Holding the guitar near-vertical

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
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LarryShone
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Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by LarryShone » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:37 pm

I read an interesting interview with Angel Romero (amazing life he has had!) and on the subject of new players he has this to say about posture:

"I am seeing fantastic players,” he says, “but there is one thing I don’t like about the way some people are teaching them. I don’t understand why they are being taught to hold the guitar like a cello, with the neck straight up. Forget it. To me, this position makes the left hand work against gravity to move down the neck and then going up. It feels different to raise your hand than to drop it."

I have seen at least one young professional holding the guitar like this and it does look odd! The player uses a foot stool but the bottom of the guitar is between the legs, making the stool look redundant! But what do you all think of Romero's comments regarding going against gravity?
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prawnheed
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by prawnheed » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:06 pm

Either way can work fine.

Personally, I find a more traditional guitar position more comfortable, but that's probably just because that's how I've always done it.

Cellists and bass players seem to manage fine playing upright so I am sure the gravity thing is irrelevant.

Intune
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by Intune » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:07 pm

Gravity is an issue at first, but one gets used to it -- just as a cello player gets used to it -- and it becomes second nature after a while. I play guitar in the cello position with an endpin fit to my instrument. I adopted this posture because of back problems caused by years of footstool playing, and it reached the point where even guitar supports didn't help. Fortunately, I found out after much experimentation that playing in the upright cello position did help...enormously. Better to fight gravity (at first) than to fight back pain, or to have to give up guitar-playing completely because of it, as have many guitarists (Christopher Parkening comes to mind, but there are others, I'm sure). I think Angel Romero is being too conservative here, and the obvious success of many "upright" players undermines his argument.
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LarryShone
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by LarryShone » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:41 pm

prawnheed wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:06 pm

Cellists and bass players seem to manage fine playing upright so I am sure the gravity thing is irrelevant.
Thats kind of what I was thinking, but part of me thought Angel Romero knows his onions as it were.

By the way I got myself a foot stool for the first time and it certainly helps!
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:47 pm

AR is a wonderful artist but here seems apparently unable to think outside his upbringing. The catalogue of players incapacitated by traditional posture is considerable. While the newer postures are perhaps too new to say for sure, the likelihood is that the use of guitar rests and the kind of angle he objected to there should reduce rather than increase the harm we a prone to. In particular, postures that reduce the twist of the torso and the spine, and the holding out of the head, seem very likely to assist long-term success. The small matter of dealing with gravity with one's left arm seems a small price to pay, especially if the instrument is held fairly low so the nut is not up above one's ears.
Above all, no matter how we sit (or stand, Andrei!) the important thing is to be relaxed. It is actually possible to be so with quite strange traditional postures, as many long-term players attest (though scrutiny of their physio bills might be revealing), and its possible to do everything 'right' and still be rigid with tension.
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prawnheed
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by prawnheed » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:20 am

LarryShone wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:41 pm
prawnheed wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:06 pm

Cellists and bass players seem to manage fine playing upright so I am sure the gravity thing is irrelevant.
...
By the way I got myself a foot stool for the first time and it certainly helps!
I generally use a baked bean tin for a footstool. I used to use an old paint tin, but as I've gotten older I've found the bean tin to suit me better. I expect to progress to a small tin of sweetcorn later in life.

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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:27 am

As a related aside, I just noticed how low and far away from his head John Williams holds the neck of his guitar.
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by woodenhand » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:37 am

Out of curiosity I tried this way of holding the guitar. My observations (which may not apply to others):
1. This seems very natural for the right hand. I found a hand posture immediately.
2. For the left hand, gravity simply is not a problem. I can't imagine why it would be.
3. I found it hard to get enough leverage to hold a barre. It seems that a different left-arm posture is needed.

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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by JohnH » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:36 am

One thing you could do if you have the guitar supported on an end pin on the floor and held like a cello is the thumb position where the thumb is on the fingerboard.

Marlene Finch
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by Marlene Finch » Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:33 am

Greetings,

I'm a complete novice here, but I found your posts about posture and guitar positioning very interesting.
In the line directly below, I'm quoting another post (but can't figure out exactly how to use the quote function :roll:
"The catalogue of players incapacitated by traditional posture is considerable. "

Can you tell me more about this....?

Also, one person indicated the use of an end pin. I'm curious, how long is the end pin that you use?
I ask because, in the past few weeks (told you I'm a novice:) of practice, I've discovered that the further upright I hold the guitar, the more comfortable I am.

