1: Rock Star Drift

This guitar posture problem is the one where as you play, your left arm starts drifting, thus pulling the guitar neck further and further from your body.

I see this a lot. Now, if you want to do your best hair band rock move, by all means, go ahead and make that move! But that is all for effect. You can’t really play well always looking like that.

As you drift your arm further and further away, it becomes harder and harder to play those tough chords or melodies. You don’t give your fingers (or your thumb and wrist for that matter) any chance to play correctly.

What you really want to do is make sure you keep that arm back in a relaxed, comfortable position. The key word is to “relax”.

Guitar Problem #2: Shoulder Drop

Here is another one of those guitar posture problems I see with students. This oftentimes happens when we are trying real hard to play a song or work on something real difficult.

So, there is this natural tendency to want to “put our shoulder into it”. Thus, the shoulder tends to drop.

Relax! Yes, relax your shoulder! You don’t really need it much to play your guitar.

It will make your playing life so much better!

Guitar Problem #3: Elbow Swing

Bad Elbow In:

Bad Elbow Out:

Good Elbow:

Sometimes, while trying to get that barre chord to sound right (or any chord, really), the left elbow sometimes wants to compensate and twist and turn.

If you catch yourself doing it, stop! Relax (this seems to be a common theme?) your elbow! It shouldn’t swing out or in.

In fact, one simple test for not swinging inward is to imagine sticking a small pillow between the elbow and torso. It should easily fit there. If not, change it.

Guitar Problem #4: Sit Up!

Yes, just like your mom might have said: “sit up straight and stop slouching!”

While you don’t have to sit up straight like a board, if you end up slouching on the couch too much while playing or practicing, you will either simply play bad, or pick up some really bad habits that will ultimately hinder your progress.

So, sit up! Or, simply stand up, that works too. Your fingers (and your mom) will appreciate it!

Guitar Success: You Look Marvelous!

If you aren’t sure, look in a mirror while playing. Sometimes it can be hard to really see how you look with the guitar.

Often you will see some of that Poor Guitar Body English show up and you can adjust to correct it.

Once you get this down, techniques like strumming your guitar or playing barre chords get much easier!

I hope this helps make you more successful in your playing!Have fun!

Rock on until the next time!

Some Songs to Play to Help You Play Better

I have always felt that songs and/or riffs can be some of the most effective ways of learning and improving on guitar. Here are a couple I want to share with you. One will be mostly for all of you beginners out there. The other one is for those who want to be challenged a bit more.

Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin)

I asked this question a few weeks ago: who doesn’t want to rock out to some Zeppelin?

Ok, even if you don’t, how about a cool lick to learn?

Jimmy Page had come up with so many great, memorable licks and songs.

Here is one that I think that even if you are a beginner, you should be able to figure it out.

It could still be a challenge for you. If so, think of it this way, when you overcome this challenge, think about how much better you will be for it!

TIP: always slow down videos that you are learning from so that you can get it right. Do it to this video if it is necessary

Here ya go!

Whole Lotta Love

Here’s the TAB that contains the main parts: Whole Lotta Love TAB

YYZ (Rush)

Yep, here is one that will challenge you if you are up for it!

Slow the video down if you need to. The song isn’t the easiest to play, I know.

But I also know that some of you want a BIG challenge.

Well, here you go

Have fun with it!

I hope this helps make you more successful in your playing!Have fun!

Rock on until the next time!

Guitar Finger Exercise Stretching

Guitar Finger Exercises: Stretching to a Song

Getting the fingers in shape using finger exercises should always be a top priority when learning and playing guitar.

I have a ton of exercises that I use with students to help them get their fingers in shape.

However, I think that some of the most fun ways of doing that are learning parts of songs.

For me, it keeps the interest going plus I will have learned a new song to boot!

Finger stretching is one of those things that you really need to keep up with as a guitarist.

There are many songs out there from blues to pop to prog that will require some degree of stretching the fingers. And, if you aren’t fully stretched out, you will have difficulty playing them.

Warm Up Exercise

So, when getting the fingers ready to even play these “stretchy” songs, you need to always warm up!

Let me repeat: always warm up!

This is so true before doing any stretchy type of riffs/songs on the guitar. But really, warm ups should always be a thing.

Do things like the following:

  • Do a chromatic scale warmup.
  • Go over a scale you are learning. Or one that you know that is a favorite.
  • Play some simple songs that you are familiar with.

What you could also do is go to a Guitar Gymnastics Course and take up on some exercises you can work out with. Just click on the link below, enter your email (don’t worry, no spam crap here. I’ll send you some more tips later if you want them, that’s it).

Start Stretching Exercises

After you warm up, you can work on those stretches!

Here is one article I wrote about this very subject that might help:

Guitar Finger Exercises: Stretch Your Way to Success

A “Guitar Exercise” Song for You

Now try this popular song to test your “stretchy-ness”.

Some of you might be ready for it.

Some of you might not. If that is you, don’t be intimidated by this song. It will simply take you longer but the journey will be oh, so worth it! In fact, I strongly encourage you to take it slow! Just work on one part of the riff until you have it. Then go to the next and so on. You have heard the saying that the greatest journey begins with a single step. Make this one one of your single steps!

Important: also, as you watch the video, be sure to watch how my left and right hands are positioned on the guitar. Specifically the wrist and thumbs. Are they bent or pressing in ways that are making it difficult? Do a self check on that. Watch how I am positioned and do your best to mimic what I am doing.

Ok, enough of that. Now on to the song. Here is the familiar riff to Message in a Bottle by The Police.

Have fun!

Grab the TAB here: Message In a Bottle TAB.

Note it says (Another) Guitar Finger Stretch.

I have another one that will be more challenging if you are up for it. Stay tuned, I’ll send it soon. (Or you can simply look at my You Tube Playlist and look for it).

Rock On,