Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

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Sebastian
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Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by Sebastian » Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:17 pm

Greetings, I know many guitarists play with their instrument resting on their right leg instead of the left one.
Again, sorry for my English, it's not my native.


I understand some of them do so because they never studied Classical guitar so it's possible that they are not aware of many posture stuff.

Maybe the most correct question would be, why some guitarist who studied classical still prefer playing with the guitar resting on their right leg instead of the left leg?
Examples like:
Igor Presnyakov. He has a degree in classical guitar and ensemble from Russia's Conservatoire:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJhWnn92cWk

Sungha Jung. He did study classical guitar.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_xFh7XFC_w

I am aware that they are using acoustic guitars with metal strings but they still could use the other posture, and they have cutaway and slighter models than dreadnoughts so they can perfectly use the other posture. Also, the technique for playing acoustic fignerstyle and classical guitar is almost the same, acoustic fingerstyle derivates from the classical school (poliphony, right hand use, fingerings, etc...)

An ex teacher of mine, David Youngman, who specializes in percussive fingerstyle on acoustic guitar, still uses the classical guitar posture. Asked him the same question I'm doing in this post and replied "Maybe because many of them never studied classical guitar and hence don't know the posture". Yes, I'm aware. But then again, why do some of the guitarist who studied classical still prefer the other guitar posture?
Doesn't that compromise the left hand when trying to reach higher positions? In those videos they don't but they have others where they do reach high positions and still use the right leg posture. Also isn't the right perjudicated too with that angle? And the guitar is more unstable? What anatomical reasons are to prefer the other one to the classical one?
I started by playing using that right-leg posture but then changed to the classical left-leg one because I aknowledged it was better.

If anyone of you play using this position (after knowing the other traditional one), why do you perfer it? Did you find with time that it allows any kind of better movement, precission, reach, etc...? Because I always had that doubt and sometimes wondered if it would be productive for me to use time to adapt to the other posture to play that kind of repertoire.
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ronjazz
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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by ronjazz » Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:37 pm

Flamenco players will rest the guitar on the right leg, crossed over their left, and a very small handful of classical players. the classical techniques are very demanding, and the classical position with footstool, strap or ergonomic device places the guitar at its most advantageous position for both hands, generally speaking. many steel-string players use larger guitars and the classical position is uncomfortable because of that difference in size. you are the only one who can determine which is better, though, because everybody's physiology is different.
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Lorette
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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by Lorette » Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:39 pm

Hi Sebastian,

I was trained in the traditional seating position for classical guitar and rested my guitar on the left leg for many years. However, lately I find that my back aches after a while, so I cross my right leg over the left leg and rest the guitar on the right leg. This allows me to sit further back against the back of the chair thus supporting it. So, now I change position from time to time during a practice session.
I find no difficulty at all playing in the higher positions.

Lorette

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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by Sebastian » Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:55 pm

Lorette wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:39 pm
Hi Sebastian,

I was trained in the traditional seating position for classical guitar and rested my guitar on the left leg for many years. However, lately I find that my back aches after a while, so I cross my right leg over the left leg and rest the guitar on the right leg. This allows me to sit further back against the back of the chair thus supporting it. So, now I change position from time to time during a practice session.
I find no difficulty at all playing in the higher positions.

Lorette
Hi Lorette.
Yes one advantage would be that it is more comfortable for the body. A kinesiologist/amateur guitarist once told a teacher that, the spine can be put more rect and not turned to one side like in the classical posture. So yes the traditional posture may be more comfortable than the classical one many times.

Interesting, you stated that you can reach higher positions withouth difficulty. Would you be also comfortable playing with that posture the last three bars of La Catedral's third movement with that posture? I refer to the final B minor arpeggio. Or Villa-Lobos etude 2?
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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by Sebastian » Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:59 pm

ronjazz wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:37 pm
Flamenco players will rest the guitar on the right leg, crossed over their left, and a very small handful of classical players. the classical techniques are very demanding, and the classical position with footstool, strap or ergonomic device places the guitar at its most advantageous position for both hands, generally speaking. many steel-string players use larger guitars and the classical position is uncomfortable because of that difference in size. you are the only one who can determine which is better, though, because everybody's physiology is different.

Yes, many Flamenco players opt for that posture. But why? Is there any anatomical reason that states it is better with this posture and angle of arms and body overall? Is playing rest strokes or free strokes better with that posture? Why don't we use it for classical guitar?
Is it because the flamenco guitar is slightly smaller? But then again, romantic guitar is smaller and is played on the left leg (with, I think, a little strap attached to our back or something like that).

