Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
gtrfinger
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Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by gtrfinger » Sat Dec 11, 2010 1:12 am

As a fingerstyle player of 20 years I have tried many times playing on the left knee but it always feels stretched and awkward. I am prepared to give it another go if you think its worth it, but I'm not convinced I can shake such a long held habit.

Given that so many guitarists of renown have never used the left knee, including my favourites from the British traditions such as john renbourn and Clive Carroll, and more internationally, Paco de Lucia, Chet Atkins, Tommy Emmanuel etc etc , what is the main reason behind the left knee position.

My understanding from recent research is that Sor and Aguado also preferred right knee.

I invite your thoughts.

Mike
google Mike Fowler guitar

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Cary W
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Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by Cary W » Sat Dec 11, 2010 1:53 am

Hello Mike. At least one well-known player and teacher supported the guitar on the right leg elevated on a footstool. Search Sigfried Behrend Greensleeves.

You will find the style that suits you best. One member of this forum, Matthew McAllister, changes position often. Look for his videos here and on Ytube.

There are many advantages to the traditional posture, and some problems too. Most of us have learned to adjust it to suit our different shapes.

Also check out Pepe Romero, for his variation on the traditional position.

Regards,
Cary
2008 Yamaha GC31C Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ46
1987 Yamaha GC-3 Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ45

gtrfinger
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Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by gtrfinger » Sat Dec 11, 2010 2:30 am

Thanks Cary, that was indeed very quick. I'll look into those guitarists you mentioned.

But what is the reason behind the left leg/knee position? It must be preferred by CG players for SOME reason. I assume it affords the left hand less tension somehow (not for me). It can't just be a traditional thing surely...
google Mike Fowler guitar

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mverive
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Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by mverive » Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:55 am

gtrfinger wrote:Thanks Cary, that was indeed very quick. I'll look into those guitarists you mentioned.

But what is the reason behind the left leg/knee position? It must be preferred by CG players for SOME reason. I assume it affords the left hand less tension somehow (not for me). It can't just be a traditional thing surely...
I tend to think that since supporting the guitar using the left knee is the *traditional* way, some purists think it is the *only* way, and chastise those who believe otherwise. Ditto the use of guitar supports rather than a footstool.

I prefer using my ErgoPlay on my left leg, but sometimes pull out the footstool for a change of posture and to vary the strain on my back. I'm also getting an adjustable drummer's throne soon, and will be able to play around with finding what height works best.

Mike
"(P)Lay on, MacDuff, And damn'd be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'"

Marc Pilon

Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by Marc Pilon » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:02 pm

As Cary mentioned there are tradeoffs to each approach.

I personally don't like the guitar on my left leg using a footstool because it throws your spine out of alignment. Another thing I don' like about this approach is that your left arm is more elevated, and I find that more tiring.

However, with the guitar on the left leg, your left hand is almost parallel to the neck, which certainly facilitates playing all over the fingerboard--a plus ergonomically. Conversely, with the guitar on your right leg, your left hand is somewhat at an angle to the neck, which is somewhat of a drawback.

With all the guitar supports around nowadays, I would think one can position the guitar at a good angle with regards to the left hand, without throwing the spine out of whack.

You should probably experiment and see what works best relative to playing ease and comfort.

Best of luck,

Marc

briancorll

Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by briancorll » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:31 pm

I started out as a fingerstyle steel-string player. Whenever the left knee method of supporting the guitar doesn't work for me, I switch to the right knee with the guitar placed horizontally. I find it works much better for me when doing bar chords. Oddly enough, this is often referred to as the "Spanish position". Hmmm....

peluche

Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by peluche » Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:46 am

I think Cary's statement about Siegried Behrend being a proponent of an alternative CG position needs to be corrected (at least partially): if you do another search on youtube for "Siegried Behrend: Die Gitarre", you can see why:

In this video, after performing a nice flamenco-like piece, he explains (in German) some basics about the guitar sitting position, and then goes on about guitar history, etc.

Starting from about 2:50, he says (my translation): "If you see me playing like that occasionally [with guitar on right leg] in my recitals, [...] that's simply because I often love to eat quite a lot, which is why I am a bit fat [sic :shock: ], making it very strenuous to sit like that all night. But this [putting guitar on left leg] is the only correct way to be sitting when you play the guitar."

