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Thread: Sitting posture for taller players...

  1. #1

    Default Sitting posture for taller players...

    I'm a student of Mike Marshall's at artistworks. He advocates elevating a knee and putting the instrument between the legs to secure it, freeing up the fretting hand. I can get into this position and it does help to secure the instrument, but because I'm tall, I find myself really rounding over the instrument to "hug" the instrument. I believe that my longer torso makes this position too rounded and it's starting to cause discomfort in my back.

    My solution so far has been to put my (A-style) mandolin into my hip crease and keep both feet flat on the ground. This doesn't secure the instrument quite as well and I don't feel as "close" to the frets but it is more comfortable.

    Questions:

    1. Do any taller players have a solution for this problem?
    2. Does anyone worry that their standing position doesn't mirror their sitting position?
    3. Is this considered standard posture: Click image for larger version. 

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    4. Who are some of the taller pros so I can image search?

    There are clearly more than one way to skin a cat:

    https://s3.amazonaws.com/content.sit...jpg?1440609335

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    I use a strap whether standing or seated, except with the bowl backs. I am 6' 2" and already had back issues when I started playing, so I don't want to do anything to aggravate them, using the strap I can sit with a straight back, with the bowl backs I limit my playing time.
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    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    I'm not sure how tall you are,,I'm 6 ft..I use a strap that places the mandolin in the same position either sitting or standing. I don't lean to much but stand fairly straight and look at the side of the instrument,,..funny thing ,,for an A model,I've never used a strap,,just learned to hold and cradle it,

  4. #4

    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    Hi Dad......I am 6í2Ē and use a strap when Iím seated. I found that I was hunched forward and dipping my right shoulder towards my hip and that caused me some issues with those flank/back muscles for a time. I noticed that most pros when seated kept their backs pretty straight and turn their heads towards the fretboard while playing. Not sure how tall he is but Adam Steffey seems tall, don stiernberg is tall but I donít think itís a tall issue itís a posture issue so even short people should hold themselves properly to avoid any issues down the road.

    Edit:
    I wanted to add that itís important to have the proper size seat as well, the chair I was using made me get in the poor position BC it was too small for me. I found my ideal seat height is 21Ē and had a friend build me a box I can put the cushion on so both feet are on floor and my hips are level with my knees..Iím all legs so you may not have that issue.
    Last edited by bigskygirl; Oct-06-2017 at 3:09pm. Reason: Add info
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  6. #5

    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    I am just over 6', so I probably don't fit the taller player criteria. But I do have both an F and A model, and there are slight adjustments I make when switching to the A style. I too follow Mike Marshall method, and almost always utilize a footstool when sitting. The non-slip material intended for cabinet bottom lining helps a ton in keeping the A model stable when sitting. It is one more thing to carry around, but it really helps in my opinion. And I do raise my footstool a position higher when playing the A model. The higher position on the footstool helps me to avoid bending over the instrument too much. Also, I tend to want the strap helping a bit, so I try and keep it taught, and friction across the shoulders and neck is important.

    I have tried using the non-slip material on my right leg, only balancing the bottom on one leg, and not using the left leg. But that feels very unstable to me, and forces me to stay upright. I will drape the non-slip material across both legs, and anchor it much like I would my F style. The higher left leg makes up for the lack of the a point, and the mandolin stays stable, regardless if I bend over it or straighten up more when playing.

    Standing or sitting on a tall stool, I will mainly rely on the strap friction to keep the neck at the correct angle, with the right forearm lightly clamping it in place. Thinking of switching to a wider strap to help with this. The height difference doesn't seem that different from sitting and standing, and the right hand seems to be able to accommodate the slightly different position. I don't play this way much, and my less than stellar playing is even more less stellar when I stand.
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    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    When you keep straight posture you'll notice that you actually play better...

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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    I am 6'3". I don't subscribe to the Mike Marshall / Chris Thile approach because it doesn't work for me. I play an A-style with a strap and the mandolin position ends up being the same seated or standing. I tend to sit on a stool so that I'm higher up off the ground compared to a regular chair.

    In addition to the strap, I use an arm rest (McClung) and often a tone gard. The arm rest really helps me for whatever reason. It allows my right arm/hand/wrist to be in the right positions while also keeping the instrument in place.

    The tone gard adds weight to the body of the instrument and helps with balance so that the headstock doesn't tend to fall. Although, over time, I've been realizing I don't really need the tone gard as much anymore for seated playing. But it still really helps for standing. So I guess I'm not in the exact same position seated and standing.

