One hard part of being a musician is trying to find the right gear. There’s so many options available that it can be pretty difficult to figure out what the best option is for you situation. Everyone has an opinion on what piece of gear is the best, and in general there isn’t a consensus. There’s also options available in just about every price point imaginable, making it difficult to figure out how much you should invest.
This problem is compounded in less interesting pieces of gear, like stands or cables. There’s less chatter online about this type of gear because there’s less interest overall, so you don’t really have any resources to pull from when you’re trying to figure out what you should buy.
Luckily for you, we’re here to help. This article is going to give you all the information that you could ever want, allowing you to figure out how to select the best music stand for your needs on your own. Even better, we’re also going to give you a few great recommendations to help aid you in your search.
What Makes a Good Music Stand?
Basically, music stands are one of the least diverse pieces of gear around. There’s really not a lot of variation from stand to stand. Believe it or not, this actually can make it harder to figure out which stand is the right choice for you.
The problem with trying to figure out whether or not a stand is worth purchasing is that it’s generally a question of the hardware utilized, namely the material used for the threading on mechanisms that tighten. This is the main factor that can let a stand down, because the general design of a stand is usually pretty rugged. However, if the threading on a bolt is made of a poor quality material it will become less and less reliable with age. This means that after a period of time the stand can lose its ability to maintain a position, which makes using it more trouble than it’s worth.
Music Stand Stability vs. Mobility
Another factor to be aware of is that there’s generally a tradeoff between stability and convenience with music stands. The easier a music stand is to use, and the lighter it is, the less stable it’s generally going to be. Now this isn’t going to be a big deal to those of you who only place sheets of music on your stand, but for those of you who use heavier books (or song binders) you may find that the stand has a tendency to slip.
A heavy stand can also be unwieldy for situations where you need to travel. Though the effect of this is also going to depend on where you’re going and what you’re going to use the stand for when you get there. If you only use your stand for the occasional guitar lesson it’s probably not going to end up being that big of a deal. On the other hand, if you use a music stand for live performance it can make the set-up process more difficult than it would be otherwise.
Top 5 Sheet Music Stands
As always, our recommendations are selected with widespread applicability in mind. Ideally, everyone reading one of our articles should be able to find a product that works well for their needs, budget, and situation. Keep in mind that the best choice for you may not be the best choice for your neighbor, and vice versa.
Manhasset Model #48 Sheet Music Stand
Manhasset, founded in 1935, is arguably one of the largest manufacturers of music stands in the world. Odds are, if you were in band or orchestra during your high school career you used a Manhasset music stand. The company has become ubiquitous across the nation, and produces the music stand of choice for a wide variety of public school systems.
The company was founded by a inventor and musician by the name of Otto Lagervall who sought address what he viewed as shortcomings inherent to the (at the time) modern musical stand design. His update to the music stand was a wild success, and following the launch of his first product he became a household name in the industry.
Given the widespread adoption of Manhasset music stands by public school systems, it stands to reason that there’s something about these stands that make them a good choice.
The key feature of these stands, and why they’re so widely adopted, is that they’re very durable. Just think about it; these stands are meant to hold up to being used by dozens of teenagers every day. It makes sense that they’d be built like a tank, because otherwise they wouldn’t last very long.
An interesting feature of the stand is the no-knob friction-tilt neck. Essentially, this design is intended to reduce the amount of moving parts in the design. This helps to increase the products longevity, because no matter what a component is made of if it’s put under consistent strain eventually it’s going to wear down.
The stand also utilizes solid-brass bearing in the shaft, which helps to make adjusting the stand a consistent and easy experience. The inclusion of this feature means that you’re not going to have to worry about the stand rusting, which makes the mechanism too tight to easily adjust.
A feature which may or may not be a positive depending on your needs is the heavy-gauge steel welded base. The good thing about this is that it helps to keep the stand more secure, meaning that slight bumps or stage movement won’t knock it over as easily as a lighter stand. The flip-side to this is that it also means that the stand is pretty hefty, and the legs also don’t fold in. This can make traveling with the stand fairly difficult and inconvenient, as it can’t be stowed away as easily as a stand with folding legs.
The stand is incredibly sturdy. The only thing we can think of that would potentially irritate you is that there are reports of the stand shipping with the rust-resistant coating applied at the factory. There is some self-assembly required with this stand. It’s pretty easy though, all you have to do is unscrew a bolt, remove a metal skirt, place the arm in, and then put everything back together.
This stand is a quality option for any musician on the hunt for a music stand. The only thing you really need to be aware of is that it’s a pretty hefty piece of equipment, so if you plan on transporting the stand frequently you may want to consider a different product.
