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Quick, Easy, And Cheap Strap Lock System


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Really, this is such a simple technique that it would surprise me if nobody else has thought of it. All you need are two metal washers of just the right size. What size is the right size may vary.

Unscrew your strap buttons. Your metal washers should fit over the bottom of the button (The side that is against the body of the guitar when it's attached properly) without sliding off of the larger top end of it (The side that faces away from the body in normal use).

Slide the washer onto your strap button, and put the strap on underneath it. Beneath that, you might want one of those nifty little pads if you have one handy, but it certainly isn't necessary for the function. Screw that assembly back on, and you should have a strap button that only a two year old Ernie Ball nylon strap with those flimsy leather ends should be able to fall off of. And only that if you're trying.

The washers should cost you less than a quarter (American currency) from any hardware store. If it's more than that, it will certainly be less than a dollar. And for that, you have your own strap lock system. Granted, you can't push a button and take it off, but for less than a buck, I could do without the mechanics. Hope that was helpful to someone. Now go have fun with your not-dropping-your-instruments.

On a side note, this was my first post, and I hadn't really thought out how I'd say it. If anything is unclear I will be glad to answer any questions you might have. Any comments are welcomed as well.

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I found some plastic washers, I've used those, there's less of a risk of scratching things.

A couple of caveats:

You have to leave the strap on all the time. Which means the strap will be bumping up/rubbing against the guitar in the case, and you can't switch straps from guitar to guitar. My favorite strap is one of those old buckle jobs, so I can't case that with my guitars, it'd scratch them to pieces. And the other one I use is a wide leather strap, it's difficult to case that in some of my cases.

The other caveat is more important:

A big feature of the Schaller and Dunlop systems is that they rotate about the strap button without putting any torquing pressure on it. The washer system places a lot of torque on the button and inevitable turns it, which backs out the screw. It doesn't take much either...just get a little active while playing, and you'll lose it.

I like these: Stewmac Lokstraps --they're easy to put on and take off, they're plastic, they rotate freely, and they cost next to nothing.

That said, once you've set up your straps for the Schaller system, it makes sense to convert all your guitars to that.

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While the idea is a good one, aka not dropping some expensive instrument, I really have no issues spending $12-$15 on something that not only makes my instrument more convenient, but also add some significant protection from dropping. I mean if you're protecting a $500-$5000 instrument spending an extra $12 ain't that big a deal, heck even on a hundred dollar instrument I would add them, just for the convenience. I play a lot sitting down and it drives me nuts to have a strap on when I do, however, I still play standing, so it would be a royal pain to add some washers that I would have to remove constantly. If you don't have any of the issues Mick mentioned and you are broke or don't want to spend the money, it definitely would work and be helpful. When I first started looking into guitar mods, I saw a couple of people who did the washer thing. As Mick said one problem is the pressure and wear and tear it puts on the screws that hold the strap button, I had to fix my strap button screws numerous times prior to switching over to the schaller system.

Thanks for the idea and detailed instructions on this concept anyway, I'm sure a few people out there will certainly benefit from it. Personally, I'll stick to the Schallers, which now also come in different colors like black, nickel, etc, which is great when using a specific hardware theme or finish. They are cheap enough for me to buy and I feel I get my moneys worth out of them. This system will be especially useful in ten or 15 years when I've built way too many guitars for myself and I have only a couple straps that I truly like. There was a guy here who was making some killer leather straps which I would likely use for most of my play, instead of buying an expensive leather strap for each instrument I can just swap out the strap with the schaller system. Anyhow, welcome to Project Guitar and thanks for sharing! J

PS: I honestly never even bothered to understand those Stewmac locks as they looked crazy when I first saw them, but upon reviewing them from your link, they are a pretty cool idea for the price. I would definitely go for those over some regular washers.

Edited by jmrentis
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You have to leave the strap on all the time.

Which means you have to buy a seperate strap for each of your guitars, unless you want to go insane having to use a screw-driver to switch a strap from one guitar to another.

I have the Schallers, because it was the first unit I saw that looked good enough, and never had any trouble with them, but I seldom use a strap. I got a second set of the part that screws to the strap at an estate sale for 50 cents.

Stew-Mac sells the Schaller button parts that go on the guitar. I try to make sure I always have an extra set in case I adopt another guitar.

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Stew-Mac sells the Schaller button parts that go on the guitar. I try to make sure I always have an extra set in case I adopt another guitar.

Although they always seem to be out of stock when I'm ready to order....but yeah, for me, the Schaller system makes the most sense, I have two straps I like, it's easy to switch them to any other guitar, you don't have to buy a complete set for every guitar.

Those Stewmac things work great too, by the way. Very easy to put on and take off, and I've never once had any kind of failure with them (they're on my strat, which is the guitar I play the most...I just never got around to putting the Schallers on that guitar).

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First, I've been both buliding guitars and lurking here for quite a while... This is a great forum!

I finally joined today so I could weigh in on the budget straplock topic.

Here's a removable lock system that will NOT scratch your finish, and is safe for even the wildest of stage antics.

Drink 2 Grolsch beers, the kind that come in the bottle with the fancy cork.

There is a red washer on said cork. Pry it off. Pry both off.

Put your strap on yer gitar. Force the red rubber washer on to the strap pin over the strap.

Perfect!

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Although they always seem to be out of stock when I'm ready to order

Yes, I've not only noticed that too, but StewMac told me they have a lot of problems with the Schaller company. So, the day may come when they don't stock those buttons at all.

