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Author Topic:  Ergonomics
Dave Manion

 

From:
Boise, Idaho, USA
Post  Posted 7 Feb 2020 9:37 pm    
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I’m sure that many feel this topic has been “over-done”, and I know there’s just too many ways of getting it done to state any absolutes, and every change in your set up will mean adjusting pedals and knee levers and so on etc BUT- can we talk about it here, or add old threads you know of?
I’ve done multiple forum searches and can’t find any detailed threads of people digging into how-and why, they set up the way they do in relation to their steel. Most of what I come across has to do with pedal height and knee adjustments-I’m mainly interested in where their body is in relation to the guitar, to set up their right hand, and keep their weight centered. I feel like I’m always “leaning over” to one side, and my right hand is definitely wandering around some.

Things I’m experimenting with that I’d love thoughts on from you alls experience with:
-setting further to the right (I tend to feel a little diagonal doing this)
-seat height/steel tilt and height
-further/closer to steel
-the whole elbow in deal (besides looking tidy)

I’m recently coming back to the steel after about 6 months off due to a broken ankle, and am trying to “refit” myself OVERALL to it before I go back to bad habits. My right shoulder, lowerback and elbow are pretty beat up now as well. I want to hit the “shed” more, but need to develop my setup better to do so.

Appreciate any input y’all might have!

PS- by my measurement my Williams sits at about 31 inches high to the strings, and my old MSA is a couple inches lower. I also have two steel seats, one at about 21”, one at 19. Plus sometime I take a pneumatic throne and move that up n down. So I’m all over the place Smile
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Chris Reesor

 

From:
British Columbia, Canada
Post  Posted 7 Feb 2020 11:50 pm    
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Ergonomics are really important, Dave. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

First, good overall posture is key to being able to put in the seat time. This should go without saying, but if you start to get back or neck pain this is the first area to look at.

Position behind the steel. I sit with my navel roughly behind the 15th fret, as do many others. It took a while for me to settle on this position, but it definitely is best for me, and it seems, many others.

Keeping your upper arms "tight to the body" is the wrong way to look at things, I think. Really it is allowing your upper arms to fall freely from the shoulders, relaxed, without tension.
Excess tension is the enemy of ease and smoothness.

I like my forearms level and my hands in line with my forearms in playing position. I've heard this could help prevent carpal tunnel issues, but mostly I like it because it helps me stay loose and relaxed.

The main point I'm trying to get across is, establish a good posture and playing position, then adjust your steel height, seat height, and knee lever positions and pedal heights to go with that. Definitely not the other way round.

Good luck to you on your return from the injured list.

CR.
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Excel Superb U12, MIJ Squier tele, modified Deluxe Reverb RI, Cube 80XL, self built acoustics & mandolins
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Dave Meis


From:
Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2020 12:41 am    
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I start with seat height... thighs parallel to the floor. This gives me the most ankle flexibility. Guitar height is a function of upper arm length.. forearms parallel to the floor, wrists and forearms straight to the guitar (or slightly downward). Seating position is determined by thigh length.. knee to ankle perpendicular to the floor..this gives me the best ankle motion. If my lower legs are extended or under my thighs, my ankle doesn't have as much flexibility. Then I set the pedals and levers for comfort and to accommodate my particular range of motion. I sit at the 15th fret with my body slightly turned to the left (very slightly!), and that's what works for me. I'm 6'3" with monkey arms, so my guitar is raised 2", and my seat has about 1 1/2 to 2" slugs in it to accommodate my long legs.. pass the bananas!
We're all different in how our joints move, so YMMV..
Hope this helps! Laughing
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Dave Manion

 

From:
Boise, Idaho, USA
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2020 9:34 am    
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Great stuff Dave and Chris!
Why do you think it is that so many people line up at, or around the 15th fret?
If you were to drift to the left of that, what would you notice?
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Dave Meis


From:
Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2020 11:20 am    
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I would feel a little 'cramped' now. Mostly because I've set my guitar up to accommodate me.. volume pedal position, knee lever angles, pedal heights etc. I could play at the 12th, and did for a while, but, for me, it's ergonomically better being at the 15th.. No matter what you decide, make the guitar fit you! Playing a keyed or keyless guitar may have some impact as well. Keyless guitars tend to have shorter pedal bars and affect the location of the volume pedal relative to the fretboard . I currently play a keyed Mullen which is shorter than either my Emmons or 'Buds.
My reasons for sitting at 15 are:
It makes it easier for me to play up to 15 or so, and gives me a better 'line of sight' on those skinny little frets on the upper registers..I lean to the right a lot less! 😃 My left hand crosses my body a lot less! Also, with my height, I sit well back from the guitar to keep my lower legs perpendicular, which makes playing in front of me a lot more relaxed. I started out sitting at the 12th and right over the guitar, but over time, I found myself further to the right a little and further back.. much more relaxed for me. My right leg is perpendicular to the guitar(VP position), my left leg angles over to the pedals, and I'm turned 'very slightly' to the left.. which seems to make it easier for me up in 'Hughey-land' ..I can lean back some and lean right from my waist less. Sitting further back also gives me a little more room for my left arm to cross my body.
When you set your guitar height, be SURE that your shoulders are relaxed and comfortable..I tend to tense up and raise my shoulders in difficult passages, and the end result is pain and hand cramps. I have to be conscious about that and 'reset' my shoulders between songs! 😃
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Dave Manion

