A Review Of The Best Music Stands For Classical Guitar

A stable music stand that is also lightweight is a great accessory. Considering that classical guitarists spend hours in practice in front of a music stand (and many prefer to have one even during performances) it makes sense to choose it with some thought. There are many interesting options out there today, far beyond the simple wire and frame contraption of days gone by.

Here are some tried-and-tested choices along with a few novel additions:

  • Peak SMS-20
  • Manhasset Model #48
  • K & M Robby Plus
  • K & M Ruka Ultra Lightweight Music Stand
  • CAHAYA 2 in 1 Dual-use Sheet Music Stand
  • Donner Sheet Music Stand DMS-1
  • GLEAM Sheet Music Stand

Peak SMS-20: Sturdy and portable music stand

A practice music-stand for the home that also serves as an easily portable stand for gigs or school, the Peak SMS-20 has been a trusted performer for years. It has a sturdy base, a folding music tray and comes with a carry bag.

Its height from floor to the lip or bottom of the desk can be adjusted between 2 feet and 4 feet as required. So for a classical guitarist in the sitting position, the music score can be set up quite low if needed. The construction is of tubular steel for the tripod and the stand weighs in at under 5 lb. It is heavy enough to be stable.

The desk itself is an ample 20” x 13.5” for the scores to sit on. The desk features a 5-panel assembly that can be collapsed quickly after removing a sliding tray for easy portability. The lip is about 2” deep, good enough for music books. 

User reviews make it a point to mention the stand’s sturdiness that holds up well in use. It is heavy enough to use even outdoors in some wind. The shelf is made of plastic which keeps the overall weight down. Users also mention the ease of use: its cam clamps on the tubing and the knob for adjusting the desk angle work smoothly.

This is a reliable product and the price is reasonable. Check out the Peak SMS-20 on Amazon.

Manhasset Model #48: Solid and stable music stand

Manhasset music stands are a popular brand with musicians, not just classical guitarists. They are known for solid and durable products that are easy to use. The Model #48 is the most popular of the company’s many models and is “used by more schools than all other music stands combined.”

It has a heavy-gauge all-steel welded base for excellent stability. It has brass bearings and a chrome inner shaft. It is a secure stand at all heights even with a good load of music on it.

You can adjust the height smoothly with one hand and the tilt angle can easily be adjusted too. At over 7 lb in weight, it is not among the lightweight options but for home use primarily (or at school permanently) you can’t argue against its stable performance. It is a friction-operated music stand so there is no reaching around to fiddle with an old-fashioned L-bolt. The pole moves smoothly up or down without having to touch a knob or handle. When it’s at the height you want, you just stop raising or lowering it. There’s no tightening screw or pressure latch to adjust. You just stop and the bookplate stays right where you stopped. 

More than a couple of thousand user reviews support this model’s usefulness. Unlike an ill-made, flimsy music stand that can be a source of irritation, this model – with its solid build, stability and ease of use – is seen as a no-nonsense, long-term performer that you can gladly take for granted.

Check out the Manhasset Model #48 at Amazon.

K & M Robby Plus: Read 4 pages at once

K & M (Koenig & Meyer) is a German brand reputed for its quality music stands among other music-related products. The Robby Plus model, along with the regular features you expect of a good music stand, comes equipped with an expandable music desk.

The desk or tray holds up to 4 sheets of music side by side at once without overlapping. Either music rest can be expanded to the right and left as required for placing additional sheet music.

If you’re practicing (or performing) a longer movement from a Bach suite, for instance, this can be very convenient. The tilt angle can be adjusted smoothly thanks to very fine zinc-die-cast teeth. What’s also nice is that the expandable desk collapses to a small and transportable size when required. On the portability front, this one makes a lot of sense.

The vertical height is adjustable from about 2 and a half feet to over 4 feet. User reviews have good words to say on the 4-sheets holding feature the most while also praising the robust build and reliability. Solid, chunky, well-made are the frequently used descriptors for this stand from a reputed company. It is a high-quality stand although on the pricey side.

Check out the K & M Robby Plus at Amazon.

K&M Ruka: Ultra lightweight music stand

The Ruka model from K & M is a popular model among guitarists who value portability highly. It is an ultra-lightweight option that weighs in at less than a kg (1.3 lb) which is basically next to nothing.

It is a 3-part folding music stand built to be portable with a large desk all the same. The desk measures an ample 19 1/16” x 9 7/16”. The height can be adjusted between 23” and 48” which is a good range. Being less than 2 feet off the ground can be low enough for classical guitarists in the sitting position without the stand being in the way of the music from the soundhole. Or coming in between the performer and the audience.

Collapsing it and taking it with you anywhere easily is obviously its best feature. The music stand collapses to less than 20″ long. This folding aluminum music stand in black is fully adjustable, features a page holder, and comes with its own carrying case. The desk is fully adjustable and is wide enough for a thick music book.

The measure of the usefulness of a lightweight music stand is its stability and ease of set up. The Ruka scores well here. It is pretty stable and assembling it in place is easy. The legs are tipped with rubber so that it does not slide. You probably will not use it outside on a windy day though.

Check out the K & M Ruka music stand on Amazon.

