I've been playing my S6 more lately and am struggling mightily with comfort/position holding the guitar. I prefer to sit while playing, as it is difficult for me to play finger style standing up. It doesn't matter how I hold the guitar (left leg, right leg, classical style, slightly off right leg, strap at heel pin, strap at headstock, etc) as I have to keep changing position to offset a variety of challenges, oftentimes repeatedly during a single song (especially if it is of a challenging finger style variety and if using the capo up a few frets). I have tried different chairs - some work better than others. If I play for several minutes while the guitar is on (or off-set) my right leg, I get a painful "crease" in my thigh. I tried changing pants and wearing jeans helps slightly.
Perhaps the most frustrating challenge is that when using the newly installed heel pin, the neck feels like it is diving leftward all the time and so I am constantly making adjustments (pulling the neck up, angled, and tilted) while playing. As I have mentioned in other posts, I'm petite at 5 feet tall though I have no problem getting my arm around the big lower bout nor do I have any problems with finger size, ability to stretch, etc. I just read Axeman's posts from last fall about his having to give up his S6 for a Grand Rustic because of the discomfort in playing such a big guitar. And he's 5'11!
Does anyone have these problems too? I hate the thought of giving up my S6. Any insights on finding the least uncomfortable playing style for this guitar? Maybe I need to get out my metal folding chair that I used to use at jams. I could sit in that chair and hold my Martin D18V slightly off the right leg with a strap for 2 hours continuously without even getting up! Of course I was playing boom-chuck bluegrass, and not, as I am doing lately, playing intricate Maasaki Kishibe passages with the capo on the 4th fret.
Edited to add that I tried the lap strap idea but it didn't work for me.
Well, I have a J-200 (Jumbo), HD-28 (Dread), Seagull Grand Artist (Parlor), and a Godin 5th Ave (???). I can say from my experience, the parlor size is the most comfortable for me (5'7" w/ smallish hands). The J-200 I love the sound, but is a bit big to play comfortably - I do play it, but I prefer the parlor for fingerstyle. Lately, the HD-28 I've been playing fingerstyle w/ fingerpicks, and w/o fingerpicks. The HD-28 size is a bit smaller than the J-200 and is more comfortable to play. The 5th Avenue is a bit awkward too, though I like it for Western Swing, Gypsy Swing, and playing jazz standards.
Overall, finding that 'right' position is a personal journey. I'm not playing out very much, and usually use a metal folding chair when I do, with the guitar resting on my right leg. I don't use straps. I found that I have some pretty strange playing positions when 'couching' it. Again, when on the couch, the parlor is the best fit for me, with the dread size next.
Just keep working with it, but I found the S6 a bit too wide and big for my hands, so I didn't get one though I loved the tone of those I tried.
Just got back from Frets and Refrains Music camp (A-MAZ-ING Fun!!)...recuperating and acclimating to reality ; )...
But ..i'm 5'4" and I have NEVER been able to play in a normal chair EVER. I either use a high bar style stool (for a little gig) sturdy enough so i can put my left foot up on one of the cross members with the other leg/foot almost in a standing position - so i'm almost leaning or I have a small stool.
When i say small i mean about 17" high with a little cushion for butt bones. Another thing i use is a cushion meant for the leg (Dynarest )that holds the guitar up so you either don't need a strap at all or if you are using one you don't feel any of the weight on your neck/shoulder.
I started out on a classical ...doing all those things with the foot stool etc. but i find that puts an uneven stress on my back that i don't like.
A chair is an appropriate high for you when your feet are firmly planted and most of the weight is on the butt not the back of the thighs ...if you can't plant your feet or at least one foot you're pitched forward and putting too much stress on lower
back and neck as you have your arms about the guitar....very bad.. especially as we get older and even worse if you have weak stomach muscles...
I'd try a small stool first just to see if your chair height is the main issue before doing anything drastic!
I see you have tried many things. I too have similar issues with being uncomfortable playing. My remedy was an old piano stool. It is adjustable for sitting height by turning the thing around and around, and goes low enough to get my feet on the floor. No back support but I'm alway leaning a little forward anyway. You might find one at an antique store.
Hope this helps,
Classical players often use a small pillow to cushion the guitar on their left leg. Special, wedge-shaped pillows are made for that, but perhaps a folded towel would stop the sliding and cushion your leg -- without adding too much height?
That metal folding chair sounds like a good idea, too. I'm no fan of the clanging about, but I'm thinking of pulling one out of the garage.
On guitar/body size in general, I begin to suspect that a player's body proportions, flexibility and positioning can be far more important than their hand size or height in finding a good guitar fit. Of course, I'm sort of new to all this. Perhaps I'm way off the mark?
I am 6' 2" and I also have a problem with my S6, although I'd probably have it with any guitar of that size. My problem is that I have a persistent pain in my right upper back, and it always seems to get worse when I've played that guitar. A few years ago I had an unrelated medical problem and I couldn't play guitar for a couple months and the pain went away. As soon as I got better and started playing it came right back.
I often sit in a comfortable chair with no arms and play guitar, and this seems to give me the most problems. Sitting in a hard backed chair is better. I now play a semi-hollow body guitar which is thinner, and that doesn't cause me much of a problem.
Other things I've tried are chiropractic adjustments, stretching and massage, which also helps.
I'm 5'7". Short torso, small hands -- but very long limbs. Stretchy arms and lots of lap space. While I love the look of an antique parlor guitar, I find that size crampy to the point of pain.
In some ways, my classical, with its wide, flat fretboard, is more of a challenge than my dread. I also tend to hunch over too much, even though it's full-size. But I love the string spacing on both. Maybe they're my equivalents of the fat crayons pre-schoolers start with?
Right now, I use a small wooden folding chair. But I think it's too low, plus it hits me in all the wrong places if I don't pad it.
For warm-up, I find full-body stretches every bit as important as finger and wrist stretches.
Sounds like you could try one of those "guitarest" devices, that allows you to adjust the guitar's position in your lap. I've never used one, but know folks who swear by them. Here's an illustration: http://www.deoromusic.com/deoromusic/guitar_support_placement.html
(no affiliation with the dealer or manufacturer)
Thanks everyone for the helpful replies. I checked out some of the guitar rest, neck up, etc devices online but they utilize plastic suction cups that may not adhere to a finish such as is on the S6 (not sure about this). I'd have to get something called Kling On plastic to use with it as well since the finish is not high gloss. Also not sure if it is safe for the finish on the guitar (maybe someone can speak to this).
Tonight I got out my folding chair and also got a terry bath towel to put on my lap and this configuration made a big improvement. The towel kept the guitar from sliding around and/or cutting into my leg. But I had to fuss around with the towel a bit to get it right. I may look around for a lighter (i.e., plastic) folding chair/card table chair for inside the house as my metal one is a bit of a move about.
Update: I just ordered one of these: http://www.neckup.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=SFNT&Store_...
I'm hoping it will provide the same kind of support as the towel but more consistent. :)
Well? Did it work? I am hoping it did, I have a friend who is 4 foot 11 and has the same issues you described. I had never seen the "Neckup" before.
@DJ: It actually works pretty well once you get the angle adjusted where you want it. It keeps the guitar elevated just enough so you don't have to make adjustments while you play. My only concern is I have to leave the adhesive strip on the bottom of my Gull in order for the suction cup to adhere to the satin finish.
Is the strip like sticky adhesive or more like post-it sticky?
The suction cups would stick HG finish without the strip, yes?