The 6 Second Summary:
By draping your strap over your far shoulder, such that the strap wraps across your body, you’ll wear your strap in the best way possible, with your guitar securely in place while allowing your arms to freely move about.
Wearing a guitar strap, enabling you to stand with the guitar, is great for your ergonomics and stage performance. It’s easy to attach a strap to your guitar, though for added safety it would be wise to consider using strap locks.
Wearing a guitar strap is useful since, in helping you play the guitar while standing up, it provides ergonomic benefits and an ability to be more expressive with your body motions.
Attaching it to your instrument is also fairly straight-forward, though can be risky without strap locks.
After that, the way you hang the guitar from your body with the strap you’re wearing and setting the height is something you’ll get more and more comfortable with in time.
Why Use a Guitar Strap?
By wearing a guitar strap, and thus standing with the guitar, you can free yourself from the aches and cramps of sitting while playing for too long, while also being able to spontaneously react to the music, like an onstage performer!
As an example, the great Jimi Hendrix, known for his captivating performances where he’d animalistically thrash about with his guitar, would not have been able to spellbind his audiences if he didn’t wear a guitar strap and couldn’t freely move about onstage.
How to Attach a Guitar Strap
Once you’ve received your guitar strap, attaching it to your guitar is quite straight-forward for both acoustic and electric guitars.
You’ll mainly have to determine where to attach the strap’s end-holes, and adjust the strap to your desired height.
For both acoustic and electric guitars, you’ll ideally have “strap buttons” at the bottom of your guitar, and at the heel of your guitar (where the neck meets the body). These strap buttons are the knobs at which you’ll fasten the strap’s end-holes upon.
Note: Sometimes, guitars don’t have strap buttons at their heel. In this case you have two options.
Firstly, you can hire a luthier at your local guitar shop to drill a strap button into your guitar for about $20 to $30.
Or, secondly, you can loop a piece of strong cord (even a sturdy shoelace can do) through the end-hole of your strap, and then tie that just behind the nut of your guitar.
Mind you, the method of tying a loop behind the nut of your guitar is quite convenient, but it can exert stress upon your guitar’s neck, so try to be wary of placing much weight on your guitar should you choose this option.
Why Are Strap Locks Useful?
Ensure that the strap is as securely fastened and pressed down upon the strap buttons as possible; tighter is better, since it’s unfortunately quite possible for the strap’s ends to eventually come loose and fall off your guitar!
In fact, it’s more so a question of when the strap will wear away and fall off your guitar, rather than if. The moment that happens, your guitar gets sent into the tile or concrete. For this crucial reason of your guitar’s health, it’s probably wise to consider getting straplocks.
As a quick note on strap locks, know that, if your guitar is valuable to you, strap locks are among the most intelligent upgrades you can make on your guitar.
Using a clip or locking mechanism, strap locks secure your strap onto the strap buttons, so there’s hardly any scenario, regardless of your strap’s wear and tear or sudden jerky movements, which can lead to your guitar falling to the ground.
How to Wear a Guitar Strap
Next, to explain how to wear a guitar strap, you should wear it over your far shoulder, with the strap hanging across your chest.
Do Wear Your Strap Over Your Far Shoulder
This is almost surely the best way to wear a guitar strap, since it’s extremely stable in naturally holding the guitar in place, and places the weight evenly across your shoulders and back. Plus, it’s the way you’ll see almost 99% of guitarists wear their straps!
Don’t Wear Your Strap Over Your Near Shoulder
However, of course there are always exceptions, and two such exceptions can be found in the legendary players, Freddie King and T-Bone Walker.
Both Freddie King and T-Bone Walker would wear their guitar strap across their near shoulder, rather than their far shoulder. The pro of this is that you can easily slip your guitar on and off, but the con is.. you can easily slip your guitar on and off!
Instead, try the option of wearing your guitar over your far shoulder.
Adjusting Your Guitar Strap’s Height
Now that you’ll be wearing your guitar strap in the conventional way, the next item of wearing your guitar strap will be adjusting it to your preferred length.
The preferred length at which you’ll wear your guitar strap will be based on two key factors: playability and aesthetics.
For best playability, you’ll want to adjust your strap’s length so that, while standing, the guitar’s distance from your chin is no different as it is while sitting. Much like watchmakers hunched closely over their work, you’ll want to wear your guitar strap such that your eyes and ears are close to your guitar. An extreme example of this would be Tom Morello, who wears his guitar almost like a bib beneath him!
However, music performance includes form as well as function, and how your guitar hangs from your body is another form of expression. For that reason, guitarists like Jimmy Page and Johnny Ramone wear their guitars at their waist or even lower!
Despite the fact that it can decrease playability, since it’s harder to fret complex shapes with the guitar so low, it can add a stylistic element which you’d like to pursue. In that case, you can increase the length of your strap so you can wear your guitar accordingly.
Hopefully that helps to add context on how to wear your guitar strap!
By standing with your guitar, the strap slung across your far shoulder, your performances can take on new dimensions of expression and freedom. Just be sure to use strap locks so your guitar doesn’t crash into the floor!