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    Guitar

    Anybody learn the guitar in a wheelchair?

    This is like the third time in my life I’ve considered trying to pick it up. I’m now rapidly approaching 40 years old and the previous two times I stuck with it for a month or two and then the guitar just sat gathering dust until I sold it.

    I’m thinking part of the problem was I bought extremely cheap/crappy guitars and they were a bit frustrating to learn on, and at this point in my life I can afford to spend enough to get myself some proper equipment.

    The other issue I’m thinking I’ll run into is the fact that it’s real awkward (to me) to hold a guitar in the chair. When I did it before it was always weirdly balancing on my right tire and never felt stable or comfortable. Looking online all the pictures and videos I can find of people playing in chairs look like they have to adopt very awkward angles to play and that seems like not an insignificant frustration to me. I don’t want to spend $1000 or $1500 on a guitar, amp, etc only to never be able to find a comfortable way to play it.

    Any guitar players on here have any advice?

    #2
    I've been playing and building guitars for a while. When playing from a chair, a strap is what works best for me. Especially with electric. When playing a larger bodied acoustic guitar, I use a Dynarest cushion in my lap.

    This is a HUGE classical guitar, with a body custom built even deeper than is typical, and I manage it very comfortably from a large Dynarest:

    Click image for larger version  Name:	65E46114-52BD-4233-A224-AC43F31E5566.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	199.2 KB ID:	2913227


    A strap is usually the easiest, though, to find a good, ergonomic, 'neck up' comfortable position.

    So, A decent strap or lap cushion work quite well.

    If you're able to spend $1000-1500 on a guitar, there are a number of really good values in that price range. Depends what kind of music you're interested in playing. For general acoustic stuff, I don't think you can beat the consistent high quality and playability off the rack of a Taylor guitar. I like smaller body and shorter scale guitars, personally.

    Anyway, you can PM or text me when/if you want help evaluating specific guitars, if you want. I've got a pretty good sense of value and quality in the guitar market. I've built a fair few, and own a bunch.

    edit: here is a short video of me playing my transcription of Prelude, Bach's Cello Suite #1. I'm using the same lap rest, too.

    https://daleb.smugmug.com/Music/Music/i-RMHmmzL
    Last edited by Oddity; 17 Sep 2021, 6:32 PM.
    "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

    "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

    Comment


      #3
      Wow, you make it actually look natural. I literally looked at several dozen videos and pictures that I googled of wheelchair users playing the guitar and they all looked like they were holding it weird, like halfway flat on their lap or with the body jammed way up into their armpit, but you actually look like you're in a comfortable position there.

      When it comes to the guitar, I'm just starting to look around. I was thinking electric, maybe the PRS SE Custom 24 or the PRS SE 245, but that's just based on a minimal amount of research on youtube and not actually putting my hands on anything in the store yet. I'm definitely open to suggestions.

      My previous two attempts were pre-injury with a dirt cheap second hand Squire and shortly post injury with an equally cheap, equally second hand Yamaha Pacifica. The amps I had at both times were very... not good.

      Comment


        #4
        I've been at it for a while. Most of my formal training was classical guitar, for about 10 years, 20 years ago. Ergonomics and posture and technique etc are as much about not getting repetitive stress injuries as they are about playing well. So, just getting good instruction on holding it properly goes a long way. Using that lap rest, I barely have to hold the guitar at all. It's basically just balanced there, in an ideal position for "classical" technique (which is a seated playing style to begin with.) Which, frankly, is the most efficient or all playing IMO, even electric. I use a strap to maintain nearly the same neck angle when playing electric guitars.

        PRS SE is hands down the best value in a reasonably well setup and high quality appointed electric guitar. I recently helped OldGrumpyDad get his son a PRS SE Santana model, and I liked it so much, that I bought one myself. I got an SE 245 Zach Meyers (semi-hollow body), gutted it, and put a pair of original vintage PAF pickups and 1950's style Les Paul wiring, switches, knobs, and potentiometers. I made a tortoise shell pickguard for it and replaced the tuning keys with open back Waverly's with tortoise shell buttons. It is, hands down, my absolute favorite electric guitar, and I have others that are considerably more valuable. I got it for a steal, second hand. The 245 is perfect for me, really, since it has a 24.5" scale length (hence the name.) That is the same as my other 2 favorite guitars, both acoustics (one steel string and one nylon.) "Most" guitars are 25.5", which spaces the lower frets considerably farther apart, and makes the neck longer in general.

