View Full Version : Position with electric guitar

09-11-2003, 08:51 PM
I have a classical guitar for 4 months, and I'm feeling very comfortable with it. I can play for hours without pain in the back (pain in the hand and wrist muscles is another thing, but that gets better as my muscles get stronger).

But I couldn't stay only with a classical guitar, I had to have an electric to play all those nice rock songs and licks. So I got myself a strat copy (G210) from Cort, and it's really a nice guitar for the price, but I just can't figure out how to play it in a comfortable way :(
With the strap, it's too heavy on my shoulders, and I end up with back pain very quickly. Also I feel the guitar is not half stable as my classical (which I play both in classical and casual position) and it's much more difficult to make even a simple chord change.
Without the strap, it's a bit more stable (resting on my right leg) but I have to crawl more on the guitar and again... back pain. And I can't rest it on my left leg to use the classical position coz it falls down, I didn't find a stable position either.

For the moment, I'm thinking it's because I'm used to the thicker body of the accoustic guitars, that almost stays up by itself, and on which I can rest my right arm, adding more stabilisation (? I really need to work on my english grammar :) and also give me more control on my right hand by the angle it falls on the guitar.
The strat feels veeery thin to me, like a toy, in every way, except the weight : the fretboard (where do I stick this thumb I used to hide behind like in classical position ? How do I not touch the next string with my fingers that feel really thick all of a sudden ? :), the body (on what can I rest my right arm now ?), the strings (the feeling of the nails against those long "nives" is really strange)...
So I thought maybe I needed a hollow-body electric, like the jazz axes (ES-335, ES-175, etc). I tried one at my favorite shop and indeed it feels nicer to play, but then the sound is not as versatile as a Strat... (though, do some of you play rock songs with a hollow body guitar and like it better that way ?)

That's where I'm stuck. Heeelp ! I want to be able to play a strat (half of the songs on this planet were played on a strat :), but really don't know how you do it...


09-11-2003, 11:14 PM
Thats weird, I had electric for 2 months and I just bought accoustic and I dont feel comfortable in sitting position. I would play in sitting position. make sure the chair is not too high.
With strap you have to bring the guitar as high as you can ( and still playable) dont move the guitar too low and not too high.
But again accoustic has a bigger body than electric, so I am surprised you have problem while sitting down and playing.

09-12-2003, 12:07 AM
I have just recently discovered the method of playing with the guitar on my left leg. I love this position because it helps me play better at the higher registers of the fretboard. It also places the guitar at the same position as when I stand up.

I would recommend using a strap while sitting and adjusting it to just barely rest on your leg. That way, the guitar will not slip off and there will not be too much tension on your shoulder. That's the way I do it at least. I never play without the strap... it helps me to be used to it and keeps me from dropping my guitar. I can also lean back in the chair if I get tired and the guitar stays at the same position.

09-12-2003, 01:14 AM
It gets a while to get used to playing with the strap and standing. I used to see many rock guitarist strap their guitar so low that it almost touch their knees, and it looks cool. But when I tried that, I couldn't even touch the thicker string. So maybe you have to adjust the strap length to suit yourself.

Classical guitar have wider neck. I also find myself having difficulty pressing narrow neck when I switch guitar previously. But narrow neck also allow you to move to the next string with a shorter distance, and thus faster. I guess it's about getting used to it.

Bongo Boy
09-12-2003, 04:43 AM
I only have a hollow and a semi-hollow right now, but even with these 'light' guitars I had lots of trouble too. Got a 3" wide leather strap (about 8cm wide) and it really makes a difference.

The Bash
09-12-2003, 05:48 AM
Personally I always stand.
If I do sit from time to time I use classical postion.
From a standing point of view if u do somthing the same way for long enough you'll get use to it.

My guitar's not at the knees cause I can hardly reach it there, so ya gotta use common sense. If you don't have arms like say jimmy page u may not even be able to even touch it down there.

As far as where to put it its up to what u feel comfortable with.
Which is your question :)
I think to be real comfortable with anything takes time.
But techincally the guitar may be easier to reach/play if its higher (though it may not look as cool).
However, I find playing rock it helps not having it too high.
One is the attitude u get from having it lower.

