How To Put On Acoustic & Electric Guitar Straps (Gear Guide)

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Putting a strap on your guitar for the first time is not always as easy and straightforward as one would think. You want to protect your investment by doing it right the first time.

There’s nothing more gut-wrenching than watching your pride and joy take a hit, and the damage can be devastating.

The number of strap pins your guitar has will determine how you attach your strap. For two buttons, attach one end of the strap to each post. If you only have one button, you’ll have to tie one end of the strap around the headstock. If there are no buttons, you can purchase a special strap.

In addition to attaching your strap correctly, you’ll also need to secure it properly to ensure that it won’t slip off during your next session. 

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Strap Basics

The word buttons, post, strap buttons, or strap pins are all interchangeable and essentially refer to the wooden or metal posts protruding from the guitar body or neck.

Electric and bass guitars almost always have two buttons. One is located on the lower bout and the other at the top horn.

White electric guitar with studded strap

Acoustic guitars can have none, one, or two strap pins. 

When considering your strap, understand that a thinner strap will carry the weight of your guitar on a localized area of your shoulder. Whereas, a wider strap will distribute the weight a little better.

Nylon straps are simplest and generally cheaper, but leather/suede straps are more durable, as well as more complicated.

Which End of the Strap Goes Where?

Some straps won’t matter which end attaches to which button. Others are designed to be attached a certain way.

If you have a strap with a sliding buckle that lengthens the strap when you pull the buckle one way, and shortens the strap when you pull it the other, then you’ll attach the end with the two overlapping layers of material to the bottom button at the lower bout. 

Guitar strap end diagram

If you have a strap that has one end thinner than the other, for example, a ladder end strap, then the thinner end of the strap will attach to the bottom strap pin.

If you have a strap that displays a logo, you’ll attach the logo-end to the pin on the horn for electric guitars, or near the neck or headstock for acoustic guitars. 

How To Put A Strap on an Electric Guitar

It’s best to put your strap on your guitar while you are in the seated position. Ideally, you want the height of the guitar to be the same in both the seated and standing positions.

When you spend all your time practicing while seated, and then stand with your guitar at a different height, it throws your muscle memory off. Many guitarists find they don’t play as well in the standing position for this very reason.

  1. While in the seated position, attach the end of the strap to the button on the bottom of your guitar by using your finger to slightly poke through the buttonhole on the strap making it slightly larger. 
  2. Just like buttoning your shirt, slip the post through the buttonhole in the strap by pushing in and up, and then counterclockwise around the button until the strap is fully seated on the pin. The holes on the strap are intentionally smaller to keep the strap from coming off, so don’t be afraid to be firm with it.
Strap on blue electric guitar
  1. Once the bottom end of the strap is attached to your guitar, pull the strap around your back, and over your shoulder. Attach the other end of the guitar strap to the horn in the same fashion. Pull on the strap slightly to ensure that it is fully seated and will not slip off.
  2. While remaining seated, adjust the strap until any slack is taken out of it and your guitar is firmly held in place.

Now, you should be able to stand and find that your guitar is relatively in the same position as when you were seated. It should be positioned so you don’t fully bend your wrist to reach notes or chords while standing.

You should feel the center of gravity around the bottom of your guitar.

How To Put A Strap on an Acoustic Guitar

If your acoustic guitar has two strap pins, then you’ll essentially repeat the steps above to attach your guitar strap to your acoustic. 

However, acoustics frequently come with only one pin or sometimes even no pins. The process will therefore be slightly different.

  1. If your guitar only has one pin, then you’ll have to tie in some string to the top end of your strap, or use a strap adapter.
  2. Take your string and bend it in half. From the bottom of the strap, force the bent end through the buttonhole on the guitar strap.
  3. Pull the loose ends up and around the strap-end and thread them through the loophole that you just created with your string. Then pull tight to knot and secure the strings.
  4. Attach the strap-end without the strings to the bottom strap pin. Take the strings on the other end and run them under the guitar strings at the headstock and tie a knot

Alternatively, you can purchase a strap adapter, which also wraps around the headstock, and then attaches to the guitar strap with a button.

