When buying guitar gear, one simple piece of hardware is often overlooked. It’s as useful as a guitar case in terms of keeping your investment safe from harm. It’s rarely, if ever, included in beginner guitar kits. Not even the most expensive Fender Custom Shop Strat ships with one.
What is this seemingly-elusive — or at least terribly un-sexy — item? A guitar stand. This humble structure takes a few different forms, but all of them keep your guitar off the ground and out of peril. Whether you’re on stage, in the studio, or just in your living room, a guitar stand is at the very least convenient and in some situations essential. Rarely will you go to a show where a stand isn’t in use, either right there in front of the amps or just offstage. At home, a guitar in a stand looks great in just about any room (unless you don’t like fun).
Indeed, almost all of us went through the period of playing where we didn’t have a guitar stand. That meant leaning the guitar against the amp or laying it down somewhere. Neither thing is especially good for your guitar. Most people will lean a guitar against something on the string side of the fretboard, but this can pretty quickly lead to dead spots on frets, damage to the fretboard, and possibly damage to the neck. Laying it against the back of the neck is no good either since that side is smooth, which means your guitar is more likely to slide and fall to the ground.
Guitarists are somewhat divided about which type of stand is best. Personally, I find that the maple/rosewood combinations on the necks of my guitars are plenty strong enough to hold their weight in a hanging type holder. Some players feel that the guitar should never hang from the headstock as this puts undue stress on the instrument. If you have an especially heavy guitar with a headstock design prone to breaking (i.e. a Les Paul), you might want to take this advice. As a Strat-type player, I’ve never had any trouble hanging them, and given how often you see them hanging in showrooms and galleries, it’s almost certainly okay. Nevertheless, there are options on our list that do not require hanging from the headstock, too.
I use the String Swing in the space where all of my guitars live full-time. In my practice space and on stage, when I’m picking it up and putting it down a lot, I use the Hercules Travlite Compact Electric Guitar Stand. In fact, I find the Hercules stands to be among the best in my experience, and have taken several spots below.
For both safety and convenience, here are the top ten best guitar stands for your beloved axe.
1. OnStage Black Tripod Guitar Stand
Probably the most common guitar stand is this one from OnStage. Most players I know have had one of these at one time or another, and they’re common in school band settings. They certainly do the job and tend not to be prone to failure. Several of these kick around my practice space and usually hold the nicer guitars around the edges of the room. If you’re looking for something you don’t want to have to put a lot of thought into, this is the way to go. The neck loop is a nice little bonus, especially when you know it’s going to sit there awhile. Prime members could also consider the AmazonBasics version, though at the time of this writing, it’s only a marginal savings over the better-known model. Gator Frameworks offers one, as well, again only for Prime members.
Price: $12.94 (41 percent off MSRP)
- Ubiquitous and reliable
- Comes apart for storage
- Neck loop prevents falling
- Works for electric, bass, and acoustic
- Not quite as portable as other options
- Somewhat easily tipped over
2. Hercules Travlite Compact Electric Guitar Stand
Without a doubt, this is my favorite guitar stand. I’ve used this for going on a decade now to hold my very strange, very heavy 80s MIJ Strat. It rides folded up in the front pocket of my gig bag to every show and practice and occasionally stands guard in the corner of my living room. More than once, I’ve dropped this down a flight of stairs leading outside. Both a dog and a cat have chewed on the foam, and though it gave up in places, for the most part, it clings to the metal frame underneath and keeps my guitar safe. Rugged, convenient, and not too much more expensive than the a-frame guitar stands it replaces. This is the model for electric guitars, but if you have an acoustic, you’ll want the Hercules GS301B Travlite Acoustic Guitar Stand.
If you want something even more portable, consider the company’s GS402BB Mini Electric Stand, which folds up smaller and comes with its own bag. I don’t like it quite as much, but it is pretty nifty. Since this is standing in for the more-traditional a-frame style, you could also consider the OnStage GS7462B Folding Guitar Stand, which is a few bucks cheaper. In my experience, the legs on these tend to widen in time, which leads to the bottom of your guitar resting on the floor. Similarly, the Top Stage Pro Universal Guitar Stand is dirt cheap and features a lock to prevent the collapse. Worth considering, but my money goes to Hercules here.
