3

most electric guitarist i know have a very high preference towards their right leg. even some of my buddies from school who play perfectly comfortable classical guitar on their left leg and then switch to right for electric. personally, when i made the switch from right to left I was used to it in a week and never reverted for more than ten minutes due to how awkward it felt. this makes no sense to me considering this:

  • the left leg places the guitar in a much more consistent form with standing position.
  • the guitarist will have better access to the neck and won't have to reach across their body for higher frets
  • neck visibility is improved with the neck closer to the guitarists face
  • a more upright position is enforced reducing back strain.
  • for players with picking arm injuries this is has been know to reduce strain on the arm due to a more relaxed angle.
  • for the "RARE" occasion you have to sight read any stand can put the sheet music directly behind the neck for easy reading
  • pick slanting becomes almost automatic with a straight wrist.

    so whats so great about the "right" leg?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Todd Wilcox, Doktor Mayhem Jun 14 '16 at 22:20

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Ergonomics? I don't feel natural with my wrist on my strumming arm. – tsturzl Jun 14 '16 at 6:13
  • 2
    Do you have any sources for these claims, Matthew? Some of them seem like common sense, but it's nice to have sources to be able to cite. – General Nuisance Jun 14 '16 at 6:26
  • 2
    I find that if I rest my guitar on my left leg (I play "right handed guitar") that I have to rotate my shoulders and torso.to the left to reach the fretboard and to put my picking hand in front of the sound hole. With guitar on right let, my shoulders remain square. Playing standing with a strap tends to place the body of guitar between left and right leg.but many guitarist pull the guitar more towards their right hip so they don't have to rotate their shoulders and torso to the left to play it. – Rockin Cowboy Jun 14 '16 at 6:38
  • 1
    Interesting points. Some observations: when strapped on, the guitar is pretty well central, not favouring left or right.On left leg, for me, the 1st couple of frets are a stretch - even more so on bass! When sitting, I usually play with the guitar neck at 10:30 when facing 12:00 (if that makes sense!), Playing off the dots, the stand is at that same 10:30, so I look along the neck to see the music. What's the point in putting it directly in front?Neck visibility- marker dots on side help, and one shouldn't need to be watching the fretboard too much anyway. Back position can be compensated for. – Tim Jun 14 '16 at 7:45
  • 1
    If playing ELECTRIC guitar, my recommendation is to use a strap, even if playing while sitting down. To learn why click here (music.stackexchange.com/a/30270/16897) – Rockin Cowboy Jun 14 '16 at 16:05
5

I'm going to assume that by "left leg", what you mean is "left leg in the style of a classical guitarist, with the left leg elevated on a small stool and the neck of the guitar raised up very high". Left leg with the neck parallel to the ground would be ridiculous, and impossible for a steel string acoustic for one to get one's picking hand around to the hole.

One good reason to not elevate the neck so high (as in the style of classical guitarists) is if one uses a fretting hand grip with the thumb over the top. This grip is a very good one if you want to wear the guitar low when standing, and when doing compound bends with thicker strings, it helps a lot to have the pulling force of the thumb to add to the bend.

Also, many electric guitars (due to the shapes of their bodies) are hard to play sitting down at all, much less elevated on the left leg.

the left leg places the guitar in a much more consistent form with standing position.

Not with my standing position. I'm not really sure how that seems to be the case for you. See the next point - the highest frets are in almost the exact same place when I have the guitar on my right leg or when I'm standing.

the guitarist will have better access to the neck and won't have to reach across their body for higher frets

I have no idea what you mean by "having to reach across the body". When I'm sitting with a guitar on my right leg, the highest frets are just about where my crotch is. I can reach that area easily.

neck visibility is improved with the neck closer to the guitarists face

I practice playing without looking since it's better for gigs to never look at the guitar unless you want it to seem like you're playing a really hard part of the song.

