I know that the first attempts at playing standing up is always a disappointment. You just wanna strap on your guitar and do all the killer moves your heroes do, and much to your disappointment it was sooo much easier playing sitting down.
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable and awkward at all. With the right strap at the right height, playing standing up will be just as comfortable as sitting down. Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about how to wear a guitar strap.
Types of Straps
So before we do anything else, let’s dive into different kinds of straps out there. It’s always good to know what we’re dealing with. Each strap works a little differently.
Loops and Buttons
By far the most common one, and without a doubt the one you’ll see most often. As long as your guitar has two buttons, or strap pins, all you have to do is thread those loops over the buttons and you’re good to go. Just make sure the strap is secure.
Loop and String
Now, while pretty much all electric guitars come equipped with two buttons, it’s not uncommon to see acoustics only having one button. Yes, on some models there is no strap button near the neck.
Thankfully there are straps that come with a bit of string attached to the neck loop, so that you can tie it to the neck. By all means, if your strap doesn’t come with a piece of string just add it yourself. Any piece of string or shoelace will do the trick. It might be a good idea to tie a double knot to avoid having a knot that unravels while you play.
Over time the loops on a guitar strap will become quite stretched and loose, and the risk of dropping your guitar will increase. If you’ve played for a while you’ll undoubtedly have noticed this, as it can annoy you to no end. The answer is of course strap locks. A strap lock is an additional hardware that you can easily install on your guitar, that makes sure you’ll never drop your precious axe. Not even when doing windmills or other stunts.
This is something I highly recommend you get no matter your skill level. It’s just great knowing that you can stand up and play for hours, and move around any way you want, and never risk dropping your guitar.
High vs Low Slung Guitars
When it comes to how to wear a guitar strap, let me first point out the obvious here. There is no official right or wrong when it comes to how you wear your guitar when standing up. It’s all about personal preference. Some players prefer the comfort of having their guitar on their chest and others prefer the balls-to-the-wall attitude of letting their guitar hang down by their knee caps.
Personal preference aside, there are still things that need to be considered here.
Although cool, at least as far as aesthetics are concerned, it’s very impractical to play a low hanging guitar. Period. It forces your wrist into an unnatural position and leads inevitably to more tension on your back and shoulders as well. If you wanna stay clear of injuries you might wanna consider raising that guitar a little.
Also, reaching the entire fretboard is going to be a challenge, and many players who play low slung guitars have to tilt their instruments to reach the places they want.
Playing comfort is the most important aspect of a guitar strap. You should be able to comfortably rest your picking hand on the body of the guitar, and you should absolutely be able to reach all notes and chords as if you were playing sitting down.
If that’s not the case you might need to consider adjusting the strap. In fact, one tip I heard many years ago that stayed with me, was to adjust the strap while sitting down. This makes the position of your guitar the same whether you are standing up or sitting down. This way you will retain the same level of control when you play standing up.
Other Things To Consider
Wider straps are generally more comfortable than thinner ones, as they distribute the weight of the guitar better.
If possible, it can be wise to have the adjustable bit of the strap to not sit against your body. This to avoid chafing and discomfort, but also to be able adjust the strap on the fly if need be.
In my opinion, the guitarist who sounds and plays the best is the coolest. For me, playability and comfort outweigh aesthetics by far. I don’t wear my guitar on the chest, but I definitely keep it where it feels comfortable to play, and I never go lower than that.
At the end of the day, how we decide to wear our guitar straps is a personal choice. There really is no right or wrong here.
Maybe you like it really low because it suits your playing style of belting out power chords with an intense pick attack from above. Or maybe comfort and control means the world to you.
Whichever camp you land in, just be mindful of the dangers of strain and overuse. Comfort is not only to make playing more pleasant but to also stay clear of serious injuries. Read more about that in our article Guitar Injuries – What You Need To Know or why not simply head over to Guitar Center or Thomann to check out their collection of guitar straps and strap locks.