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Why did he hold his guitar so high?
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8 March 2013
6.05am
RunForYourLife
Ed Sullivan Show
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8 March 2013
6.45am
Funny Paper
America
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Good question -- I never thought about it until I saw this topic.  Perhaps John began when he first played guitar with a cheap strap that was too short, and he just got used to it.  It is a little funny, almost like he's wearing pants that ride too high.

Also, it's almost the opposite of certain rock guitarists like Hendrix, whose guitar is so low it reminds one of those "low-rider" jeans.

 

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8 March 2013
6.16pm
Linde
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George held his guitar pretty high too. Not as high as John though, in that video at least.

8 March 2013
6.27pm
fabfouremily
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Maybe it was just the way that was most comfortable to him. Everyone has their own way.

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8 March 2013
7.52pm
HeyTrud
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I have often wondered this myself.  I notice in later group videos, he isn't holding it as high as above.  I always assumed it was a comfort thing for him.  Not sure!  It does look kinda funny by todays standards! a-hard-days-night-george-10

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8 March 2013
8.30pm
Into the Sky with Diamonds
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It's a lot easier on the wrist if the neck is up high (especially on the barre chords) - so the body of the guitar follows.

 

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8 March 2013
8.49pm
Linde
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If it's more comfortable, I wonder why people are holding them so low nowadays.

9 March 2013
12.44am
Gerard
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Into the Sky with Diamonds said
It's a lot easier on the wrist if the neck is up high (especially on the barre chords) - so the body of the guitar follows.

 

I think so too! The Rickenbacker 325 is in 3/4 scale of a normal guitar, that's why he can play the barred chords easily on that. Whereas on an acoustic guitar, I myself have tried to play the same barred chords which is really difficult! I might try the style he used on the video.

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9 March 2013
2.03am
The man with the foolish grin
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The most exaggerated case I can think of is Gerry Marsden. I saw an interview with him recently where he said that after personnel changes in the Pacemakers he took over playing lead, and he needed to see the fretboard more clearly while he was playing more complicated licks. He found that by having his left hand higher he could see it more easily.

9 March 2013
3.34am
Ron Nasty
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The man with the foolish grin said
The most exaggerated case I can think of is Gerry Marsden. I saw an interview with him recently where he said that after personnel changes in the Pacemakers he took over playing lead, and he needed to see the fretboard more clearly while he was playing more complicated licks. He found that by having his left hand higher he could see it more easily.

That explanation would also make sense for John. After all, he was blind as a bat without the glasses that he refused to wear in the early years. Maybe it's as simple as he held his guitar so high so he could see it!

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9 March 2013
4.45pm
Joe
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That was my guess too.

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10 March 2013
3.48am
robert
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the only other artist I know of that held the guitar that high was Johnny Cash. I'm a guitar player and I always noticed how high they both held their guitars. I have no idea why.

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10 March 2013
3.55am
parlance
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I noticed it when I was kid, watching the Beatles cartoon. Randomly, they also animated Greg in the Brady Kids cartoon holding his guitar high, and I half-wondered if it was just easier to animate them that way.

parlance

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10 March 2013
7.34pm
Zig
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For the life of me, I can not recall what book it was in, but I read that John was emulating some of his early guitar heroes - Elvis, Eddie Cochran, etc...

 

 

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12 March 2013
5.10am
pgblanch
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I think most of the previous reasons have merrit especially the issue with his sight. I also think his playing of the ukulele early in his life contributed to this a bit. As he became more comfortable with his own guitar playing he did hold his guitar much lower. Remember that both George AND Paul helped John become more proficient over time.

14 April 2013
11.49pm
parlance
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I'm watching the 90s documentary on The History of Rock n Roll, and they showed a performance of Gerry and the Pacemakers, and I see Gerry holding his guitar up chest level, and it reminded that I once saw that way of holding a guitar referred to as "the Northern way." Now that I see someone other than John doing it, I get the joke. :->

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at Vimeo or YouTube.

20 May 2013
8.02pm
Expert Textpert
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robert said
the only other artist I know of that held the guitar that high was Johnny Cash. I'm a guitar player and I always noticed how high they both held their guitars. I have no idea why.

I thought Cash raised his guitar high for emphasis when he was playing something really hard...I hadn't noticed it was always held high.

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20 May 2013
8.20pm
Father_Mckenzie
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I think he holds the guitar so high so he can see what his left hand is playing easier, I don't for sure. A lot of country singers do it too. Hope this helps. 

20 May 2013
8.29pm
RunForYourLife
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I've also seen pictures of Dave Davies (the Kinks' guitarist) playing a Gibson Flying V at a similar height, with his arm through the "V" instead of on top of it.

1 July 2013
4.19pm
Rick M
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John and Paul were told they could only practice in the front Vestibule (Entrance) of Aunt Mimi's home  called "Mendips"

They developed perfect pitch to their harmony because of the acoustics in the front hallway.(it has such clear echo its uncanny )

It was cramped so John used to raise his guitar in order to not have a "neck war" with George.

Paul was a lefty but it was very cramped when you see the dimensions of the porch. (A few ft. by a few ft.)

It was more from habit that this style was used by John. When you see them do harmony on stage they would be very face to face sharing a mic. all going back

to the little front porch. They were only just out of their teens and they did what they did in part from early patterning.

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