Many of you have asked a lot about how to properly wear a guitar strap.
I think the long confusion of how to wear a guitar strap the right way is not only a beginner’s headache but also something that many experienced guitarists think about.
Especially as we all get older!
I will give you my honest opinion as a guitar player and as somebody that knows what heavy back pain is.
And at the same time, I will also be sharing what my personal experience has taught me throughout the years and what I personally prefer to do.
Let’s now start…
Table of Contents
- How to properly wear a guitar strap?
- Advantages and disadvantages of having your guitar strap high
- Advantages and disadvantages of having your guitar strap low
- Tips for wearing a guitar strap in a proper way
- Other things to have in mind
How to properly wear a guitar strap?
The short answer is that the proper way to wear a guitar strap is the one that allows you to play every note in the sixth string without having to completely bend your wrist.
Even though that statement is just an opinion, I also think that if you personally feel comfortable with a certain height and are not suffering from health issues such as back pain, etc.
Then you should wear it at that said position that you feel comfortable with!
With that being said, I know some of you tend to go Slash mode about and just wear it as low as possible; it looks cool and all, but it will hurt after a while if you are not Slash (a joke).
But think about it…
Not everybody is the same, and seeing someone wear it like he does or used to, can automatically make you think you are doing it wrong.
Could having your guitar so low be hurtful to you in the long run? Is it worth it?
The right and proper way to wear a guitar strap is really the one that makes you feel comfortable and allows you to play well.
Be honest to yourself, and instead of saying something like:
“I can play those 6th-string 14th-fret notes and find another way to play the same thing in another position”
Just ask yourself if you feel comfortable when you are playing standing up.
- If the answer is yes, then you have found the sweet spot for yourself.
- If you thought about it twice, then you should maybe wear it a bit higher.
Let’s take a closer look.
How do you find the perfect way to wear your guitar strap?
Some people say that in order to find the perfect spot, you should adjust your strap while sitting as if you were practicing in a chair.
The point of this is to make your sitting guitar position be the same as your standing position.
That way there will not be any differences between the two, and you won’t get used to playing in a certain type of way that’s unhealthy for you.
You should definitely watch this YouTube video if you want to understand what I’m trying to say.
This video has many great points.
Some people debate whether their guitar strap is too low or high, while others are just having problems playing the guitar standing up in general.
If you are one of them, referring to what we just talked about before might be of great help.
For some of you, wearing the strap too low or high might not be the problem, but just the fact that you are not used to wearing it at all.
Quick Tip: Consider starting to practice standing up (at least for a few minutes every day). And also if you have back problems, maybe even buy a wider guitar strap to balance the weight on your shoulder.
Advantages and disadvantages of having your guitar strap high
You will be able to play every note on the fretboard
It really feels very nice to play those solos after the twelfth fret, right?
Having your guitar strap high enough at a comfortable position will allow you to have full control of every note that you play.
You will not have to be careful about not missing a certain note or even attempt to find another fret position to play in.
You will most likely prevent yourself from having back pain issues
Oh, man, you don’t even wanna know…
Have you ever played for more than 3 hours straight?
Not sitting, but standing?
If yes, then I hope you didn’t have your guitar strap so close to the floor, because it can get really painful.
At least that was my experience a few times.
That is why having your guitar strap high is good most of the time.
You won’t be needing to bend yourself in order to play, which means, you will be releasing a lot of tension from your lower back.
In the long run, this can make a huge positive impact on your health.
It will reduce your wrist pain
Just like with your back, your wrist can suffer a lot.
Yes, people like Slash have their guitar strap low, but I can assure you they don’t play the upper strings after they go past fret 12-14 that well.
Having your guitar strap high will allow you to play these notes without having to bend your wrist too much or even having to carry your guitar on your lap.
If you feel like you are using your wrist a lot, it is a good sign that you actually are. That statement might sound like nonsense at first, but it really makes you see it from a different perspective.
What about the disadvantages of wearing your guitar strap so high, could they be any at all?
In my opinion, there are no direct disadvantages that one might come across.
As we mentioned, you will be able to play better or at least have more control over the notes that you play.
At the same time, you will be taking care of your back and wrist.
If you are a touring artist, or simply somebody that plays a lot of shows, then I know you really appreciate it when your back is not suffering and it lets you play in peace.
Most people like to talk about how good it looks when the guitar strap is being used very low.
I don’t want to say much about it because it is a bit pointless in the nature of this article.