Note: With the strap attached at the headstock, the center of balance will shift towards the center of the guitar. 

Are Leather Straps Attached The Same Way As Webbing Straps?

Leather straps attach to the guitar the same way as nylon straps, but the strap itself functions quite differently

Leather straps actually consist of two separate pieces of material. Sometimes called a ladder strap, a thinner piece of leather is woven through a thicker piece of leather that has a series of several slits.

As mentioned above, the thin piece will attach to the lower end of your guitar, and the thicker piece to the horn, neck, or headstock.

How To Adjust A Leather Guitar Strap Correctly

To adjust the strap, you’ll have to detach it from the instrument, and then separate the two pieces.

Feed the thinner strap through the underside of the ladder rung of your choice, and then weave the strap through all of the remaining rungs like a weaving loom to secure the strap.

Make sure you don’t skip any of the rungs or it will cause the strap to bunch up.

How To Lock A Guitar Strap Securely – Don’t Drop Your Guitar!

Strap Locks. A very wise investment!

It’s not uncommon for buttonholes to stretch out over time. There have been many guitars hit the ground because a strap slipped off its button. Strap locks will prevent this from happening.

Without having to change out your buttons, strap locks are the cheapest solution and look like rubber washers.

They can be purchased for under $5.

They slip right over the button the same way your strap does and keeps your guitar strap locked in place so you don’t have to worry about it slipping off. Fender Strap Blocks (2 Pair)Fender Strap lock on an electric guitar.

D'Addario Accessories Dual-Lock Guitar Strap Lock - Guitar Strap Locks Set - 1 PairD’Addario Accessories Dual-Lock Guitar Strap Lock.

If you’re comfortable modifying your guitar, you could upgrade to better quality locks, but it requires you to change out your strap pins.

How To Attach Straps To Guitars Without A Button

Surprisingly, there are several options to attach a strap to a guitar without buttons. It’s just a matter of how much time, money, and effort you want to put into it.

The simplest solution is to purchase a classical guitar strap or loop strap.

Similar to what you would use for a saxophone, the strap has a loop on one end that goes around your neck. The other end is a clip that runs under the waist of the guitar, up the bottom side, and attaches to the soundhole. Neotech Slimline Classical, Tan Leather Guitar Strap (8222362)Neotech Slimline Classical leather guitar strap attached to the soundhole.

The weight of the guitar rests on the strap, but it isn’t the most secure. You’ll have to hold it in place to prevent it from falling forward.

If you have the money, you can take your guitar to a music store and pay to have buttons added.

If you’re lucky enough to have an acoustic-electric guitar, you can purchase a strap lock adapter, like Acousti-Lok. This allows you to attach a button adapter directly to the output jack.MusicNomad Acousti-Lok Strap Lock Adapter for Standard Output Jacks for Acoustic GuitarsAcousti-Lok strap lock adapter for acoustic guitars.

Music Nomad Acousti-Lok Strap Lock Adapters

The adapter itself is inexpensive, but you’ll need some skill, knowledge, and patience to attach it, or pay to have it done.

There are even some creative geniuses who use suction cups to attach straps to their guitars. By using two guitar straps and a suction cup, they create a closed-looped system to hold the guitar in place. 

One end of one guitar strap is attached to the suction cup through the buttonhole. The suction cup is attached to the bottom of the guitar so that the weight of the guitar presses against the cup to create a strong adhesion. 

The other end of the guitar strap is woven into one end of the second guitar strap. The two straps combined run from the suction cup, around the back of the body, over the shoulder, across the front of the guitar, and back to the suction cup. 

Attaching Your Own Guitar Strap Buttons

The third and fourth options are to attach buttons by drilling into the body of the guitar and/or neck. You can drill into the lower bout and neck to attach two buttons.

Or simply drill one hole into the bout for one end of the strap, and then tie the other end around the headstock as noted above. 

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve attached a strap once or twice, it will be easy-peasy. Just remember to make your adjustments so the height remains the same both in the sitting and standing positions.

Make sure your knot is secured at the headstock if you only have one post, and don’t forget to add your strap locks. This will protect your guitar and ensure that no damage comes its way.