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  1. #1

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    So among other dysfunctional aspects of my guitar journey, I am quite convinced that I'm practicing wrong.

    Content for one - I was practicing some arps today, drills I guess you could say, and I have come to realize that my ring finger is far too weak, and I really need to gain/regain some strength and accuracy with it. Maybe arps is what I need - maybe just some basic finger drills.

    But I also realized that I practice seated, looking over my fretboard, 16" or so from my face, and by using my desk chair with arms (I also worked from home 50% of the time), I have to sit at the very edge of the chair to clear the arms, scrunched up. Ergonomic foul, I'm sure. Bad enough, but when I try to play standing, the fretboard is (obviously) at an oblique angle, further away, and I lose most of my visual orientation...and my hands/arms are at different position, and I'm clumsy oaf.

    Any other modest-skilled players have this challenge. Should I just practice standing, and force myself to rely more on muscle memory and less on visual pathways? Or just practice seated, and get used to the idea that if I'm going to play half-way convincingly, it'll have to be on a chair, with my face over the fretboard?

    I suppose this post sounds wincingly elementary, but after many years of playing and finally (I think) starting to take this seriously, it's making me nuts.

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  3. #2

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    Playing position is something that is always variable. Same general height players can have different chest sizes and arm lengths along with flexibility differences requiring a very different playing position with the same guitar.

    There are some general ergonomics involved but even those will work differently with each individual.

    And of course, someone like me at 65 with low-back issues from being stupid enough to play football in high-school can't stand for long with even a 7 pound guitar strapped to the body anymore. My Tele weighs more than my archtop does. But it is too small to sit comfortably on my leg while sitting, right hand is awfully low for comfort. Frustrating but true, and it doesn't get much playing time these days.

    But then, I'm a *very* long-torso build. 6'2" tall with only a 31" inseam. Long torso with medium length arms. A few extra pounds.

    So what is comfortable and ergonomic for me may likely not apply precisely to anyone else.

    My archtop is an L5 body shape/size but laminate like a 175, with a 24.75" neck. Big point of the lower bout sits comfortably on my right thigh, held in place by the strap running from the typical end of guitar peg around my right thigh then sitting on it.

    Right arm just hangs over the guitar, and the neck crosses the body tipped both up and slightly away. There's a small inward tilt to the upper side of the guitar.

    It's very comfortable and low stress on body, back, arms and wrists.

    I look at some others, say standing with a Super 400, and think woa, I couldn't get comfortable standing with that beast at all let alone for 45 minutes at a pop.

    But for them, it's both very comfortable and efficient for performing.

    Different strokes ...

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  4. #3

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    I think it's always easier to achieve a good playing position when seated, but you gotta have the right chair!

    I practice sitting down, but if i have a gig coming up I'll practice standing to get comfortable with it. If your guitar doesn't balance or feel comfortable standing, then you're handicapping yourself and might want to consider another instrument.

    As for looking at the fretboard, there are "lookers" and "non lookers". Whatever works for you is best. I look, but I don't stare.

  5. #4

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    Practicing sitting down is fine if that's you perform--classical guitarists do it and they do just fine sitting.

    The trick--well, it's not really a trick--the habit is to know your fretboard by feel and SOUND even more than sight. If you want to look, get a full length mirror--but I use a mirror to check my posture more than my fingas.

    The benefit of only playing one guitar, my Eastman AR803 modded to the Great Wall of China and back, is that I know that fretboard pretty well.

    When you start practicing shifts up and down single strings, your feel of the fretboard is REALLY tested--but the practice is worth it.

    Jim Hall is my ideal for many things guitar, and more importantly, MUSIC. You know what he's not the ideal for? POSTURE...

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilpy View Post
    I think it's always easier to achieve a good playing position when seated, but you gotta have the right chair!

