How do you balance playing and gigging heavy guitars?

neurosis

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Hey all. Quick questions here. I recently had to make inventory of my guitars to make some decisions on how long I play a few of them. I had a serious disc rupture a few yeas ago and it's always been a weak spot since. Early this year I fell on the ice and had lumbago for about two weeks. Playing guitar during that time was impossible. Last Sunday I twisted my back and have had lumbago and struggled walking for a the past few days. It's getting better but I am starting to wonder if limiting my standing playing to the lighter guitars exclusively is necessary.

All guitars are made different though and I have noticed that a superstar that is heavier can hang and feel lighter. So are there any strategies? Like how to hang the guitar, types of straps to use etc?

Anything you know will help greatly. Thank you!
 

BornToLooze

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I have back problems from a couple car wrecks, and I use a replica of Gary Rossington's strap on my Les Paul, I think it's like 4-5 inches wide

295334dcb5fe683b68deed9a81ce39c3.jpg


There's also the setup like Matt Heafy has if it'll work with your guitar.

cbFZkXKUP93idPbA7y6yJM-1200-80.jpg



Look into alternative straps. They make double straps that place the weight more evenly and even ones that put the weight on your hips, like a tool belt.

And if you get one that goes on your hips you could spin it like ZZ Top, and we all know looking cool is like 90% of being a guitar player.

spinning-guitars-zz-top.gif
 

neurosis

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I have back problems from a couple car wrecks, and I use a replica of Gary Rossington's strap on my Les Paul, I think it's like 4-5 inches wide

295334dcb5fe683b68deed9a81ce39c3.jpg


There's also the setup like Matt Heafy has if it'll work with your guitar.

cbFZkXKUP93idPbA7y6yJM-1200-80.jpg





And if you get one that goes on your hips you could spin it like ZZ Top, and we all know looking cool is like 90% of being a guitar player.

spinning-guitars-zz-top.gif
Wow. It looks like the Heafy setup distributes the weight across multiple points. That should make it feel more like having a backpack strapped to your front.

Regarding your first example do you really notice a big difference using a wider strap?
 

budda

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Wow. It looks like the Heafy setup distributes the weight across multiple points. That should make it feel more like having a backpack strapped to your front.

Regarding your first example do you really notice a big difference using a wider strap?
A wider strap should be $20-$30 down there, swing by your local store tuesday and pick one up. You will notice a difference.
 

wheresthefbomb

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Wider strap for sure makes a difference. I had one of those agile AL baritones for a while and it was extremely heavy, giving me a lot of shoulder issues. I almost got rid of it, but then I tried out a 3" strap and it solved all of my problems.
 

LostTheTone

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I second the fat-strap. I have had the same 3 inch wide strap for about 15 years and I love the shit out of it. Works good for my explorer (admittedly a light example) and my superfat seven which has the heaviest body of any guitar I've ever owned.

If that doesn't work, definitely consider hooking up something more bespoke. It will mean some experimentation, and you may feel silly, but if you can get the weight distributed nicely then you really will feel the difference.
 

ixlramp

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Stating the obvious :) but ... a wider strap only improves shoulder comfort by spreading the load, it does not reduce that load on that shoulder, or reduce the load on your spine, or eliminate the imbalance of the load on your body, so is no better for your back as implied by a post above.
 

LostTheTone

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Stating the obvious :) but ... a wider strap only improves shoulder comfort by spreading the load, it does not reduce that load on that shoulder, or reduce the load on your spine, or eliminate the imbalance of the load on your body, so is no better for your back as implied by a post above.

Spreading the load is the relevant part though, and while I can't speak to the OPs problems, a wider strap is cheap and easy to try in the first instance.

There is literally no way to attach a guitar to a person without the weight being distributed across their body somewhere.

If you have a Heafy harness, that will spread the load across both shoulders, but it's the same weight on your spine total. But depending on exactly what the problem is, having the weight distributed across both shoulders might be easier for you, or might create a better playing position.

