How High to Wear The Guitar?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by acemcguire, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. avincent52`

    avincent52` Member

    Dec 7, 2006
    How you wear your guitar can save your life...

    My friend Wayne Henderson is a virtuoso bluegrass/old time player, and he wears his guitar very high, the way most pickers in that style do. It's actually a very efficient position. (link below, great playing, funny joke)

    But a couple years ago, the guitar started rubbing on a little spot on his chest.
    He went to the doctor about his blood pressure, and the doc suggested checking it out. (lucky coincidence #2) It turns out that he had breast cancer. Really. It's very rare in guys but it does happen now and again. (And FWIW, Wayne's plenty "testosterony" and he's got a plenty hairy chest.)

    The good news. The brother of one of his mandolin customers is the best breast surgeon in the southeast, and has actually treated a number of male breast cancer patients. The course of the disease "seems" worse in men because they and their doctors ignore it until the tumor is the size of a baseball.
    But when it's detected early, as it was because of Wayne's dreadnought, it's very treatable and he's now fully cancer free.

    When the doctor was discussing treatment options, he said that if he had surgery there'd be no need for chemo or radiation, but he'd lose his nipple.
    Wayne said, "That's no big deal, doc. I ain't never used it for nothing before."

    He's one of my dearest friends and I'm forever grateful to that old guitar.

  2. onemind

    onemind Member

    Oct 28, 2004
    Oceanside, NY
    My good friend and teacher Adam often gigs with an old small bodied steinberger guitar, He wears it high enough that it resembles a bow tie!
  3. jeffrey827

    jeffrey827 Member

    May 10, 2008
    i think you should wear it wherever you want. as long as it is comfortable and your wrist can flex around the guitar without your thumb poppin out over the neck you should be fine. i like to wear my guitar down pretty low but it really depends on what type of guitar you have. if it like a acoustic guitar which is pretty thick than you probably need to wear it higher. if it is a strat which is the smallest of the small(full size) then you can wear it lower. yea.
  4. henry_the_horse

    henry_the_horse Member

    Feb 8, 2007
    I usually measure the length of the strap by playing the guitar while sitting and placing my left foot on a guitar stool. I stretch the strap up to where the guitar does not dance too much over my thigh, then I stand up and make the strap shorter if the guitar is being scratched by the belt buckle. When I use an archtop or acoustic guitar I take my belt off.

    I have found after many years of classical guitar studing, that this is the most comfortable and ergonomic position for me. Arms, hand bridge, finger joints and armpit relax and set naturally over the guitar with no strain.

    I use to wear the guitar lower, Slash style, but after 4 non-stop working hours at bars and pubs my hand crampped in such a way that I felt I had lost it for the night. The pain and strain was unbearable, and I had to keep on singing and cover for the lack of lead guitar. After some massages everything went easier and that was goodbye for me to Slash-land.
  5. spjoker

    spjoker Member

    Feb 18, 2007
    What I've always heard was..1st set the guitar on your lap/leg. 2nd put the strap on and adjust to equal height..3rd stand up and it should fall at about the same point as it would if you were sitting down.
  6. njhead

    njhead Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    my strap supports the weight of the guitar whether sitting or standing. that way all those hours spent practicing actually count for something at the gig!
  7. jzguitar

    jzguitar Member

    Jun 23, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Great thread - one of those things that doesn't always get discussed but is just as important as pedals, tubes, etc.... I usually sit when I practice so I try to find a comfortable middle ground between where the guitar is when sitting and having it be low enough to not look completely goofy (although I'm caring less and less about that lately!).
    However, when we've done TV stuff where we are "air-guitaring" to tracks, I've always lowered the strap a few inches for some extra cool factor. I can't play for crap with it that low, though.
    A buddy of mine is out with Dream Theater and they built little foot risers for Petrucci for the specific purpose of giving him a way to raise up the guitar for difficult passages. I seem to remember them being cool looking diamond-plate material and costing as much as a really nice amp!
  8. ljdsam

    ljdsam Member

    Jan 1, 2008
    Sheffield, UK.
    I saw a clip on Youtube (now removed for some reason) of some guy soloing over a melodic passage, and one of the licks he played I decided to learn.

    But I can't play it unless I'm sat bending over the guitar - my fingers won't stretch far enough.
    However wearing the guitar that high, as was said before, = bowtie!

