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With my classical guitar arm positioning has never been an issue. I just rest my arm naturally on the body at the crook of the elbow:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/12337149/guitar/classic1.jpg

My wrist stays pretty flat:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/12337149/guitar/classic2.jpg

I feel like I could sit like that for hours. My electric guitar has been a struggle. The first position I was told to try was to rest my arm a bit past the elbow:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/12337149/guitar/elec1.jpg

This feels pretty awkward and my wrist doesn't look so good

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/12337149/guitar/elec2.jpg

I have been playing around with resting at the crook of my elbow:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/12337149/guitar/elec3.jpg

It seems better on the wrist:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/12337149/guitar/elec4.jpg

But I get pins and needles in my right arm after only about 10 minutes in this position. It's almost as if the thinner body of my electric guitar is digging into my arm and maybe cutting off circulation? What's the right way to position my right arm for good ergonomics and comfort?

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The only real answer is whatever is most comfortable to you. Your arm length and sitting/standing/strap position are all factors, but whatever lets you play comfortably. There are some great players out there with some goofy arm positions (check out Marty Friedmans's wrist position sometime). –  cadmium Jan 9 '13 at 22:28
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I don't rest my arm on acoustic or electric guitars, as it would severely impede my playing.

If you are sitting, I would suggest moving the guitar to your other leg - this changes the angles such that your arm won't rest on it any more.

I would suggest standing though - you have a much wider range of positions.

I sometimes rest my little finger on the scratch plate if I am doing some delicate picking, or I may rest the side of my hand on the strings if playing heavily damped, but most commonly I would have my arm relaxed so the hand is next to the strings.

This gives you speed and flexibility, and won't give you pins and needles.

As an example, my bass player is using his fingers and my rhythm guitarist and I are using right hand damping in the picture below.

enter image description here

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+1 for the picture :-) –  Ulf Åkerstedt Aug 23 '12 at 16:05
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I agree with @Dr Mayhem that the way the guitar is sitting on your leg may be a problem. Also, are you leaning forward (crouching over the guitar)?

You could try playing standing up, and adjusting the strap to try to find a comfortable position. When you do, you can see if that continues to work when you sit down. If not, you might try a more stool-like seat, so your legs are not as scrunched up.

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