        Here are some pics of my SE 245:

        Click image for larger version  Name:	1ADED681-757C-4D9B-9BC1-716CE9321DB7.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	404.8 KB ID:	2913237
        Click image for larger version  Name:	01D5292F-50D1-4EE7-9B23-CBBFB7E93554.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	417.6 KB ID:	2913238
        Click image for larger version  Name:	7D3BE7A0-4F11-4D19-8C49-62E94F2565A4.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	261.2 KB ID:	2913236


        PRS has a great reputation for a reason. They have upped the game, on reasonably priced, overseas produced, high quality guitars. I gutted mine just because I had the vintage parts sitting around waiting for a good home, and the SE 245 Zach Meyers was the perfect fit.

        As far as amps go, modeling and sims have come a long way. I often practice through a Helix Stomp from Line 6 and it is freaking amazing, even through a set of monitor headphones. Nothing beats a low watt tube amp, though, for bedroom/garage/bar playing. I have a Laney Cub12 and Fender Blues Junior and they cover every base I want (Classic rock, metal, jazz, blues, prog rock, etc) while not having to be too terribly loud. Although louder is better! Cranked red hot vacuum tubes are amazing to play through. Amp modeling hasn't cracked the dynamics of that yet! But neighbors don't like it. Wives tend to like it even less.
        "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

        "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

        Comment


          #5
          Music has informed my trajectory since I found a safe space in high school. It still does. There's something spiritual? even just woodshedding some etudes on the garage (trumpet) that is wonderfully centering and out of mind. It shuts down my freight-train brain every time.





          do it Funkman!
          69yo male T12 complete since 1995
          NW NJ

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Oddity View Post
            I've been at it for a while. Most of my formal training was classical guitar, for about 10 years, 20 years ago. Ergonomics and posture and technique etc are as much about not getting repetitive stress injuries as they are about playing well. So, just getting good instruction on holding it properly goes a long way. Using that lap rest, I barely have to hold the guitar at all. It's basically just balanced there, in an ideal position for "classical" technique (which is a seated playing style to begin with.) Which, frankly, is the most efficient or all playing IMO, even electric. I use a strap to maintain nearly the same neck angle when playing electric guitars.

            PRS SE is hands down the best value in a reasonably well setup and high quality appointed electric guitar. I recently helped OldGrumpyDad get his son a PRS SE Santana model, and I liked it so much, that I bought one myself. I got an SE 245 Zach Meyers (semi-hollow body), gutted it, and put a pair of original vintage PAF pickups and 1950's style Les Paul wiring, switches, knobs, and potentiometers. I made a tortoise shell pickguard for it and replaced the tuning keys with open back Waverly's with tortoise shell buttons. It is, hands down, my absolute favorite electric guitar, and I have others that are considerably more valuable. I got it for a steal, second hand. The 245 is perfect for me, really, since it has a 24.5" scale length (hence the name.) That is the same as my other 2 favorite guitars, both acoustics (one steel string and one nylon.) "Most" guitars are 25.5", which spaces the lower frets considerably farther apart, and makes the neck longer in general.

            Here are some pics of my SE 245:

            Click image for larger version Name:	1ADED681-757C-4D9B-9BC1-716CE9321DB7.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	404.8 KB ID:	2913237
            Click image for larger version Name:	01D5292F-50D1-4EE7-9B23-CBBFB7E93554.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	417.6 KB ID:	2913238
            Click image for larger version Name:	7D3BE7A0-4F11-4D19-8C49-62E94F2565A4.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	261.2 KB ID:	2913236


            PRS has a great reputation for a reason. They have upped the game, on reasonably priced, overseas produced, high quality guitars. I gutted mine just because I had the vintage parts sitting around waiting for a good home, and the SE 245 Zach Meyers was the perfect fit.

            As far as amps go, modeling and sims have come a long way. I often practice through a Helix Stomp from Line 6 and it is freaking amazing, even through a set of monitor headphones. Nothing beats a low watt tube amp, though, for bedroom/garage/bar playing. I have a Laney Cub12 and Fender Blues Junior and they cover every base I want (Classic rock, metal, jazz, blues, prog rock, etc) while not having to be too terribly loud. Although louder is better! Cranked red hot vacuum tubes are amazing to play through. Amp modeling hasn't cracked the dynamics of that yet! But neighbors don't like it. Wives tend to like it even less.
            Oddity, do you think the way the jack is placed on the 245 interferes with the wheelchair at all?

