Could Sitar Sitting Position Be The New Way For Playing Bass?

March 17, 2024
Sitar Sitting Position for Bass Guitar

I’ve battled a bad shoulder since 1999 that’s forced me to sit when I play the bass guitar. And you’d think that playing the bass while sitting would be super-comfy. But, for me it’s always been a challenge — especially when it comes to maintaining good posture.

And that’s the thing.

For me, feeling lower back pain and subtle discomfort with my body is a total blocker to play or practice my bass guitar for an extended period of time.

I’m not a tall person. And most chairs simply aren’t made for short people. So, my pain has always lead me to seek different ways to approach my instrument. And in my journey, innovation and tradition has often intersected in the most unexpected ways.

One such intriguing possibility is adopting the sitar sitting position for playing the bass guitar.

Now, obviously there will be some practical challenges to consider with this approach. But, I prefer to keep an open mind. Ain’t no harm in trying something new.

So, if nothing is quite working out right for you and you just haven’t been able to find a truly neutral playing position with your bass guitar, give this a try.

Let’s get started.

TL:DR

If you’re short on time and want to know how you can adopt the sitar sitting position to hold your bass guitar, watch my video.

YouTube video
Could Sitar Sitting Position Be The New Way For Playing Bass?

Understanding the Sitar Sitting Position

The sitar is a classical Indian stringed instrument, that’s traditionally played in a distinctive sitting position.

I enjoy to a lot of Indian music, particularly the music of the tabla player Zakir Hussain and sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar. Whenever I see a sitarist I’ve always been fascinated by how they keep what appears to be a very top heavy and unstable instrument in an upright position.

My itch lead me to do some research.

From what I learned, the player sits cross-legged on the floor, with the sitar resting on the left foot and leaning against the right knee. This position allows for a stable and comfortable posture, where your arms can move freely without having to hold up the instrument. This freedom further facilitates intricate finger movements and allows a deep connection with the instrument.

So, my next thought became… could this sitting position work for playing the bass guitar?

Translating the Sitar Position to Bass Playing

The initial step of crossing the legs was an immediate fail for me and it might be for you too. My legs are about as flexible as an iron rod. But, all hope isn’t lost if you lack flexibility like me.

There is an alternate approach, where the legs are still crossed, but the leg that ultimately supports the bass guitar is extended forward. Less flexible people will be able to do this position.

Next, you’re going to gently rest your bass guitar on your foot from the leg that’s crossed under, then rest the back body of your bass guitar on the knee/thigh of your supporting leg.

Sitar sitting position secret
Sitar sitting position secret (Points of contact with the instrument and the body)

When I tried this, I was shocked how stable my bass guitar was! I was even more shocked how comfortable I felt. My arms moved freely along my fretboard. And even more importantly, my posture remained in an upright position in a way that didn’t give me lower back pain!

Adopting the sitar sitting position for bass playing is definitely a radical departure from the standard standing or stool-seated positions most bassists are accustomed to.

Here are the steps for adopting the sitar playing position for the bass guitar:

  1. Take off your shoes.
  2. Sit on the floor.
  3. Cross your legs.
  4. For the leg that is crossing under, be sure to extend your foot past the thigh. You’ll need this foot for the next step.
  5. Rest the corner of your bass guitar on the foot you extended in step 4.
  6. Rest the back of the bass guitar’s body on the knee/thigh of the leg that is crossing over.

Advantages and Challenges to Playing the Bass Guitar using Sitar Sitting Position

Here are some advantages and challenges to playing the bass guitar using the sitar sitting position taken directly from my experience.

Ergonomic Benefits

From my experience, the sitar sitting position reduces strain on the back, shoulders, and arms. By sitting cross-legged, you’re able to achieve a grounded and centered posture, which may help in reducing fatigue during long playing sessions.

Enhanced Precision and Control

I experiences a great deal of stability with my instrument with the sitar sitting position. Neck dive was literally non-existent. I also felt an improved precision and control over my bass guitar.

When your instrument is securely positioned against the body, you could potentially achieve finer control over your finger movements, leading to more nuanced playing.

Potential Challenges

So, while the benefits are promising, adopting the sitar sitting position for bass playing still presented some challenges for me.

  • My technique would need to change a little bit in order to adopt this playing position. Although they’re still easy to play, all the low notes are now much farther from reach.
  • The bass guitar pickup for most bass guitars are located very close to where you would be resting the bass guitar on your foot. For me, I have to use an instrument cable with an L-shape for it to all work.
  • Also, there’s the practicality of using this position in various performance contexts, because you’re literally sitting on the floor barefoot.
  • Although the sitar sitting position worked for my Modulus Quantum 5-string, Fender Jazz 4-string, and Fender Precision 4-string bass guitars, I can imagine that there will still different bass guitar dimensions and sizes that won’t work. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do sitar players sit?

Sitar players sit cross-legged on the floor, with the instrument resting on the left foot and leaning against the right knee/thigh. This position provides stability and comfort, allowing for precise and intricate playing with the instrument.

Now It’s Your Turn

The idea of adopting the sitar sitting position for playing bass is unconventional. But, it holds potential benefits in terms of ergonomics, control, and precision.

Listen to your body. If you’ve been playing the bass guitar years and still haven’t found a true resting position (a position where there is no discomfort or pain), this approach may be worth a try.

By exploring a novel approach, you might discover new possibilities for expression and connection with your instrument.

As with any innovative technique, it requires an open mind, willingness to adapt, and dedication to mastering the nuances of the new posture.

Whether this sitting position becomes a widespread practice among bassists I have no idea. But its exploration is something that will continue for me.

Did you enjoy this stuff? Click here for more bass guitar lessons like this.

PosidoVega

Hi! I’m Posido Vega, a multi-passionate creative. I’m an artist, bass player, jazz theory enthusiast, children’s book author and illustrator, and SEO 😅.

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