Making a banjo strap is a fun and easy project, and it's a great way to recycle old belts that may be hanging around the house. Though banjo straps are readily available at most music stores, making your own strap gives you bragging rights.
Banjo straps are very similar to guitar straps, but banjo straps employ clips or ties at both ends to attach them to the banjo's tone-ring adjustment bolts, rather than slots for slipping over guitar strap buttons.
Remove any hardware from the belt, and trim the ends of the belt with scissors. The trim may be a straight or rounded cut to suit your visual preference.
Punch a hole in each end of the strap with an awl, approximately 1/2 inch from the edge. If you use a very thin leather or fabric belt, you can fold over the edge about one inch, and punch through both layers of material. This "seam" will add strength to the strap.
Connect one shoelace to each strap hole by folding the shoelace in half, threading the folded section into the strap hole to form a loop sticking out of one side of the hole.
Secure each shoelace to the strap by threading the loose ends into the loop. Pulling the ends after threading will tighten and secure the shoelace. You will now have two loose ends of the shoelace on both ends of the strap.
Install one end of the strap to the banjo by threading one of the loose shoelace ends through the tone ring adjustment bolt next to the bridge, toward the top of the banjo head. Tie the shoelace to its other loose end with a string double knot of your choosing. Choose the adjustment bolt on the side of the bridge that secures the fifth and bass strings of the banjo.
Install the other end of the strap by inserting one loose shoelace end through the tone ring adjustment screws nearest to the neck of the banjo on the 5th and bass string side. Tie the loose end to its partner with a strong double knot of your choice.
Put the banjo strap (now attached to the banjo) over your head, and test for comfortable playing height. You can adjust the height by untying one of the shoelaces, and adjusting the knot location higher or lower on the string. When you find a comfortable height, trim any loose shoelace ends with scissors about 1/2 inch from the knot.
- You may substitute shoelaces with cord made from leather, nylon, cotton, fabric, or other strong material that can be threaded and knotted.
- You may also substitute locking clips for laces or cords at the end of the strap, and clip the strap to the adjustment bolts. If you use locking clips, however, you won't be able to adjust the strap, so only them if the strap is already an ideal length.
- Experiment with attaching the strap to different adjustment bolts near those that are recommended to fine-tune playing angle. There is no right or wrong place for strap attachment--it's fine as long as it is comfortable, does not inhibit playability, is attached to a strong location on the banjo, and will not come loose.
- Wider belt material will result in more shoulder comfort. You can also purchase or fashion a shoulder pad from fabric or padding to add to your strap where it contacts the shoulder.
- Always test the strap knots by giving each strap end a strong pull while holding the banjo. Knots that have come undone can cause damage to the banjo if it hits the floor.
- Inspect the lace regularly, and replace if worn. Any material rubbed against metal has the potential to fray, weaken, an fail.
- Banjo straps are usually left on the instrument for the sake of convenience, even while in a banjo case. Avoid adding decorative or functional metal hardware to your strap to avoid potential abrasion or puncture damage to the banjo while in storage or transport.