            I vaguely remember it being annoying with the Yamaha Pacifica I picked up for a few months years and years ago, whereas the Squire I had in the past had the jack on the front which wasn't in the way.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by funklab View Post

              Oddity, do you think the way the jack is placed on the 245 interferes with the wheelchair at all?

              I vaguely remember it being annoying with the Yamaha Pacifica I picked up for a few months years and years ago, whereas the Squire I had in the past had the jack on the front which wasn't in the way.
              That's something that can be an issue, for sure. A top jack like a Strat or 335 is definitely better in this regard.

              My strap is setup to keep that spot on the lower bout, where the output jack is, about .5" over front end of my side guard/tire top, on the right side, and the neck angled up across my body. When using the lap rest, it's right about in the same spot.

              I also use a 90deg angle cable end, and loop it under the strap. That takes the weight of the cable off the output jack and also keeps the cable better out of the way of the wheels since it's angled along the body instead of sticking straight out.

              Click image for larger version

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              "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

              "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

              Comment


                #8
                Well you did it guys... you cost me money.

                Went to my local guitar shop and held a few guitars, including the Zach Meyers guitar you've got. The PRS SE Custom 24 just felt better in my hands so I bought that on Monday. I've got a Boss Katana amp on the way, and in the mean time I'm building up callouses on my fingertips while I try to learn how to make my fingers into these weird shapes.

                The guy at the guitar shop recommended truefire.com to learn how to play so I've been working my way through the beginner lessons.

                Any advice for a guy rapidly closing in on 40 who's just learning how to play?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Custom 24 is indeed a fine instrument. The Katana has lots to play around with too, and can work well at decent (respectful of the neighborhood) volumes.

                  Truefire is good. My Dad used it all the time. Seems like a lot of options though. Maybe too many for a beginner, but I don't know.

                  Not much gets better than in person, but I dunno if that's even a thing any more, given the state of things. Skype lessons are probably a thing.

                  The best stuff isn't free and often not cheap, really. Especially the very well designed systems. Guys like Paul Davids Learn-Practice-Play comes to mind. Things like that.

                  What kind of stuff do you want to play? Songs? Learn to record/create your own stuff?
                  "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

                  "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Really I don’t know what I want to play. I just never in my life learned an instrument so I figured it’s about time.

                    For now my goal is to learn the basics. I hope one day to be able to strum a few songs to amuse myself. I listened to a lot of alternative rock in the 90s and I like jazz and blues, even though I don’t really listen to them all that much. My goal for the next year or so is to get a solid grasp of the basics and then see where I go from there.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by funklab View Post
                      Anybody learn the guitar in a wheelchair?

                      This is like the third time in my life I’ve considered trying to pick it up. I’m now rapidly approaching 40 years old and the previous two times I stuck with it for a month or two and then the guitar just sat gathering dust until I sold it.

                      I’m thinking part of the problem was I bought extremely cheap/crappy guitars and they were a bit frustrating to learn on, and at this point in my life I can afford to spend enough to get myself some proper equipment.

                      The other issue I’m thinking I’ll run into is the fact that it’s real awkward (to me) to hold a guitar in the chair. When I did it before it was always weirdly balancing on my right tire and never felt stable or comfortable. Looking online all the pictures and videos I can find of people playing in chairs look like they have to adopt very awkward angles to play and that seems like not an insignificant frustration to me. I don’t want to spend $1000 or $1500 on a guitar, amp, etc only to never be able to find a comfortable way to play it.

                      Any guitar players on here have any advice?
                      Whether playing acoustic or electric, I cross my right leg over my left to prop up the guitar. Some electric guitar body types (e.g., Les Paul) are too narrow across the waist and challenge my balance -- that is, lack of any trunk control (I'm T4 complete). Almost any acoustic guitar size works for me (though I've come to prefer smaller guitar bodies); Strat- and Tele-style guitars, and Gibson 335-style guitars sit perfectly for me.

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K6fmYVbw-I
                      stephen@bike-on.com

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by stephen212 View Post

                        Whether playing acoustic or electric, I cross my right leg over my left to prop up the guitar. Some electric guitar body types (e.g., Les Paul) are too narrow across the waist and challenge my balance -- that is, lack of any trunk control (I'm T4 complete). Almost any acoustic guitar size works for me (though I've come to prefer smaller guitar bodies); Strat- and Tele-style guitars, and Gibson 335-style guitars sit perfectly for me.

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K6fmYVbw-I
                        I've been playing around with how exactly to hold it. I tried your method, it's definitely a better fit than sitting flat, but I'm not quite sure it's "right" just yet.

                        Comment

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