Trade Secrets!

Where's the best spot for your strap button?

Issue 55 February 21, 2008

Where to put a guitar strap button?
Is there a best spot?

“Where do you want
your strap button?”

It’s a common question in any repair shop. Let’s look at the pros and cons before you drill that hole...

Dan Erlewine's signature Dan Erlewine, February 21, 2008
Photo: Dan Erlewine
Okay, you’ve already put one strap button on the tail end of the guitar. At the neck end, there are about five options:

Five strap button locations
Position #1 is a popular spot: on the back near the heel cap, like on a Gibson semi-hollowbody.

Position #2. Some folks place it right on the heel cap itself. Strap buttons in these spots 1 and 2 feel natural to electric players, but they allow the guitar to tip forward while playing. Also, when the guitar goes in the case, its weight will rest on the button, so I’d want deeply padded plush to support it in the case.

I like position #3 on the guitar’s side near the neck heel, because the guitar hangs comfortably, balances well, and doesn’t fall forward. And the strap’s out of the way of your fretting hand. If the neck block is wide enough, all you do is drill a hole and screw on the button. I install it centered on the side, about 5/8" out from the heel.

Drilling the guitar's side
Screwing into the guitar's support block
When the neck block's not wide enough, I glue a reinforcement block inside, where the side and neck block meet.

Carefully drill the hole through the side as shown with my see-through demo guitar. Then put glue on the block and use the button screw itself as a clamp while it dries. I use Franklin's Titebond for this type of job because it's strong and cleanup is easy.

Modern acoustics often have lag bolts fastening the neck to the body, so check inside before drilling to make sure you’re not going to hit metal hardware.

TiteBond Glue
TiteBond Glue
Strap button positions on the guitar neck

Use a felt washer under the strap button
Position #4 is also good, right on the heel of the neck itself.

Position #5 is the most popular choice among my customers. With the strap wrapping down under the heel, you'll like the way it pulls the guitar toward you. Surprisingly enough, it isn’t much in the way of your fretting hand either.

For a heel mount, use a strap button felt washer to avoid blistering the finish where the flat strap button meets the curve of the heel.
What about tying the strap to the peghead?
Don’t do it.
You don’t want that kind of strain pulling at the neck that you’ve so nicely adjusted the action on.
Guitar Player Repair Guide (old edition) It’s finally ready: the new
Guitar Player Repair Guide!

I’ve been gathering notes in my old copy for the past 14 years. All that info is now in the new 3rd Edition with a free DVD included.

Dan Erlewine's signature
Guitar Player Repair Guide, 3rd Edition
Strap button drill and tap set
Variety of strap buttons
Use the right drill size.
The bit should be comfortably larger than the core of the screw, leaving just the tips of the threads to cut into the wood. Use this photo as a guide: this is StewMac’s strap button bit and tap set. The bit and tap are shown overlapped in the middle, showing how your drill size should relate to the screw. This drill and tap set is what I use, so I don't have to hunt or guess at sizing. It's a good fit for all of these strap buttons: the Gripper, a traditional button, the Lockstrap System, Dunlop’s Straplok, and a pretty snakewood button.
Strap Button Bit and Tap Set
Button installed on neck plate
Here's a trick that I learned from a customer — installing a strap button on the neck plate of a bolt-on guitar!

Dan Erlewine's signature
Traditional Strap Buttons
Traditional Strap Buttons