D&A Guitar Stands Roundup
By Chris Loeffler |
D&A Guitar Stands
Even your guitar needs a support network
by Chris Loeffler
Accessories are often the least sexy purchases made for guitar: they don’t make new sounds, or change how your instrument feels…they are workhorses. That said, at some point we need to ask ourselves how many times our guitars need to get stepped on or knocked over before we realize accessories like guitar stands pay for themselves in convenience. D&A Guitar Gear reached out to Harmony Central at Summer NAMM and asked if we’d like to give their entire line of guitar stands a spin. Normally, we don’t like to review multiple products in a single review, but there was enough functional crossover among the different stands and hangers that we decided to take a roundup approach.
D&A Starfish (Passive and Starfish+ Active)
The D&A Starfish guitar stand comes in two formats (passive and active), and features a five-legged open yolk design for increased stability and balance. Two of the five legs are longer than the others, creating a more solid connection with the ground while at the same time, clearing the front area where the guitar body will be resting. The guitar is suspended by the yolk, and doesn’t need support on the body or bout. D&A claims the Starfish can withstand twice the tilt (30 degrees as opposed to 15) without tipping over, a claim I didn’t verify, but I can attest you have to want to knock one over to make it lose balance or even jostle the guitar in the stand. Casual bumps and kicks replicating the typical risks guitar stands face during gig setup and breakdown didn’t budge the Starfish.
One of the nice visual features of the Starfish is the angle at which it holds guitars; they seem more “presented” than simply hanging, resulting in a curated, aesthetically pleasing look. However as robust as the Starfish is, it folds in half in seconds and the size and weight both make it travel-ready. The Starfish features the same Grip Friction System used by all the D&A stands and hangers, where the yolk is covered in a polymer molding that is soft enough to add a bit of grip to the neck and make initial contact gentler. I found no memory loss over the multiple week evaluation period, and the inner grooves give even more pinch for a very solid cradle.
While the Starfish Passive is plenty sturdy and capable of securing a guitar, the Starfish Active + guitar stand features a spring-assisted yolk grip that holds the neck on a spring so that it's slightly raised. As the guitar is placed in the hanger, its weight drops the cradle into the yolk, causing a see-through gate to emerge from both ends to enclose and lock in the guitar neck. This added stability may be overkill given how well the Starfish Passive works, but it undeniably beefs up the protection.
D&A Hydra Triple Guitar Stand
The Hydra triple guitar stand triples down on the guitar storage capabilities of the Starfish and adds an extra leg to ensure balance. Probably the Hydra's best feature is that it triples the amount of guitars held yet barely expands the footprint, making it by far the most space-saving solution in the D&A lineup. Using the same locking yolk system as the Starfish Active + in triplicate, the Hydra adds a soft-plastic support bar for the body to keep the same level of balance as the Starfish - even when only one or two of the yolks is holding a guitar.
Given that it works nearly identically to the Starfish, I decided to try to exploit balancing weaknesses by playing around with different lengths and weights of guitars and basses. Long story short, I wasn’t able to destabilize the Hydra regardless of how unbalanced it was, even when balancing a mandolin and a six-string extended neck bass.
D&A Grip Wall-Mounted Guitar Hanger
The Grip is a wall-mounted guitar hanger available in black and white/chrome configurations. The solid-steel alloy framework is rated to hold up to 50 lbs, and installation is as simple as finding a supportive place on you wall and screwing it in. I was able to fit all my guitars in without issue, although I found an old Dobro with a huge neck to be a bit too large. When properly installed, most guitars, regardless of size or weight, sat perfectly horizontal to the wall and didn’t look cocked in or out, which made the hung guitar very aesthetically pleasing.
D&A Headlock Wall-Mounted Guitar Stand
The bigger brother of The Grip, the Headlock also mounts to the wall but places the yolk grip that holds the neck on a spring so that it's slightly raised. Just like with the Starfish Active +, as you place the guitar in the hanger, its weight drops the cradle into the yolk, causing a see-through gate to emerge from both ends to enclose and lock in the guitar neck. While I didn’t have much concern about a guitar slipping from The Grip, there is no doubt the Headlock increases the stability even further and has a nice, solid feel to it. I’ve found few guitar hangers that don’t require a second hand to stabilize the guitar’s body as it nests into the hanger, but I was confidently placing and removing guitars from the two I evaluated with a single hand and without a concern of the guitar shifting into place. Like The Grip, the Headlock is available in black or white and chrome colors.
D&A Gigstand and Icestand (Electric and Acoustic)
The D&A Gigstand is a floor stand available for Electric and Acoustic guitars, and it small enough to fold and place in your back pocket or gig bag. Although they are treated as separate SKUs, the Gigstand and the Icestand share the same design and form factor and differ only in that the Gigstand is a standard black color while the Icestand is clear. Weighing about as much as a guitar cable (20 oz.), the Gigstand folds open in two steps and is dramatically more durable and stable than I expected. The no-skid treatment at the base makes a solid connection with the floor - the moment a guitar is set in it, your axe is effectively anchored to the ground and not going to move unless you roundhouse kick it. Adding to the stability is the same Grip Friction System used by all the D&A stands and hangers, which holds the guitar both at the bout and on the back. After a couple of weeks of monkeying around with the Gigstand and Icestand with both my electric and acoustic guitars I expected to see a bit of loosening of stability as they broke in after multiple uses, but they were both as rigid and stable as they were when I took them out of the boxes, with solid connections in the joints and smooth folding despite my (intentional) less-than-gentle treatment of them.
As stands and hangers that bring enhanced features to the table, it’s hard to find an issue with them. My only suggestion is offereing the hangers in multi-unit bundles for people who want to put up several guitars and save a few dollars.
The Grip Friction System is a simple but elegant solution to many of the issues I’ve encountered with stands in the past, from inferior materials that mar the guitar to stability and resting position within the yolk, and it is well implemented throughout the line, from hangers to stands. Build quality is consistent across the line and the folding hinges and latches all carry a professional heft to them that elevates them beyond the typical guitar store stand fare. Given that the sole purpose of a guitar stand or hanger is to protect your guitar while keeping it within reach, I don’t know how one could improve upon the design or materials in the D&A guitar stand and hanger line. -HC-
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.