The importance of posture to guitar success

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
Jeremy Hickerson
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The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Jeremy Hickerson » Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:13 am

Hello everyone,

I noticed in some video recordings I made recently that my posture was very tense and inefficient when I was playing. Here are some thoughts on what I am doing to improve that. I am convinced that this problem is one of the main things that has been keeping my playing at a plateau ( a low plateau :o )


Youtube
Jeremy

Guitarras: 1973 Manouk Papazian (Spruce/Morado), two I have built, and an old Telesforo Julve parlor size

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:13 am

Everything you say is spot on - I'd only add that its real hard to do that without 1-1 tuition.
I was a bit uneasy how very bent your left wrist got sometimes, and would suggest experiment with a slightly greater neck angle.
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Jeremy Hickerson
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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Jeremy Hickerson » Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:17 pm

Thank you, good suggestion!
Jeremy

Guitarras: 1973 Manouk Papazian (Spruce/Morado), two I have built, and an old Telesforo Julve parlor size

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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Rognvald » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:07 pm

Jeremy,
There are 9,347 books minus 14 written on guitar posture. They all have basically the same thing to say. Try them, see what works and what doesn't. That's step one. Step two is quite different and that means taking into account serious position flaws with your hands and body(of which you've already read) and find a position that works for YOU. It may not be pretty or refined but if it allows you to execute good technique, consider that you're not an actor on a stage but a person who makes music. It's all about the music, not your musical posture since some are thin, tall, short, chubby, etc. and all require a comfortable posture for THEM. There's a great Jazz pianist in Chicago, Stu Katz, who used to be part of the house band at Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase in Chicago. Stu was a consummate pianist who could travel the range of human emotion across the keys and an exemplary technician. However, when Stu used to take a solo, he would hunch over the piano like a tortured gargoyle and stick out his tongue, wagging it wildly from side to side in his open mouth to the humor of those who never saw him play. But Stu is a musician. The travelling artists paid for HIS sound and the audience was never displeased. What was the importance of posture to his success? Everything, and somehow in his twisted torso and tongue that wagged like a Boxer dog, he made beautiful music. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Jeremy Hickerson
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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Jeremy Hickerson » Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:50 pm

I take your point. I have seen great jazz guitarists with their thumb sticking out high on the bass side of the neck. I play jazz that way myself, on an electric guitar, and I was thinking about trying to change this, until I saw a video of Dan Balmer (great guitarist from Portland Oregon, whom I've also seen live many times) playing that way.

But in my own playing at least, I've noticed that classical guitar is much less forgiving, and that what works fine for me on a low-action, amplified, narrow neck guitar causes all kinds of problems on the classical guitar. That said, I agree with the idea of an individual finding what works for them. But I'm pretty sure on the classical guitar, it will end up being a low-tension, high efficiency, relaxed posture of some sort.
Jeremy

Guitarras: 1973 Manouk Papazian (Spruce/Morado), two I have built, and an old Telesforo Julve parlor size

Jeremy Hickerson
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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Jeremy Hickerson » Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:20 pm

And I'm convinced that failure to correct my posture is the main thing that's been holding me back as a classical guitar player.
Jeremy

Guitarras: 1973 Manouk Papazian (Spruce/Morado), two I have built, and an old Telesforo Julve parlor size

Rognvald
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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Rognvald » Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:04 pm

Jeremy Hickerson wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:20 pm
And I'm convinced that failure to correct my posture is the main thing that's been holding me back as a classical guitar player.
J,
The great thing about music is that perfection is never achieved. And, a serious musician finds himself climbing from plateau to plateau in his quest for the Holy Grail. This is part of the frustration with the serious study of music and part of its allure. And, there is certainly a world of difference between an electric guitar and a classical one and you are correct, as I also mentioned, that technique IS important to climbing the ladder. However, experimentation is necessary to find your most comfortable position and that is different for all players. When I was playing full-time(yes, there's some humor here), I would occasionally find myself hitting a musical and mental dead end. If I didn't have any gigs to play, I would take a one or two-week hiatus from my instrument and do anything but music. Many times, I found that when I returned, I thought more clearly and was able to resolve musical issues I was struggling with to conquer. Of course, as I mentioned in a previous post, I was practising a minimum 4 hours daily and gigging 3-5 nights a week. Perhaps there was an overload issue. However, you might want to take a break for awhile and see what happens. I hope this helps. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Jeremy Hickerson
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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Jeremy Hickerson » Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:30 pm

Now I have a whole theory on the 4 hours a day vs the casual player (1 hour a day, like myself), but that's another issue. (My take is that you need 4 hours a day to master the instrument, there's no shortcut. But, you can get pretty good on 1 hour a day if you can find and work on key areas. That's what I'm trying to do right now).