Make of that what you will. At least he's remarkably frank for a TV show in the sixties or so. But it seems he didn't advocate an alternative CG position. At least not officially :) (BTW his left-leg posture seems similar to Pepe Romero's.)

-- peluche

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Cary W
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Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by Cary W » Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:30 am

peluche wrote:Siegried Behrend being a proponent of an alternative CG position
A few years ago I attended a concert by Montreal guitarist Davis Joachim. He played the entire concert with the guitar on his right leg, elevated with a footstool. I asked him about this after the concert (and for an autograph) and he explained he had spent some time in studies with Sigfried Behrend, and this was one of the postures they worked with.

Just so you know I didn't make this up.

Cheers,
Cary
2008 Yamaha GC31C Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ46
1987 Yamaha GC-3 Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ45

peluche

Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by peluche » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:11 am

Cary: I knew you weren't making this up -- after all, in almost all photos that I have seen, Behrend appears in that "alternative" position.

What I suspect is that in reality he very much preferred the right leg -- but rather guiltfully. :) Or maybe he switched to the alternative position as the "official" one later on in his live and taught that, I simply don't know.

BTW personally, as an amateur player who has no teacher, I couldn't care less; frankly I'm free to use any position that suits me fine -- just like everyone else. But it seems to me that there are good reasons why there hasn't been a bigger number of CGists who have chosen that position yet. Using the right leg as a support has some obvious advantages, and it looks more relaxed to most people, but to me it's immediately clear that the drawbacks outweigh those advantages. (My very personal and very limited testing showed me there are problems with: a) stability, b) LH too low, or fingers not perpendicular enough on fretboard, c) probably leads to sitting with curved back -- plus you get all the other spine problems associated with a foot stool if you use one under the right leg.)

However, Beherend himself is proof enough that it just might work very well -- even though the video I was talking about shows he was aware about those drawbacks. :)

Cheers,

-- peluche

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David Norton
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Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by David Norton » Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:17 pm

Laurindo Almeida also used the right leg. Check out YT for some videos of his playing. He has the neck of the instrument swung out away from his body as well. Luiz Bonfa, as well.

My own observation is that, for me, right-leg playing causes my right shoulder to lift uncomfortably high.
David Norton
Salt Lake City, UT
First person to complete the Delcamp "Let's Learn Sor's Opus 60" project

smilinjohn

Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by smilinjohn » Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:19 am

How about the CG on no knee / leg? Todd Tipton of St. Paul, MN, www.toddtipton.homestead.com , has an article on his website suggesting the use of a wide guitar strap be employed.
:)John

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Tonyyyyy
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Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by Tonyyyyy » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:46 pm

Occasionally will play sitting on a sofa with the guitar on my right knee .The lower bout is supported on the sofa and it is very stable and comfortable. In another thread a couple of other players 'confessed' to this too.


Usually I will use a gitano on left knee

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BugDog
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Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by BugDog » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:03 pm

With the guitar on the left leg in the "classic" position, the guitar doesn't move around so much. I can take both hands and arms off the guitar and it stays put. Not so on the right leg.
BugDog
There's one in every crowd.

Alan Stancliff

Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by Alan Stancliff » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:15 pm

Philip Rosheger, noted composer and outstanding classic guitarist, often plays with his guitar on his right leg. He was the first North American to win the international guitar competition in Santiago de Compostela. I was privileged to study under him in the 1970s.

You can see some of his YouTube videos, but unfortunately, some of them are not of good technical quality. Perhaps you can see how he holds his guitar in them.

Once, on only a few days' notice, after Michael Lorimer became ill, Philip had to substitute as guitarist when the San Jose Symphony played Rodriguez's Concierto de Aranjuez to good reviews.

Regards,

Alan Stancliff

jfdana

Re: Guitar on right knee. Terrible?

Post by jfdana » Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:39 am

Well, here's a youtube vid (submitted by the performer) of Ricardo Gallen playing Bach. Having been to a concert and masterclass, along with dinner, he is a great musician (and raconteur) who has chosen the "over-the-knee" position and makes it work remarkably well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8l5HrqnLlQ

JD

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