I also play acoustic guitar (fingerstyle) and have a Dreadnought and a Taylor GS Mini, I still find the classical posture better. The only example when right leg position is better was only for studying Andy McKee's Drifting.
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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by ronjazz » Wed Jan 30, 2019 8:50 pm

Sebastian: the guitar is profoundly unergonomic, so anatomical considerations are difficult to take into account. flamenco guitarists move more than classical players, because they have to follow the dancers, and this is part of the reason they position the guitar the way they do. there is also a certain psychology involved: I tend to play classical repertoire with a footstool and classical position (reaching higher positions is much easier, and it's more stable), I play flamenco a la Paco de Lucia position, as well as jazz, as it tends to appear and feel less "formal". I also utilize a strap for jazz and pop music gigs in order to stand for better stage presence or to be able to lead my group more effectively. As far as I am concerned, each player needs to find his or her own comfort zone. While the footstool does, indeed, cause back problems for many, I have never suffered that result, fortunately, but I tend to adopt different positions while practicing so that I won't develop back problems. As to why other players do what they do, you'll have to consult them, I should think.
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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by rojarosguitar » Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:08 pm

I saw Ricardo Gallén recording with his guitar on his right leg (
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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by Conall » Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:43 pm

The best position for the left hand is probably the cello position.

The ever increasing angle afforded by guitar supports approaches the cello position.

So if I (and I've noticed many other classical guitarists) am playing difficult music I will adopt a high position with the support leaning on the left leg.

However for teaching & for light & easy music I put the support on the right leg & sit back with my back against the chair's back. This also provides some relief in sitting position (when alternated with the left leg position) and has my guitar more angled towards my pupils sitting to my right.

As long as your back is straight & not twisted & you can reach left notes & stretches satisfactorily (which means a high angle, whether on left or right leg) it shouldn't matter what leg the support is on - or use a guitar strap - or cello endpin. It's just that on the left leg the guitar support puts the instrument at a higher & therefore more accessible angle.

P.s. I no longer use a footstool & after decades of using one & sometimes practicing for hours a day I would say it's not good for the back - it has certainly damaged mine.

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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by Sebastian » Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:38 pm

ronjazz wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 8:50 pm
Sebastian: the guitar is profoundly unergonomic, so anatomical considerations are difficult to take into account. flamenco guitarists move more than classical players, because they have to follow the dancers, and this is part of the reason they position the guitar the way they do. there is also a certain psychology involved: I tend to play classical repertoire with a footstool and classical position (reaching higher positions is much easier, and it's more stable), I play flamenco a la Paco de Lucia position, as well as jazz, as it tends to appear and feel less "formal". I also utilize a strap for jazz and pop music gigs in order to stand for better stage presence or to be able to lead my group more effectively. As far as I am concerned, each player needs to find his or her own comfort zone. While the footstool does, indeed, cause back problems for many, I have never suffered that result, fortunately, but I tend to adopt different positions while practicing so that I won't develop back problems. As to why other players do what they do, you'll have to consult them, I should think.
I once met a flamenco teacher and asked him about the position, he just replied with "it's just the way we play".
I'm also thinking, right now, that flamenco players have (if im not wrong) the habit to tap with their foot to create a percussive effect. That may be another reason they do it.
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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by ronjazz » Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:12 am

I don't think that a flamenco guitarist's foot-tapping would be heard over the dancing and singing, but many to tap their foot because that's how they swing!! Same with jazzers.
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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by guitarrista » Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:36 am

Sebastian wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:17 pm

Maybe the most correct question would be, why some guitarist who studied classical still prefer playing with the guitar resting on their right leg instead of the left leg?
[...]
Doesn't that compromise the left hand when trying to reach higher positions? In those videos they don't but they have others where they do reach high positions and still use the right leg posture. Also isn't the right perjudicated too with that angle? And the guitar is more unstable? What anatomical reasons are to prefer the other one to the classical one?
I play both classical and flamenco and use the same position for both - footstool under my right leg; guitar on my right thigh with the right leg directly in front of me; the other leg to the side at an angle; the neck angle is a bit flatter compared to typical classical guitar neck angle.

It is very comfortable. If anything, it allows for a better (more symmetric) alignment between body and work area:

Here a typical canonical classical guitar posture; work area in blue, and body mid-line in red. There is a large asymmetry to the player's left:

clasical_guitar_left_footstool_posture (750 x 967).jpg

Now here's a quick grab from a video showing Paco de Lucia using the footstool-under-right-leg posture I use (this is not his more usual posture of right leg ankle over left leg knee and guitar on right thigh); the work area is a lot more symmetric now; no functional temptation to twist or lean to the left:

PdL_right_footstool_posture.jpg

The only thing you are "giving up" with the second posture is that you cannot peak over your fretboard the way you can in the classical posture - but that 's perfectly ok with me. The guitar is also (as you the player is looking at it from your viewpoint) more at an angle relative to a line through your body from left to right. There are enough free parameters to ensure complete freedom, ergonomics, and functionality. In my particular case, it lets me use one posture for all playing so I don't have to adjust to two setups.
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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by Sebastian » Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:40 am

ronjazz wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:12 am
I don't think that a flamenco guitarist's foot-tapping would be heard over the dancing and singing, but many to tap their foot because that's how they swing!! Same with jazzers.
Ah maybe, but do all flamenco music pieces have to include dancers and singers.? I've seen some some interpretations of instrumental flamenco (soloist and duet, and then the duet with other people literally only palming as in an ensemble) without dancers and singing. I'm saying that foot tapping could be or is implemented in some genres (not necessarily flamenco) and that would be one of the causes of the left leg posture.