As far as taking a break, I took that break (from classical guitar) for the last three years, and as you point out, I'm now coming back to it with a different attitude and I think some new insight (part of which is this posture idea). For one thing, when I started playing Classical again after mostly playing electric for 3 years, I noticed I had somehow gotten better on Classical. Especially on my low-action classical guitar. But my good guitar is concert action, and playing that well was still a problem, just like before. So I could get around this just by playing the lower action classical, but I know that it's possible to play well on a concert-action, since the good players do it, and I wanted to be able to do that.
Jeremy

Guitarras: 1973 Manouk Papazian (Spruce/Morado), two I have built, and an old Telesforo Julve parlor size

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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by AndreiKrylov » Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:50 pm

yes, your posture is bad for your back, spine, concentration and ability to play a lot.
and sitting posture is hard for one's back in general.
I promoted here playing in free standing/moving posture with strap.
please try that.
Good luck!
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Jeremy Hickerson
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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Jeremy Hickerson » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:29 pm

I agree, playing w/ strap (which I use on electric, I generally play standing) works very well and solves some of these problems. I think a similar benefit might be found in using the guitar stand that some classical players have been using, rather than holding in the traditional way.
Jeremy

Guitarras: 1973 Manouk Papazian (Spruce/Morado), two I have built, and an old Telesforo Julve parlor size

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:34 pm

Jeremy Hickerson wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:29 pm
I agree, playing w/ strap (which I use on electric, I generally play standing) works very well and solves some of these problems. I think a similar benefit might be found in using the guitar stand that some classical players have been using, rather than holding in the traditional way.
Yes, do consider trying out one of the guitar rest options, if as it seems, you are fairly tall ad long limbed, that can be a factor in tension and posture issues.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Francisco » Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:09 am

For me the main problem was the strong asymetry and twisting created on my lower back by having one leg raised on a footrest. Lower back pain became more and more frequent. All this disappeard with a simple guitar cushion. I have a small Dynarette and a larger Flanger, and both work very well. I find the other gadgets too complicated to put on and off. I find anything with suction cups especially unreliable, as they come off frequently. The cushions are very light and easy to carry anywhere.
Using a strap does not work very well for me, mainly because I like to be as steady as possible, sitting down and with both feet flat on the ground, and able to lean over to look at the frets when needed. Besides, having most of the weight of the guitar pulling down only one shoulder creates another kind of asymetry and quickly becomes uncomfortable for me. Cushions are simple and great.
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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Rognvald » Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:16 am

" But my good guitar is concert action, and playing that well was still a problem, just like before. So I could get around this just by playing the lower action classical, but I know that it's possible to play well on a concert-action, since the good players do it, and I wanted to be able to do that." Jeremy Hickerson


J,
There is no need to struggle with a classical guitar where the action is too high or too uncomfortable. I have 4 guitars and for every one, I have tweaked the action at the nut and the bridge to facilitate better playability. Some players have monster hands and can easily play a stock Classical, but others need to suit the action to their playing style and the physicality/size of their hands. I remove my bridge insert and slowly sand the bottom before re-inserting and checking the action. I also lightly sand the grooves of the nut in the same process and recheck the action. It may take me a month or more to get the action I want without creating string buzz or loss of volume. In a worst case scenario, I can always replace both parts for a small cost and start the process again although, in all honesty, I've never had to do it. I believe I have had an advantage in my study of CG coming from a Jazz background. And, that advantage is that I don't care what the academic consensus is for situation A or B, I do what I need to do to make good music. You will never be a Bream, Segovia, Fernandez or Guiliani . . . you can only be Jeremy Hickerson. I hope this helps. Playing again, Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Rognvald » Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:32 am

"My take is that you need 4 hours a day to master the instrument, there's no shortcut. But, you can get pretty good on 1 hour a day if you can find and work on key areas. That's what I'm trying to do right now)." J


J,
One last thought . . . you will never accomplish anything on 1 hour a day. One hour will give you 30 minutes of a light warm up and a half hour to accomplish little, if anything, at all. A minimum 2 hours a day will give you progress albeit a slow progress in your goals. If you do not focus on technique in your warm up, you will forever be condemned to the status of a "bedroom player"-- as one member of this forum so aptly described. One thing I used during a period of my life where I was very busy but still wanted to maintain my chops was to get up at 6 a.m., practice an
hour, get ready for work and then put in another hour after dinner. A strong caution . . . the evils of Stolichnaya, Russian Standard or Sobieski Vodka cannot be tolerated. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Jeremy Hickerson
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Re: The importance of posture to guitar success

Post by Jeremy Hickerson » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:48 pm

Thanks for all the comments and ideas!

jeremy
Jeremy

Guitarras: 1973 Manouk Papazian (Spruce/Morado), two I have built, and an old Telesforo Julve parlor size

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