Table of Contents
When starting out as a beginner, getting comfortable with the guitar can take a while. It’s not as easy as just picking it up and playing it. You have to get used to strumming and holding the instrument, keeping it balanced in your lap. But which leg should your guitar rest on?
Are you right-handed? Your guitar should rest on your right leg for most styles. If you are left-handed, then place the guitar on your left leg. These are the most comfortable positions when getting started.
At first, it might feel uncomfortable and cumbersome. As you practice, it will begin to feel more natural. But starting out in the right way is very important. In this article, we will explore when you should use different legs and why.
Guitar Leg Summary
- Natural Sitting Position: Resting the guitar on the right leg aligns with how most people naturally sit. Both feet are on the ground, providing a stable base for playing.
- Good for Strumming and Open Chords: This position places the guitar in an optimal location for strumming, which is a common technique for many guitarists. The left hand also finds it easier to form open chords in the first three frets.
- Neck Angle and Muscle Tension: When the guitar is on the right leg, the neck is almost parallel to the floor. This angle can cause the left hand to experience tension, especially when held for extended periods.
- Risk of Long-Term Health Issues: Ignoring the muscle tension and discomfort can lead to fatigue and, over time, may result in health issues related to the arms and hands. This is particularly concerning for those who practice for long durations.
- Ergonomic Benefits: Positioning the guitar on the left leg allows for a more ergonomic posture. Elevating the left leg or using a positioning device can angle the neck of the guitar closer to 45 degrees relative to the floor, reducing muscle tension in the arm and hand.
- Easier Access to Higher Frets: This position offers better access to the higher frets on the guitar neck, making it easier to play more technically demanding pieces. Classical guitarists often prefer this setup for this reason.
- Leg and Back Discomfort: Elevating the left leg can sometimes lead to discomfort in the leg and back muscles. This is especially true if a footstool is used for an extended period.
- Adjustment Period: For those transitioning from using the right leg, the left-leg position requires some time to get used to. The guitar body rests between the legs, similar to how a cello is positioned, and the neck is more to the left, requiring a different reach for the left hand.
Which Leg Should Your Guitar Rest On?
Each position can benefit a guitarist, depending on what it is you are playing and the skill level. The guitar can be played while resting on either leg. Each position will offer the player the benefit of better angles for your fret hand and more accurate picking, especially if done with your fingers.
If you have watched videos or seen pictures of guitar players, they don’t all rest the instrument on the same leg. And even if they are all strumming with the same hand, some hold it differently. Why is this?
This is because each side can offer a player different strengths. If your technique is pretty simple, you may only use one leg when playing. If you’re more advanced, you might use both legs for different techniques.
How To Hold a Guitar on Your Right Leg
If you are a right-handed guitarist, this should come naturally. In most cases, a player will simply put the instrument on their most comfortable leg.
For a left-hand player, it will go on the left leg, and will simply happen without instruction. We do this because it’s easy, and we have more control this way.
If you are a left-handed player, however, the right leg is new territory and difficult. And so if you are just getting started, you will want to focus on keeping it on your most comfortable leg, the left.
But if you are more advanced and are seeking to begin using the right, then you will want to focus on keeping the guitar centered to your body.
The idea here isn’t to place it on your right side far from your body, but center it and angle it slightly to be able to continue to access all the fret board. You will notice this means that your right plays a small part here as well.
By learning to use your legs correctly with the correct posture, the guitar will be centered to your body.
When learning to use the other side, you will begin to notice that this technique is similar to that when standing up. The angles are roughly the same. And so practicing using the right leg will help your ability to play even when standing up.
How Do You Hold a Guitar on Your Left Leg?
As a right-handed player, the left leg can open up more possibilities for you. If you place the guitar on your left and center it to your body, you will feel less strain on your fret hand.
The idea here is to angle the guitar slightly and not stick it out farther away from you. Use your right leg to offer some support as well.
This creates the ability for a more fluid motion when accessing the fret board. If you are a finger picker, this can also give you more control and accuracy. Even playing leads will be easier in this position once you have become comfortable with it.
And as we mention above, the more you play in this position, the easier it will get even standing up. The angles are similar to standing when playing on the left leg as a right-handed guitarist. So it will offer a double benefit when beginning to utilize more positions.
Classical Guitar Position
At first, you might find it almost impossible to start using the opposite leg. But remember what it was like when you first started playing. Even though the natural side was more comfortable, it still took time to learn how to hold the guitar.
This is no different and so it’s important to have patience with yourself as this new position does have some benefits like:
- It will make it easier to stretch your fingers apart
- Your strumming hand will move with more accuracy
- Your wrist will take less strain and less damage over time
There are also tools that can help you successfully get a better grip on this new position. For some players who are learning classical guitar, they are taught to have their opposite leg set higher, and so when starting you may want to consider doing the same.
Classical Vs Casual Guitar Position
When getting started learning to play, you will want to place the guitar on the leg that is most comfortable. This would be the right side for right-handed players. This is because it’s the most natural and casual way to hold the instrument, which is why it’s most common.
Balancing the instrument is much easier this way when getting used to holding the guitar. Your body is then able to be in a more relaxed, comfortable position, which is easier on your back and muscles.
Beginners can benefit from this because it’s the easiest way to get accustomed to holding the guitar initially.
This doesn’t mean you cannot branch out later on and learn to use your other leg. It’s simply the best way to learn how to control the instrument and work on intermediate tasks.
If you are a more advanced player, we do suggest you begin to try using the other leg or classical position, as the different angles for both hands can offer strength in technique.
It might feel difficult at first, but after you do it for an extended period and your body gets used to the new position, you will begin to find the benefits.
Guitar Foot Stools
Classical guitarists are taught to use their opposite leg almost from the beginning because it can require more technical playing. The benefits we spoke of above are just a few of the things that are important to a classical player.
A guitar foot stool can help lift your left or right leg up just enough to help offer additional support and better angles. This will make it feel a little more natural as it changes the way your body is positioned and how the instrument will sit.
And so if you are planning to improve your skill level by trying the other leg. We suggest you begin using a foot stool as they can really help make it more comfortable and a bit more natural feeling. The angle at which the guitar will rest will be a bit better as well.
Just like anything, practice is required to get it right and see the benefit. Get yourself a foot stool and start working on learning to feel comfortable in this new position.
You will feel the benefit in your wrist almost immediately, but in order to truly get comfortable, you will need to spend time. So which leg should your guitar rest on? You should now be able to decide what’s right for you.
Does it matter which leg you rest your guitar on?
This doesn’t really matter, no. While resting a guitar on either leg presents some benefits, it really comes down to what you are more comfortable with. It is worth exploring as you get better as a player to see what each leg has to offer.
But when you are just getting started, place the guitar on the leg that is most comfortable, as you have other things to work on first.
Should you cross your legs when playing guitar?
This depends on if it makes the guitar more comfortable to play. If you decide that crossing your legs is right for yo, then by all means you should do so. If you are using a guitar foot stool and crossing your legs, this might be tougher.
But try it out, if you find it helps you, then work on crossing your legs when you play. If not, just keep it conventional.