Standing vs. Sitting

Posted: September 17, 2010 by Paul H in Tips & Tricks
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StandOr SitMy 88 year old neighbor’s brother is the guy standing in the middle of the picture. He was the pilot of this WWII bomber. Speaking of standing, is it harder for you to play when you’re standing? Guitar players have had to deal with this problem since the invention of the guitar strap. Most of us practice while sitting down, right? This is just because, if you practice a lot, standing can become uncomfortable. After all, you’re working with your hands, not your legs. The problem with sitting, is that when your playing really counts, at a gig in front of people, you are usually standing.

Furthermore we compound the difficulty by wearing our guitars, at least mid-way to low. Wearing your guitar high just doesn’t look rock and roll.

The bottom line is you’re just going to run into all kinds of difficulties and differences when you’re playing that lick while standing up vs. playing it while sitting down. There’s really no way around this, except to always practice standing up, which I don’t recommend.

Now, here’s the first secret:  Just play what you are very comfortable with, or what’s easy for you. Be practiced up enough, so that you are not playing anything that’s too hard.

Here’s the second secret: Even if you have difficult parts to play, probably 90% of what you’re playing isn’t going to be the really insane stuff.  So, get into a comfortable position for just the hard parts.

I recently saw a video of Slash on stage and when he played a real difficult solo he knelt down on the stage so his guitar was in a position almost like he was sitting. In a recent video of John Petrucci, during one extremely difficult passage, he had a chair next to his rig, that he sat down on. Michael Schenker balances his V between his legs which holds the guitar steady during difficult passages, this is almost like sitting. In researching Dimebag Darrell the other day for the Boss Pedal Settings, I saw him playing the solo to “Cowboys from Hell” live. He was kneeling down on the stage for the difficult solo. I often prop a foot up on a floor monitor to raise my guitar on my knee for hard stuff.

The third secret: When you are on tour, you are standing every night. After you’ve played ten gigs in a period of two weeks you just can’t help but get good at playing while standing. That’s why bands are so good after they have been on tour. After a lot of gigs you’ll become like a well oiled machine.

Finally, the next time you’re in the studio playing a real difficult solo that you may have to play live, ask yourself, can I get away with something less difficult?

  1. Tommy Z says:

    Thanks for your insight! I was thinking about this recently because of an upcoming audition.Standing is something all of us should work into our practice at least for a little while.Your right.. being in a band helps alot.

  2. rsgoldsmith says:

    How about adjusting the strap so that the guitar is in the same position on your body whether you’re sitting or standing? I want to be able to play my best either way and not have to edit my playing just because I’m standing. Having said that, I always seem to play better when I’m sitting because (I think) the weight of the guitar on the left shoulder does have an effect on the left arm and hand. What do you think?

  3. Tommy Z says:

    It’s like Paul says about players in bands.It’s something you get used to.Like you mentioned, just get a comfortable strap length and have at it.When you have to play something difficult find a way to steady it or yourself for the best possible approach.

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