    I can take my left hand off the mandolin without it really moving. The weight of my right arm against the arm rest holds it in place. If I remove both arms, I'm guessing the mandolin would not stay put, but I never need to do that. I think the mandolin also sits up against some natural "crook" in my body, somewhere around my pelvic bone on the right side.

    Anyway, this works for me and seems comfortable. It took me a long time to figure out a position where I was comfortable and I didn't have to sort of hold up the neck of the instrument with my left hand.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    Hi Dad......I am 6’2” and use a strap when I’m seated. I found that I was hunched forward and dipping my right shoulder towards my hip and that caused me some issues with those flank/back muscles for a time. I noticed that most pros when seated kept their backs pretty straight and turn their heads towards the fretboard while playing. Not sure how tall he is but Adam Steffey seems tall, don stiernberg is tall but I don’t think it’s a tall issue it’s a posture issue so even short people should hold themselves properly to avoid any issues down the road.

    Edit:
    I wanted to add that it’s important to have the proper size seat as well, the chair I was using made me get in the poor position BC it was too small for me. I found my ideal seat height is 21” and had a friend build me a box I can put the cushion on so both feet are on floor and my hips are level with my knees..I’m all legs so you may not have that issue.
    Interesting that you mentioned Steffey and Stiernberg as they both do the same thing (I think) when seated, which is put the mandolin in their hip crease. Here is Steffey: Click image for larger version. 

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    And here is Stiernberg: Click image for larger version. 

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    Benedict might be tall as well. He looks taller than Stiernberg in this photo: Click image for larger version. 

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    He has pretty good posture in comparison to other pros and always looks straight backed.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    I'd love to hear more on how you determined your optimum seat height. In a standard chair, my knees are slightly higher than my hip crease when my feet are flat on the ground. I'm guessing I should be sitting a little higher.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    Quote Originally Posted by dadsaster View Post
    I'd love to hear more on how you determined your optimum seat height. In a standard chair, my knees are slightly higher than my hip crease when my feet are flat on the ground. I'm guessing I should be sitting a little higher.
    I had a chart from the PT place that had the recommended seat height for various size people and we determined that 21Ē was just right for me...wouldnít you know I canít find it right now but Iíll look around for it. My legs are very long - my inseam is 36Ē - and Iíve found that men that are taller than me actually have shorter legs. We measured me sitting until my hips were aligned with my knees and it came out to the 21Ē figure. Now, just try and find a chair that size, they are made for the average person so I had a friend make me a box to put the cushion on the pick n glide chair I was using.

    I was using an adjustable office chair that I took the right arm off but that was not a real good chair so I couldnít really get it adjusted properly. Some of the more spendy chairs can probably be adjusted to your height.
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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    I'm on the other end of the size spectrum -- my feet seldom reach the ground unless I sit on the edge of the seat -- but I will just toss in to remember to relax your shoulders when you play. Hunching your shoulders, beside being bad for your back and neck, will make your arms seem shorter. You don't need to look at your fretboard to play if you stick in first position, generally, so that might give you more options to straighten your back, especially if you use a strap. just a thought.
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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    I use Mike Marshall's Homespun Videos, and just ignore what he or others say about cradling the mandolin anywhere on the lap. I've read and watched video lessons from a variety of teachers, and early on someone (Pete Martin? Brad Laird? Don't remember who) mentioned that I could use a strap and maintain pretty much the same position standing or sitting, with making little or no adjustment between the two. Sounded like great advice to me, so I'm in the camp of others above who've mentioned this.

    I love Mike and his playing, but really, his posture looks awful the way he hunches over his mandolin.
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    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    And me to the growing chorus of always playing with a strap, even when sitting.

    As has been mentioned, it eliminates the whole problem of playing in a different position whether sitting or standing.

    For me, 6'2" and back problems, it also helps make my back not hurt so much after playing seated for long stretches. Sometimes I forget to put the strap on while sitting, end up with the "hunched-over" approach, and my back starts hurting big time.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    I'm 6ft tall & i use a strap whether sitting or standing. The strap length places the bottom point at 'belt height'. With regard to 'sitting',i sit as it suits me,not Mike Marshall or anybody else. I have chronic lower back pain,& i need to lean back slightly. Mike Marshall,in the articles i've read,advocates leaning slightly forward - good for him !!. If i did that,i'd need a car jack to get me straightened up again !.

