How to Attach a Guitar Strap to an Acoustic Guitar
Are you wondering how to attach a guitar strap on an acoustic guitar? Read on to learn how it's done.
A guitar is a personal thing. We all play ours differently, coaxing different sounds from them, working them over in unique and interesting ways. And, when it comes to the subject of the guitar strap, it might be safe to say there are no two people on earth who set theirs in exactly the same way.
And this issue becomes especially sticky when you apply it to acoustic guitars. Beginning with the question of strap peg placement and ending with the fact that some acoustics don't even have pegs, there's a lot to consider.
Join us, today, as we show you how to attach a guitar strap to an acoustic guitar, and get yourself performance-ready, with Strap Graphics Co.!
Wait. Why Is This An Issue?
When it comes to attaching your strap to an electric guitar, there's no contest. Work the pegs on the back and front-top-end of the guitar through the opposing holes of your strap. This will create a secure belt, keeping your ax roped around your body. No sweat.
When it comes to an acoustic guitar, the situation's usually not quite so simple. Many guitar manufacturers have begun putting out acoustic models with strap pegs at the front and back, like with an electric. And, in those cases, strapping up couldn't be easier if you tried.
But the truth is, this isn't the industry standard, and the vast majority of acoustic guitars still come with one strap button at the back. This is a design standard that goes back to the earliest days of the acoustic guitar's design. Traditional players would string a thin rope from a button at the back of the guitar to just past the nut of the guitar, behind the strings. This was done for two reasons.
Firstly, guitar luthiers didn't want to drill too many holes in the instruments lest they ruin the sound. Also, acoustic guitars suffer from "neck dive" when strapped so the strap goes from the guitar's base to its shoulder, like on an electric guitar. This means the guitar's balance gets thrown off, with the neck and headstock dipping during play instead of staying level with the player. This is because the guitar's body is so much lighter than the rest of it, being made out of thin, box-shaped wood. The front of the guitar is much heavier than the back and, when put on a small axis like a front and back strap, it tends to plummet downwards.
So what's the solution? A wider center of gravity, it turns out.
How To Strap Your Acoustic Guitar
While guitar manufacturing is at a level now where we don't have to worry as much about making holes in them, balancing is still an issue. To get around this, acoustic guitarists use straps that go from the back of the guitar, over their shoulders and all the way to the guitar's nut.
What happens with an acoustic guitar strapped in this way is that there is a much wider center of gravity to the whole instrument. It can't pivot sharply on one small point, giving you, the player, much more control over its movements while you are standing.
It's part of why many acoustic guitars are still, to this day, only equipped with the one strap pin. It's not only about tradition. A second strap pin would be easy to install. It's just not necessary - we've already found the perfect setup!
Here's how it's done:
An acoustic guitar strap will typically be sold with a shoelace or piece of thick nylon threading. If they haven't provided you with one, take matters into your own hands with about 25 to 30 inches worth. This may seem primitive but start by threading it through the pinhole on either end of the strap. Then tie that around the headstock, just next to the nut and under the strings. Tie a nice, firm knot you feel you can trust never to skip out on you in the middle of a show.
Take the other end of the strap and thread its pinhole over the guitar's one strap pin, usually on the base, nearest the bridge area.
And that's roughly it. The only thing you'll need to worry about at this point is using a nice, high-quality string if you used your own, especially if you jump around a lot. Provided it can stand prolonged pressure and is thin enough to fit behind the strings, you've got a perfect strap extension, and you're ready to go.
But what if your guitar doesn't have any strap pins whatsoever?
Are You Being Serious?
While it might seem ridiculous, many classical acoustic guitars build their sound from their simple designs. This precludes the inclusion of a strap button anywhere on the instrument itself but doesn't mean you'll never be able to play standing up. After all, we live in a much more advanced age for instrument design, and if you've got a problem, someone's already developed a solution to it.
There are actually many variations of strap designs made specifically for guitars without strap buttons of any sort. The most common one of these uses a single strap and a plastic hook to get the job done. Here's how it works:
The strap comprises a closed loop, looking like a large version of the ribbon on a medal around your neck. This can also be worn over one shoulder. At the bottom point of the loop is a braided lace with a plastic hook coming out of it.
Look the strap over your neck or shoulder, with the lace and hook hanging down in front of you. Hold your acoustic guitar against your body and lead the lace under and up in front of the guitar, at its narrowest point. This should be next to or near the sound hole. Hook the plastic hook into the sound hole, at its bottom-most edge. Allow the guitar to rest on the hook formed by the braid and the hook.
This is one of the simpler and most popular solutions used by classical guitarists. Take special note, when using this kind of guitar strap, it is important to keep at least one hand on the guitar at all times to stop it from tipping forward. As mentioned earlier, this kind of neck dipping can result in falls that cause damage.
Guitar Straps: Length and Breadth
Once you've gotten your strap attached properly, you're going to want to set it to the right length for your purposes. Which can be a tricky thing, given that "your purposes" is a pretty unique idea.
There's no hard and fast rule to this - only some standards that have been set by professional players over the years. Electric guitarists tend to play their guitars slung lower. Acoustic players, meanwhile, tend to have theirs set higher up. This is because most acoustic guitars protrude further out from the player than an electric one. This makes hitting the right notes moderately more difficult to do if you don't have sight of your fretboard. Having the guitar set higher up, therefore, puts it closer to the player's face, giving them a better view of the instrument.
Most guitar straps come with a "tri-glide" system, the standard cinch mechanism found in most backpack straps. Play around with yours until it's a length you prefer. You'll likely find yourself changing it out a few times over the course of your musical career.
In much the same way that it is important to get your strap set to the right length, you'll also want to "test drive" various strap durabilities. Guitar straps come in a recognizable width and design, for the most part. There are, however, some awesome options out there for developing guitarists. Wide, treated leather with threaded belt adjustment systems makes for a much more wonderful
Ultimately, though, like choosing to install a guitar strap button on your guitar, choosing the strap itself comes down to preference. Some of the greatest guitarists in history went their entire lives using straps no better than the ones used in high school music classes. Others swear by the comfort of a custom-made, soft leather guitar strap, maybe with a few years of wear and tear on it. Sometimes cool guitars need cool guitar straps. Other times, workhorse axes call for the bare minimum.
And more players than you might expect prefer not to use a strap at all. They prefer the comfort and control of sitting down with their instrument. It all depends on you, and what you want to get out of it.
Get Your Acoustic Guitar Strapped!
Everybody wants different things from their guitar strap. Whether you're playing acoustic or electric, base or banjo, the objective is to get it set up to where you can play it to the best of your abilities. And nothing helps make a guitar more comfortable to play than a well set up strap.
For more on custom guitar straps and other products, as well as expert blogs on guitar straps, check out our amazing content. Then get out there and strap up your acoustic guitar, today!