You know how people optimize their healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise and supplements, yet ignore the quality of their pillow and mattress, which is where they spend a quarter of their life? That’s similar to ignoring your seating situation when playing guitar.
Finding the right guitar chair or stool can be tricky, since the requirements look pretty different depending on your scenario. Are you:
- At home practicing?
- Toting a chair to open mic night?
- Accommodating session guitarists in your studio?
- Teaching guitar to students all day?
All of these applications require slightly different capacities from a guitar chair or stool.
Factors to Consider When Shopping for a Guitar Chair
One thing is certain: a guitar chair needs to be arm-less. Aside from that, different things might matter to you:
Overall Style: Are you partial to a stool, or a more traditional chair shape? Or maybe a hybrid?
Features: Do you want or need a backrest? Footrest? Some guitar chairs even double as guitar stands, killing two birds with one stone in your studio. If you have any pre-existing injuries or posture imbalances, some features might be more important than others.
Comfort: No matter what you’re using a guitar chair for or what your budget is, it cannot be uncomfortable, as that would be an instant deal-breaker.
Adjustability: If you’re buying a guitar chair and expect multiple people to use it, adjustability is an important feature (not just adjustability, but easy adjustability).
Budget: If you’re buying a single seat for your studio space, you might be able to stretch your budget and buy the most luxe chair out there. But if you need several chairs, it’s important to be budget conscious, and make sure that even an inexpensive guitar chair delivers good performance.
How We Picked
There are dozens of guitar stools and chairs out there, but only a few worth truly calling out. We looked for models that are best-in-class for their particular chair type. For instance we have a more traditional bar stool, an adjustable guitar stool with foot and backrest, a more traditional chair, a guitar stool/stand combo, etc. We also make sure our selections are reviewed well around the Web.
I’m a guitarist myself, and I’ve never owned a proper guitar chair (my office chair’s armrests are the bane of my existence when trying to play guitar), so doing this research is near and dear to my heart. Between the local big box guitar stores and online stores, we were able to sit on all the chairs we recommend ourselves.
The Best Guitar Chairs & Stools
Fender Bar Stool
Type: Bar stool
So the first seat we’re recommending is actually a pretty standard stool, and is admittedly mostly on this list because it gets major style points for guitarists. We’re talking about the Fender Barstool. Unlike other guitar seats that are black and bland, the Fender Barstool has a vintage/retro vibe and Fender graphics which fit right in around your guitars at home or in the studio.
The vintage vibe is thanks to the shiny steel tubing, and the logo on the seat itself for which you have two options - A classic red-on-black Fender logo, or a silver/red/black Fender Custom Shop logo. The side wall of the stool is a sparkling bright red if you opt for the classic Fender logo, and a very cool guitar neck and headstock graphic if you opt for the Custom Shop.
It’s not all about looks, however. This Fender stool comes in two height options: 24-inch and 30-inch. If you’re 6 ft tall or over, definitely go for the 30-inch option so your playing position will feel more natural. For everyone else, the 24-inch option is the way to go.
Functionally, the Fender Barstool is no-frills. It’s reasonably comfortable, sturdy, easy to assemble, and swivels. The fact that it’s no-frills is also its downside. There’s no backrest, the height is fixed, and the footrest isn’t the most comfortable if you’re not wearing shoes.
Bottom Line: If you want a guitar stool that does the job and style is your priority, the Fender Barstool is the one to get. You miss out on some of the fancier features (a backrest is the thing we most lament), but it’s a really cool statement piece. The two height options are a big plus. There are less expensive bar stools out there, but you’re paying for the Fender flair here.
On-Stage Stands DT8500
Type: Stool with backrest and footrest
If you’re looking for a more feature-laden guitar seat, you should look at the On-Stage DT8500. I’ve used a lot of On-Stage products over the years (keyboard stands, studio monitor stands, guitar stands, etc.) and they always deliver with a good compromise between quality and value. For the price, there’s a lot of good stuff going on with this guitar seat, but I must warn you that it’s not quite as adjustable as they say, but more on that shortly...
This is a pretty utilitarian looking chair, with a black powder coated frame, 12” stool-like seat, backrest, and footrest. It’s pretty comfortable, and feels well built. It’s nice to be able to lean back on the backrest, and use the footrest to place either one or both feet on. Ergonomically you (and your back and legs) will be happy sitting on this chair for hours.
Adjustability-wise, the On-Stage DT8500 has a couple of quirks. The height can indeed be adjusted to accommodate different height players, but the claim of an “adjustable backrest” is not quite accurate. The lean angle can be adjusted by moving the seat forward or backward, but the backrest is not adjustable per se. Neither is the footrest for that matter, which is a bit of a bummer.
Essentially this is not a super adjustable seat as On-Stage might have you believe. Assembly is fairly straightforward, but I suggest you try to nail the right ergonomics the first time you’re putting it together so you don’t have to mess with it (which doesn’t make it the best for lugging to and from shows).