    For me,the bottom line is,use a strap,adjust the length so ''suit you'' & ''sit how you wish to''. the advice of others is simply that - advice. If it doesn't work for you,forget it,
    Ivan
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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    Just weighing in. . .

    I'm 6'-5" (and not fatt!) and always use a strap. I play standing a lot this time of year, 'cause when I get home, I like to walk about the house and play my mandolin!

    I also have problems with seat height. Actually, at the local jams, I'll often take two chairs (nesting type) and stack them to get another 2 inches or such? It really helps!

    I have this idea that I want to make a custom folding chair. Nothing fancy, just something that's 2 inches (or so) higher! (I'd love to see the chart on seat height.)

    I also have a long inseam at 36 in.

    In recent weeks, I've tried to restrap my mandolin - ala Steffy on his a-model. I didn't like that at all! Mandolin really wanted to pull towards the picking hand! I use my strap about the peghead.

    Have fun!

    f-d
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    Registered User John Gardinsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    I’m 6’5” with a 36” inseam. I try to fight the urge to hunch forward and keep my posture upright while seated. I usually plant the lower point of my F5 on my right thigh and go with it.

  19. #17

    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    So I found the table...


    Click image for larger version. 

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    Northfield NF5M #268

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    Quote Originally Posted by John Gardinsky View Post
    I’m 6’5” with a 36” inseam. I try to fight the urge to hunch forward and keep my posture upright while seated. I usually plant the lower point of my F5 on my right thigh and go with it.
    (my typical response when I meet/see somebody my height is, "What car do you drive?" I've been in a mercedes wagon for many years - 325,000 miles - and am beginning to wonder what's out there that fits?)

    I also am mindful of the hunch, but believe I still do it, sigh. . .

    f-d
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    I suppose that my lower back problem has forced me to lean back slightly to play,but honestly,it doesn't impede my playing one bit & i can't figure out why anybody else should have a problem. I can't help thinking that Mike Marshall's advice re.leaning forward,is more to be able to hear yourself play & have more control over the 'tone / volume' that you're getting,than the actual posture. In that,he's most likely correct. But - as i sit with my mandolin,using my strap,the strings are only about 10" away from my ears,& as i always play at ''gigging' level,i'd need to be pretty darned deaf NOT to hear myself !.

    What i do 'suits me', & i'd advise averyone to play in a way that's comfortable & which ''suits them'' - as the 'experts' do,
    Ivan
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  23. #20

    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    (.....- and am beginning to wonder what's out there that fits?)....
    We recently bought a Chevy Surburban and boy itís a beast! I donít have the long body issues you have but itís the first vehicle that I donít have to put the drivers seat all the way back to have enough room. The drivers and passengers seats adjusts in so many ways Iíll bet it would accomodate your body length. It rides beautifully and we are getting 21-22 mpg average highway...not as good as the Honda Civic we traded in - boy, what a difference - but at our age and for the amount of travel we do it works.
    Northfield NF5M #268

  24. #21
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    bigskygirl - Me & my wife might be going down the same road (not literally). We have a Ford 'Focus' Zetec,which is a lovely car,but with my back trouble,i have a real struggle even to get into it. I can't bend down low enough to get my head under the top door sill. I think our next car will be of the SUV type - a Ford 'Kuga'. For anybody who suffers from severe back pain,bending down is sheer hell !,
    Ivan
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  25. #22
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    +1 for a strap. A relaxed playing posture should never depend on what kind of seat you happen to end up on.
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    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    Definitely have only one position sitting or standing.

    For the tall person small seat/ hunching issue you could get a cellist’s cushion, or make one to size.
    Yes you have to lug it about, but you can put a handle or shoulder strap on one. Another plus is you always get to sit somewhere just as comfortable as the last place.
    Eoin



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  27. #24

    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    I remembered that a friend of mine has a cool chair (Adjustrite) she uses that adjusts for height (the tall one goes from 21-26'), its pretty comfortable...I think I need one myself...NFI

    https://www.sharmusic.com/Accessorie...Chair-Tall.axd
    Last edited by bigskygirl; Oct-14-2017 at 9:49am. Reason: add info
    Northfield NF5M #268

  28. #25

    Default Re: Sitting posture for taller players...

    Dadsaster, check out this video, was just posted on the front. Kym Warner playing a Colllings A style with no strap.

    https://pegheadnation.com/peghead-pa...after-victory/

    What struck me about this was how stable the mandolin position was.
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