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I am new to the baroque guitar, using a strap to keep it in a comfortable playing position.

The instrument is quite light (compared to contemporary classical guitar), and I seem to have a tendency to want to "support" the neck somewhat with my left hand... particular when doing runs on the 1st (high e) and 2nd course. It also serves to somewhat "anchor" my left hand, so I'm not just trying to place a finger on a fret from mid-air. I hope this is clear. It is hard to describe.

This creates tension in my left wrist which cannot be good.

Has anyone experienced this? And what did you do to deal with it?

Thank you.

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Have you tried playing without the use of a strap? I know that it is perhaps the most popular method for holding early Guitars but there are a number of Players who don't seem to use a strap. 

Do you experience a samilar problem on the modern or if you hold the Baroque Guitar by alternate means? 

Have you tried playing without the use of a strap?

Yes, that is how I started. The guitar, then, sits low, which causes me to bend my wrist. This is why I thought to use a strap.

Do you experience a samilar problem on the modern or if you hold the Baroque Guitar by alternate means? 

No... with a modern guitar, I have no problems. But the instrument is heavier and sits with more stability on my knee. Not sure what you mean by "alternate means". I've tried different positions, with the neck more or less angled, higher or lower on my knee. I just feel the need to "support" the neck with my left hand on the baroque guitar -- it's not a conscious decision; it just happens. I should note I've played classical guitar for many years and have reasonably solid technique. 

I'll keep experimenting, but any insight you or anyone could provide would be gratefully welcomed.

If you do a search on U-tube for 'Baroque Guitar' you will find Players holding the Baroque Guitar in a number of ways. There is even one using one of those dynarette? cushion supports, normally used for modern Guitars. 

Some just sit and hold it more like a flamenco or folk player. 

Perhaps if you practice with just the left hand (no RH) and concentrate on trying to find where the tension is coming from. You don't even have to press the strings down, just damp them and 'pretend' to play - which is good practice anyway because it gives a feeling of lightness to the LH. Taking out the RH from the equation can help to focus on just exactly what is happening to the LH hand/wrist. I suspect it's something like the 'death grip', where things get squeezed to try and give security in holding the instrument. It's not unlike some Violinists who clamp down with the head to 'hold' the Violin up.

Another common Guitarist problem is the right (or left) shoulder pushing forward or even upwards - another one to watch out for.  

This kind of 'gripping' and tension needs to be avoided otherwise it can easily destroy one's playing. I should know! 

Thank you, Michael. I will check out the sources you suggest.

No death grip. It's more like I feel the need to "rest" the neck on my left hand, palm-side, at the base of the index finger. Not so much when fingering chords, but when I'm doing a passage of single notes. If I work without "resting" the neck, then it is harder to land the notes as I have nothing to help establish spatial relationships to the various frets.

I continue to experiment, and this afternoon, I fared somewhat better... sitting on a low stool, which put the guitar in a better position. Still some tension in my left hand, less in the wrist... more on the forearm.

It takes very little pressure on the baroque strings, as they are gut.

Again, thank you.

Perhaps you just need to spend a bit more time getting accustomed to holding the instrument with the use of a strap whilst consciously trying to avoid supporting the neck with the left hand. The Neck resting on the base of the index finger might be giving you a feeling of security.  

This is all very reminiscent of Violin players and the 'fear of dropping the instrument'.

At some point you have to trust that the strap is actually supporting the instrument and the left hand need not. Easier said than done when your mind is telling you otherwise. 

Thank you, Michael. 

Oddly, I don't so much "rest" the neck or support it with my left hand, but feel the need to have that contact. Yes, I need to trust the guitar, the strap or whatever arrangement I arrive at a bit more. I think part of the problem is that the guitar is smaller and much lighter than a standard classical guitar so it just doesn't feel as secure.

Have been experimenting with and without the strap, and actually what is working a little better is to sit on a lower stool. And practicing in somewhat shorter time increments (I have a tendency to practice for long periods of time, and the sheer repetition, especially when focusing on just one piece) may be part of the problem).

Everyone has been very helpful, and I'm feeling a little more comfortable with the instrument, but with a ways to go. Now I need to focus on reading the various styles of tab.

Hi Michael,

I found that the best way to hold a baroque guitar is to tie a loop on the belt pin, insert the strap into it, and than tighten the strap and sitting on it. exactly like lute and theorbo players doing. That way the instrument is all around tightened to your body.


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