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  1. #1

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    I have noticed that nearly no jazz guitarists play in classical position with the guitar between your legs instead of on the right leg. Why is this? Personally I find it easier to play on higher frets and do bigger stretches classical position. So does anyone know why?

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  3. #2

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    I use the classical position.

  4. #3

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    Martin Taylor comes to mind immediately. Steve Herberman and John Stowell get the same neck angle advantage, though not through a strictly classical position.

    I guess it depends on the type of music you want to play. It's not clear to me that the elevated neck position is an advantage for single note style playing - but it can be a huge advantage for polyphonic playing which results in long stretches on the fingerboard.

  5. #4

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    Pasquale Grasso does, maybe it helps him with his virtuosic solo playing style (also I think he started out on classical guitar).

    I play classical guitar with the correct posture. But for jazz I use a strap and I keep the neck up quite high, I think this puts the guitar in a very similar position to the classical one, at least I don’t find it any harder to play that way. I think the way I hold the jazz guitar is similar to Joe Pass.

    Anyway, here’s Pasquale:

    Classical position?-bd407b6b-3828-4b7a-adc5-f8b5f8433ebe-jpg

  6. #5

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    Classical is tougher with a big ass jazz box.

  7. #6

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    Joe Pass seems to be someone who plays in something close to the classical position. I've never been comfortable with the guitar on my right thigh like most. I always pay with a strap and I sit so the guitar can hang in a natural position, which ends up being pretty close to the classical posture.

  8. #7

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    I suffered from a lot of wrist pain for years.
    Changed to the more classical position like Joe Pass and wow what a difference.
    far less strain on the left wrist and can easily play for hours without any hint of pain.

    must be something to it

    cheers

    Mike

  9. #8

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    I've been using close to classical position through countless hours of playing for more than 50 years with all types of guitars. No pains or problems at 66 years old. I started it so that my standing posture and sitting posture would keep the guitar close to the same position. For the first decade or so I played at least 8 hours a day on heavy solid bodies. I wanted to be able change body position without having to relearn where everything was.

    I use the footstool sometimes to change things up on long sessions. I end up a little bit lower than some. Maybe since I started on cello as child this always felt very natural and comfortable. My early teachers taught posture and I think I carried that with me.

    For those that do the other thing, many believe that letting the lower bout kinda hang out there in space gives a bigger sound as it's not dampened by the body at all. Have to admit that as I've gotten older there's def more meat on the guitar back than there used to be. Acoustically it does have some effect on carved boxes.

  10. #9

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    Nothing succeeds like success, so when you see that 99% of virtuoso jazz guitarists played with the guitar body on their right thigh, you think....works for them, I'll try it that way.

    Charlie, Wes, Grant, Herb, Django, Barney, Jim, Jimmy, Johnny, Bucky, Howard, Tom, Harry, Ricky, Peter, Steve, Jack, Ronnie, George, Andy, Christopher, Arnold, Dutch, Sammy, Walter, Jerry, Larry, Otto, Pat, Wayne, Quentin, Bobby, Darren, Nick, Karl, Unkie, Vic, Robert, Fred, Irving, Thomas, Spike, Dave......

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles
    Classical is tougher with a big ass jazz box.
    ....or a telecaster, or some of the other various shapes and sizes of guitars used by jazz players. You make an important point.

    Classical guitars are, in the main, all based on similar body size, shape and neck width; in the classical guitar world there's an element of a 'one size fits all' approach going on. Although there are alternatives available to the use of the footstool, the latter is still 'the norm', which is unfortunate, since it causes so much in the way of back problems to a significant proportion of those who choose to use them - roughly 1 in 7 classical guitarists develop such problems, according to one article I read a while back. I know several such people personally.

    So - I don't think sitting in the standard classical position can possibly work for everybody. Given the wide variety of different instruments used for jazz, and the fact that jazz guitarists may be short or tall, fat or slim, Super 400 player or Les Paul player, the problem of 'how do i sit to play this stuff' becomes less about establishing a template for all, and much more about understanding what works for you. You can do this the complex way by studying anatomy, physics, stress related injuries etc....or the simple way, by trial and error and noting how your body feels after an hour of playing. I suggest the simple way first, only using the first approach if you're having problems. Just stay aware though - stress related back problems develop over time so you need to stay alert to the tiniest bit of discomfort or pain, and take seriously what your body is telling you.

  12. #11

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    There's no doubt of the ergonomic advantage of the raised neck, whether it's achieved by the strict classic position or some other means. However, working with constraints can promote style.

    Using a flat pick instead of your fingers is a constraint. Part of Django's sound is a result of physical constraints. For those familiar with his music, the syncopation in the playing of Rev. Gary Davis is only possible by limiting your use of right hand fingers. Playing with the guitar neck parallel to the floor is, in my view, a style-promoting constraint.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Charlie, Wes, Grant, Herb, Django, Barney, Jim, Jimmy, Johnny, Bucky, Howard, Tom, Harry, Ricky, Peter, Steve, Jack, Ronnie, George, Andy, Christopher, Arnold, Dutch, Sammy, Walter, Jerry, Larry, Otto, Pat, Wayne, Quentin, Bobby, Darren, Nick, Karl, Unkie, Vic, Robert, Fred, Irving, Thomas, Spike, Dave......
    Is this a gang of 1950's street toughs?

  14. #13

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    I use the classical position--even with a Telecaster. Always have. Then, I started out on classical guitar.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    I use the classical position--even with a Telecaster. Always have. Then, I started out on classical guitar.
    Same here, both with the Tele and starting with classical. The position keeps my joints properly aligned for comfort and avoiding pain.