Thanks Very Much!
Cheers!
Marlene

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HNLim
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by HNLim » Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:21 am

20180126_131926.jpg
Looks like many are trying to follow the Chinese.
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LarryShone
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by LarryShone » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:53 am

HNLim wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:21 am
20180126_131926.jpg
Looks like many are trying to follow the Chinese.
Oh nice Pipa!
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by Peskyendeavour » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:11 am

You know, I am a firm believer that because we are all unique, everyone's comfortable position is different to another.
Paul Galbraith plays beautifully, upright. Carles Trepat plays beautifully, relatively low 45 deg or less. David Russell plays beautifully, quite high up 45 deg or more.
As long as one plays musically and are comfortable, who's to say the right or wrong? In truth Music is to be listened to... is it not more important to think about the tone production and sound that comes out? If you can produce the sound you want by holding it however, who cares if you do it upside down, back to front... its just like if someone is left handed and play it on the other side, should it matter?
Personally I change positions throughout my playing, footstool, support, cross legged, it depends on how I feel that day maybe...
Perhaps because I play for my own amusement and don't have to be judged in the professional arena, that may make it very different, if you are professional and competing or somehow in the open domain then I suspect the criticisms received may be very different from those for hobbyists?

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:09 pm

Marlene Finch wrote:
Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:33 am
...
I'm a complete novice here, but I found your posts about posture and guitar positioning very interesting.
In the line directly below, I'm quoting another post (but can't figure out exactly how to use the quote function :roll:
"The catalogue of players incapacitated by traditional posture is considerable. "
Can you tell me more about this....?
That was me :)

Well, the trouble is everybody is different and has different reasons for doing whatever they do; anecdotally, various players over time have been reported as leaving the performance profession due to physical issues. So this is about as unscientific as you could get without being ridiculous not least because I at least have kept no record of such incidences as have been mentioned over the years and have never researched it.

Plus, many players, including myself, might cite some physical issue as an excuse for quitting performance when really its just a less embarrassing thing to say than, "I realised I wasn't good enough". Certainly, of the vast majority of players who go through a phase of getting some recitals, getting some nice reviews, maybe making a recording and a few broadcasts, the vast majority end up quitting and either getting a salaried job or fall into teaching guitar. Some of them will have picked up difficulties related to posture which may well only start to kick in and hurt badly in their 30s or 40s.
Equally, a high proportion of even the still successful ones will at some stage experience some postural issues and/or over-use issues, again often after a couple of decades in the job.

So in one sense my quote above is an example of a statement that maybe should not have been made, because it rightly attracted the need for clarification, and as I have said, I have no concrete evidence, just experience, and observation. I would suggest that it is probably true, which is why I still wrote it in the first place. I should though probably change the word "incapacitated" because it implies permanence, which probably is not the case.

To use the quote function, find the post you wish to quote, and hit the big quotation mark icon on the right near the writer's name. If its long, I like to trim it down to the bit that is relevant, using ... to show bits are missing. Some write <snip> or the like.

If you want to answer sentences individually its trickier, but you can copy/paste the " [/quote] " bit where you want the quote to end and paste the [quote= NAME etc where you want it to pick up again. Use the Preview to check it hasn't gone all ratty on you.

Extra hint; just in case you get locked out of the forum when you hit Submit, copy and paste the whole text first, if its more than a few words. Otherwise you lose the lot. Happens sometimes.
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Intune
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Re: Holding the guitar near-vertical

Post by Intune » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:36 pm

Marlene Finch wrote:
Also, one person indicated the use of an end pin. I'm curious, how long is the end pin that you use?
I ask because, in the past few weeks (told you I'm a novice:) of practice, I've discovered that the further upright I hold the guitar, the more comfortable I am.
That was me, Marlene. The endpin I use is 20" long. Just as with a cello, it telescopes inside the instrument body through a hole in the bottom and is held fast by an endpin fitting with a thumb screw. This configuration allows for considerable length adjustment of the endpin, raising or lowering the guitar off the floor to find the most comfortable height for the player. Since most endpins have sharp, pointy metal tips that will wreak havoc on a floor, it's a good idea also to have an "endpin stop," a special bit of wood which sits on the floor to house the tip and thereby protect the floor, and also to keep the endpin in a fixed place so the instrument won't move around and create instability while playing. It's all much simpler in use than it sounds.

One caution if you're indeed serious about trying out an endpin: experiment first with a cheap guitar, not a good one...and also use a cheap metal endpin rather than a more costly carbon fiber one. That way your experiment will require minimal financial investment, and if the endpin isn't your thing after all you wouldn't have spent much money. You can find cheap endpins and endpin fittings on the internet. Installing them requires drilling a hole of about 1" in diameter through the end graft of your guitar, so it's not for the faint of heart! I would suggest having a cello repairman do the work, since most guitar repairmen are probably unfamiliar with the procedure. PM me if you have any further questions. And good luck!
Intune
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