Then I have yet one more thing to add to my 'Reasons to buy a small metal lathe' list.

I once did a phone order with 'East Coast Music Mall'.

Me : " I need 8 of the Schaller strap lock buttons. Just the part that screws to the guitar, not the part that screws to the strap. Do you know what I mean ?"

Salesperson : "Sure, I know what those are"

Package comes and I end up with 8 of the friggin parts that screw to the strap ! Had to pack 'em up and ship 'em back for an exchange. But I was surprised that they sold me 8 of what I think would be the much more expensive parts for the same price as the simple button parts. I can't remember what I paid though. It was the early 90's, I think.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ah yes, I thought I had pointed out the whole deal with needing a strap for each guitar. I was wrong. That's the way I'm set up anyway, though. I'm very picky about each guitar having its own personality, so they all have different straps for the simplicity of changing guitars and for the individuality of the feel.

As for the torque on the strap button screws, I don't see any reason they would put any more torque on the screws than the plastic twist-on type strap buttons. The washers are free to move around the button.

As for scratches, there is a strap between the washer and the body of the guitar. The washers won't scratch your paint. I, personally, am not worried in the slightest about scratching my strap buttons. They are cheap and serve their purpose, scratched or not, and nobody ever sees the bottoms of your strap buttons. (Especially if your strap is always on the guitar.)

And yes, I concede, if you only have one or two straps that you like, or if you tend to sit down with your guitar and the strap bothers you, this is not the system for you.

Barring that, though, I don't see any of the reasons listed as valid unless someone can explain to me how washers would torque the screws worse than the plastic strap holders, though I do appreciate the concern.

By the way, Mick, muchos kudos for proper use of the word caveat.

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By the way, Mick, muchos kudos for proper use of the word caveat.

Aw shucks, thanks. :D

Still, if you're that picky about your guitars/straps/personality thing (which I fully understand, mind you), you ought to spring the extra couple of bucks to put a proper strap lock system.

I've done the washer thing. There WILL be torque on the strap button, it WILL loosen, and the screw WILL come out while your bouncing around onstage. Of course, if you're the sort who stand perfectly still while they're playing, that's something else.

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I don't think the difference between plastic washer and the ones you spoke have any difference in torque on the knobs/screws, I think its meant as the difference of strap locks vs anything else. Though some washer systems require one to tighten the strap and washer against the body with the button, which makes it basically stuck in place, which is a system that probably puts the most pressure on the strap button, though even just a regular strap puts more pressure and friction on a button than a strap lock.

The strap locks uses essentially a swivel or bearing system that allows your strap to spin freely, whereas when not using a strap lock, such a normal system or such as your or any washer system the strap applies friction against the strap button and can eventually make it spin loose or apply enough friction to make the screw widen the hole, which will require a fix down the line, this can be much worse when talking about certain washer methods that I think Mick was referring to, but its a problem with most setups aside from strap locks. As I said, prior to using any strap locks I had that happen on many different guitars, numerous times, but since installing the strap locks on a few guitars, I haven't had it happen yet, not saying it couldn't, I just don't feel it will happen even remotely as often or as severe as without strap locks. That reason and for my personal conveinence is the reasons I prefer the strap locks.

Also as suggested, if you always put your instrument back in a case that didn't fit a strap, then the strap locks would be the way to go. Outside of that, I think your idea is a worth while affair, just like those stewmac dealio's. To add some protection for some expensive instruments is always a good thing and what you mentioned is a quick easy mod that can be easily found and done for next to no money. Anyhow, hope that clarifies at least the torque thing, while a minor difference at best, I've noticed a major difference in how often I've had to fix the strap button screws. I don't think it really comes down to valid and invalid, I think its preference more than anything, both systems work, one costs a bit more and has a few benefits and the other is practically free, but may require a quick fix down the line, not too much more than a regular strap would cause anyway. Those who aren't into buying some strap locks should look into something like this, the last thing you want to do is spin around and see your guitar flying across the room. J

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  • 2 weeks later...

First post here, stumbled across this on page 4. I have actually been using this system for more than a few years and it works great. I've never backed a screw out , and I have been known to do the " around the world" stage move more than once( when I was much younger in my formative Malmsteen-showoff-teenage metal guitar hero days).

If looks are a concern, then I don't recommend it, because it looks totally ghetto. But my axes usually end up "Frankenstien'd" anyway so it doesn't really matter to me(the couple of expensive axes mostly go unplayed and never gigged-they do sound great though). Tone is of paramount importance, looks are a distant second (seems to me SRV and EVH's main guitars looked like total pieces of **** too). My straps are usually those aforementioned cheapo Ernie Ball nylons, one per guitar is not a huge concern, just have to adjust the strap when putting in the case.

My own main axe uses this system, which is a swamp ash parts caster with tone to die for. It also looks like crap, mostly due to my accidental "relic" job.

Note to self : Do not assemble guitar unfinished, play for a month, then try to hand rub a varnish finish without cleaning the wood first. The finish will not stick very well to the areas where it comes into contact with your skin/clothes/whatever. But at least in didn't cover so well in the right places. Still looks like crap though, but I love it.

Edited by DarthElvis
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i'd never spend $30 (NZD. what they cost here) on a strap lock, i could buy two straps and washers and bigger/longer screws for that.

I've never had the washer trick fail me in many many gigs, i put a drop of glue on the screw to keep it from loosening.

I probably would use strap locks if i was hung up on looks but i hate the way they can rotate, having to untwist a strap drives me nuts!

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