    ..and repeat a couple of times at full speed.

    Nice riff! Doubt Slash could do it with his guitar round the knees.
  9. aaron1433

    aaron1433 Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I practice sitting down a lot, with a footstool. I go high when I use a strap. Fashion trends be damned.
  10. NateFreezy

    NateFreezy Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    Richmond, VA
    Anyone have any good pics of Page/ Slash etc. with the guitar slung really low?

    Oh, what about Hetfield? Just in terms of looks, doesn't get any cooler for me than the low-slung explorer c. 1989 (ah, and to be able to downpick like that...)

  11. bsuite

    bsuite Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    That's pretty low but, Doug Pinnick (king'sx) has got to be the lowest I've seen.
    man. I don't know how he does it.

  12. DSnellen79

    DSnellen79 Member

    Nov 2, 2009
    I think it depends on what your playing (style). If your James Hatfield or Green Day that only plays power chords then play it as low as you want. However if your a real technical player i.e. jazz, blues, some rock and maybe even some county stuff your going to play a little higher up. I used to play a little low. For me that was with the guitar centered on my belt buckle. That was low for me. I now play higher with the guitar on my belly just under my rib cage. I find that I can reach the higher fret board better and can play some of the licks a little better. I think playing around your knees looks stupid. My brother-in-law plays too. He plays a little low but if you watch him he stands all bent over and knees bent like he is trying to reach his guitar while its trying to get away from him. Its almost as if he is playing the guitar on his lap! its kinda funny, I'm going to have to give him slack now. I read somewhere that you should play the guitar the same as if you were seated and in your lap. The guitar shouldn't move between the two positions. In general I think the more technical players play higher than those that are not so technical. However there are exceptions like Slash. I know I couldn't play like that guy no matter how high my guitar is.
  13. SRVYJM

    SRVYJM Member

    Jun 20, 2008
    Medium low for me. I find if I play too high it really starts to hurt my right shoulder. My right arm has to be really relaxed to play a set, and I sit with my guitar during practice so it's between my legs (classical style) but about the same height as when I stand.


    This is back a couple of years ago when my hair was longer, but none the less this is where I hang my guitar still. This is actually a little higher then I currently play live. It's not Jimmy Page low, but it's lower then most, and I can play some pretty complicated chords just fine with no pain or without stretching too much.

    I should add though, if I play my Les Paul, it's practially Jimmy Page low. I find that the Les Paul hangs much more naturally lower, and because of the arched top, raised bridge and angled back neck, it's actually a LOT easier to play low then a Strat is. The Strat to me naturally hangs with the neck and strings lined up with my belt, the Les Paul lower then that, since it's much heavier and does not have the contours.
  14. Mickey Shane

    Mickey Shane apolitical Silver Supporting Member

    Nov 24, 2005
    Denton, Texas
  15. barryg_nyc

    barryg_nyc Member

    Aug 22, 2009
    New York
    I'm with the "same height seated or standing" crowd.
    But thought I'd post this photo from Metallica at the RnR HoF concert.
    Their bass player, Robert Trujillo, played the show with his bass down around his knees (see him on left side of pic).
    He must have close to a 7' wingspan or something, as I can't imagine playing that low, even with it angled up as he has it.

  16. cugel

    cugel Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    eugene oregon
    i am not a very big guy at 5.7 so mine is med high
    i just cant play it @ page or billy jo height
    seems like the rev is low too
    but jeez does page hoave long arms or waht
  17. raven174us

    raven174us Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Eastern, Ky
    If you look up some old videos of Rob. He use to play classical/jazz style music and would have the bass up to his chest.
    I like my guitar around my crotch area. I can play it higher but it feels weird. Any lower and I'm unable to bar chords.

    (EDIT) I found a pic.....
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  18. CharAznable

    CharAznable Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    Leesburg, VA
    If you can't play with your left elbow bent, then it's too low.
  19. schmerf

    schmerf Member

    Jan 10, 2008
    Western Massachusetts/North Florida
    I hadn't given where I wear my guitar much thought. I just snapped a picture to see and it looks like I wear mine higher than most.

  20. mlt1214

    mlt1214 Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    I like mine pretty high- somewhere between my stomach and the center of my chest.

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