View Full Version : Any Interest in an Ukulele Support?

11-14-2014, 04:18 AM
My friend Kris Barnett, guitar luthier, made a guitar support holder that allows a player to position a guitar to make playing easier when you're sitting down. It raises the instrument and puts it in any position you want.




it uses magnets and doesn't damage the finish or negatively impact the sound.

This support is too big for an ukulele, but he recently asked me if I thought there might be interest in the ukulele community for something like this, customized for the ukulele of course. And I figured I would ask the question here.

My initial reaction was, well ukuleles are pretty light and I never have a problem just crossing my legs and playing. But then I did realize that i often still end up crouching over when I play, and that's probably not great over a long period of time. What do you all think?

Ukulele Eddie
11-14-2014, 04:42 AM
I was originally looking for something like this but ended up getting a foldable foot rest which works pretty well. I think I did later see supports like those you've shown that worked for ukuleles.

Rick Turner
11-14-2014, 05:07 AM
Looks to me to be a solution in search of a problem.

Ukulele Eddie
11-14-2014, 06:19 AM
Are you calling me a problem, Rick? :D

11-14-2014, 06:43 AM
Neck-up makes a similar item, I use it on my classical guitar, to avoid the footstool. They also make a version for the ukulele. It helps some folks who have problems positioning the instrument while sitting.

Patrick Madsen
11-14-2014, 06:48 AM
I play from a wheelchair so this may be something I'd be interested in.

11-14-2014, 06:49 AM
I don't know of anything specific for ukulele being out there. I have fiddled with some things and have come to enjoy using a strap.

11-14-2014, 08:24 AM
Jenny --



11-15-2014, 01:27 AM
Thanks for posting this Steve. It was just an idea that I thought may be helpful for some uke players. These types of supports are very popular with classical guitarists as they allow the guitar to be positioned properly. Technique and efficiency are very important. It is also much more comfortable so they can practice longer without fatigue. I thought it may be a good idea for uke players as well. I have received a few inquiries from uke players asking if our support would work for ukes.

11-15-2014, 06:17 AM
Some of us are "gadgeteers" and are intrigued by items successfully used elsewhere on other instruments. My first question is always cost related. What is the proposed cost? Shipping from where ? Actually seeing one in use may encourage someone else who really would benefit from its use. Some of us are users and also sellers of ukulele related items. The idea is worh considering.

11-15-2014, 06:56 AM
I would like it. I have a new ukulele with strap buttons, which is fantastic to play. But I am hesitant to install strap buttons on some of my vintage ukuleles. This would be a good alternative.

11-15-2014, 06:32 PM
Yah I need one.......

11-16-2014, 08:39 AM
I play from a wheelchair so this may be something I'd be interested in.

Tools to help the handicapped player was the first thing that popped into my head.

Fred Ukestone
11-16-2014, 12:47 PM
I watched the installation video for the Barnett Guitar Support and it raised a few questions and observations.

1. The magnets used are said to be very powerful and capable of damaging the wood of the body if they snap together in the wrong position. The wood on most ukuleles is generally lighter and more fragile than on a guitar.

2. How does the presence of the magnet in the soundhole affect the acoustics of the instrument?

3. The soundholes on ukuleles are much smaller which would make positioning the magnet inside the body very difficult.

4 What are the chances of the magnetic fields of the magnets weakening (after repeated uses) thus making the device unusable?

Despite all of the above, I hope you are able to get your device into production because, as PhilUSA said, it would be a great device to enable people with particular physical handicaps to be able to play.

11-16-2014, 12:54 PM
I play from a wheelchair so this may be something I'd be interested in.
Do you play Ukulele with one or both armrests removed from your chair?

11-16-2014, 02:29 PM
I wonder if Velcro would work just as well as magnets....
Seems I would prefer something similiar to a violin chin rest.....mine didn't scratch my fiddle, why would it scratch a uke?

11-16-2014, 04:33 PM
Looks to me to be a solution in search of a problem.

Rick is probably right, though if this was available, I would like to try one. Playing almost strictly classical these days, I need to keep the uke head from bobbing around a little better than I do in normal seated position, and I really don't like using a strap. Maybe I'm a customer looking for a problem.

Patrick Madsen
11-16-2014, 06:40 PM
Do you play Ukulele with one or both armrests removed from your chair?

I don't use armrests. I'm a very active sports orientated wheelchair user so our chairs are pretty stripped down to the bare necessities.

