Okay, so that image is probably exaggerating the dangers of an insecure strap. But if and when your strap does fail in some way – and you see your pride and joy go crashing to the floor – your heart will be every bit as broken as that guitar in the picture.
When I first started playing guitar, I was surprised to find that guitar straps simply had a hole and a slit in them, and guitars just had a button. You put the button through the hole and… voila! Your guitar is more-or-less kinda secure. Mostly. Give or take. But that’s what everyone did and so I didn’t think anything of it.
Fast forward a couple of years and… crash. My nearly-new USA Strat, for which I had swapped all my other guitars, landed on a chunky metal footswitch. Out came a chunk of wood the size of a cigarette butt. Unfortunately, filling it with a cigarette butt was not an option. Firstly because I didn’t want my guitar to get cancer, and secondly I found that the color didn’t match, despite it supposedly being a tobacco sunburst.
I marched into my nearest music shop, fury blistering my brow.
“How, in the name of guitarists everywhere, do I stop this from happening again?” I demanded.
“Er, you could get some straplocks?” ventured the shop assistant. He showed me a row of products hanging behind the counter.
Once I had calmed down, we spent an informative five minutes going over my options. It turned out that it was quite easy to get a solution to a problem which, to my surprise, many other guitarists had solved long before me. Unfortunately, I had no money and none of the solutions were free. So the assistant told me about a neat trick, passed from guitarist to guitarist over a few cold beers. Although in this case we were in a shop and the only refreshments available were some decidedly “vintage” looking biscuits.
This trick is free. Well, it’s nearly free, as long as you were going to be buying beer anyway. And you were, weren’t you? Good. If you can get the rubber washer from a certain type of beer bottle, you have a strap lock. So you only have to drink two beers for every guitar you own. Shouldn’t be too hard, should it? Unless you’re below legal drinking age, in which case you should get someone else to drink the beer for you.
Once you have the washer, it’s a simple trick. Put your strap on your guitar in the normal way, and then stretch the rubber washer over the button. Now the strap is held in place by the washer. It might not be every bit as secure as some of the mechanical strap locks in the market, but it’s cheap, it’s way, way better than just a strap over a button, and it has a certain “ghetto” vibe that can look quite cool.
Am I too late? Have you already managed to drop a guitar? Share your tales of woe with us in the comments below.