I can see how practicing standing up would be better for performing guitarists, but I am wondering if there are any other advantages to practicing standing up vs. sitting down for any guitarist?


3 Answers 3


No doubt, if you plan to perform, there are many reasons to perform (and therefore practice) standing, most mentioned by topo morto and others that you may be aware of.

When I perform, I prefer to stand - so I spend time practicing while standing because it is different than playing seated and it does require dedicated practice to get used to the change in the perspective of the guitar to your body and the change in the angle of the fret board and other factors.

But to speak to your question about "other advantages" to practicing standing if you don't intend to perform - here are a few.

In most cases playing while standing will put less strain on your back. When I see people (including myself) playing guitar while seated, I often see their back kind of hunched over the guitar. There are certain contortions you must make to position the guitar and your body and your hands, in order to play seated. These strange positions put your spine in an un-natural, less stable orientation. Also, most people tend to lift one leg or the other (strumming hand leg for most guitarist - fretting hand leg on a footstool for classical) - further twisting the spine.

When standing, your spine is in a more natural upright position. It's actually difficult to slouch or hunch over when standing because your guitar would swing away from your body - so you are forced to stand up straight so the guitar will hang against your body.

Electric guitars tend to be ergonomically engineered to be more comfortable hanging from a strap while standing. Electric guitar designers assume their guitars will be played standing, so the shape of the body tends to be more conducive to playing while standing.

With an electric guitar, even if you play seated, you should use a strap to support the weight. If you try to play many electric guitars seated without a strap, between the weight, and the contours of the body, you will end up putting un-intended and un-necessary stress on the muscles in your hands and arms just trying to keep the guitar from sliding out of your lap. Plus, if most of the weight of the guitar is suspended from a strap, you will automatically sit in a more back friendly upright position.

Another reason to consider practicing while standing, is that it is more difficult in the beginning to play that way, (which is why most recreation players prefer to play seated). So you improve your skills by learning a new way to play.

Before I learned to play standing (by practicing while standing), when I went to an open mic and there were no stools available and I was forced to play standing, my playing ability was severely compromised. But once I learned to play standing, I found that practicing while standing did not make playing seated more difficult.

If anything it made it easier. To use an analogy - if you walk everyday with ankle weights - at first it's harder to walk and you get tired faster. But after you get used to it, it's not a problem. Then one day when you go for a walk and forget your ankle weights - you feel like Superman (ready to leap tall buildings ...).

The only other advantage I can think of - to practicing while standing if you are not planning to perform on stage, is it will reduce the repetitive stress injury from supporting the weight of the guitar on your leg. I have actually experienced some nerve damage from resting my guitar on the same leg for hours of practice on a daily basis. I started having spasms in my right upper front of my thigh where my guitar was constantly putting pressure on that leg. I am speaking here of an acoustic guitar - because for reasons mentioned earlier, I try to avoid playing electric without supporting the weight with a strap.

And speaking of straps. If you do plan to spend a good deal of time playing or practicing using a guitar strap, please consider getting a very comfortable strap. I like to use a very wide soft leather strap. The wide strap tends to spread out the pressure point on your shoulder over a wider area thereby increasing comfort. The soft leather tends to grip my shoulder better and I am not constantly trying to keep it from slipping.

Also, if you play for a long time with a strap, you will find it helpful to shift the position of the strap on your shoulder from time to time. You can slightly move it towards the end of your shoulder after awhile (and then back), to change the pressure point.

Be sure to adjust the strap for a comfortable playing position. You want the guitar to hang from your shoulder as close to playing position as you can get it. That's one reason why all guitar straps are adjustable.

And please avoid the temptation to try to look cool by letting your guitar hang down below your waist like some famous guitarist tend to want to do. That will put your arms in a very awkward position and make it difficult to use proper fretting hand technique.

I have listed some valid reasons to consider practicing while standing - for those who have no intention of ever performing on stage. Having said all of foregoing, I still find that the majority of my practicing on acoustic takes place while seated.

It's probably mostly due to convenience. I'm playing acoustic, I don't need to plug in to an amp, I can sit on the couch, and I don't need to get the strap and fasten it to the guitar. But I do tend to sit in different chairs and different positions and limit my time in any one position. Otherwise my back starts to complain.