    I practice sitting down, but if i have a gig coming up I'll practice standing to get comfortable with it. If your guitar doesn't balance or feel comfortable standing, then you're handicapping yourself and might want to consider another instrument.
    Bingo. I need to get a stool for practicing - three seats in my matchbox of an office will kind of stink, but this is the only practice spot I have.

    The guitar feels balanced and fine either seated or standing (if anything, better standing), but I'm thinking I rely too much on my eyes. Locks me into visual pathways, rather than forcing me to hear harmonic ones.

    (I think...)

  7. #6

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    I practice 90% of the time standing. I think it's superior - it's definitely healthier (too much sitting is bad, and most people already sit too much). I think it's a no-brainer to be honest (provided one is young enough to make the switch if needed).

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBear View Post
    Bad enough, but when I try to play standing, the fretboard is (obviously) at an oblique angle, further away, and I lose most of my visual orientation...and my hands/arms are at different position, and I'm clumsy oaf.
    Try to strap that guitar so that it hangs at the same height as when you're sitting. I practice almost exclusively sitting, but the transition to standing is fine as long as the guitar is strapped to the same height.

    Quote Originally Posted by coolvinny
    I practice 90% of the time standing. I think it's superior - it's definitely healthier (too much sitting is bad, and most people already sit too much). I think it's a no-brainer to be honest (provided one is young enough to make the switch if needed).
    I'm not sure standing with some kilos around your neck for hours a day is healthier

  9. #8

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    A mix of standing and sitting is healthiest, and the tip to have the strap keep the guitar in the same position with either is smart. Look at Joe Pass, excellent posture either way, great access to the instrument, can play looking at it or with eyes closed, etc. Pat Martino plays his blistering style standing most of the time, with rather heavy guitars at various times throughout his career. I come from the classical school, but have outfitted most of my guitars with strap buttons, so that I can play either sitting, standing, or even half-sitting/leaning on a higher stool. The key is to have the instrument situated ergonomically giving either hand easy access. Those of you who have already suffered back injury may always have difficulty, though, it seems.

  10. #9

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    You need to sit if you play acoustic archtop.

    So 99.9% of the time, standing is fine. :-)

  11. #10

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    Standing, sitting, and in the dark, don't forget that one--gig venues are sometimes VERY dark.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by dickbanks View Post
    Standing, sitting, and in the dark, don't forget that one--gig venues are sometimes VERY dark.
    Thankfully, that's one thing I don't have to worry about.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by dickbanks View Post
    Standing, sitting, and in the dark, don't forget that one--gig venues are sometimes VERY dark.
    Well that’s fortunate because jazzers cant afford to switch on the electricity anyway

  14. #13

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    Six months ago, I insisted that the ONLY way to practice is with an acoustic archtop, no amplifier, seated.
    Today I find myself practicing with a solid body, plugged into a Marshall amp, still seated, but that'll probably change, too.
    Might as well put myself through a pedal board while I'm at it, cause I got a two month gig playing 'Mama Mia'.

  15. #14

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    I normally play an 18 inch archtop and sit but I do at times like to stand for awhile. Sometimes learning over the guitar sitting will act up on my mid-back and get sore. For some chord work it is probably better to play seated and sometimes for single line it is better to stand.

    Years of distance running will cause my sciatic nerve to act up at times and so standing helps. Running does not even bother it but sitting in the wrong way can be a pain in the butt.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  16. #15

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    Playing in a chair with arms is something I just can't do. I practice while sitting because that's the way I play. I can't stand in one place very long, I get too tired. It's age-related, and I don't apologize for it. I usually play in a straight wooden chair with minimal padding, sometimes with a cushion on it, but usually not. I have a guitarist's stool, but I don't like it very much, it's not as comfortable as a chair. Different people have different comfort requirements, but I can't imagine playing in a chair with arms. I have an office chair in my practice room, which I mostly use at the computer, but its arms fold up out of the way, and I usually keep them there because I'm not a fan of arms when using the computer either.