How Do I Attach an Acoustic Guitar Strap?

Written by matt mckay | 13/05/2017

Acoustic guitar straps are easy to attach, although it may seem a bit confusing at first. Some acoustic guitars have only one strap button at the body heel, and require the top section to be tied on the guitar's neck. Many acoustics have a second strap button located on the neck-heel or upper shoulder, but there is a quick and safe method to safely installing guitar straps for those that do not.

Installing Straps on Strap Buttons

Installing straps on acoustic guitars with two strap buttons is easy, but with the stiff end material on new straps it can prove a bit frustrating. Straps are equipped with cut-out strap button holes on both ends, which slip over the guitar's strap buttons. Gently easing the buttons through the holes, with a bit of helpful wiggling, is the recommended method. Never cut or widen the strap's button holes with a tool, as it may cause the strap to fit loosely, and may weaken the holes under strain. The strap buttons on the tail of the guitar are sometimes of the "end-pin" variety, which are pushed into the guitar through a drilled hole, rather than secured by a screw as is the case with standard strap buttons, but they serve the same purpose.

Tying Straps

Acoustic guitars without a neck or upper-shoulder strap button require that the strap be tied to the headstock, directly behind the string nut. Threading the strap string underneath the strings behind the nut, and tying in a secure knot is all that is required for this type of installation. While there is no "set" method for tying or knot type, the knot should be tested for strength under strain, and double knotted for extra security. If a string or cord was not supplied with the strap, a doubled-up shoelace or leather cord will do nicely.

Adjusting Straps

Some straps may be adjusted while installed on the guitar by means of a slide buckle. Other straps, particularly leather straps, must be removed from the instrument, as they use a two-piece, stepped-loop adjusting system. Straps should be adjusted so that the guitar feels comfortable, and does not produce excess bending of the fret-hand's wrist.

Installing Strap Buttons

If your guitar only has a tail mounted strap button, you may wish to add one the neck heel. This is not a complex operation, but it does involve drilling into the guitar in a critical area. It's best to have the installation assessed and performed by a guitar technician, and always check with the manufacturer before doing even simple modifications that may void the warranty.

Installing Strap Locks

Strap locks provide piece of mind to owners. Strap buttonholes will loosen over time, and may cause the strap to disengage. Strap locks of varying designs further secure the strap to the button, and either slip over the outside of the strap, or attached to the strap buttonholes themselves. Strap locks are simple to install, and are cheap insurance against strap failure accidents.

Strap Button and End-Pin Maintenance

Strap buttons and end pins can become loose over time, and should be inspected periodically. Tighten loose strap button screws with a screwdriver, but be careful not to strip the wood-hand tight is perfectly fine. Loose end-pins, which are friction mounted into a hole drilled into the guitar, can be made tight by removing the pin, and lightly coating the inserted end with wood glue, before reinserting and allowing to dry.

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