The way to hold the instrument changes with the type of guitar you are using and the music you are playing. Some guitarists have even come up with their own unique style of holding and playing this musical instrument.
When holding an acoustic guitar with a belt, you typically need to place it against your stomach for better comfort. This is a standard position though. You can even place it a bit beneath your stomach level, considering the strumming hand's comfort over the big guitar body.
Hold it in a way that will allow you to take the strumming hand over the body easily to the strings. This will also help you see the fretboard clearly and hold chords efficiently.
If you are sitting while playing the guitar, you should ideally keep it on your lap for maximum comfort. If it is an electric guitar, it is generally to be placed a little below the stomach. You might shift its position depending on the kind of music you will play.
For example, jazz guitarists prefer to hang their instruments just above the stomach, so as to allow them to view the fretboard clearly while playing and changing complicated jazz chords.
The Guitar Neck
Holding a guitar's neck, again, depends on how the body of the instrument has been placed. Remember that, the higher the guitar is placed against the body, the better it is for you to control the fretboard.
In rhythmic strumming, you can hold the neck for playing open chords by placing the thumb's top at the back of the neck, with the remaining fingers on the fretboard.
This technique can also be used to play leads throughout the fretboard. Nevertheless, some guitarists might prefer placing the thumb on the back of the neck and then playing individual notes for leads, especially when they go to higher frets. The thumb touching the back of the neck should be slid as per chord and note positions on the fretboard.
The Guitar Pick
How you grip the guitar pick or plectrum in the fingers, also has an impact on the tone produced. Be it while playing the rhythm or lead, the pick usually has to be held with the thumb and first finger. Also note that the pick and the strings should be in level.
This will help the guitarist to produce a clear tone out of the strings. If the pick is gripped in a slanting manner while playing, the strings will produce a sound which feels like it is slipping away, and not a solid tone.
The way you hold the pick will also change according to the technique you use. For example, in order to play 'pinch harmonics', you will have to hold the pick in a slanting manner, with much of the pick surface covered with the thumb and pointing finger.
In any case, the pick is supposed to be gripped firmly. This is to prevent the possibilities of it falling off or preventing it from getting stuck between the strings while strumming or playing lead.
The Bass Guitar
A bass guitar normally has a longer neck and a big body, and you need to have complete and comfortable access to its fingerboard. It is suggested that you hold the bass guitar a little above stomach level, which will help you possess a firmer grip on thicker strings.
Rock and metal guitarists normally place their guitars much lower at thigh level, with the fingerboard held up at an appropriate range. When it comes to holding a bass guitar, you particularly need to have a firm hold on the neck, as this would easily allow you to press thick strings onto the fingerboard.
No matter what style or position you choose, simply make sure that you have sufficient access and range to the fingerboard and are absolutely comfortable playing it. A good guitar lesson is to practice strumming and playing lead in all possible guitar holding positions.