The posture and placement of the guitar can make a significant impact on guitar performance. In fact, many students’ perception regarding the difficulty of guitar performance can be attributed to an over-stretched arm reaching for the fretboard of a poorly positioned instrument. Another common sign of poor posture with the guitar is the bracing of right hand fingertips on the guitar’s soundboard, below the strings. This is usually a result of the player’s sensing that the instrument is not balanced. As a result, students use their fingers to hold the instrument in place.While an experienced player with good instrument placement looks perfectly natural, very few beginning players would intuitively assume such a position. The guitar footstool, long used by classical guitarists (who play in a seated position), elevates the leg to create a “platform” upon which the guitar rests. The few inches that the leg is raised makes a crucial difference with regard to the balance and placement of the instrument, not to mention the increased accessibility of the fretboard. The footstool can be used under the left leg (classical position) or the right leg (folk position). While the classical position provides the most balance for the instrument, folk position can also be helpful in achieving an appropriate playing position.
There are many types of guitar footstools, and can be purchased at music stores or online in the $10 to $25 price range. These are commonly made of wood or metal and are adjustable in height. A more economic alternative for players and instructors is to make your own footstool out of decking posts found at lumber and home improvement stores. A post that is 4″ x 6″ x 8′ (four inches thick, six inches wide, 8 feet long) can be cut into 6″ sections, with a single post yielding sixteen footstools. Some stores may even cut the post for you. With an entire post costing around $15, each footstool costs under a dollar to make.
Depending on its orientation, this guitar foot “block” has three possible heights, roughly 3.5″, 5.5″, and 6″. Students can experiment with the block on different sides to determine which one places the instrument in a comfortable position. These blocks are practically indestructible, inexpensive, and stack neatly in a milk crate-style case. Whether you decide to use a classical guitar footstool or a homemade foot block, the improved posture and placement of the guitar will ensure that your students gain full access to the instrument – minimizing the frustration, reducing muscle and tendon fatigue, and maximizing the performance experience.