CAHAYA 2 in 1: Dual-use sheet music stand plus desktop stand 

The hugely popular Cahaya 2-in-1 sheet music stand is a remarkable product, reflecting the changes in our musical habits today. It is at once a traditional music stand with adjustable height and tilting desk as well as a versatile stand that can be placed on a table or bed or floor while practicing.

Besides, even when used as a traditional music stand, it can hold not just music sheets or a music book but also a tablet, a laptop or even a projector!

In its basic role, the Cahaya’s height can be adjusted from a sitting position to a standing one (from 31.5” to 57”). The 2” deep tray is adequate for any music book. There are metal spring arm extensions to hold music sheets in place. The tripod legs extend further outward than most stands for a steadier footing. And the tripod feet are rubber coated for a firm grip on the floor.

The tilting of the tray is where the Cahaya comes on its own. It can be tilted 180 degrees and you can place your laptop or projector on it securely. It can take on weights up to 12 lb. The whole apparatus can be folded up and carried in a compact package with the provided carry bag. Pretty neat.

Included Accessories: Carry bag, sheet music folder and music sheet clip holder. The sheet music folder has 40 pockets and can hold 80 music sheets.

If you want to place the stand really low, you just remove the tray or desk off the stand and place it on a bed or table or floor using a short back support it comes with. This support has a short leg so it sits comfortably on tables that aren’t deep.

All told, this stand is sturdy, adjustable, easy to assemble and portable. Besides being versatile in its use with laptops and beds and tables. Most of the stand is made of metal with some plastic parts. And it comes with a carry bag. Quite the package at a very decent price. 

Check out the Cahaya 2-in-1 music stand at Amazon.

Donner Sheet Music Stand DMS-1: Folding music stand & desktop book stand

This is a similar, modern take on the traditional music stand. It is a portable, folding music stand on the one hand and a desktop stand on the other. As a regular music stand, the Donner DMS-1 can tilt its desk to 180 degrees so that you can place your laptop or projector on it.

What’s more, it also comes with USB-powered lights that light up your score in a dim environment.

This again is quite the package for today’s musicians and comes with its carry bag to bundle up everything and get moving. The height adjustment is from a low 19.1” to 46.4”, a broad enough range to accommodate playing in the sitting or standing position. While the shaft and legs are made of tubular steel, the bookplate is made of ABS, a tough kind of plastic that is often used in building guitar cases.

Operations with its handles and knobs for various functions are fairly smooth and reliable. It weighs about 2.7 lbs and the package includes a music sheet clip holder and a USB cable for powering the lights.

Like the Cahaya, this model too appears to be a Chinese brand and has a few thousand satisfied user reviews on Amazon. Overall, the construction is considered sturdy with the use of both steel and ABS. There are top and bottom clips to hold the music in place if there is wind outdoors. It is stable and versatile indoors and is fairly portable in its own bag to other locations. The price is quite reasonable for the package that you get.

Check out Donner DMS-1 music stand on Amazon.

GLEAM Sheet Music Stand: 2-in-1 dual-use music stand

This is yet another popular model of music stand on Amazon with thousands of user reviews. It is a 2-in-1 standard-cum-desktop music stand capable of supporting your laptop if it needs to. Its height extends from 35” to 55”, so it doesn’t go as low as the Donner DMS-1 stand.

The Gleam is built sturdy and portable. Its tray tilts 180 degrees for maximum flexibility. A carrying bag and note clamp come with the package.

It is also the cheapest of the 3 Chinese brands featured here by a few dollars, so it can be considered a bargain for all the features it offers. The tray or desk is big enough to hold two 8 1/2×11 sheets of paper and strong enough to hold a notebook. The ability to hold up two pages side by side will have its takers among classical guitar players.

As one user commented, this is a useful stand if you’re doing YouTube videos. Your laptop sits on the stand above the level of the camera so that you can read the script or score off it without lowering your eyes.

Check out the Gleam 2-in-1 music stand on Amazon.

A brief note on how best to position your music stand

The most natural position classical guitarists adopt is to place the music stand directly in front at about eye level. There is a case for lowering the height of the stand to make it low profile. If you’re performing to an audience the advantage of a low-profile music stand is two-fold: the stand doesn’t obstruct the audience’s view of your playing and it doesn’t block the music from the soundhole.

In addition to a low profile, it also makes sense to move the stand to your left rather than placing it straight ahead. This way, looking back and forth from the music to your fingers can be easier and quicker. You don’t have to move your head, just an eye movement or two will be enough. This makes for smoother playing and finding your place in the score will be easier even in practice sessions.

In the early stages of practicing a piece, some guitar players increase the stand height to about chest level while seated. This helps to make corrections or take notes on the score sheet with a pencil easily instead of having to bend too far forward over the guitar.

And finally, many players choose to have two music stands. One, a more heavy-duty stand for practice at home and a more portable one for the road. And talking of one for the road, if you’re in the market for a quality guitar hard case, read my Crossrock Classical Guitar Cases Review detailing the different models from this popular brand. Also in the same price category (not too expensive but good quality stuff) is this other popular brand you can read about: Hiscox Guitar Cases Review.

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Happy sight reading!

Narayan Kumar

Narayan Kumar is a passionate classical guitarist and an online research buff. He is also one half of the online classical guitar duo DuJu who put out guitar duets regularly on their YouTube channel. Read more about Narayan.

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