Crafty Gizmos Adjustable Folding Music Stand
A stumbling block many musicians run into when they get to the point where they need to carry around a music stand of their own (this happens to a wide variety of musicians, believe it or not it’s actually not exclusive to orchestra members) is that they find that the music stand they prefer is too heavy to be easily transported.
Many music stands are also large and unwieldly, with a lot of models not even folding up to facilitate easy storage. These two things aren’t that big of a deal for those of you who leave your music stand in the same location the majority of your time, but if you do need to transport it you’ll quickly notice the inconvenience that it can cause you.
Thankfully, you do have a few options available. A great example of a solid alternative would be the Crafty Gizmos Black Adjustable Folding Music Stand.
The first thing to know about this stand is that it’s designed to be transportable, and there’s a tradeoff there. Equipment meant to be easily transportable has to be lighter to facilitate this, so it’s going to be less durable overall than a heavier stand.
An interesting thing about how this stand accomplishes this is that it’s actually intended to fold up to the point where it can fit into a small mesh travel case. This alone makes the stand worth a second look, because it adds a lot of utility to the design. This is especially true for smaller and/or younger musicians who may not have the strength or endurance to easily carry a stand and their instrument.
A helpful feature is the fact that you can adjust the angle of the stand and then lock the position with a friction knob. A lot of stands of this type (foldable stands) don’t have this feature, and while the majority of them function relatively well it does make using larger resources a tad more difficult. The impact that this is going to have on you is going to depend on what you want to use the stand for. If you’re just going to use single sheets of music the design isn’t going to really make that much of a difference, but if on the other hand you tend to use books (method books or the ubiquitous tab books focused on a specific artist) you’re probably going to find that the ability to adjust the angle of the stand is going to be a lifesaver. You can also clip pieces of music onto stand, which is going to come in handy if you generally use sheets of music or non-spiral bound books.
Lastly, the stand ships fully assembled. This isn’t a huge deal, but it’s a nice inclusion nonetheless. Most stands aren’t that difficult to put together, but receiving a fully assembled stand is going to save you some time regardless.
The stand is incredibly easy both to store and transport, though if you value stability this feels a bit flimsy to use compared to the more permanent room stands. Now considering how it’s made and the price this is pretty understandable because it’s just the tradeoff inherent to having a stand this light and portable.
One thing that warrants a mention, although we don't see it as a problem for most users, is the lip is thinner than some other stands to make the stand lighter. Odds are unless you’re using a very big music book (think one of the White Pages series of guitar tab books) you’re probably going to be fine.
The Crafty Gizmos Black Adjustable Folding Music Stand with Carrying Bag offers a great value to the musician looking for an easily transportable music stand. The only possible concern is that it’s a bit flimsy compared to more expensive and static stands. If you're looking for a stand as a commuting musician (even as a band student) we recommend this stand.
Musician’s Gear Deluxe Conductor Music Stand
It’s hard to track down a music stand that you know is going to work for your needs. The suspicion always exists that there’s a better buy somewhere else, and that the uber popular option has only received the acclaim that it has because it’s so widely available.
However, though that is commonly true it’s not always the case. Sometimes a product that’s overwhelmingly popular has achieved the success it has because it fills a niche well. It could be significantly cheaper than a lot of its competition while still performing well, or it could have features that similarly priced options are lacking.
A great example of this is the Musician’s Gear Deluxe Conductor music stand. For the price it offers a host of great features a surprising amount of durability. A notable feature of this stand is that it has a 2” lip for holding sheet music and/or music books. While of course a stand is going to need to have this lip (because otherwise it obviously wouldn’t be able to hold anything) the length of the lip on this stand is well suited to the vast majority of resources that the average musician is going to use. It also does this without being so wide that it’s an inconvenience, which can be a hard middle ground for some companies to find.
Like many other stands on the market, the Musician’s Gear music stand uses a tri-leg configuration. What’s great about this design is that it offers a lot of stability without severely increasing the product’s weight, which makes the stand easier to both transport and store. The low weight is going to be incredibly helpful for those of you who need a music stand as your travel to and from gigs and/or practice sessions. The base spread is 18”, which is wide enough to function well on most surfaces without being so wide that it gets in the way.
The stand has a vertical height range of 24” to 45”, which helps to increase its overall utility. This means that unless you’re outrageously tall or incredibly short you’re probably going to find a setting that works well for your situation.
Lastly, the bookplate on the stand (the part where you set your sheet music and/or music book) is made from steel. This is pretty common, but it’s a nice inclusion nonetheless.