Price: $27.99 (7 percent off MSRP)
- Ultra-sturdy and compact
- Folds flat for easy portability
- Very difficult to tip
- Dense foam protects all contact points
- Foam can show indents and occasionally be damaged enough to revel bare metal
- No restraints to keep guitar from being knocked forward
3. String Swing Hardwood Home & Studio Guitar Hanger
In addition to my beloved Hercules, I also have a handful of these for my guitars to live in full-time. In my little corner studio at home, they hang behind my computer chair, right over my practice amp and pedalboard. I hang them back up with the guitar cords still attached, even, so I just need to grab one off the wall to work on a riff or get a few minutes of practice in. They come in various natural hardwood shades as pictured above, as well as black metal and white metal, the latter of which is what I use and is good for white walls.
For options, there are some very cheap knockoffs available, but buy at your own risk. Dangling your guitar several feet off the ground is always a little fraught, and cutting costs here might not be the best move. To that end, the Hercules version uses their auto grip system for even greater security, but is more expensive.
In addition to all of those, String Swing also makes a horizontal guitar holder for those that really don’t want their babies hanging from the headstock.
- Securely attaches to the wall to keep guitar safely out of the way
- Yoke freely pivots to adjust to any headstock
- Yoke can be bent to adjust to different neck sizes
- Works for virtually any guitar
- Must be installed in a fixed location
- Not much use on stage (unless you have a permanent residency or own the establishment)
- Hanging style not ideal for everyone
- Despite color options for the mounting plate, all yoke colors are the same
4. Hercules GS414B Auto Grip System Guitar Stand
Speaking of the Auto Grip System, Hercules also makes a free-standing guitar holder that combines the unique fixture with a more traditional stand. Taking off from the OnStage above, this again offers the padded surface on all contact points. There’s a simple locking mechanism that allows you to adjust the height to accommodate basses, if needed. The AGS mechanism holds up to 33 pounds, so you can put nearly any guitar ever made on it — along with 15 pounds of cords. There are a few models of these stands, with this being the standard, entry level version. Other versions include:
- GS412B — includes folding backrest
- GS415B — adds folding mechanism to the AGS yoke
- GS455B — AGS yoke made to accommodate instrument necks from 28mm to 55mm wide
- Auto Grip System secures instruments in place
- Combines hanging-type holder with bottom support
- Works on virtually all guitars
- Dense foam protects all contact points
- Somewhat pricey
- Doesn’t fold up as small as some others
5. Fender Mini Electric Guitar Stand
Competing directly with the Hercules GS402BB Mini Electric Stand I mentioned above, this is a very inexpensive and simple option. Part of the price benefit comes from the Prime member restriction, but if you can live with that, you can save 2/3 the price compared to the Hercules. It folds up super tiny for tossing into gig bags, and is made of tough metal tubing that will put up with a good deal of abuse. It’s not as hearty as the Hercules design, but that’s certainly reflected in the price difference. Very good for a beginner guitarist or someone constantly on the go.
Price: $10.71 (10 percent off MSRP)
- Folds down for easy portability
- Not quite as tough as the Hercules
- Only works on electric guitars and some basses
6. K&M Stands Heli 2 Acoustic Guitar Stand
For acoustic players, this K&M option provides an extra feature compared to the Hercules above: a locking, four position width adjustment. While the Hercules can be set to any width, it doesn’t lock in position the way this does. The adjustment allows you to resize it for guitars from 00 size to jumbo to fit virtually your entire arsenal. The company also suggests that it will work for your cello and French horn, as well. Finally, it folds up extremely flat so you can toss it in the gig bag. Oh, and they make an electric guitar model, too.
