On what leg do you rest your guitar?

Tele295Tele295 San Buenaventura (Latcho Drom), CA✭✭✭ Gitane DG300, D500
edited August 2010 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 629
Michael's excellent books and the traditional GJ players of yore recommend resting your guitar on your right leg, same side as your picking hand (so left leg if you pick with your left hand).

Maybe it's my classical guitar background, but I find it much easier to keep my right hand floating in proper Gyspy Picking style if I rest the guitar on the left leg/fretting side, a la a traditional classical posture. I also find there is better access to the fretboard in this position. I'm even considering digging out my old footstool.

Am I a freak? (Yes, Miles, yes, you are :roll: ) Does anyone else prefer a classical posture when playing GJ? Are there any drawbacks to the classical position other than the "That's not the way Django did it" school of thought?
Jill Martini Soiree - Gypsy Swing & Cocktail Jazz


  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    I rest on my right leg, but a year ago for about six months I played with the guitar on my left leg, I too have a classical background. I found exactly what you said, it seemed to open up my left hand reach and my right hand fell at a good angle for gypsy picking, and I got a warmer tone. The major drawbacks were playing la pompe sounded a little weird and some chords were more difficult, I experienced some back pain (common problem for classical players) and the need to raise the left leg with a footstool was inconvenient for jams. Other than that it worked ok.
    I went back to the regular way at Samois because carrying a foot stool around wasn't very practical and I seem to get brighter louder tone with the standard posture, my pompe's better plus the back pain went away as soon as I switched back.

    I say do whatever works best for you and don't worry if it looks different, if you play good nobody will care.
  • TexasrockabillyrebelTexasrockabillyrebel Denton, Tx✭✭✭
    Posts: 21
    I've messed around with the classical position and to me it seems that in that position my fretting is stronger and more accurate. On the other leg (at least for me) my picking hand is stronger and more accurate. Basically what Bluesbop Harry said. In regards to the foot stool I always rest the foot of the leg the guitar is on my other foot (classical or not). I kind of roll my non guitar foot outwards and put the guitar bearing foot on my other instep. I picked that up from Gypsy Rhythm where Michael describes Debarre's playing style. It works well for me, but whatever works well for you is what you should go with. I actually think there's a little too much emphasis on "authentic gypsy technique". As long as you're picking properly (rest stroke) what's the difference?

    Playing guitar gives you cancer.
  • TexasrockabillyrebelTexasrockabillyrebel Denton, Tx✭✭✭
    Posts: 21
    Frater actually put this link up in the guitars section in a thread entitled "Old Saga": ... re=related

    The guy has a very classical sound and technique but he still kicks ass! I actually have one of these pre-Gitane Sagas he's playing coming to me in a day or two (hopefully). I hope it sounds as good as this one does.
    Playing guitar gives you cancer.
  • nuagesnuages central ar.✭✭✭
    Posts: 16
    I suppose I'm in the minority here as I also play with the guitar resting on my left leg. It's more due to a right should problem I have and placing the guitar on my left leg helps alleviate any pain I have while playing. I've been playing this way for about 3-4 years and have become very accustomed to it. It feels very comfortable for me to play this way now.
  • HotClubofSAHotClubofSA San Antonio, TXNew
    Posts: 3

    I have also found that the technique you describe, resting the guitar foot on the instep of the other foot, works quite well. Initially, I "discovered" that position because I was too lazy to get my footstool when playing classical guitar but it seemed to provide a nice height for the guitar so I just stuck with it.

    I think there is no doubt that doing complex fingerings, as is often needed for classical and even jazz, is made easier by having the guitar on the fret-side foot, and it gives much better access to the upper frets. I am quite knew to gypsy jazz but I think that la pompe would be adversely affected by the classical technique so I have been holding it Django-style for GJ.

  • mandocatmandocat Santa Rosa, CA✭✭✭ AJL XO, Eastman 905CE, PRS SE
    Posts: 82
    I am 6' 4" tall and rather long waisted, so it was hard for me to find a comfortable playing position. I tried right leg, left leg, foot stool, etc. I took a class from Stephane Wrembel and he immediately said to put the guitar on the right leg, not on the left. A friend of mine (Paul Gruen) is a very good GJ player and sometimes uses a Dynarette cushion which in formed to support the guitar resting on the right leg and elevates it so that you don't need a foot stool. I got one and it works well for my body type. It removes any tension in the right leg from trying to put the guitar higher. On the down side, it is one more piece of gear to carry around and may get you some funny looks from the other guys in the jam. I think it's a good solution for taller people.

    Play on!
  • I play classic fingerstyle on left leg as both hands position better for the demands of that style and find it easier on my wrist playing with a pick on the right leg/ :oops:

    Not sure what class of freak that puts me in ..... however it works for me
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • emicademicad Rome - ItalyModerator
    Posts: 472
    right leg works fine for me
  • fraterfrater Prodigy
    Posts: 763
    A little O.T. but worth reading.Just met a guy who went visit Mario Maccaferri in Brooklyn in the 80s. As you may know Maccaferri believed that the contact with the body dampened the sound of the guitar (that's one of the reason why he invented the internal resonator and at one point started using guitar stands to limit the contact as possible). Maccaferri and Segovia were friends and the guy was told by Maccaferri himself that he used to mock the greatest classical guitarist ever accusing him to "grab his guitar like a monkey"!
  • I wonder what Segovia's comeback would be. :D
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
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