Good posture will save your back when playing.
I have heard numerous reports over the years of professional classical guitarists having a multitude of back issues after a long and prestigious career. All of these stemmed from long hours of sitting slightly twisted with a foot upon a foot stool. I myself have experienced the occasional issue with my back after hours of practice. Thankfully, there are creative designers out there that have engineered devices to save our back long term. I guess you could say, “They got our backs!”
Okay, I’m sorry… so very, very, sorry for that pun.
If you have seen any pop or rock guitarist holding the guitar while sitting, you’ll notice that the guitar generally sits on the right leg while being played. At first this might seem to be the most natural way of holding the guitar. However, look again at the position of the guitar while they are standing. Usually, the guitar is on a strap (sometimes they will use a stand to hold the guitar, typically when playing a second guitar at the same time). The body of the guitar hangs more to the center of the person’s torso in a more ergonomic fashion. Except for those guitarists who insist playing the instrument down their knees, you’ll generally find the instrument in front of the player rather than to the side of them.
The Standard Gear
A better way to accomplish this while sitting is to either wear a strap or have another type of guitar support. The standard support that everyone starts out playing classical guitar is with a footstool. Most footstools run around $20 dollars (as of this post). This is something that you will want to pick up if you are beginning lessons. Since classical guitar technique calls for holding the guitar on the left leg, placing the guitar in the more ergonomic position, it will put your body in the correct position to hold the guitar.
But wait there’s more. My first introduction to a guitar support beyond that of the footstool was simply called an A Frame. It was basically a couple pieces of metal twisted into an “A” shape with a suction cup on the sides that secured it to the guitar. It also had a piece of Velcro attached the bottom so that you could adjust the height and position of the frame. It’s construction probably wasn’t the best at the time, but I loved it. However, it became apparent after a few years that I needed something a little more studier.
In Search of More Stability
After using the A Frame for a while, I came across something called the Gitano. It’s a small guitar support that attaches via suction cups to the bottom of the guitar. It has a hinge and a piece of fabric attached that allows it to flip out and rest comfortably on your leg. It’s not as bulky as the other supports and is easily storable. I still use the Gitano from time to time, but I still wasn’t satisfied.
I still like the A Frame concept. If there were only something similar that was a bit more stable. It took some searching, but I finally found what I was looking for. As I am wanting to do, I was surfing the YouTube machine in search of inspiring classical guitar players and pieces when I discovered a young lady playing a beautiful piece of music with a guitar resting on the support I was looking for. The young lady’s name was Tatyana Ryzhkova, the piece was Johann Sebastian Bach’s Sonata II BWV 1003, Fuga (I think), and the guitar support was the ErgoPlay Tappert Guitar Support. I ordered the support and it was exactly what I wanted.
But that’s not all folks (or did I use that already?). Not only is there the Gitano and ErgoPlay supports, but also there are the SageWork Atlas and Umbra, De Oro, and Guitarlift Supports (which can be used as a small shield incase of invasion). There’s even the Dynaretter Guitar Support Cushion that seems to be popular with many guitarists. The best thing to do is to research the product, prices, listen to the reviews, and choose the one that will best work for you.
Basically, when it comes to the guitar support, there are hundreds out there for you to use. The best ones, in my opinion, are the ones that allow your feet to be planted firmly on the floor, where your legs are parallel to the ground, and your body is not twisted. Suffice it to say, it will save your back in the long term. If you are using a guitar support and your back starts hurting because of the long hours of practice, by all means switch it to your right leg for a while.
Also, please note: Stringscapes is not associated with Strings by Mail at the time of this post. I just use them for most of the guitar accessories, like strings that need to be purchased.
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