Even the posture of playing electric guitar standing up is similar to the classic position.The guitar is center in the middle of the body (when standing up) similar to the classical posture) and then the neck is raised or slightly raised.
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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by Julian Ward » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:03 am

This argument always goes on. People always reference Paco - Paco was not a human being.

There is no doubt at all that the traditional classical position allows for a more efficient LEFT hand, the streches are much easier, the left thumb naturally drops lower, you hand is simply much better placed. I have proved this many, many times with students over the years and myself. (I often play guitar on right leg when at weddings but I know I am not playing anything that difficult, so it doesn't matter). The right hand is not really affected.

Flamenco guitar sitting suits the flamenco style - it allows the right hand to easily sit out a bit further if required and the left hand doesn't need to be rangey and stretched out as in classical - that is not what flamenco is about. Flamenco is about rhythm and speed and much of the time the left hand is not required to climb stupidly high or fret across several frets. It is not even necessary to play the right notes... (that is just a joke to annoy the flamenco players)

The picture above in the classical position actually looks excellent, and if you look at the weight distribution, it looks wonderfully balanced. Not everyone can get this to suit them, so definitely experiment. There is no single right way to suit everybody, but don't copy Paco, he could play that guitar better than any of us ever will sitting in any old way he chose.
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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by guitarrista » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:46 pm

Sebastian wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:40 am
ronjazz wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:12 am
I don't think that a flamenco guitarist's foot-tapping would be heard over the dancing and singing, but many to tap their foot because that's how they swing!! Same with jazzers.
Ah maybe, but do all flamenco music pieces have to include dancers and singers.? I've seen some some interpretations of instrumental flamenco (soloist and duet [...]
A flamenco guitarist is more likely to tap a rhythmic pattern with his/her foot when doing solo work. That said, doing so is not easy.

Also, one important detail - you do it with flamenco dance shoes, which have nails hammered underneath to create a metal surface at the front and back (heel and toe).

As an example, here's Paco de Lucia again, in an archival footage, doing a continuous pause, tap, tap, pause tap, tap.. with his left foot over the flamenco compass of a buleria, while also playing the said complex buleria piece:


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Re: Guitarists resting their guitar on the right leg?

Post by guitarrista » Thu Jan 31, 2019 6:11 pm

Julian Ward wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:03 am
This argument always goes on. People always reference Paco - Paco was not a human being.
Hi Julian,

I am not really advocating for this posture, just to be clear. Nowadays, it seems the activism style of "arguing" (i.e. using a public space as a bullhorn rather than as a space to go back and forth and actually exchange ideas without an agenda) is increasingly more popular, which is unfortunate. I try to stay in the ideas exchange camp.

To your comment: actually I posted a pic of Paco because I knew he occasionally does that posture even if he is known for his other 'Paco' posture of right leg's ankle resting near the left leg's knee and knew where to find it online. Didn't want to waste time blindly looking for a different guitarist.

Julian Ward wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:03 am
There is no doubt at all that the traditional classical position allows for a more efficient LEFT hand, the streches are much easier, the left thumb naturally drops lower, you hand is simply much better placed.
Could you explain the 'why' of this in more detail? I've heard it stated several times and it is not self-evident to me. I mean, I was surprised myself how comfortable it was to adopt the right leg posture I described, and I don't feel any limitations (also I am working on a few Paco pieces so it is not like I do not encounter challenging left hand work). Are you taking into account that in that posture, unlike the classical posture, the line of the strings is not parallel to a line from left to right through the guitarist's body, so the guitar head is farther away than the lower bout in that plane? Asking because I could imagine that it would be awkward for the left hand if the guitar was as parallel to the body in that plane as it is in the classical posture.

Julian Ward wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:03 am
The picture above in the classical position actually looks excellent, and if you look at the weight distribution, it looks wonderfully balanced.
I specifically looked for an 'ideal" posture so the comparison is fair. BTW interesting point about the weight distribution being more symmetric in the classical posture. That is certainly true and I can see why in the more static (more than flamenco) classical setup this is important.

To the original poster - you asked if anyone here is doing that posture, and I presented my experience. There is no intended implication that you have to copy me, or Paco (in either that posture or his more popular "cool "posture). Don't blindly copy anything - sitting or hand posture - just use something which works for you and does not impede your technique and would not cause health issues.
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