  16. #15

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    I find the classical position with my left foot a riser ends up being painful after a while, causing low back discomfort. In addition to this, with a 17 inch archtop the classical position is a bit difficult to manage, even though I am 6'3". The Torres style classical guitar was designed around that position (or the position was designed around the Torres guitar, I am not sure which). I've been watching videos of Andrew York recently, as well as other classical guitarists, and noticing the ease with which their hands operate in that position. This is also evident in videos of Pasquale Grasso. It seems pretty clear to me that there is something to it.

    I have gone to playing seated or standing with guitars on a strap most of the time. This orients for guitar more vertically which I do like; since I play either finger style or hybrid, it's more convenient for the right hand in particular to have the guitar more vertical. It also allows me to keep both feet on the floor and my back aligned more naturally. I am not as extreme about it as Steve Heberman or John Stowell, though. In the other hand, Gene Bertoncini often plays the classical guitar with the instrument on his right leg and quite horizontal, although he also plays in the classical position.

    I have not tried any of the various guitar supports to tip the neck up with both feet flat on the floor. I do see more classical guitarists using those mechanisms. There may even be a benefit in terms of allowing the body to vibrate more freely rather than damping it with contact against the arms, abdomen/chest and thighs. The orchestral string instruments are not hugged like guitars are.

  17. #16

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    Re. classical guitar, I used to use a footstool but about ten years ago I started to get back pains (which I never got before), so I started using one of those dynarette cushions on the left leg. I still use the footstool as well, but only on the lowest setting, just for a bit of added height. So my feet are almost level on the ground now, and this has stopped all the back problems.

    I think the problem with having one leg up in the air is that it twists your spine, hence the back pains. Better to keep your legs and feet down on the ground at the same level, as much as possible.

    I used to play jazz guitar resting it on my right leg but eventually that caused back pain too, probably because I was hunching over too much. So then I started using a strap and it’s fine now, I keep my back straight and the guitar neck up where I want it.

  18. #17

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    I think position and technique are closely related to style...

    Blues and jazz players were initially self-taights... show me a self-taught who would choose to play in classical position without anyone around him to show it. The natural way is to grab a guitar and to put it on your left leg...

    blues- jazz phrasing is connected with wirst angle and three-finger 'along the neck' playing which is respectively comes from more horizonthal position of guitar (look at the pinky of Pete Bernstein, Pat Metheny of Wes -- it is almost under the neck.
    Good classical player would always have pinky over the fretboard available - you can do it only when you have much more vertical neck.

    Today it is possible to emmulate it with any technique of course. And modern jazz playing already may even demand from a player to take a different angle and left-hand technique.

    I come from quite solid classical school and it may sound strange but I feel that for me personally classical technique is too efficient for jazz playing)))
    Modern advanced classical technique is aimed to maximum efficiency, today it turns guitar much into a more universal medium for anything than it was before (and than it is in jazz).
    I do not want it to be too perfect.

  19. #18

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    I play seated with a strap (one for each guitar). The guitar hangs in classical position and everything falls under the fingers quite naturally. I don't hold my 2004 ES-175, I embrace it lovingly.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    Blues and jazz players were initially self-taights... show me a self-taught who would choose to play in classical position without anyone around him to show it.
    Me! Self-taught and started on the right leg. Then I started playing with a band that was a standup thing. It bugged me that the guitar was in such a different position. So I sat down with the strap still on and assumed a quasi classical position. And that's that for about 50 years. I'm happy sitting on a chair, a stool, a piano, a bar, or not sitting at all. I've been to auditions where there's nothing at all to plant your ass on. I'm glad I don't have to drag a special stool around.

    I do think that having a cello between my legs at an early age helped me feel OK about it. It's waaay bigger than a 17 inch archtop.

    Later I found about about foot-stools and started using one from time to time for a bit of shoulder relief from a '72 ish les paul custom. Those things can cripple even a 20 year-old guitar nut.

  21. #20

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    I started on a big heavy guitar that I propped up into position, and ~45° was the best I could do, so I got lucky there. Have to stand now, guitar still big but much lighter, so use a strap, and like citizenk74 says, it just naturally rests in classical position. Plus I can rest my chin on the upper bout and use my skull as a resonator bowl! Yes, mostly hollow/empty...

  22. #21

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    well in my humble opinion classical position is not only guitar/neck angle... it is wrist position.

    Most players when with the strap will have guitar at an angle -- Pete Bernstein, Wes, Benson and many others and it is nothing like classical

    tbh honest I think Joe Pass left hand is not classical too.

    John Stowell is very close to classical..

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    well in my humble opinion classical position is not only guitar/neck angle... it is wrist position.

    Most players when with the strap will have guitar at an angle -- Pete Bernstein, Wes, Benson and many others and it is nothing like classical

    tbh honest I think Joe Pass left hand is not classical too.

    John Stowell is very close to classical..
    Most classical players don't play with the guitar body held up as high as Stowell to where it's only a couple of inches from the chin.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by zdub
    Most classical players don't play with the guitar body held up as high as Stowell to where it's only a couple of inches from the chin.
    What I said was

    "well in my humble opinion classical position is not only guitar/neck angle... it is wrist position."

    John Stowell's left hand is really similar to classical conception.

    If you look at Paco's left hand - it is classical by conception but the guitar isalmost horizonthal.. Paco was sitting in his own way which later became popular, as a kid he started with traditional flamenco posture when instrument is being held almost vertically.

    Joe Pass just changed and angle of neck but his hand is mostly just regular grab.. his does not use thumb but his thumb is occasionally over the neck and he often plays with 'flat fingers' - not with tips... he has beautiful technique though, very elegant.


    There are classical guitarists who also do not play 'by the book' - those who have big hands and long fingers like Lorenzo Micheli for example...

  25. #24

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    I play Classical, Jazz and Bossa in CP. . . no strap. Good playing . . . Marinero