Guitar Whip - Doing Guitar Swings The Right Way

If you've been to any sort of punk rock or post-hardcore show within the last 10 years, you've probably seen someone perform a guitar whip. There really isn't that much too it to be honest. Seriously, here are the steps:
  1. Take hold of your guitar.
  2. Throw it over your shoulder.
  3. Have it land in the starting position.
Now, when you read that guitar whip process, it might sound easy, but SO much can go wrong. haha I'll bet that you've seen a guitar whip completely bomb at one time or another as well. I know that I have.

That's because there are a few safety precautions and tips that you should follow if you're actually attempting this seriously dangerous action. (As you can tell, I'm kind of anti-guitar whip)

But here are some tips on attempting to complete a guitar whip safely:

* You need a locking guitar strap and a strap lock to install into your guitar.

I actually have a post on Locking Guitar Straps where I mention their use. But this allows you to keep your strap on the guitar when a lot of pressure is applied like the force of whipping the guitar over your shoulder.

* Start by practicing outside.

Really, you don't want to bang your guitar's neck off of your dresser or the couch, so just go where there's nothing to hit. Whip that thing around in the middle of your back yard where there's nothing to worry about but some soft grass.

Yea, you might look like a weirdo, but you won't damage your furniture.

* Stand up straight. Never slouch.

Leaning over by only a few inches can mean the difference between a safe guitar and broken one. You lean over 4 inches and you might see that guitar neck pile-driving right into the ground. My point = stand up as straight as you can when doing it.

* There are two ways to go.

Imagining that you're standing there with your guitar on the strap, on your shoulder (assuming you don't have a left-handed guitar) the most common way I've observed guitarists throwing their instrument is by pushing the bottom with their right hand across and up over the front of the body, behind the back, and back into the starting position.

This direction is OK for light instruments only! You'll know if you have a light guitar. Fender-style guitars that are easy to move around with are fine for that direction.

Now, the other direction that is executed by placing both hands on the guitar neck. Put your right hand where the body of the guitar meets the neck and the left hand farther up on the fret board.

Actually bring the guitar up higher across your front so you can get some momentum, then push downwards to force the guitar underneath your right arm pit, up behind your back, over your left shoulder, and back to the starting position.

So why is this way so much better for heavier guitars?

Well actually, going across the front is fighting the weight balance of your guitar. By going behind your back instead of across the front first, you can use the weight of the guitar body to guide your whip in a smoother and faster motion.

Watch out though. I've seen more than one guy take a heavy guitar like a Les Paul, swing it behind his back only for it to come and nail him in the back of the head. Which brings us to our next tip...

* When whipping the guitar reversely under the arm pit, watch your head!

You might nail yourself pretty hard if you're not being mindful where the path of your guitar is headed. Either keep your head down or guide your swing into a broader path that is more likely to miss your noggin.

I've mentioned before that I really don't condone the guitar whip. I think that it's a great thrill to watch, but I just can't get myself to put my dear guitar into that sort of peril.

Maybe when the day comes that I can afford to trash anything I want knowing that I can replace it the next day, I might have a new opinion. Until then, I'll keep the guitar whips to the braver guys.

My important guitar supplement links:
How To Guitar Play - Important Tips For Beginning Guitarists
Fast Electric Guitar Learning Course

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