Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
duende

Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Post by duende » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:10 pm

It has been my experience that, regardless of whether I adopt this or that playing posture, the lower bout of my guitar is slightly unstable --- it tends to move forward ---- at my right leg, and it's having an adverse affect on my playing. So, I'm wondering, have any other players here found this to be a problem, and if so, did you find a way to resolve it?

I've come across only one source where the issue of stability on the leg is addressed, an essay by Graham Wade titled "Some Thoughts on Posture and Holding the Guitar" (EGTA Guitar Journal no. 1, 1990), but it deals only with the left leg (which is not a problem for me). For what it's worth, here's what he has to say about it:
"Carlevaro suggests the use of a cushion on the left leg to prevent sliding, the cushion being made from sponge or slip-free material such as latex. The problem of the guitar’s ability to slide freely is a crucial matter. Many players become accustomed to the guitar’s inherent mobility and actually move the instrument slightly during recitals and practice sessions. Others, particularly those who employ Carlevaro’s concept of a sponge cushion, or Dumond’s foam rubber friction holding the instrument, become used to a more or less fixed guitar which cannot shift and around which the player’s hands move rather like a pianist’s hands over the fixed plane of the keyboard.

In such a situation the positioning of the right arm becomes less significant as a means to the guitar’s fixture during playing, the hold being taken by the legs, not the traditional points of support. Similarly the left hand is then not tempted to hold the guitar in place in any way. Some players, sometimes without realising its full extent, do use the left hand as a way of stabilising the guitar and inhibit its manipulative functions by so doing."

I've experimented briefly with a sponge on my right leg, but found it to be insufficiently effective, as it tended to move. As for other slip-free materials, I'm concerned about their potential to damage the shellac finish; if anyone has used a non-slip material successfully with a French-polished guitar, I'd like to hear about it. My preference, though, would be to find a solution that involves only posture modification.

Any advice would be appreciated.

George

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Re: Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Post by Supperconductor » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:22 pm

Hi George,

I use a product called "Kling-On Guitar Stabilizer". I found it very effective for keeping the guitar stable. However, my guitars are not french polished so I can't say whether or not the finish will be affected. The Strings by Mail site sells them.
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Re: Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Post by Robin » Sun Aug 05, 2012 1:07 pm

Eduardo Fernandez has an excellent section in his book, Technique. Mechanism. Learning. He discusses position in Chapter 2, beginning with his rationale and taking the reader through a series of applications to help them find a position that works well for them. His premise comes from Carlevaro's teachings when he quotes: "The guitar should adjust to the body, and not the body to the guitar."

I think it is important to start from square one when re-assessing position. Start without the guitar. Check your sitting positioin (sitting on "sits bones" toward the front of the chair, feel flat on the floor--are you balanced?) How is posture? Many times we think of good posture as a stiff, straight position but I like to have students think of their spine, from coccyx up to occiput as long, as if there is a puppet string pulling them erect. Breathing is free and easy. Shoulders are relaxed and even. Check tension in neck, face, jaw. Release it.

All this for positioning your guitar? Yes. If your underlying position is poor, it will have a domino effect on everything else.

One of my teachers has students then play "air guitar". Once a person finds a natural position for their arms with out the guitar, the guitar can be placed in their arms. Most of the time, it is a comfortable, ergonomically efficient position. This "trick" works really well. Adjust your foot stool or guitar support to that natural playing position.

You can experiment with the tilt of the guitar as well to see if there is less sliding (once you have re-assessed your position). The various gripper materials work well too. I use these all the time. I just use shelf liner material from the hardware store. It hasn't harmed my finish yet but I do not have a french polish.

Best of luck in solving your problem!

Robin
So much music, so little time.

duende

Re: Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Post by duende » Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:52 pm

Thank you, Kam and Robin, for your advice.

Robin, my current posture and my efforts to resolve the "sliding guitar" issue through posture modification are consistent with your advice. I'll experiment a bit more with my posture, but I think that the use of some kind of gripping material is going to be needed. I've already tried this, and it worked well; I'll just need to find a material that does little or no damage to the FP finish.

George

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Re: Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Post by spinality » Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:30 am

[edit: I am mostly responding to the discussion of posture/which leg/back problems rather than the OP's question about how to avoid slippage. I have do deal with slippage problems that are more severe than those who use a traditional posture.]

This is such an important topic that I am reviving this old thread. I'll mention a few other strategies.

1. Consider using a strap. If your guitar has strap buttons (not as rare on good guitars as they used to be), a little extra support across the back can change the whole tension equation. I know of several working musicians who have done this and reduced their physical difficulties.

2. Consider strong lumbar support. If you have positive pressure on your lower back, e.g. from a strap-on chair back cushion, this can change the geometry and give better results. In my case, I now have a slightly more upright/back-leaning posture, and my instrument is slightly back-angled and up-angled. This has helped me a good deal with lifelong discomfort problems due to degenerated discs.

3. Reconsider received wisdom about guitar position. If you look at the legendary Flamenco players, for example, you see very surprising positions (right leg, crossed legs, no footstool, etc.) that don't seem to create any technical barriers. Instrument posture is a huge problem for guitarists, especially as we age. I was forced to stop playing entirely for ten years due to an inability to hold the instrument. It took a lot of experimentation to come up with a technique that a) is physically possible and b) produces acceptable music. I am certain that what works for me would not be the best for most people. Your own mileage will vary.
Last edited by spinality on Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Post by Bill B » Sat Oct 22, 2016 3:01 am

A small square of foam shelf liner (a roll from the dollar store) will definitely stop any slipping. Ive used them in the past. I don't use them now, but when I had that problem, this solution worked for me.
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Re: Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Post by simonm » Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:27 pm

duende wrote:...I'll just need to find a material that does little or no damage to the FP finish.

George
The traditional solution is a chamois leather. A car accessory place might be a good place to look.

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Re: Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Post by markodarko » Sat Oct 22, 2016 1:37 pm

simonm wrote:The traditional solution is a chamois leather. A car accessory place might be a good place to look.
What about wearing leather trousers? Or even... Cowboy chaps! Could give you an unique look when performing too. :-D
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Re: Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Post by lagartija » Sat Oct 22, 2016 2:00 pm

A microfiber cloth works well, too.
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Re: Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Post by Open_C » Sat Oct 22, 2016 5:13 pm

Interesting topic; I spent more time than I expected to worrying about this issue when I moved to classical guitar, but this quote from the OP turned out to be the answer for me:
Many players become accustomed to the guitar’s inherent mobility and actually move the instrument slightly during recitals and practice sessions
I gradually came to realise that although the lower bout did indeed tend to slide back and forth to a greater or (usually) lesser degree, the thought of it moving was what was more distracting to me than the small physical adjustment of moving it back into place or compensating for the small movement. When I came to terms with that in my mind, it stopped being an issue and I just consider it part of playing guitar these days.

Obviously if the guitar is slipping so far that it's affecting your entire posture then there's a problem, but in my case it's generally very small movements which I realised I could correct or compensate for very easily - when I stopped worrying about it, it stopped being a problem.

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Re: Problem - Stability of Guitar at Right Leg

Post by celestemcc » Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:04 pm

I use pieces of 1mm neoprene across each thigh. Holds the guitar in place and doesn't hurt the finish at all.
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