When I'm playing (learning) difficult chords on guitar (ex: F,B7) my facial muscles (basically lips) form a weird action (I felt it and I saw it in the mirror).

I feel I'll get used to it as I go and I have seen some good players also do that (may be they can't help it).

You may also have faced this experience in learning stage and got over it. How did you overcome this?

  • If you Google "guitar face" and click images, I bet you won't worry so much about making faces. In fact, you might realize it's practically required. :)
    – B0nk3r
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 17:30
  • My good friend plays the piano with his mouth wide open. I almost frown when playing the piano, and I close my eyes when playing the guitar. Et cetera. It's no big deal IMHO :D
    – yo'
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 21:26
  • Julian Bream was also famous for his mid coitus facial expression. All part of rock'n'roll baby.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 17:32
  • 1
    slugsolos.tumblr.com Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 19:41

6 Answers 6


At first this happens because you are concentrating so much on your hands that the rest of your body can move in sympathetic ways - not just gurning faces, but you find some guitarists twist their bodies, arching their backs - not always deliberately :-)

Once you have learned the 'muscle memory' to a level that playing is automatic, the gurning reduces and you become much more relaxed. If you are pushing the limits of your capabilities it may happen.

Personally, I wouldn't worry about it - once you can play well, you'll be forgiven a lot of things.

  • 4
    "once you can play well, you'll be forgiven a lot of things" ofcourse
    – DinushanM
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 12:23
  • 1
    A pretty famous trombone player makes many facial expressions, especially with his eyebrows, while playing. The way he has said it, it's because he's concentrating so much on the tiny variations in his embouchure and the aperture in his lips. As Dr. Mayhem said, you'll be forgiven a lot of things once you can play well, and he's one of the best in the world. Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 17:59
  • 1
    @JoshFields Alessi eyebrows? Also, that's nothing compared to Bartoli faces.
    – NReilingh
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 17:55
  • @NReilingh, Yes, Alessi eyebrows. Completely worth it with his playing though… As with her faces… I've seen videos of her before, but the singing is worth it! Commented Jul 30, 2012 at 0:06

The jazz nod and the blues grimace are things that many players practice for hours in front of a mirror to ACHIEVE...and you want to practice to ELIMINATE them?


Try singing along. You can't make weird shapes with your lips if you're using them at the same time as you're playing.


Circuits in your brain controlling your hands while playing, those circuits in some people are right adjacent to the circuits that control facial muscles. There can be a little bleed through, like faintly hearing the wrong phone call on your land line.

If you force yourself to smile while you play it may help.


Only eliminate a guitar face if it makes you look ugly. Consult the opposite sex on this.

If it concerns you, practice playing in front of a mirror. Also practice in front of a mirror moving from your guitar face to a relaxed face. You will learn how it feels when you make the face and have the muscle memory to return your face to a relaxed position.


While playing the violin, I tend to make all sorts of strange faces. Like, faces that involve muscles I didn't even know I had (although now I have this strange ability for bizarre faces, which comes in handy when you're doing childcare ;-)).

For me, it manifests itself in the form of strange eyebrow movements and rapidly blinking eyes. I'll see videos of myself playing while my eyes are batting, and no, it's not particularly attractive.

I've started to curb this habit though. I received some advice in a different question, and have started thinking about it more. It is suggested that people who's facial muscles twitch a bit may be nervous or, in my opinion, straining to much. You should be totally - totally - relaxed while playing. If you are stressed, it will show in your body language.

Try recording yourself again and again, and focus on staying calm and collected... cool as a cucumber. If you get comments from non-musicians about your facial expressions, invite them to try. ;-)


I chew on my tongue when playing guitar. I am playing guitar for 30 years. But because I hardly ever perform I am not aware of my facial expression. It looks as if I am chewing a gum bit then I stop and you can see that I am not chewing any gum. It looks weird. A musician friend suggested I actually should chew a gum to prevent that becasue it is too late to eliminate that habit. So instead of hiding your mimic you expose it.

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