Practice standing or seated or preferably a little of both. But practice often. Most of all - keep it fun and enjoy every minute you spend with your instrument! That's what it's all about.

  • About ergonomics: When you stand up, you support the weight of the guitar with your back. People with back problems usually feel less comfortable standing up than sitting down, so I'm not totally convinced by your arguments here. Feb 28, 2015 at 23:49
  • I know a few musicians who have back problems and can't play sitting down. Studies of lumbar intra-discal pressure (IDP) in standing and upright sitting have mostly reported higher pressures in sitting. This is a result of a greater axial compression load when sitting. Also, the contortions of the spine to reach a comfortable position to play the guitar, is not always a comfortable position for your back. I have personally found that if I am having some back pain, standing while playing seems to be less painful. The new "standing desks" are becoming more popular in offices. Mar 1, 2015 at 8:12
  • Ok. The combination of lighter instrument and standing up should then be better overall than sitting down with a heavier instrument. Interesting! Mar 1, 2015 at 15:48
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    That sounds good - but to be sure that I am providing the best possible advice here - I have reached out through an e-mail linking this question to my Chiropractor who is also a professional musician and guitar player and specializes in back health for musicians. Hopefully either she will join SE and post an answer or confirm that mine is sound and provide any clarification or correction if needed. Mar 1, 2015 at 16:53

Both Rockin Cowboy and topo morto covered most points, but to me the most important is the change of angles. When seated, the guitar will rest better on one thigh than the other. Classical players tend to use left leg, whilst a lot of others tend to rest the guitar on the right. When standing, guitar strapped on, it gravitates centrally, so everything moves across.

The other angle problem is due to the fact that when sitting, the guitar is at a particular height on your body. As soon as you stand,it will probably end up lower than that. This changes the angles of your arm and wrist, more crucially your fretting arm.So things like barre chords are more difficult to execute. I solved this problem many years ago by strapping the guitar so that it was the same height sitting as standing. Thus anything practised sitting was exactly the same (height-wise) standing.

This answer is more concerned with acoustic and electric guitars (and basses!), as classical players tend to be sedentary most of the time. I'm considering patenting a special chair for them, to match the little footstool... thanks, topo moto.

  • @Rockin Cowboy - That's what I said about classical guitarists! Why would you need to tilt the guitar back at any time?
    – Tim
    Feb 26, 2015 at 8:30
  • I was agreeing with you but I can see how you thought I was trying to make a correction. Sorry. Myself and most guitarist I know (excluding classical guitarist) angle or tilt the fret board back slightly so they can see the fret markers on the fret board. When standing you have to look at the fret markers on the binding. I think that's probably why they put the fret markers in two places - one for standing when you can't tilt fretboard back to see the larger fret markers that you can see when playing seated. Feb 26, 2015 at 9:15
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    It is true that Classical Guitarist usually perform seated. Good point. Good suggestion for adjusting strap. I do the same thing - adjusting my strap to put the guitar as close to the same position when standing, as it is when I play seated. But I can't tilt the fret board back when standing as I tend to do when seated, so that's why it takes practice to adjust for the difference. Feb 26, 2015 at 9:20
  • @RockinCowboy - agree about most guitars, however, I have several basses that ONLY have markers on the edge! If those can be seen anyway, why not just use them?
    – Tim
    Feb 26, 2015 at 9:58
  • Many basses and electric guitars are designed with an expectation that they will be played standing. I am guessing that is why the basses you refer to don't provide the fret markers that would be typically used playing seated. Feb 26, 2015 at 16:12

If the only thing you'll ever do is play sitting down, I can't think right now of any obvious massive advantages to practicing standing... but anyway

  • It's easier to sing standing up, if that's a consideration... and dance, of course!
  • it will give you a slightly different perspective on the instrument (unless you manage to hang it in a relative position exactly the same as it has when you're sitting - even then, your arms will be able to move slightly differently.)
  • It gives you the option of standing and gigging later, if you change your mind. Standing and playing is a skill and like any skill, it's better to make a conscious decision not to learn it than to just chicken out.
  • It's good to shift your position during any long-running activity for the sake of your physiological health.
  • It saves money on chairs

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