In the beginning, we all make the same mistake…
You assume that all guitar stands are the same. So you buy the first one you see.
Or worse yet, you shop around, and buy the cheapest one you can find.
And virtually every one of us has at least one guitar bearing a scar from that mistake.
Because as we all discover eventually…a good guitar stand is one of the wisest investments you can make.
Not only does it keep your guitar safe from damage…
It also keeps that expensive condenser mic, and any other nearby equipment safe as well.
The only problem is…when shopping for a stand, it’s not always obvious how to separate the good ones from the bad.
So for today’s post, I’ll explain all the key differences in this comprehensive guide comparing the 7 most popular types of guitar stands.
Let’s begin. First up…
1. A-Frame Stands
The simplest and cheapest of all floor stands…
A-Frame stands often get a bad rap because they appear unstable at first glance.
But in reality…
They’re far more stable than they look, and they’re a great way to store your guitar, especially in areas with limited space.
The greatest advantage of this design is:
When fully collapsed, they’re often small enough to be packed away in your guitar bag. And this portability makes them ideal for gigging, or any kind of travel.
The biggest flaw with this design is:
If your guitar gets bumped, it will likely fall over, as there is no neck cradle to secure it. Therefore, I do not recommend A-frame stands for typical home use, especially if you have pets or kids.
However…if it’s for your private “man cave” though…it will probably work just fine.
Here are the top models I recommend:
2. Tubular Stands
Commonly known as tripod stands…
Tubular stands are somehow the most popular, AND most hated of all designs.
They’re popular, mainly because they’re cheap and work acceptably in a wide-variety of situations.
For beginners, they’re the “default first stand” that most sources recommend.
Compared to A-frame stands, they have an added neck cradle, which provides better stability (according to some).
The trade-off is that they’re not nearly as portable, and require some degree of assembly.
Now here’s why some people (myself included) dislike them:
Cheaper tubular stands can be awkward and unstable, easily tripped-over, and most people who own one have had their share of accidents over the years.
So I suppose…the only real way to know if you like them, is to try one out for yourself.
Here are top 2 models I recommend:
3. Wall Hanging Stands
If the majority of your guitar playing is confined to one small room…
Like your music room, living room, or bedroom…
You might find a wall-hanging stand to be your ideal option.
And here’s why:
- It doesn’t waste floor space – because its mounted on the wall, where extra space is plentiful.
- It keeps your guitar safe from danger – because it stays clear of foot traffic, pets, and children.
- It looks cool – because it adds a decorative (and functional) piece of art to your otherwise boring room.
Of course, wall-hanging stands have their flaws as well…
- Setup can be tricky – because improper mounting can result in a weak connection, which could eventually cause your guitar to fall off the wall.
- Warping and cracking are a risk – because close-proximity to the wall increases temperature and humidity fluctuations in seasonal climates.
- Wall collisions are a risk – because some guitars will swing freely when used with certain neck cradles. (you can avoid this risk by using a wall bumper.)
Also…if you’re using these stands in a recording studio, beware that a free-floating acoustic guitar may easily absorb sympathetic vibrations and add unwanted resonances to the room.
Ultimately though…if none of these potential problems are an issue in your case, a wall-hanging stand may be exactly what you’re looking for.
Here are the top models I recommend:
4. Premium Stands
According to many sources, Hercules and Ultimate are the two best guitar stand manufacturers…period.
And while they aren’t an official “category” of guitar stands…
Their line-up of “premium” stands are undoubtedly the best that money can buy.
Despite being much larger than an A-frame stand, they’re able to fold-up just as easily and compact.
Rather than using the traditional two-pronged cradle of a tripod stand…
They instead support the weight of the guitar with a neck cradle similar to that of a wall-hanging stand. And the lower body rests up against the padding on the front legs.
In virtually every regard, this is the best design by far for BOTH stage and studio. So if you have the money to spend, it’s an obvious choice.
The top two models I recommend are:
5. Multi-Guitar Stands
If you own more than one guitar…
You’ll probably find a multi-guitar stand to be more practical than many individual ones.
The obvious advantage here is that it saves you a ton of floor space by condensing more guitars into a smaller area.
This could be particularly useful for smaller practice rooms and tight stage setups.
However… some people (including myself) don’t care for this style of stand, because it’s awkward to grab the rear guitar, especially if it’s positioned up against a wall, or worse yet, in the corner of the room.
That being said, many other players love this design, so if seems like a good fit for you, here are the models I recommend:
- Musician’s Gear Triple – (Amazon)
- OnStage Double – (Amazon/B&H)
- OnStage Triple Hang-It – (Amazon/B&H)
- Hercules GS432B – (Amazon/B&H)
6. Guitar Racks
The “other” option for storing multiple guitars at once is to use a guitar rack instead.
Most people prefer this design over multi-guitar stands because:
- it’s more portable – it’s easier to setup, break down, and can be easily folded-up/packed away.
- it’s more efficient – it can hold more guitars (ranging between 3-10) within a smaller floor space.
These racks work particularly well in the following situations:
- on tours with bands that have lots of gear.
- for long-term storage of guitars in their cases.
- in small home studios short on floor space.
Of course, they aren’t without their flaws as well…
One thing I dislike about the rack design is that the guitars have a tendency to bump-up against each other if not carefully positioned.
This is especially dangerous when placing a solid-body electric next to your delicate $2000 Martin acoustic. One solid whack can easily do major damage.
Also, the padding for these racks are often fragile, and frequently has some degree of damage, even when brand-new.
So they’re not perfect, but they’re still your best option in many cases.
Here are the top models I recommend:
7. Walk-Up Stands
The most unique of all guitar stand designs…
The walk-up stand, is a device designed to hold your guitar, not for storage, but for actual playing.
It’s entirely possible you could’ve been playing guitar for decades, and never known that such a thing existed…until now.
In a live performance, when a guitar player might switch from one instrument to another in mid-song…
A walk-up stand such as the K&M Performer allows him to do so instantly, simply by “walking up” to it.
As you can see, the stand holds the guitar at a height and angle mimicking the location where you’d hold it against your body.
A Final Word of Caution…
A common warning you hear from guitar geeks on forums, etc…is that you should be careful when using your stand with a guitar that has a nitrocellulose lacquer finish…
Because contact with plastic and metal will cause the finish to wear away over time (wood or fabric is safe).
For the average guitar player who knows nothing about finishes, this warning can be scary, especially if you’re unsure about your own guitar.
So here’s what you should know:
Guitar finishes are typically either nitrocellulose, or polymer-based.
- Nitrocellulose, with its lighter, more natural finish, and pleasant scent, is normally found on vintage or custom-built guitars.
- Polymer-based finishes with its thicker, glass-like coating, is the standard lacquer used on almost all of today’s factory-built guitars.
Since polymer-based finishes are safe to use with any guitar stand…
You most likely shouldn’t worry. But if you’re unsure, it might be a good idea to double-check with someone who really knows their stuff.