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  1. #1

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    Hello all,
    I found a thread on this but it was 5 years ago, so I'll just make a new one.

    Recently, I've been playing only sitting down in an office chair with arms. This has me sitting like so:



    ... and I've been getting pretty good during the lockdown, I thought. Technique has gotten much more clean, and I can play way faster than earlier this year.
    Last night, however, I realized that I had only been playing sitting for about a couple of months, so I got up to play, which looks like this:



    ... Which afaik, is a good enough posture?
    Anyway, I suck big time standing up. It's like I've never held a pick before. I also got sore in my right shoulder pretty quickly.
    I'm thinking, though, that my technique and posture sitting down can't POSSIBLY be healthy. I'm hunched over and pointing the neck downwards. I don't understand the loss of technical capacity in my picking arm, since I don't anchor sitting or standing. The neck pain is a big thing too.

    Any thoughts on this? I'm thinking I might just screw around with strap height and see if I stumble upon something that's "just right", but I'm having a hard time understanding what might be the optimal ergonomics for standing up and playing electric guitar.

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  3. #2

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    Opinions will vary on this one but it seems like guitar's position in relationship to your body is very different when you're sitting down vs standing up. I hold the guitar in almost exactly the same way whether I'm sitting down or standing up which helps the transition a lot. Strap is not loose when I'm sitting down but holding the guitar in a similar position as I'm standing up. The jack area of the guitar is sort of resting on my knee.

  4. #3

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    Playing in an armchair is a disaster for your technique. Standing up is all about hanging it where it works good, and sometimes strap button location is a factor.

  5. #4

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    Yes, forgot to add. Ditto on arm rests.

  6. #5

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    My best guess (which worked for me) would be to try different heights and see which one works best for you. You could even go so far as using two straps. One if you like to sit and one for standing.
    It all depends on what you feel comfortable with. Experiment, play and decide which positions you like best.

  7. #6

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    It's much easier and more practical to adjust the guitar to your body than otherwise. Sitting and standing posture, guitar-wise, should be as close to the same as one can get. In my practicing, and even on certain gigs, I stand up from time to time in order to increase blood flow and secondarily to be able to stand for a solo or to sing, should the situation call for it. Far too many guitarists develop back and neck problems from sitting all the time because that's their habit, developed when they knew nothing about spinal alignment, etc.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz
    It's much easier and more practical to adjust the guitar to your body than otherwise. Sitting and standing posture, guitar-wise, should be as close to the same as one can get. In my practicing, and even on certain gigs, I stand up from time to time in order to increase blood flow and secondarily to be able to stand for a solo or to sing, should the situation call for it. Far too many guitarists develop back and neck problems from sitting all the time because that's their habit, developed when they knew nothing about spinal alignment, etc.
    I'm with you on your larger point. I'll share a description of what I've found works best for me (at a ripe old age where ergonomics can take its toll if one is not careful)...

    Unfortunately, I find it's easier to adjust my body than to adjust the strap properly. And that's the problem I have needed to carefully solve.

    I've spent time closely checking for that ideal "tug" on the neck from the strap while seated (just enough / not too much). Otherwise, I tend to contort my posture instead of making further adjustments in the strap length. Playing without maintaining an ideal posture is a long-term disaster waiting to happen.

    From time to time, it's well worth checking your seating posture: Keep the concave bottom of the guitar resting gently on your thigh (either left or right), ensure you are sitting up straight - with your neck holding up the crown of your head (as if your head were suspended by a thread from the ceiling), even while you're head is tilted downward just slightly enough to see the guitar's neck.

    In this position, tension from the strap on your shoulder should be right on the edge of being unnecessary ... just to encourage the position of the guitar not to move much, if at all. But barely tugging on your shoulder at all.

    Then, if you stand up, the full weight of the guitar is now held up by the strap on your shoulder. But the position of the guitar should closely mirror what it was while seated.

    And yes, if you are cursed with an armchair while seated - which many of us are in our music room/computer chairs - be certain to turn and twist the chair such that your picking arm is not touching the armrest. Armrests in the way create another ergonomic disaster in the making.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Playing in an armchair is a disaster for your technique. Standing up is all about hanging it where it works good, and sometimes strap button location is a factor.
    He mentioned that he sits in "an office chair with arms". The OP could do what I did-turn the chair upside down and see if the arms are screwed into the body of the office chair. Unscrew the arm or arms that get in the way.

