Amongst the most overlooked guitar accessories is the strap. While almost all electric guitarists who perform in live shows use guitar straps, their use among acoustic players is not that common, particularly those who play sitting down. For a beginner, it is natural to wonder if they need a guitar strap or how it may affect their playing and practice sessions.
You need guitar straps when playing standing up. There is no other way to support the weight of your guitar. But, even when sitting down, a guitar strap can help immensely to make your practice easier and less fatiguing. It would help you avoid hunching over, which can strain your muscles and tire you sooner. It can also help keep the guitar in place, especially electric guitars that are much thinner. Acoustic guitars, with their thicker body, can be played sitting down without a strap, but using one would still make it easier for most people.
How Does a Guitar Strap Help?
Most guitar players use a strap for playing guitar while standing up. The strap holds the guitar in place and leaves both hands free to fret and strum the strings. While it is necessary to use a strap for playing guitar standing up, they can also help stabilize the guitar’s weight when sitting down, particularly the electric guitar. Acoustic guitars have a more refined shape for playing sitting down with their narrow waist and deeper body. Electric guitars, while they can be played without a strap sitting down, may feel better for many people when used with a strap.
It is also a good idea to practice playing guitar standing up and sitting down—many players who practice at home neglect this advice and practice for hours sitting down. Not only is it bad for your body to be in one position for hours, but you also don’t learn how to play standing up comfortably. And for an electric guitarist, it is almost a requirement to be able to play standing up. If you play a particularly heavy guitar, you can get a wider strap which will lessen the pressure on the point of contact with your shoulders.
What Does a Guitar Strap Attach To?
Guitar straps have a slit or opening that attaches to the strap button or peg on the guitar, not unlike a dress shirt with buttons. Almost all electric guitars have two strap buttons, one at the bottom of the guitar’s body at the center and the other most commonly at the top of the body near the place where the neck attaches.
Some acoustic guitars may come with only one strap button and are generally meant for use with a string tied around the base of the headstock. Some people like this, and some don’t because it puts unnecessary tension on the neck, which could bend it after a while. Many people install a second strap button instead of using the neck to attach the strap. You can do it yourself or get it done by a professional.
Can You Attach a Guitar Strap to Any Guitar?
As we previously discussed, guitar straps attach to strap buttons on the guitars, and some guitars may only have one button or, in rare cases, none. If you have an electric guitar, it likely has both strap buttons, and you should have no issues attaching a strap of your choice.
However, if you play an acoustic guitar with no strap buttons, your only option is to buy aftermarket strap buttons and either install them yourself or take the guitar to a luthier for installation. While strap buttons cost nothing, a repair person or luthier may charge $10-20 for installation. You can watch some videos and do it yourself if you’re brave or short on money.
How to Put a Strap on a Guitar
Guitar straps have slits/holes in which you slide the guitar’s strap button like how you button a dress shirt. The only difference is that the strap slits are tight and take a little effort to slide onto the strap peg.
- Take your guitar and strap out and sit in a comfortable position, preferably on a bed.
- Check the strap and see which side is the front and which is the back.
- Now, slide it in on the strap peg.
- Make sure that there are no twirls in the strap, and slide in the slit on the other side of the strap onto the second strap button of the guitar.
What about an Acoustic Guitar?
You can attach s strap in quite the same fashion on an acoustic guitar, provided it has two strap buttons. More commonly, you’ll find that they only have one button at the bottom of the body, which is why many straps come with a string. The string is meant to be tied around the neck (under the strings) above the nut where the headstock meets the neck. The string is then put through the strap’s slit and tied. While many people use this method, it may not be the best for your guitar, especially if you have a heavier acoustic guitar. The tension on the neck put by the strap may bend or deform the neck. While this is a long process and wouldn’t happen in just a few days, constant tension on the neck is not a good thing for the guitar.
The better option would be to install a second strap button on the guitar.
Should I Use a Guitar Strap When Sitting?
It is a good habit to use a strap even when playing sitting down. Some of the benefits of doing this are:
- it keeps the weight of the guitar on your shoulders, so your hands have better maneuverability
- it keeps your back straight, which means feeling less fatigued even after playing for hours
- it keeps the guitar in a relatively similar position as when standing up, which means better comfort and adaptability
- prevents the guitars from slipping and hence requires little to no adjustments
Can You Play Guitar Standing Up Without a Strap?
No, don't even try.
How to Attach a Guitar Strap Without Pegs or Buttons?
If your guitar has one strap button, you can tie a string that often comes with a strap around the headstock near the nut and tie the string to the strap. If yours doesn't have any strap buttons, you'd want to take your guitar to a luthier or repair shop and have them install the buttons. You can also do this yourself if you are confident and have tools like a punch, a hammer, and a drill machine.
The process is simple. You use the punch to make an indent, then use the drill to make a pilot hole. Make sure the drill bit is the same size or smaller than the screw's shaft (not the tread) on the strap button. Then slowly screw in the strap button. Remember to install the buttons on thick wood, like the guitar's heel or the neck joint. I suggest watching some YouTube videos for better visual instructions. If still unclear, take the guitar to a luthier; there is no need to experiment if you're not confident.