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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!

Guitar Finger Stretching Exercises

Scales Can Be Boring. Here’s a Better Way to Practice Them.

I know, I know, sometimes practicing those scales can get a little monotonous.

But, it is a necessity if you need to get better at guitar.

I really don’t think there is any realistic way around it.

However, I learned a long time ago when I was figuring these scales out that I can “spice it up” a little.

So, I would practice them in a slightly different way by playing the notes in different orders.

It kept my interest up. And as a bonus it helped with my coordination and dexterity too.

One exercise that I really like, and one that I teach my private lesson students, are what I call “Quads”.

It is simply ascending the scale 4 notes at a time, where your first note for each pattern ascends one at a time.

Kinda like this: note 1- note 2- note 3- note 4, then: note 2- note 3- note 4- note 5, then: note 3- note 4- note 5- note 6, etc.

Here is a picture of the 5 Major Scale patterns (courtesy of the Guitarists Scale Book by Peter Vogt):

I made a TAB with the first form you see above using the G Major scale as an example. Click the link and check it out:

Quad Pattern TAB

In the video below I use one major scale pattern to use as an example.

But you can use in on any major scale pattern.

You can also use it on any minor scale pattern.

Heck, you can use it on any scale pattern.

Have fun!

***As an added bonus and challenge: start using a metronome for this exercise. Use a tempo that works for you by playing each note on the click.***

Good luck!

Pay Attention to What’s Going on Behind the Curtain!

If you have ever been to an awesome concert, play, musical, etc., it is often the players/actors on the stage that get the accolades.

It makes sense though because that is what you see. That is usually what grabs your primary attention and is what you experience.

It’s why you go to the show.

Even with a great light show, it’s the lights that have your attention.

However, without all the “behind the scenes” stuff working at 100%, it won’t matter how good the actors are, how good the band is, or how high tech the lighting system is, the show will still suffer. 

A horrible soundman can really kill a concert (I know, been there, done that). A light guy/girl who doesn’t know what they are doing, can make a lighting presentation so bad to really distract from all the other awesome things going on stage.

Without everything behind the stage operating and full and excellent capacity, the show doesn’t go on. At least not in the way it should and could.

It’s like that with playing guitar.

Your fingers are where the magic happens. It’s where the melodies are made. It’s where the notes are picked or strummed.

It’s what the audience sees and can really be wowed over. They are the actors.

But there are behind the scenes things we need to be aware of or else we simply won’t play good.

For us guitarists, we need to be aware of how our wrists are positioned, where our thumb is set, how relaxed our elbow and arm is. We need to be sure we aren’t engaged in too much “body english” or having our guitar drift away from us while playing.

You see, all of that behind the scenes stuff mattersA lot.

Do a self check and see how you are doing. Video and/or pictures help. Be critical of how you are playing guitar.

Here is a short video where I go over this stuff while showing how to play the chromatic scale. It’s an older video and was mostly about how to play the scale. But I think that you should also watch it for some of the “behind the scenes” stuff you need to be aware of on guitar.

Click the link:

Behind the Scenes on the Chromatic Scale on Guitar

I hope it helps you be a better player!

Plus, if you want to take your playing to the next step and get those fingers in excellent shape, check out my full free course here: Guitar Finger Gymnastics

Rock On,

Tony G.

PS: Oh and hey, can you do me a favor? I’m starting a mission to grow my You Tube Subscribers to more than 149 (Ha!). No, seriously, if you can quickly hop over there and “Subscribe”, it would be so very awesome! When you subscribe, you get real time updates when videos are posted. You might find something useful and/or fun!

I promise that the videos (most of them at least) will be entertaining and/or informative!

Here is the path to arrive there:

6 String Corner