Price: $21.81 (32 percent off MSRP)
- Fits acoustic guitars from 00 size through Jumbo
- All-steel, foldable construction with integrated pick holders
- Surfaces coated in non-marking rubber
- Four position width adjustment to suit your instrument
- Limited protection to keep guitars from falling forward
- Top backrest could be more substantial
7. Gator Frameworks GFW-GTR-2000 Double Guitar Stand
The need for a stand on stage is heightened when you play with more than one guitar. I rarely ever switch off of my number one, but I always keep another one up there with me in case of emergency. A dual-guitar stand is perfect for this purpose, and Gator makes a fine example. It’s just like the OnStage one at the top of the post but, you know, with two slots. For $29.99, you can also go up to three, in case you’ve got one song in another tuning, or you need to drop an acoustic ballad into the middle of your djent set. Naturally, Hercules have both a two guitar and three guitar options, as well, both with the AGS hanger.
- Holds two guitars simultaneously
- Neck loop restraint
- Holds wide variety of guitars
- Rubberized padding
- Doesn’t fold up quite as small as other options
- Over-tightening the plastic knobs can lead to breakage
- Only a single rivet keeps the top from spinning away from the yokes
8. Hercules GS525B Five-Piece Guitar Rack
Do you know a guitarist that only has one guitar yet are any appreciable time into their playing career? The three I have right now represent the smallest collection I’ve had personally. Certainly when in the studio, my old band’s assembled guitar army was into the dozens. For the ones in frequent rotation, we used one of these racks. For three electrics, a bass, and an acoustic guitar, it was exactly perfect. Though some reviewers say that it isn’t easy to fold up, I didn’t find this to be the case and very occasionally, we tossed this into the pile going to a show. By utilizing extra HA205 extension packs, you can fit up to ten narrow body electrics on this rack, if you wanted. Alternatively, Hercules make a three instrument rack, as well.
Since this one is pretty pricey, you could consider the cheaper (in both senses) Fender 5 Multi-Stand or the OnStage GS7561 Foldable Five Space Multi-Guitar Stand, although we managed to break the latter, as well as the Proline PLMS5 Folding Stand. To get close to the expandability of the Hercules, you can go off-brand with the Best Choice Products Seven Multi Folding Stand or the TMS Nine Guitar Holder Stand. If you’re gentle, you might be able to make these work, but we found the Hercules to be the winner.
- Holds up to ten acoustics, electrics, or basses (when using HA205 extension packs
- Adjustable and removable yokes
- Small footprint
- Folds up for easy transport
- Unlikely to fit five full-size acoustic guitars
- Nothing to prevent the guitars from banging into one another
- Foam on the bottom bar can slide around, exposing spots of the metal bar
- On the expensive side
9. Gearlux Guitar Stand Case
Similar to something you might see on the road for pro-level touring musicians, this velour-lined stand provides a bit more cover than the other options on this list. When set up, the sides protect from accidents at either end, while the leatherette, snapping loops ensure the guitars can’t fall sideways out of it. Six narrowbody electrics (maybe more like four LP-style) or three acoustic guitars can sit comfortably in here, while the wide base provides plenty of stability. When it’s time to move it, it folds into a 27 by 21 by five inch briefcase.
- Holds six electrics or three acoustics
- Folds down into a briefcase
- Plush lining protects guitar finish
- Snapping loops hold guitars in
- Plush liner provides the only padding
- At 27 inches long, still fairly large when closed
10. Gator Frameworks GFW-GTR-SEAT Acoustic Guitar Stand
An excellent choice for buskers or singer-songwriters stuck in the tiniest corner of a coffee shop, this solution allows you to bring a seat and a guitar stand with you wherever you go. During intermissions and drink breaks, you don’t have to put your guitar back in the case or lean it against a table. This will work for electrics, too. Admittedly a bit of a novelty, but if you’ve got a use for it, this is a great option.
- Combines two performance needs
- Collapses flat for easy transport and storage
- Removable backrest
- Not as effective as a stand designed purely for that purpose
- If this tips over, the chair will fall on your guitar
Gigging often? Check out our best gigging amps under $1,000 post here.
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