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What are the advantages and disadvantages of supporting a classical guitar? I know of three methods, each of which has some variation:

  1. A footrest
  2. A stand or cushion that rests on the left leg and supports the guitar
  3. A strap

I recently bought a footrest, since I'm trying to add classical guitar techniques to my repertoire, but I found that it causes back pain by forcing my spine into an awkward position. I'm intrigued by some of the stands available, but they cost more money than I want to shell out without knowing if they're actually a good investment.

My preferred option is to use a strap connected at the top to the neck where it joins the body (I have a conventional strap, not one that connects to the sound hole). I've found that I can quite easily hold the guitar in a classical, neck-high position with a strap. Yet I haven't seen any good classical guitarists use a strap.

What are the pros and cons of choosing one method over another? And are there any other viable options I haven't considered?

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Are you sure you use the footrest correctly? The position is not great for everyone, but it's not inherently awkward to the spine. –  leftaroundabout Apr 14 '12 at 20:33
    
@leftaroundabout: I'm not sure how it can be used incorrectly. The point is to elevate my left foot high enough that my leg can support the guitar in a suitable, neck-high fashion. The footrest's position on the floor relative to my body has a small effect but not much. –  Scott Severance Apr 16 '12 at 0:33

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You should look into braces that attach to the lower side of the guitar to prop it up on your thigh when you are sitting with both feet flat on the floor. Here is a list of many models of guitar supports by several manufacturers, at StringsByMail.com. All of these models do not permanently attach to the guitar, although some have special instructions to avoid marring the finish on the guitar depending on whether it is finished in French polish, nitrocellulose, or polyethylene or polyurethane finishes. I think this kind of support is a good option because many of the various models are not too expensive, and are easy to try out since no modifications needs to be made to the guitar itself.

My best advice is to find a chair whose height is just right for making your lap surface parallel to the floor. No higher and no lower. This is a neutral position with the least amount of stress on your body. Read about the Alexander Technique (I'll leave it for you to look up the reference) regarding proper posture for musicians and singers.

Classical guitar luthier Kenny Hill, responsible for implementing a lot of innovative ideas, has a new classical guitar, the Stand Up Model, whose body dimensions and back angle are designed for playing standing with a strap.

Click on this link to read his blog post essay about why he thinks playing classical guitar standing, with a strap, has many advantages over the traditional seated position. Quite an unconventional idea for traditional classical guitar.

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For me I tend to use my leg without anything else, some people even cross their legs and thus give a higher stand for the guitar.

I really like the footrest, and it's good if you play sitting down, many footrests allow you to change the height. I can't see any disadvantage with that one.

The cushion is all right, but as I said above, crossing your legs could do the same thing (in my case I can't really keep my legs crossed for long periods of time, so this could be a nice alternative).

The strap I would only use if the guitar was prepared for it, I mean, placing it at the neck might be OK, but at the sound hole I suppose it may damage the guitar. This method also only seems adequate for playing standing up, not sitting down.

When I play standing, I place my left foot on a stool like if it was a stand, that's very practical, since it elevates my left leg and I stand the guitar there. Sometimes I use the right leg, it gives me a non-natural position, but in some cases I really like the playing position.

Concluding, my favourite is the footrest, as it is (for me) the most practical and customizable of all the methods.

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I've using a support since a few years, and I love it, I'm totally adict now. Confortable, healthy and inexpensive. I'm an amateur player (as you can see) but I know of more profesional guitarists that use it and recommend this kind of support.

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