11-16-2014, 11:54 PM
Hey Fred,

Very good observations:

1) Yes, the magnets are very strong so it is essential that care be taken when attaching and removing the support. We have a full set of instructions and this includes a recommendation of "rocking" the support into the proper position so that the magnets do not rapidly attract one another. It is really quite easy to get used to safely attaching and removing the support. If the instructions are followed carefully damage to the instrument should be a non-issue.

2) The support will not interfere with the sound of the instrument any more than having a leg (or other body part) that is in contact with the sides of the instrument. The size of the magnets inside the instrument are fairly small so it should not affect anything inside the instrument either.

Also, the magnetic field of the magnets we use is about .75" (after which the pulling force drops to 0). So as long as electronics are are at least this far away there will be no influence on the pickups, etc. Also, the magnetic field will not affect the strings as they are plastic (for most) and are beyond the .75" threshold.

3) This is true, although I wouldn't worry so much about installation. De-installation would be the challenging part should you want to remove them from the instrument. Installation would be easier because the internal magnets automatically "find" the correct location. You simply hold the support in the correct position on the instrument and insert the magnets through the hole. It is NOT recommended, but you could throw the magnets inside the instrument and they would automatically find the correct location. Again, NOT recommended :)

4) As long as the temperature is below 176 degrees F (I certainly hope so!) the lifespan of the magnets is thousands of years.

Again, this is just a thought experiment and there would need to be a fairly high demand for us to design a uke specific model. I was watching a few videos yesterday and it surely appears that this device would be helpful for stability and consistency!

Nickie, velcro poses a number of challenges:
1) it can be quite noisy, even if the instrument is shifted subtly and the velcro releases a little.
2) You would have to adhere the velcro to the instrument which could severely damage your instrument should you need to take it off.

Suction cups have the same problems as the rubber (usually PVC) reacts with the plasticizers in certain finishes, especially nitrocellulose lacquer. We designed the support so that it will not cause damage to the instrument (i.e. we used an inert material for the pad that touches the instrument).

I think it is easy to dismiss the benefits of such a device without actually having used one. Soundports and armrests were hocus pocus for a while, but have since become very popular as dismissive attitudes have changed a bit. Footstools have been used for centuries by classical guitarists, but guitar supports have caught fire recently and it appears that the footstool is losing ground quickly.

Who knows...it sounds as if the idea is too foreign to be popular with the ukulele community so we will likely continue to focus on guitars. Thanks a lot for information though. It has been helpful!

11-17-2014, 03:34 AM
Looks to me to be a solution in search of a problem. LOL. Funny. True.

Tim Mullins
11-17-2014, 08:57 AM
Players considering this may also want to take a look at the Mobius Strap -- no magnets or other attachments to the instrument and true hands-free support.

11-17-2014, 05:49 PM
For those who may not be familiar with Kris Barnett, he’s one of the truly innovative guitar builders in the U.S. A visit to his website will be a real eye-opener.

Kris may not remember this, but several years back we had a little correspondence. At the time we were considering a form of laminated back – something Kris has also taken a unique approach to with great success. Our builder at the time had made them in the old romantic era style, but I asked Kris for a little info on his approach. Omar took a look at what Kris was doing, and we ended up going sort of “in between”. We made a long series of very nice instruments that way.

We then also then proceeded to steal one of Kris’ other innovations – a unique armrest design. It uses the same magnet technology he’s speaking of now with these supports. To get the proportions right for an Ukulele we had to modify Kris’ design and a series of smaller magnets were permanently fixed inside the sides, but this also worked very nicely.

I believe Kris shares the same viewpoint we do, that for those looking for the best sound, the soundboard should not be muffled in any way. You can talk about back, sides, neck, headstock or what have you, but the “soundboard” was given that name for a reason – that’s where most of your sound comes from. The armrest is one way to free up the soundboard, but on our new Ukuleles we’re dropping it.

The main reason is that it adds considerable expense, and we figured anyone who is truly concerned about this (not everyone is or needs to be) would simply learn to play in a “classical position”. Leonardo Lozano does it as well or better than anyone:


You can see that this “neck-up” position makes it easier to keep the arm off the soundboard. Classical guitarists accomplish this with a footrest. When the camera pans back, you’ll see that Leonardo does it by cocking up one heel up on the front leg of his chair. Kris has simply come up with another sweet innovation that allows those who want to play in this position to keep their feet flat on the floor.

Don’t worry at all about the magnets – they work great. For those who like this playing position, Kris’ support will likely make it a lot more comfortable.