Bottom Line: Adjustability quirks aside, you can’t ding this guitar chair too many points since the price point is quite affordable. If you can live with its shortcomings and want a backrest and footrest while spending the least amount of money, the On-Stage DT8500 is it.
K&M Performance Stool
Type: Stool with footrest
At first, you might have sticker shock when you look at the price tag of the K&M Stands Performance Stool. Stick around though and I’ll tell you why this is the premium option and worthy of a splurge.
I’ll say this - if I had a music studio where musicians were coming in and out to record, I would have the K&M Performance Stool waiting to accommodate them. Likewise if I was in a professional setting like an orchestra pit, once again this chair would be my choice.
It’s as if K&M took all the drawbacks of every guitar and keyboard stool on the market and fixed everything. The stool looks great, and is extremely solidly built. Lots of people report that it can take the abuse of touring. The padding on the seat is nice and thick, making it more comfortable than just about any other guitar stool out there.
The adjustability is top-notch as well, with a pneumatic cylinder to adjust the height. No matter how tall you are there is a setting here to make you comfortable. The footrest isn’t as easily adjustable as the seat height, but it is adjustable nonetheless which is the important part.
Bottom Line: You’re probably thinking that for the $300+ asking price, this better be one of the finest guitar chairs available on the market... and it is! If you’re in a high-stress environment where the gear simply needs to be the best, most comfortable and the most durable available (pro music studios, session musicians, traveling musicians, etc.), you should as the saying goes, “buy once, cry once.” You won’t find a better guitar chair. It’s a splurge for more casual users, but this is a classic case of you get what you pay for.
Gator Frameworks Guitar Seat
Type: Stool with backrest, footrest & guitar stand
This guitar seat has it all... well, almost. The Gator Frameworks Guitar Seat is a stool-style seat with a backrest, footrest, and doubles as a guitar stand! On top of that, it is a fantastic value for the money. The only flaw to speak of is the lack of adjustability, but at this price range you simply can’t have it all.
Since the chair is a fixed height, your mileage may vary as far as comfort goes. Michael and I are 5’11” and 5’10” respectively, and we had no issues. I think if you are several inches shorter than that, this guitar chair might feel a little tall for you. Other than that, no complaints on the comfort. The cushion is firm yet comfortable. The footrest is a little thin, which is only an issue if you’re barefoot. Assembling the chair is super easy, and it also folds flat rather nicely if you’re going to take it back and forth to gigs.
What makes the Gator Frameworks Guitar Seat stand out is that it’s also a guitar stand. When you’re not sitting on it, you can rest your acoustic, electric, or bass guitar on it. I would call it a medium-duty guitar stand. I’m not immediately scared the guitar will fall out, but also I might invest in a separate more secure guitar stand for some of my more expensive axes. The guitar stand simply folds up when you’re not using it.
Bottom Line: If the inclusion of a guitar stand is compelling to you, this guitar seat is hard to beat. Lack of adjustability might be a deal-breaker if you are on the shorter end, or if you need this chair to seat a multitude of musicians. Oh and one last little nit-pick gripe is that I don’t love the velour type material on the backrest. All in all, the Gator Frameworks Guitar Seat is a solid piece of studio furniture and is a fantastic bang for your buck.
Also Consider: If you like the idea of a guitar seat that doubles as a guitar stand but want something a little more minimal and portable without a backrest, look at the Stagg GIST-300.
Vivo USA ADJUSTRITE Musician’s Chair
If what you had in mind for a guitar chair was an actual chair as opposed to a stool, the Vivo USA ADJUSTRITE Musician’s Chair is one you should look closely at. Warning - it’s not cheap, but there’s a good reason for that. This is no ordinary chair. It was designed specifically with the needs of a musician in mind, and Vivo USA has nailed it.
There are a few reasons you might choose this chair over a more stool-like design. It could come down to personal preference, and over long periods of time you simply might be more comfortable sitting in a traditional chair as opposed to a stool with a footrest. I could definitely see that being the case for a guitar teacher, who has to sit with many students over many hours.
There are buttons on the legs that let you adjust the leg height in 1-inch increments. This way, you could even make the back legs a little taller if you prefer a slight tilt forward. The height at the lowest position is 15-inches, which makes this chair ideal for adults and kids alike. A lot of the stool-style guitar seats are definitely not small enough to accommodate small children.
This ADJUSTRITE chair is quite comfortable, both in the cushion and backrest (it almost feels like a soft gel as opposed to foam). It folds up easily and is lightweight, which makes it easy to tote around in one hand while holding your instrument in the other. We used it on a stained concrete floor, but beware that the feet are hard and might scratch up a hardwood floor without some added protection.
Bottom Line: It comes down to personal preference as to whether a stool or chair makes more sense for you, but if you’re leaning towards a chair it’s hard to beat the Vivo USA ADJUSTRITE. The fact that it adjusts to be low enough for kids is a big deal, and might make it the obvious choice for music teachers. Yes, it’s pricey, but don’t mistake this for your average folding chair. It’s made by musicians for musicians, and it shows.