    Also use a classical foot rest on one foot. this has the effect of making you sit more upright and makes your back press into the chair's back rest.

    And finally, try a balance cushion like this:

    amazon.ca/gp/product/B07F64NPVN/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I have developed arthritis in my lower back, so believe me, I know all the tricks! :-)

    Doug

  10. #9

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    My suggestion would be to try using a rather tall stool (I have a height adjustable drafting stool) and sit more on its edge so that the guitar hangs on your body pretty similar to how it hangs when you stand up. Doing this, you're sort of "resting" your butt on the stool, not really sitting into it fully, knees bent at a much less shallow angle than sitting with your back touching the backrest of an 18" chair.
    Also, while sitting like this it's not a bad idea to stand up for a few minutes every half hour or so.

  11. #10

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    Great question Q,
    I think one should play in whatever position is the most comfortable and produces the greatest facility. Being a hybrid player: Classical/Jazz/Bossa, I find I am most comfortable when sitting on a Classical guitar bench/seat. I haven't played with a strap standing upright in 50 years and doubt I could do it comfortably and with facility again since my brain has been hardwired to sit. Of course, I don't dance, gyrate, or jump while playing . . . just play. Also, I use the Classical position when playing Jazz/Bossa since the traditional Jazz guitar position is not comfortable for me. It's much like one's choice of strings . . . play those that feel the most comfortable. I hope this helps you. Good playing . . . in a sitting position . . . Marinero

  12. #11

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    Who is to say what is right and wrong position; you can only look at your experience and that of others to see if you can find something that works for you. That said, I'll tell you how I do it... really just two things, the position of the guitar and the position of the strap.

    Just so you know where I'm coming from, I play four hour standing shows with an almost 10 lbs. guitar using a 3/4 inch wide strap without padding, so I think I have figured out what works for me. Maybe something here will help it work for you.

    First thing I notice in your pictures is that you are doing it very differently than me, which does not mean it's wrong, but is just an encouragement to try the way I do it (and others for that matter) and see if that helps.

    In both your seated and standing positions the guitar is way over to your right side. Both arms are subject to some stress when positioned like that. You hold your right arm back to your right side, stressing the arm as when reaching into your back right pants pocket, which over time is going to ache, and the left arm being held forward in front of you which sets up additional tension is the muscle to the left of your neck under where you are positioning the strap.

    What I do in both sitting and standing is center the part of the guitar where I pick to be over the center line of my torso - my picking hand is over my navel with my right arm in a very neutral position without having to be held in place, and my left hand is extended away from my torso with some separation between my elbow and my ribs. This makes a more acute angle of the wrist to the finger board which naturally gives the hand and fingers better mechanics. You can test this yourself by playing high up the neck and comparing with the guitar positioned far to your right and then far to your left... when you position the guitar so that the place you pick is over your torso's center line, the guitar neck will be quite extended out to your left, but you may likely find that this is very comfortable for both arms, hands, and fingers... give it a try.

    I also place the strap out over the firm corner edge of my shoulder. When the strap is placed between the neck and corner of shoulder, the muscle underneath is depressed and creates an additional tension that tries to pull your neck to the left. That tension is not decreased by distributing the down force across a wider or padded surface, it's just made more comfortable for a while. This is the same principle as bending a string to a certain pitch; the tension increase in the string to reach that pitch is the same whether you bend with one, two, three, or four fingers. The more fingers used, the less discomfort involved, but the important thing is that the tension in the string increases the same amount, and if you imagine that string as the muscle between your neck and the corner of your shoulder, you can see why the problem is not the width of the strap or the amount of padding; it is the position of the strap itself above that muscle.

    The corner of the shoulder is very hard and fortunately when you center your picking the position of the guitar being shifted out to your left natural encourages running the strap out over the corner edge of your shoulder, where there is no tension on the neck muscle, both hand positions enjoy better mechanics, and you can stand and play for hours without ever thinking a thing about it. Anyway, at least that's how I do it; it naturally seems to integrate with my playing technique, feels very natural and relaxed to me, and I hope you give it a try to see if it helps.