Two I find I'm more relaxed and can move the guitar around to get what I need better that real high where I feel seatbelted in.

My guitar sits at about the beltbuckle.
I tried rasing it a bit and though it made somethings easier it made other things (at least to me) harder. Plus I didn't feel as comfortable. Then there's that attitude thing again and I belive if your gonna play rock ya gotta have attuitude.

09-12-2003, 05:58 AM
I'd say a 3" wide strap is really a good way to go. Always use the strap, sitting or standing. The rest of it takes time and practice to get familar with a strat versus the classical.

09-12-2003, 03:14 PM
First, thanks to all for your quick answers to such a whining post :)

Nothing that I haven't tried (I already spent countless hours changing position, strap length, angle of the guitar, etc.), but at least it conforts me in the way it has to be played. Sometimes, I tend to forget the one and only principle of guitar : perfect practice makes perfect. I also searched for weeks before finding the perfect position for my classical guitar... I guess it'll just take months for the electric. In the guitar world, nothing ever goes as fast as one wishes anyway, patience is the key. Although maybe I really wasn't made to play a strat (God d**n it, Mom & Dad !) ;)

Originally posted by Bongo Boy
I only have a hollow and a semi-hollow right now, but even with these 'light' guitars I had lots of trouble too. Got a 3" wide leather strap (about 8cm wide) and it really makes a difference.
I think I'll get the wide strap as soon as I get out of work (the guitar shop is less than 500m away :D ) It's true that the Strat is very heavy.
What hollow and semi-hollow guitars do you have, Bongo ? Why did you chose them in the first place ? What made them troublesome ? The weight, the scale of the body, your arms position ? Give me some details please, I'm very interested in your point of vue. (also you're always so technical it's a delight to read from you :*)


09-12-2003, 07:04 PM
Originally posted by chris
I have just recently discovered the method of playing with the guitar on my left leg.
You just made yourself a new friend : Jamey Andreas ;)

Originally posted by chris
I would recommend using a strap while sitting and adjusting it to just barely rest on your leg. That way, the guitar will not slip off and there will not be too much tension on your shoulder.

I just bought a wide thick nubuk imported canadian strap, as many of you cleverly advised me to do, and followed your exact advice : the guitar now feels stable and I'm not feeling back pain !
Yes !
I had tried that with my previous strap (a 5cm - 2inches soft tissue strap from Fender), but clearly the width and hardness of the new leather strap changes everything in stability !

It's kind of weird to think I play my classical guitar in casual position and my electric in classical position, but I'll get used to the idea (and the feeling) :)

I watched a Carlos Santana concert on TV last month (very instructive and inspiring to see that guy play all style of guitars with great mastership), and he was using a kind of full height stand for his classical guitar. It was holding all by itself, and Mr Santana was coming with his arms around the guitar to play. Kind of giving a hug to his axe :D
I'd love one of those stands (are those what I saw called A-frames somewhere ?) to play my electric guitar ;)

As for the width of the fretboard, as loveguitar says it takes some time to get used to the change from classical to electric and vice-versa... It's kind of weird as a beginner, I guess I better stick to one guitar for a practice session, maybe even for a week before turning to the other, coz "dive bombing" the chords is a total mess every time. Also I find barre chords easier to do on the classical guitar (I played much more barres on it).

On the topic of practice (which was active a few days ago here at IBM forums), some exercices I prefer on the electric while others are better on the classic. For example, I find scales are much more fun on the electric, coz you can shift positions easily up to the 20th fret, and it's also easier to play, due to action and many other factors (I never heard of anybody shredding on a classical guitar ;)
For bossa nova, it's obviously only playable on the classical guitar. Although I once played some bossa on a jazz electric guitar, and it sounded strange at first but not bad :)
Maybe I should continue this topic on the appropriate thread, but what do you all practice on each style of guitar ?

Thank you all, once more, for the overload of wisdom you gently gave me :)


09-12-2003, 08:03 PM
left knee with left leg raised about 6 inches, either have a low seat or get a little footrest. No problems then