An Essential Step On The Path To Superstardom
Don’t get me wrong, sitting down and playing guitar is tons of fun, and it’s easier to nail those big, Mr. Fantastic chords as well, but eventually, we all need to shed the stool and spread our musical wings…so to speak.
Sooner or later, we all want to stand up with our axes and rock out like our guitar heroes — we’re going to want to play live, too!
Unless you plan on sticking with low-key acoustic sets for your entire career, you’ll need to invest in a guitar strap, hook it up to your instrument, and walk out on stage on two feet, ready to throw some shapes and really feel the music.
Choosing A Strap
Almost all guitar straps are adjustable, but many will have a different range of adjustability. To snag the perfect strap for you, you’ll need to think about how high or low you want your guitar to rest.
Punk rockers (and James Hetfield, of course) tend to have their guitars nice and low, even below the hips in some instances. It looks cool, but it’s insanely difficult to play like this.
The indie rockers (and Tom Morello) you’ll have seen strumming jangly chords on their Jazzmasters and Jaguars tend to enjoy a tighter strap, with their guitars resting somewhere between their belly buttons and chest. This can look a little 1960s, but it’s super comfortable and makes playing easier.
A durable strap is another essential, but don’t feel like you need to fork out megabucks for a bulky leather strap. Other fabrics hold out just as well. Decent padding is more important than choice of fabric.
Your next consideration comes down to pure aesthetics. Sure, straps are very functional items, keeping you feeling fine as you play, sans stool, but they’re also an opportunity to express yourself. Feel free to shop around for one that really feels “you”.
How To Put A Guitar Strap On An Electric Guitar
Okay, without further ado, let’s get down to business. If you’ve recently acquired your first electric guitar…congrats! You’re going to have tons of fun, and, thankfully, it only takes a moment to hook up a guitar strap.
Step 1. Locate The Strap Buttons
Strap buttons are basically just little metal studs that anchor your strap to your guitar when you want to take to the stage and windmill like hell, à la Pete Townsend.
On an electric, the front button should be on the end of the top “horn” of your guitar. So, on a Stratocaster shape, for instance, it will be found on the end of the pointy bit closest to your chin.
Sometimes, if the guitar is particularly spiky, such as the Flying V, B.C. Rich Warlock, or Dean Razorback, the first button will be located behind the horn or neck joint.
On standard-shape guitars, the back button can always be found in the middle of the bottom edge of the body. For guitars that could legit double as medieval weapons, again, check behind the spikes.
Step 2. Connecting Your Strap With The Front Strap Button
- It’s best to do this sitting down. Take your strap, and find the end with the adjustable buckle. This is usually used as the front end, as it gives you easy access to the buckle at all times.
- With the decorative side of the strap facing outward, force the front button through the slit in the end tab. This can be quite tough for leather straps, but you will get there in the end.
Step 3. The Second Button
- Loop the strap over your front shoulder, so the loose bit dangles down your back.
- Bring your back hand around, and grab the loose end, making sure there are no twists in the strap.
- With the decorative side of the strap facing away from your guitar, force the second button into the slit in the tab at the back end of your strap.
Step 4. Stand Up!
…And Voilà; you’ve done it! Check everything is securely in place and feels comfortable.
Step 5. Adjust Your Strap
Guitar straps feature a standard buckle adjustment system. Tinker with it until you find that perfect “hang”, and that’s that!
How To Put A Guitar Strap On An Acoustic Guitar
I’ve got some good news…setting up a strap on an acoustic guitar is exactly the same as setting one up on an electric; however, the first strap button will always be situated on the back of the body, behind the neck.
What If There Is Only One Strap Button?
It’s rare, but some acoustic guitars may only have a single strap button at the base of the guitar. To remedy this, you can take a strong string, loop it through the strap slit, thread it around your guitar at the top of the neck, behind the nut, so it runs between the headstock and the strings, then secure it with a double knot.
What If My Guitar Doesn’t Have Any Strap Buttons?
If your guitar is completely devoid of strap buttons, you’ll have to install them. You can do this yourself if you’re hot on your DIY, but I’d highly recommend having them installed by a professional, as it’s a pretty invasive procedure. If done wrong, you can do some serious damage to your guitar.
Straplocks — What Are They, And Do I Need Them?
As my friend tragically found out during a jam in my attic, guitar straps aren’t always as secure as we’d like. Mid-song, his brand-new matte black Les Paul, fell off his shoulders, directly down through the hole in my ceiling (thankfully, it was an LP copy rather than the real deal).
Straplocks prevent this from happening by physically locking your strap and guitar together, giving you the go-ahead to unleash your inner Malmsteen without throwing your expensive guitar around the room.
While not totally essential, if you’re taking to the stage, straplocks will ensure your guitar lives to shred another day.
How To Put On A Guitar Strap — Parting Words
Now you’re standing up, a whole new world of musical opportunities will open up to you — hurray! However, you’ll notice that playing standing up feels completely alien, so my advice is to practice, practice, practice while standing up, at least 15 minutes a day. Stick with it, and you’ll be stage-ready in no time!