Let’s get one thing straight. Not everyone needs music stands, portable or otherwise. Most bands rely on rehearsals just so they can avoid having to look at sheet music during their performance.
The exceptions include if you are practicing at home and if you plan on playing at a symphony orchestra – pretty much any compositions so long and so annotated that you can’t be expected to memorize them all.
Therefore, if you’re a student learning music theory, or if you play classical music for a living, having a quality music stand is mandatory.
But the question remains, what does a good portable music stand for a traveling musician make? – A combination of factors, which I’ll highlight soon enough.
6 Best Portable Music Stands - Sturdy Options
Check out the following reviews to get my two cents on the best portable music stands that pretty much anyone can afford.
The OnStage SM7211B is a fully adjustable portable music stand with good stability and a larger bookplate. The 13.5” x 19” bookplate is suitable for single page sheet music, music books, and wider sheets.
It also has a 2” return lip which will help support a thicker book even in an upright position. The height is adjustable from 24 up to 45 inches. The knob rotates smoothly and locks into place without much effort.
The stability is provided by the tripod base and non-slip rubber feet. The presence of the rubber feet also makes this stand suitable for any type of flooring.
You can also adjust the angle of the bookplate or platform tray. It adjusts up to 90 degrees which means that you can use the SM7211B music stand for concerts and for studying.
2. Donner DMS-1
The Donner DMS-1 is a collapsible music stand made with portability in mind. It can accommodate any touring musicians who are dependent on sheet music. The stand is adjustable between 19.1 and 46.4 inches in height, which should be enough for users of all ages and any location.
You can use the 90-degree angle adjustment knob to position the platform tray completely flat, upright, or at any convenient angle in between. The platform tray is a beefy 1.2-inch tray which should accommodate sheet music for almost any instrument.
The DMS-1 stand has good stability due to its tripod base, which is also adjustable. The legs however are not adjustable, so you might not want to use this music stand on uneven floors. To top things off, a rugged carry bag, a clip holder, a USB cable, and sheet lighting are all included.
Gearlux offers this music stand in two varieties: solid top and vented. While some people prefer vented bookplates for the stability, I recommend going with a solid top when possible. It improves the overall durability of the music stand and offers better protection to your sheet music.
Compared to many other sheet music stands, the solid-top Music Stand by Gearlux is quite lightweight. It’s just what you need for traveling purposes. It’s also adjustable in height (28 to 48 inches) so it can be used when sitting down or standing up.
The bookplate can be tilted for a full 180 degrees. It has good depth, enough for books and binders, and width to accommodate two-page sheet music. It’s also magnetic, which should allow you to secure your sheet music with ease.
This ChromaCast music stand is among the most affordable options for professional musicians. It comes with its own carry bag and its classic design features metal spring arm extensions. Those are there to hold sheets firmly in place.
The bookplate is 11.5” x 20”. It’s just about as big as they come and likely more than you need for a wide range of instruments.
The stability is good as the stand sits on a tripod leg base. The base is adjustable so it’s easy to fit the ChromaCast CC-MSTAND in tight places.
The ability to adjust the height is standard in music stands, and this one delivers more than most. It has a height range of 28 to 52 inches. That’s almost 4 and a half feet at the top end, which should be enough for taller musicians at full height, unless they have particularly bad eyesight perhaps. In any event, it is enough for the average adult and kids.
This is one of the most durable and affordable professional music stands. It has a solid build and a wide 20” tray which should accommodate any type of sheet music. It also features an open-back tray which reduces a lot of the overall weight.
Its lowest height setting is 18” and up to the highest point of 41”. That should be enough for the average person. However, it might not accommodate all musicians who play in an upright position. On the other hand, the lower height settings can benefit kids a lot.
The carry bag is included, as is a music sheet clip holder. The stability is good, as it should be for the lack of weight at the top. The tripod base is finished in non-slip rubber caps, which should improve the adherence to virtually any surface.
6. Eastar EMS-1
If you’re looking for a very rugged portable music stand, the Eastar EMS-1 may just fit the bill. It’s a bit heavier than other models in this price range, but it also offers greater support and stability.
Its tray can accommodate a laptop positioned flat against the ground. The 2” platform tray has enough depth to hold music books or binders and the 90-degree angle adjustment is always nice to have.
The maximum height goes up to 62”, measuring from the floor to the top of the bookplate. At 5ft plus standing, this should be good enough even for the tallest musicians. When fully collapsed, the stand measures 21.5”, which is a very good travel size.
The travel bag is included and so are a few other accessories such as a light, USB cable, and a clip holder.
What You Need in Terms of Measurements
You can’t say that one music stand is better the rest based on height. But you can say that a taller music stand is best-suited for you if you play your instrument standing up, if you’re tall, or if you have poor eyesight.
As for the other dimension, the width of the tray or bookplate is very important. The wider the tray, the more types of sheet music it can accommodate. Some bookplates may only support single-page music while others can support two or even more pages simultaneously.
Build Quality is Important
Music stands are made of plastic, metal, or a combination of both. Metal would obviously be the best choice for any traveling musician. Metal stands can survive a few hard knocks and still work flawlessly after you take the stand out of the bag.
On the other hand, ABS plastic music stands are lighter and the well-built ones can also be just as tall or as stable as metal stands. They are also cheaper for the most part. But, they are not ideal to carry around between performances. They’re best suited for studying at home or at school.
Are There Any Required Accessories?
You’re going to need something to hold your music sheet in place. You might also want a carry bag but you won’t need anything too fancy with thick padding or a hardcase. However, a rugged bag will always be better than a flimsy bag for obvious reasons.
Some manufacturers also offer lights, clip holders, replacement parts, and other accessories. A music stand light is not always worth paying a premium for since you can easily improvise one at home or get a cheap one online. In any event, have you ever seen an ill-lit classical music stage?
Probably not. Besides, reading sheet music in poor lighting conditions is not a good studying habit to develop.
Never Miss a Note Again
Have you found what you have been looking for? – These portable music stands all offer a good balance of quality and performance. And, as you can see, very few of them cost more than a pack of good guitar strings.
It’s up to you to decide which stand is best for you, so I’m not going to beat you over the head with it.