Getting good playing posture when seated at home has always been tricky for me. Most often I wind up turning my left foot on its side, then resting my right on top of that as a sort of biological footstool, to bring the thigh with the guitar on it up to a nice height. Or, for playing on the left thigh like a classical player, I’d arch my left foot up uncomfortably, ball on the floor, heel strenuously raised, hovering, as though wearing an invisible stiletto. These awful positions are likely to blame for various cramps in the calves, require effort that could be diverted to facial expressions, and probably have a not-so-great cumulative effect on the body of someone who’s employed them for just under 20 years.
And there’s no way I was getting one of these little nerd jacks:
Enter the short-assed barstool that exclusively embodies the seating solution of the musical equipment retailer. They always look so cool in the guitar stores, don’t they, these branded stools? Direct-from-the-manufacturer, promo kind of shit. Like having one of those big canvas banners with “Marshall” printed on it. Rock furniture. And if you hook your heel on the little hoop around the middle, voila: perfect playing height, with no strain.
Until recently it cost $100-125 to have your own, which is batshit crazy for some Chinese tube steel and vinyl, but for unknown reasons (let’s assume low sales) prices crashed. This Fender stool cost $64 with tax, delivered, from Guitar Center. And you’re not limited to Fender; I assume one company makes them for everyone, as you get Gibson, Vox, Jackson, Gretsch, Marshall, Korg… loads of versions that look identical, bar the logos. There are even several variations with drum logos (Pearl, Sabian, Zildjian etc.), but frankly drummers have it a bit too good in the sitting department already, getting to sit down throughout live performances as they do, and should not be permitted any more seating than they already have.
Doesn’t the very sight of it make you want to take a mildly detuned, low-end LTD to your bosom, and play Crazy Train, loudly and inexpertly, upon it? It’s like the amp section of Guitar Center came to you. Sadly, we’re not there yet. When you order online (the stores only have a generic, unbranded version) what you receive doesn’t look much like a barstool.
But it’s okay. There are instructions.
The problem with the instructions is that there are just two steps. These seem to be:
- Build entire stool in one move
- Put the round bit on
The first step is like a reverse explosion, with every part going into the structure at once. Ikea knows that we are stupid and require guidance about what order to screw things together. Not so, the musical barstool people.
You will get it though, as a bit of common sense is all that’s required. Be on the lookout, however, for Bolt X.
Self-assembly furniture engineers consider it sport to futz with your noggin at an unexpected juncture during a build; the guitar stool people are no exception. Bolt X is not mentioned in the parts list, nor referred to in the instructions, and being only marginally shorter than another set of bolts, you may think you simply have a spare. You do not! It goes right here, where the two leg pieces cross, at the center of the whole shebang, and is probably quite important:
With that done, the rest yields to some form of logic and pretty soon you have a wicked-looking muso’s barstool just like you dreamed about for the past three days. As is often the case, the parts are not adamantium; if you use your full man force on the nuts and bolts you will damage them, so save your purple-faced, moist-upper-lipped straining for your 4×12. My guess is that, with use, this thing’s going to get creaky, so best to leave the allen bolt heads in a shape you can tighten now and then, yeah? Yeah.
It complements a Strat nicely, I think, and having something purpose built for rawk, rather than a beat office chair/old piano stool/sex harness, lends it a solicitous, invitational air, like it’s beckoning: “Why not come hook your boot and play some guitar? I’m for guitar. Look, I have a guitar brand on me. I am the noodlage throne.”
My playing posture is better, my leg is at the right height without using one of those dorky footrests or standing on my ankles, and if I ever move to Jersey and put a wet bar in the basement, I have a head start on the furniture. It’s not the softest seating available, though presumably it will break in a little. Try one out at a store and see if it does anything for you.