  • Good point about body shapes of electric guitars not always being conducive to playing while seated. Combined with the weight and thinner profile it just does not work to try to play an electric guitar in classical position. – Rockin Cowboy Jun 14 '16 at 16:02
  • 1. (thumb over the top)- useful for bends, heavily restrictive for all other techniques, not to mention its a form know for causing injury if over used. besides you can still use it with the guitar over the left leg anyway so it don't see the issue. – Matthew Mccall Jun 14 '16 at 20:23
  • 1
    @matthewMcCall I found thumb over the top harder with guitar on my left leg. I don't use it often, but when I do it's not necessarily for bends - just in any situation where I need to reach the lower strings when all my fingers are engaged doing something else! – topo morto Jun 14 '16 at 20:31
  • 2) the standing position concurrent with the left leg pins the guitar against your stomach and not your side making on stage movement MUCH easier. 3)(neck access) for people with larger bellies the left arm is forced against the abdomen, restring movement and often compromising back position as well. 4) most of the pieces i play REQUIRE my full attention. 5) all my guitars fit my seated position perfectly (fender, LTD, ibanez). what are you playing that makes this such a problem? – Matthew Mccall Jun 14 '16 at 20:34
  • 1
    matthew - I'd have to agree with Todd - as you can see everyone has different views. Mine are almost the complete opposite to yours. My most extreme bends are with thumb in 'classical' position, guitar more to the side makes stage movement easier for me, my 6 and 7 string ibanez guitars are much more comfortable on my right leg if I must sit, but the only guitars I like sitting with are classical and spanish. – Doktor Mayhem Jun 14 '16 at 22:22
2

I was intrigued, and had a go putting it on my left leg for a change... the main problem was that it wasn't a very natural angle for my right hand and arm when using with a pick - as my hand was moving at more of an angle to the strings, I had to move further, and it was harder to adjust to get the pick at the correct angles for different techniques.

It was also fairly clear that Fender hadn't anticipated that strumming angle either, at least not on a Strat, as energetic movement at that angle would have put me in danger of lacerating my hand on the guitar controls!

2

It looks cooler.

You're absolutely right about the ergonomics being better; it promotes better posture and less stress in the wrist and back. But to the Average Joe, it does look "Square", even though many metal and prog (read: technical) guitarists promote that posture, as well as holding the guitar higher up while standing.

I think you'll find people doing one or the other based on how they play while standing up: If they like their guitar lower while standing, they also probably prefer to place it on the right leg. The higher they hold the guitar while standing the more comfortable they'll be placing it on their left leg.

I also firmly believe that taller people (or possibly, those with longer arms) can tolerate the guitar on the right leg and reach; more so than a shorter-armed person.


Also, think about the requirements of left-leg use. It pretty much requires a footrest to elevate the leg to a more comfortable position for the guitar. This requires a foot rest at nearly all times. If you don't bring a footrest or forget one, you have to awkwardly tuck your right foot under your left to elevate it. Sitting in this position for an extended period of time can be rather painful for your right ankle.

0

Apart from the point that many guitarists seem to rather like using, ahem, questionable technique, it's a fact that fret-hand-leg (FHL) doesn't work very well with most guitars – at least when you're just sitting on a normal chair. Even with classical guitar this doesn't make much sense – FHL with a footrest is how I originally learned to play, but when I don't have one available I always put the guitar on the pluck-hand leg, specifically in flamenco position (PHL crossed over FHL). Without crossed legs or footrest, I find all seated positions quite unstable (one tends to buckle forwards over the guitar, which is really not good). Apparently some guitarists play on FHL crossed over PHL, but for me this doesn't work at all.

So with FHL you pretty much rely on a footrest or guitar support (or a guitar that's specifically designed like a classical guitar with support attached). But that ranks really low on the coolness scale, and also is pretty inconvenient.

IMO, flamenco position can take it up with classical position pretty well – it's not quite ideal for complicated polyphony, but very good for both single note playing and most chord work. And it's rather better for strumming techniques.


As well as questionable technology. Passive high-impedance single coils, seriously?? But oh well, string players are guilty of much the same thing with their Stradivarius worshipping.

Me being a lefty, won't call it right leg here.

  • 1
    OMG hating on passive high Z single coils like you've never played through them? Tell me Under the Bridge isn't one of the best guitar tones ever recorded! I mean you must be trolling, right? – Todd Wilcox Jun 15 '16 at 0:34
  • Huh, troll?! Who? – leftaroundabout Jun 15 '16 at 0:54
  • Cheap shot at the most popular style of pickup in the world... – user6164 Jun 15 '16 at 13:43
  • @ShawnStrickland: that's my point. Active, low-impedance stacked humbuckers with suitable processing are objectively superiour (they can exactly reproduce the sound of any given SC minus hum, plus completely different sounds on demand), yet everbody uses the old passive PUs. – leftaroundabout Jun 15 '16 at 13:55
  • You should be aware that our world is ran by snake oil, "feel" and intangible and quantifiable properties many swear by - and some actually can distinctively hear the difference of - whether it's luck or supreme high-frequency aural abilities. – user6164 Jun 15 '16 at 14:08

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.