You could say that it’s a bit heavy compared to cheaper collapsible stands, but it’s not to the point where we would say that the weight of the stand is going to be an issue to the majority of you reading this. The only people it could potentially impact are younger musicians who may not be able to easily carry the stand, though this is obviously going to depend on the age and physical fitness of the child in question.
The stand also has a solid quality to price ratio and offers a great value for any musician looking for a music stand that they can count on during consistent practice and/or live performance. It’s also pretty light considering the design and materials utilized, which is a huge plus for those of you who plan on taking it from gig to gig and/or to and from practice sessions.
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Gearlux Collapsible Orchestra Music Stand
A ubiquitous brand loved by musicians on a budget, Geralux is arguably one the best sleeper brands on the market today. They fill a very specific niche in the market, and though they may not be the choice of professional musicians they do give beginning musicians and those who don’t have a lot of cash to throw down on instrument accessories a chance to have a decent option for cases, stands, and cables.
A perfect example of Gearlux’s commitment to providing a great option for musicians on the budget is the Gearlux Collapsible Orchestra Music Stand. For the price it has an impressive amount of durability and a pretty respectable amount of features, so while it may not be quite as well made as more expensive stands it is worth serious consideration.
The most important thing to know about this stand is that it’s intended to be a middle-ground between lighter (and flimsier) music stands and stands that are incredibly durable but inconvenient to move and store.
The book plate itself isn’t collapsible, which means that you’re going to be a bit more limited in how you store it. However, the legs are foldable, which will definitely help if you’re running short on space. The book plate is also vented, which helps to further reduce the weight of the stand.
The tri-leg design featured in the stand isn’t quite as stable as those that use a large bottom plate, but all things considered it performs pretty well. It’s not likely to tip over mid-song, and because of the length of the stand’s base it’s not likely to be overly affected by vibrations transmitted through a stage during performance.
The height of the stand is able to be adjusted from 28” to 48”, which ensures that just about every musician using it is going to be able to find a position that works for them. The book plate itself can also be adjusted from 90 to 180 degrees, giving you a lot of options in how you choose to position the stand. It makes the stand a good fit for those of you who are going to be going between sitting and standing positions.
The general consensus of the stand is that it’s very easy to adjust, and that for a stand of this design it’s easy to transport. Most reviews also state that the stand is capable of supporting large amounts of music without becoming unstable, which if you find yourself using sheet music or chord sheets during your gig makes this stand worth serious consideration.
We would say that the Gearlux Collapsible Orchestra Music Stand offers a great value to those of you looking for a stand that’s stable enough for a performance but light enough for consistent transport.
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K & M Heavy Duty Music Stand
Established in 1949, K&M have established themselves as one of the most important manufacturers of musical accessories currently one the market. Currently, the company is one of the leading manufacturers of music stands, microphone and instruments stands, musician’s seats, accessories for lighting, and sound and studio technology.
The important thing to know about this company is that this is the niche they operate in, unlike some other companies which take already established products and put their name on them. While this doesn’t necessarily make other product inferior, it does mean that as a general rule K&M is going to have a higher level of quality assurance because all of the products are designed and manufactured in house.
A perfect example of K&M’s dedication to producing a quality product is the K&M Heavy Duty Music Stand. The stand offers a host of great features and a surprising amount of durability. To learn more about how it stacks up to the competition be sure to read the specifications below.
The important thing to note about this stand is that it’s designed to be a large folding music stand. What this means is that it benefits from the lightness inherent to this design while still being large enough to hold heavier repositories of music. It will be a bit heavier than your standard folding stand, but not to the point where it will make a dramatic difference. The only thing that may impact you in this regard is that it’s going to have a larger footprint than a smaller stand. This may or may not be an issue depending on how much space you have available and what you intend on using this stand for.
Like other stands of this type the K&M has clips to hold down book pages and/or individual sheets of music. The helpfulness of this feature cannot be overstated, because having to constantly reposition a sheet of music or trying to get a page from a music book to lay flat while you’re trying to practice is incredibly distracting and disruptive.
The lip of the desk plate is also deep enough to hold larger music books, which a lot of stands of this type and in this price range aren’t able to do very well. Of course, a solid back stand would probably work better for this purpose but the K&M stand will more than likely perform this task proficiently.
The K&M is more stable than similarly priced stands. If you plan on using this on stage this is going to be incredibly important, though it’s not going to make that much of an impact if you’re going to spend the majority of your time using the stand at home.
The K&M Heavy Duty Music Stand offers a great value to the musician looking for an easily transportable stand that still has a fair amount of stability.
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