When playing in an orchestra or concert setting, the thing you should be most worried about is, of course, your instrument.
The second priority should be your music stand.
Ask any professional instrumentalist, and they will tell you about their stands. Though they might seem like an afterthought piece of gear, they are indeed one of the most important accessories in every player’s arsenal.
Different types of stands can profoundly change the way you play. One music stand may handle music better than the next, while another might be easier to carry around with you from gig to gig.
With so many on the market, it can be difficult deciding which one suits you best. If you are planning on picking one of these up soon, there are many things you should consider.
Let’s start with the not-so obvious...
- 1 Static Vs. Portable
- 2 Range Of Height
- 3 Stability
- 4 Durability
- 5 Portability
- 6 Tilt
- 7 Width
- 8 Friction Clutch vs. Adjusting Knobs
- 9 Best Static Music Stand Brands
- 10 Best Portable Music Stand Brands
- 11 Take A Stand
Static Vs. Portable
Whether you’re in an orchestra, a large studio, or a concert setting, it is necessary to have a stand that can hold up a lot of music books. Static stands come in handy in this regard, as they are typically more sturdy than the portable options.
Static stands are also a bit more user-friendly regarding their adjustment capabilities and have more options for changing height range and adjusting your tilt.
On the other hand, static stands can’t be folded up and stowed away like portable stands can. Portable stands are also made with much lighter materials, making them much easier to transport from place to place. This is especially important if you’re a gigging musician.
Because of the materials, portable stands are made from, you can typically find them at a lower cost than traditional music stands as well.
Neither one is better or worse, as it all comes down to what you’ll be using them for.
Range Of Height
One of the most important characteristics of a music stand is the height range. You’d be surprised how many musicians would rather stand and practice than sit.
Maybe you’re one of them!
Maybe you even like to switch it up every once in a while.
Having a stand that can adjust from a sitting to a standing position is crucial in this regard. Look for prodcuts that have a wide range of height.
You don’t want your music stand wobbling all over the place while you are trying to read your music. That can feel incredibly defeating.
Another thing that you want to look for is a stand that can hold your sheets or books in as stable a manner as possible.
If prime stability is your priority, try and stray away from products that are made from wireframe, as they aren’t as secure as steel.
Durability and stability go side by side a lot of the time, though it is essential to discuss it separately, as it helps you to understand which materials and designs are better than others.
Is the music stand you like made out of steel, wireframe, or ABS plastic?
Steel is undoubtedly the strongest and longest lasting of the three.
Even if you get a steel frame, has it been brushed, sprayed, or powder-coated so that it’s rust-free? Are the feet a foldable tripod design that could get weak after time or are they welded on?
If you plan on using your stand all the time or in places that aren’t so gear-friendly, it doesn’t hurt to consider the durability.
Do you use your stand to practice in your home studio?
If you are practicing in your home studio, it’s likely that you don’t have a ton of extra space. Having a stand that folds up allows you to store it away in a corner or closet, ultimately freeing your space of clutter.
Do you need to carry your stand from gig to gig?
Even some foldable stands are larger than others. If you don’t have room in your vehicle, or you just can’t fathom carrying around another bulky item alongside your cello or trombon, make sure to consider a portable music stand.
The tilt of a music stand is the angle that it sits at when you are using it. If you are continually setting up at different angles, whether playing various instruments, playing on different stage setups, or playing in tighter spaces, it’s necessary to have a stand that has a wide tilt range so you can always see what you are playing.
For those of you who are just starting out on your instrument, you probably only need space for one sheet of music at a time.
Once you get to the big leagues, however, it’s important that your stand allows you to view multiple pages at the same time.
Weirdly enough, a lack of width is the most common downfall we see with consumer grade options. If you don’t want to be reaching out to turn the page every 5 seconds, consider a wide music stand.
Friction Clutch vs. Adjusting Knobs
Friction Clutch stands can be adjusted either by pushing down or pulling up on the shaft of the stand while adjusting knobs change the height by loosening the knobs, pulling up or pushing down on the shaft, and locking back into position.
Typically, you’ll find that higher end stands utilize friction clutches because of their sheer strength. While adjusting knobs can certainly provide strength as well, they seem to give out sooner because of their cheaper designs.
Best Static Music Stand Brands
Manhasset Model #48
Best Static Stand
The #48 by Manhasset is one of the best music stands around for many reasons! Thanks to the full steel-welded base, it gives you strength and long-lasting durability.
It’s incredibly secure no matter how much music you put on it thanks to the greaseless heavy-duty chrome inner shaft. Pair that with the solid brass bearing and you get unreal stability.
Even better, Manhasset powder-coated the #48 in a smooth, black finish, so that you never have to worry about it getting rusty.
Already feeling the pain of putting this thing together when you get it? Don’t worry! It comes in just 3 separate parts: the base, the desk, and the telescopic pole.
Even though it’s technically not a portable music stand, this allows you to take it apart and put it together with ease. It offers up to 60 inches in adjustable height too for those who like to stand while playing, as well as a 20-inch face that allows you to read multiple sheets of music at once.
