Sitting while playing

  1. FredK
    When I first got my mandolin last year, I played from my rocking recliner. Itís comfortable, plush and wide; easy on the butt. During a video review by Mike Marshall on ArtistWorks, he noticed the recliner I was sitting in and suggested an armless chair with a firm seat. His reasoning made sense. I had already figured out that you canít use the same posture/playing positions that you can with a guitar. So, I started practicing in every armless chair in the house from straight backs to ottoman to several different folding chairs Ė ending up with a old wood desk chair that Iíve had for 50+ years. Itís a few inches lower than standard chairs which works well with the adjustable footrest, and it has a contoured seat. Itís working for me now but I canít stay in it as long as I could in my school years.

    I researched other seating arrangements for mandolin and became interested in the Pik-n-Glider. Thatís a nice piece of furniture but I canít find anything that would fit our house and my style. Too, itís bigger than I want and need. Then, I saw recommendations for a drummerís throne which piqued my interest. One has a bicycle seat with good reviews that looks good for long term sitting for about $160. Itís on my short list but, for some reason, I havenít been able to pull the trigger on it yet.

    Seating is a personal preference but Iím curious as to what type of chair yaíll use when you play seated. How does it work for you? What do you look for in a seat? Does the chair really make a difference? And, if youíve had any experience using a drummerís throne, Iíd like to hear about that, too.
  2. MikeZito
    For many years, as an electric bass player in a band, I used padded bar stool and sat at the back of the stage. I continued to use the stool for a couple of years longer, after I became a solo artist. I had often thought of using a drummer's throne, but couldn't find one that sat as high as bar stool; (I felt that by using a high-seated bar stool, the visual appearance of the band looked more consistent, as opposed to sitting on a low stool and looking 18" shorter than everyone else in the group).

    Long story short - if you are going to play at home, an armless glider-rocker would be great . . . but if you plan on playing on stage, and get into the habit of sitting while you play, you may want something a bit taller for a good visual stage appearance.
  3. HonketyHank
    I have a pick-n-glide chair downstairs, but most of my picking takes place upstairs in my cave. The p-n-g works great for me when I use it. Upstairs I have an old office chair that I slouch in. Not a recommended way to go, but it is comfortable and I can hear myself even with the mandolin padded against my belly. I look kinda like Mike Marshall's "don't sit like this" pose in one of his videos. I did remove the arms from my upstairs chair.
  4. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Seems to me something with a back promotes better posture.
  5. Trav'linmando
    11 months of the year I play in the left seat of my truck. 6 way adjustable with good lumbar support. And a very upright position. When at home or otherwise off the road I prefer a kitchen chair or something similar. The drummer stool sounds good. My nephew has a drum kit and I will have to try his stool the next time I'm in Idaho. I also carry a portable tripod camp stool in the truck also. BTW, don't ask me to stand up and pick.
  6. SOMorris
    I just use one of the armless chairs from our dining room set. It has a padded seat, straight back and is very comfortable to sit in and play.
  7. mwillis
    I have a old teachers chair and a high kitchen chair I can sit at for quite some time
    I have noticed I play better when sitting then standing is that common its a total different feel
  8. FredK
    It's interesting to hear your thoughts on seating. I've practiced standing, too, but sitting is my preference. Normally, I have my sheet music, laptop and notebook on a table next to me so it's more practical.

    MikeZito, I've tried our barstools and that just seemed awkward - probably because I need to plant my feet on the ground (and footrest) for now. There may be a day when I perform onstage but that will be a ways off. I still need to make it to my first jam session! (Yes, I'm jealous of the rest of you on the other thread talking about your first jams. Mine will be coming soon.) Back on track, though, I do eventually intend to play publicly (not professionally) so I'll keep the stage presence in mind.

    Hank, I try to follow Mike's posture recommendations but it seems that he hunches over the mandolin more than I feel comfortable. I prefer a straighter back - it's easier on my back. As long as I keep the neck up, it works for me. But, I do fall into that slouch you talk about every once in a while. It's normally when I get too engrossed in the piece I'm working on and I'm into my 2nd hour on it.

    I noticed that several of you mentioned the back on your chair and lumbar support. With a guitar, I can sit back and use the chair backing but not with the mando. When I do, my fingers start getting stupid on the fretboard. Guess it's that posture thing. It helped me to hear everyone else's thoughts on this. Thanks.
  9. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    "I try to follow Mike's posture recommendations but it seems that he hunches over the mandolin more than I feel comfortable."

    +1 to that!
  10. Bunnyf
    Fred do you think that the tendency to hunch while playing mandolin is because we want to look at the fretboard? On guitar I sit up straight. When I'm practicing mando I try to sit up straight and follow my regular technique (not looking at my fingers) but my fingers which aren't quite use to the new fretboard go astray and I catch myself tilting and hunching. My back aches. I look at a lot of folks playing mandolin and see a lot of hunches out there.
  11. FredK
    Bunnyf, I think for some there is a tendency to hunch to look at the fretboard while others compromise their hand position to see their fretting. I've seen the latter on some YouTube videos where the player is sitting back in their bed/sofa or they are sunk down in a very soft, plush cushion.

    We all have to see what we are doing at times, especially when learning new music. My comment was about Mike Marshall's style which works for him but not for me. He's adamant about good posture - which is important. He definitely does not need to look at the fretboard because he knows it forwards and backward. I admire his work and his playing which is why I take lessons from him. The ease and fluidity of his right hand technique fascinates me. I would love to play that well.

    Back to topic - when I first started playing, I leaned over more and watched my fretting hand. Now that I'm more at ease with the fretboard and don't have to watch my left hand as often, I'm like you in that I like to sit up straighter. I feel less tension when I do so. It also forces me to keep the neck high so my left hand stays in a proper position. I think it's best to train to the point that I don't have to watch all of the time. That's the practice makes permanent part of the equation. I still have so far to go, though.
  12. Radish
    I'd never thought about how and where I sit. So far I've just been using either my desk chair, or the comfy chair that's in the same room. Both with arms. Going to experiment with armless chairs now, see what it does for my practicing. The Pick-n-Glider looks interesting, but that's also a lot of money for a chair. Don't think I can convince the wife of it's necessity yet. :D
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