 

From:
Boise, Idaho, USA
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2020 12:04 pm    
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Dave, sounds very similar to some adjustments I've been making. In one position I've been trying I feel like my body's slightly tilted towards the left,my volume pedal leg is pretty squared up, and the left foot is more diagonal out towards pedals, instead of splitting the difference. Getting myself not to lean to the right is a big goal. Doing that for any length of time is like driving long hauls with a wallet in your back pocket, bad idea.
I don't have any significant back problems, and I sure don't want em.
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Dave Meis


From:
Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2020 12:25 pm    
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It's a process, for sure! I found that moving back from the guitar really helped, and on a few occasions I've tried sitting at 17. Any change is gonna feel weird at first, and I gravitate towards what's familiar, but leaning right more than necessary is definitely not a good thing! 😃 Sitting just slightly facing left allows me to lean forward a little instead of leaning left, but with monkey arms it's not a big problem for me. 😁 My biggest problem is getting my left hand past my body to get way up on the fretboard and keep the bar straight . Having just one position that will accommodate the entire scale length is a tall order! It's a little hard to 'schooch' over while your playing, so some leaning is inevitable. I'm not sure what guys with center clusters for C6 do, but maybe one will chime in...
d
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Dave Manion

 

From:
Boise, Idaho, USA
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2020 3:05 pm    
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Getting a good fit around the 15th fret, adjusted knee levers. Everything fits pretty good, except the end of the LKL lever digs into my knee as the only point of contact there, instead of hitting it up higher on the lever with my thigh. Not a big deal. Will come back to it tonight with different jeans and shoes on, haha.
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Dave Meis


From:
Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2020 3:48 pm    
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My LKL lowers 2--&9-, so it's a long push! I like hitting it with my knee because it'll travel farther than up on my thigh. Some of my guitars have the levers on the back rail and some are staggered... it NEVER ends, does it! 😁
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Chris Reesor

 

From:
British Columbia, Canada
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2020 7:24 pm    
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Glad to hear you are making some progress, Dave.

My Excel U12 has a lock lever and a center cluster for 6th type changes you don't see on most universals.

I still sit behind the 15th fret, but slightly more square to the guitar and my thighs are pretty much parallel instead of splayed as they are for pedals 1-2-3 and the left knees. My left foot is then stationed over pedals 5-6. Upper body position doesn't change much.

I mostly play pedal 8, the boowah, and the 7-8 combination with my right foot, BTW.

Of course a double neck player will change necks, introducing another variable I can't speak to, having never owned a D10.

Getting a slightly longer LKL for the Williams shouldn't be too big a deal, or making one for the MSA, always assuming you can still fold it away.
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Excel Superb U12, MIJ Squier tele, modified Deluxe Reverb RI, Cube 80XL, self built acoustics & mandolins
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Jacek Jakubek


From:
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 9 Feb 2020 8:37 am    
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Chris Reesor wrote:
Really it is allowing your upper arms to fall freely from the shoulders, relaxed, without tension.
Excess tension is the enemy of ease and smoothness.

Great tip! I noticed during my practice today I was tensing my shoulders up and forward a lot. I was trying to consciously relax my shoulders down...this in turn made my whole arms and wrists more relaxed, resulting in a nicer vibrato that didn't sound as "Hawaiian."

Although, when you watch video of LLoyd Green playing, you can see he often has one of his shoulders raised up and looks kind of tilted to the side...So I guess it's still possible to play great despite less than ideal posture or position.

It also helps to see yourself in the mirror when you practice (or possibly video record yourself playing?) so you can see any bad posture right away. The mirror also helps you to notice when you're having too much fun and maybe even smiling...then you can remember to go back to the more appropriate "stone-cold poker-faced steel player staring at the fretboard" posture Very Happy
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Don Drummer

 

From:
West Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 9 Feb 2020 8:35 pm     Learning and striving
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My first few years I would pick a date year by year and reflect on how much better I was compared to the previous year- how ever slight. Remember! You are. Fascinated by this instrument. That is why you can not quit. My 2 cents
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