Bottom Line: The Manhasset #48 is one of the toughest and most versatile stands around. If you’re serious about getting a stand that will live with your forever, look no further.
Whoever thought that Amazon would be hanging at the top of the music stand game? This stand has solid strength, a sleek, professional look, and an operation that is smooth as butter thanks to the included automatic friction slide.
Unlike many other traditional music stands, there aren’t any knobs onboard. This makes adjusting the height much easier.
It comes with an adjustable tilt so that you can feel comfortable reading music from any position. The non-slip feet make for solid stability when paired with the welded steel base, a much sturdier option than those tripod stands we often see.
It does come in a few more pieces than the Manhasset Model #48, as you get the metallic face, the fastening ring, the base, a telescoping pole, and a connector. While it isn’t as easy to transport, it certainly works great in orchestral situations.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a high-quality stand that looks great, without the extra cost, the AmazonBasics stand is an excellent option.
If you’re on the hunt for a stand that is both strong and sturdy, as well as comes at a wallet-friendly price, check out this beautiful little stand from Musician’s Gear.
It’s pretty much got everything you could think of in a great product. The construction, though nothing amazing, is stable enough to get you through years of sessions without any damage.
It weighs about 6 lbs, making it light enough to carry around. Thanks to the portable design, you can also fold this thing down into size that is easier to carry.
The height of the stand is also fully adjustable from about 37” to 58”, allowing you to play in comfort from an array of different positions.
Bottom Line: For a sophisticated and straightforward music stand, the Musician’s Gear Heavy-Duty is a definite budget victor. It’s nothing special, though will undoubtedly get the job done when you most need it to.
Best Portable Music Stand Brands
Donner Sheet Music Stand DMS-1
Best Portable Stand
Donner is one of those names that has become pretty well known in the music industry since the company’s inception in 2012. They not only make a variety of great instruments, but great music stands as well!
The DMS-1 is easily their most popular music stand thanks to its incredible strength and durability, high-quality construction, and easy-to-transport design. It is made with a mix of ABS plastic and steel, allowing it to be both firm and lightweight.
The bookplate is entirely foldable for transportation, and at only 2.67lbs, it takes almost no effort to haul this thing around. The best part about the DMs-1 is that it comes bundled with tons of cool and useful accessories.
Some of these accessories include the carry bag for transportation, a sheet music clip holder, and a music stand light for those late night practice sessions. Though the base is a tripod-style, it gives you the sturdiness and reliability of a welded base thanks to the rubber feet.
Bottom Line: The Donner DMS-1 is our favorite portable music stand thanks to the ease of use, high-quality materials, and the variety of accessories it comes with. Unless you don’t want to spend the extra cash on a stand, there’s no other reason we can think of not go pick one of these up.
Kruzco is no stranger to making quality products that are built to last a lifetime. The Kruzco music stand is not only tough as nails, but it’s also incredibly lightweight, portable, and easy to transport thanks to the included carrying bag.
With a height range adjustability from 28 inches to 48 inches, you have tons of room to work with whether you are sitting or standing. The music tray is also uniquely magnetic, allowing you to attach magnets to hold your sheet music down rather than the standard music clip.
That being said, the tray does come complete with a metal spring arm extension for holding your music in place as well. It can tilt up to a full 180-degrees, allowing you to adjust the angle to perfection no matter what kind of space you are in.
We love the twist knob on the shaft of the music stand too. It makes it far stronger than you would expect it to be, allowing you to stack heavier books on this thing without fear of it tipping or wobbling during your performance.
Bottom Line: For a lightweight portable music stand, this thing is incredibly tough and sturdy. Though it may not provide as many cool accessories as Donner, it is definitely neck and neck regarding the build and design.
If you’re a stage performer, you know the importance of being able to set up quickly and hassle-free. Sometimes you only get moments to set up before the curtains come up. This is where the SM7122BB Folding Stand from On Stage excels most.
It comes in a nice carry bag and is easy as pie to set up in just minutes. Even with the seemingly small wireframe design, the bookplate can still hold up to 3 standard sheets of music. There is also a fold out extension if you need more room.
At 2.5 lbs, it doesn’t take much effort to carry this stand around. It folds down completely flat along with the tripod-style legs for easy storage and transport. While the adjustable height range only shoots from 26”-40”, you do get pretty solid stability thanks to the cam locking clutch. There are also little non-slip rubber feet on the bottom of each of the legs for added security.
Bottom Line: For an ultra-portable, lightweight, and easy-to-set-up music stand, this black chrome-finished stand from On Stage is an excellent budget option for those who don’t want to spend much.
Take A Stand
Take a stand for your right to read music comfortably, efficiently, and unwavered. We hope that our guide was helpful in giving you the best of both music stand worlds.
If you’re setting up your stand(s) in an orchestral / studio setting, have tons of room to work with, or want the highest quality stand, we recommend going with a static stand like the Manhasset #48.
On the other hand, if you’re a frequent traveler, want something that takes up less room, or want a music stand that is cheaper, we recommend going with a portable stand like the Donner DMS-1.
Make sure to follow our guide above so that you don’t end up regretting a wobbly and unreliable music stand purchase!
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