With stress related conditions, the only solution is to change what you are doing, but it is seldom clear exactly what change will make a big difference. You just start out by making small changes and see what happens. Small, simple changes are easy and at least help you to feel what the issue really is. Is it weight? Is it asymmetrical loading? Is it the position you stand in while you play?
 

Mitri

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Personally, I hope you mount the guitar to a stand and play it without a strap. It's a different experience altogether.

Like these guys!


If you insist on using a strap, please consider the advice above including the Heafy solution. When possible, use straps much wider than two inches, and figure out whether you prefer elasticity. For reference, some elasticity may or may not be preferred, but that depends on how you stand/move/rock-out.

Again, the best solution may be no strap entirely.
 

bostjan

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If the pain is in your shoulder, use a wider strap, but, if the problem is with your back, I don't see how it could help.

You can use a stand, transferring the weight off of your body, or get a lighter guitar, not having as much weight to begin with, or you can go somewhere that has less gravity, like the Moon. That's about all I see actually working for a bad back problem.

Or maybe hire someone else to wear the strap for you, and then you can play the guitar while they hold it. That might be a more creative approach to the stand solution?
 

neurosis

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If the pain is in your shoulder, use a wider strap, but, if the problem is with your back, I don't see how it could help.

You can use a stand, transferring the weight off of your body, or get a lighter guitar, not having as much weight to begin with, or you can go somewhere that has less gravity, like the Moon. That's about all I see actually working for a bad back problem.

Or maybe hire someone else to wear the strap for you, and then you can play the guitar while they hold it. That might be a more creative approach to the stand solution?
Hahahahaha. I think I need to work on getting myself a peasant or a jester. But at that point maybe I just sit on a throne and have somebody play for me. Life in 2022 is already a virtual experience anyway so it might work to have yet another mediated experience. Hahahah
 

neurosis

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Thank you all for the feedback. I think I am going to explore a few of these options. But the main thing to remember is going to be that standing with a heavy Les Paul for hours is not a good idea for me. I had that thing on for half a day the other day just walking around the apartment as I have a standing desk and I think doing it for. few days hasn't been a good idea. I have to realize I have some limitations due to the old injury.
 

fantom

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Have you considered buying lighter guitars? Wouldn't a hollowbody or semi-hollow weigh half the amount of a Les Paul? Even a modern guitar with chambering will knock off a few pounds. You could also try to find an older Parker Fly, they were ridiculously light.
 

wheresthefbomb

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Or maybe hire someone else to wear the strap for you, and then you can play the guitar while they hold it. That might be a more creative approach to the stand solution?

One time I saw this power metal band called Zephaniah. Not my thing, but they brought a fucking show I tell you what. Super well rehearsed, super nice dudes. The cherry on top was when the two super shreddy guitarists did this pretzel maneuver where they each flipped their guitars around their backs and then hugged and shredded dual lead harmonies on each other's guitars. They had some other good moves, but that was probably the coolest stage gimmick I have ever seen.
 

neurosis

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Have you considered buying lighter guitars? Wouldn't a hollowbody or semi-hollow weigh half the amount of a Les Paul? Even a modern guitar with chambering will knock off a few pounds. You could also try to find an older Parker Fly, they were ridiculously light.
I do have lighter guitars. already. It's just a matter of can I use the heavier ones, too? Or do I give up and part with them? So I am going to try the options and see. Thanks!
 

budda

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I do have lighter guitars. already. It's just a matter of can I use the heavier ones, too? Or do I give up and part with them? So I am going to try the options and see. Thanks!
You’ll know real quick if it works.
 

neurosis

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You’ll know real quick if it works.
ly. I have gone pretty unharmed for about 4 years since my disc burst. But I fell on the ice in January and although the recovery wasn't bad this last scare has left me with a little more sensitivity. It's demoralizing but I push through. We'll see what happens. For the time being I'll increase the PT now that the body is responding again and stay off the Les Paul's. Even the chambered Standard I have is a dead weight. I guess the chambering only makes it more resonant. But that guitar is thick and HEAVY :D
 


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