How to Put on a Guitar Strap

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Learn about ways to put on a guitar strap on your acoustic or electric guitar. StewMac offers both drill and no-drill options that are simple and fast and will keep your guitar safe and secure when you play.


Whether you have an acoustic guitar or an electric one, a guitar strap can be the one thing that saves your favorite guitar from falling and getting damaged. Putting on a guitar strap isn't difficult or expensive and can be done in just 15 minutes, or less. In most cases, a set of strap buttons and a basic strap are all you need. This video explains options using different types of straps and shows you how to install strap buttons quickly and easily with only a drill and screwdriver.

Here's what's covered in the video:

How to put on a guitar strap

Putting on a guitar strap can be as easy as putting the ends of the strap over your strap buttons. But, sometimes there's a little bit of legwork involved to get a strap on your guitar. The first thing we need to do is locate the strap buttons on our guitar, if you have them at all. The first place to check is usually on the bottom of the body of the guitar and the second place is going to be on the back side of the neck by the heel, or at least somewhere close to it.

If you do have two buttons, then you're in luck. All you have to do is put the strap over the ends and, you're done.

Bubble gum and shoe laces

But, if you're missing one, it's nothing to be worried about. In fact, that's pretty common on acoustic guitars. There are still a few ways that we can get a strap on your guitar. One really quick an easy way to get a strap on the guitar is to just use a shoelace or a piece of string. Tie one end through the loop on the end of the strap and the other end around the headstock of the guitar. Make sure you thread the shoelace behind the nut and underneath the strings so that it doesn't get in the way while you play. Then, just tie the string in a double knot. This method works pretty well but I'm not necessarily a fan of it. I think it makes the guitar a little bit harder to hold because the strap is going all the way across the instrument and, you can tie the double knot really tight but I've had some guitars fall before because the knot loosened up over time and that's a real bummer.

Strap buttons are more secure

Whenever people would ask me when I was a repair technician to put a strap on their guitar, I always tried to convince them to put a button on the guitar. Now if you want to install a strap button it's actually pretty easy to do if you have the right tools. You just need a strap button with the screw and a drill with the right-sized drill bit. You want to make sure that the drill bit is a little bit smaller than the screw so that the threads have some wood to bite into where you put the button. This really depends on the guitar but, generally, it goes somewhere on the heel usually on the underside and sometimes on the top or the middle or, you can put it on the back of the guitar directly on the heel cap or slightly under it. Before I start drilling, I like to wrap a piece of tape around the drill bit that acts as a depth stop, or use our depth stop drill bits so I don't drill too deep. Once you have the hole drilled, just tighten the button down with a screwdriver and you have a strap button.

A no-drilling strap system

If you don't want to drill into your guitar, there are other options available. D’Addario makes this product called the Acoustic Quick Release System that I like a lot. It's got a little clip so you can take the guitar strap on and off really easily and it's pretty sturdy, as far as how it wraps around the headstock and the quality of the strap. If you have a classical guitar, you might not have a strap button on either end, at all. But, there are lots of classical straps out there that hang from your neck, kind of like a saxophone strap and go underneath the guitar and grab it from the sound hole, which just makes it a little bit easier to hold if you're standing up.

Strap locks and strap stoppers add extra security

You may consider upgrading your guitar with strap locks and, in fact, that's the first upgrade that I do on any guitar that I buy. You buy a set of strap locks and it's a permanent installation on your strap and it switches the buttons out on your guitar currently, actually locking into place for a little bit of added security.

I actually really like these products. They're called strap stoppers and, they're one of our best sellers. They're just a little rubber washers that slip over the button after your strap is installed.. Erick Coleman likes these a lot because you don't have to modify a vintage guitar and, yet, they add extra security to your strap. We actually got this idea from the little rubber washers Grolsch beer bottles. Players, back in the day, needed a way to keep their straps secure, especially if the hole in their strap was worn or stretched out. They found out that these worked pretty well.

Secure and adjust your strap for comfortable and worry-free play

Now that you've got your strap on the guitar, you might need to make some adjustments so that the guitar hangs comfortably to play. Adjusting the strap is pretty simple. Most straps have a little plastic adjuster that you can use to lengthen or shorten the strap. Some straps have a series of different slots with a smaller part of the strap that loops through them. Most straps have enough range of adjustment for any player but, if you're tall or you like to play your guitar hanging down by your kneecaps, there are extra-long versions available, as well. How long or short you adjust your strap is simply a matter of player preference. Actually, when I was in high school I was playing a lot of punk rock and I really wanted the guitar to hang as low as possible and I read somewhere that Johnny Ramone couldn't find a strap long enough to hang that low so he just duct taped two straps together. Nowadays, I like to set my strap height so that the guitar hangs at the same height, whether I'm standing up or sitting down. I usually practice when I'm sitting down but, when I stand up, I like to be able to play the guitar the same way. Straps can be made from a variety of different materials: nylon or leather, neoprene, even memory foam material choices. Obviously, this is mostly an appearance thing but, it can also have a lot to do with how comfortable the strap is or how much it wants to slide when it's on your shoulder. Normally, the strap is pretty secure but I always like to give the guitar a little pull test or just let it hang and hold my hands under the guitar so that, if anything were to go wrong, I make sure that I can catch it. However you decide to put a strap on your guitar, you're done. It's time to play.



Aaron Smiley

StewMac Technical Advisor

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