A lot of people usually wear their guitars like that because it looks cool, or they are just imitating their favorite guitarist.
Just to make some of you happy, yes, having it low does give a vibe of not carrying, which is what some people go for nowadays apparently.
But common, don’t tell me Tom Morello hasn’t made history with his high strapped guitar:
And, I can keep mentioning people that have had their guitar straps high all the time.
But what does this prove?
This proves that your strap height won’t make a difference in whether you make it or not.
It’s that simple.
Advantages and disadvantages of having your guitar strap low
Listing these will make me pretty much repeat myself, just have the opposite of wearing a guitar strap high (everything we just talked about), and you will have the answer to this part.
But let’s talk about it…
Unless you are trying to play the guitar upside down, from the top of the fretboard, then you really need to consider doing the right thing.
Some people think it looks cool to have it low, but it also looks even cooler to be the best in the room when it comes to playing guitar in any style and position.
As I said, every advantage of having the guitar strap high is a disadvantage of having it low.
You will not be able to play every note on the fretboard
All jokes aside.
It will be almost impossible to play every note on the fretboard if you have your guitar strap low (I’m talking, LOW).
Of course, you can always play the same notes on the strings below, but that will be your personal choice.
Say you want to play something like this:
Then it can be impossible to do it in the proper way if your guitar is not positioned in the right place.
You will most likely have back pain
If not now, wait until a few years from now.
If you have it too low, you will need to bend your back for every solo that you play, or even every chord that you attempt to use.
That can really stress your back and it will feel very bad not being able to play guitar because you are suffering from unnecessary pain.
Get ready to get a wrist injury
Just like we talked about, you will have to bend your wrist way too much to play notes that are in the upper strings.
If you only play power chords, and you don’t do solos at all, then you might get around this, but at this point, is just about what you really want to do.
Tips for wearing a guitar strap in a proper way
Use your shoulder strength
Your shoulder strength to handle the guitar strap, and of course the guitar, should be enough to bear its load.
This sounds too obvious but the main thing I’m trying to point out here is that you should always put your guitar strap in the center of your right or left shoulder so it can give you more balance and support.
Don’t get any shoulder injury either.
The art of carrying your guitar in a balanced way
Aside from the advantages and disadvantages of the different heights that people wear the guitar strap, how you carry it is another important aspect of it.
Always make sure to keep it as balanced as possible in a way that is parallel to the floor most of the time.
Unless you are just rocking your solo and you are just moving your guitar everywhere, make sure you have a proper posture at all times.
The type of guitar strap
I’m sure you have seen the different types of guitar straps out there.
You have the thin ones and the ones that almost cover your entire shoulder, etc.
Make sure to pick one strap that really makes it comfortable when you play and that it won’t make your skin irritated.
Other things to have in mind
Connecting the dots and setting your own height
This is too simple to be explained but I’ll do it anyway because I am aware of what it feels like to not what other people’s opinions in perspective.
So, just take the strap and put it into the strap buttons.
If you don’t know which one goes where; just do this.
Look for a logo or a name in your strap, those should usually face forward and are located in the part of the strap that goes in the strap button that is closest to your guitar neck.
Then after that, put your guitar all over you like if you are going to play, and start seeing how high or low you want to have it.
Note: You can do this by putting your guitar like a neck chain, adjusting it, and then putting it back again.
Just do that until you feel comfortable enough.
Ways to wear a guitar strap
As almost everything we have said here, it is just about what you want, and what you really feel like doing.
You can wear the guitar strap in many ways.
- 1- The first one is to wear it in a diagonal/parallel position, which is the most popular way. The guitar’s strap is taken over the head for half of it to be placed on one of your shoulders.
Like in this next photo. You can see that he is wearing his guitar strap in a way that’s in the middle; not too high, not too low.
In my opinion, that’s the best thing to do.
- 2- The second one is to put the strap on just one of your shoulders.
Unlike the first one, this one is really dangerous because you have no control over your guitar, however, people do it to rest their shoulders if they are injured or simply tired.
Strapping an acoustic guitar
Acoustic guitars usually have two strap buttons for the strap to be attached, one in the body and one in the neck.
You will have to do the same thing as if it was an electric guitar, and all the same safety tips that we talked about before, also apply to this.
Buy the strap locks
Strap locks are easily available in music stores but they are a bit complicated to understand and sometimes to install if you don’t have the right tools.
See the one below for example:
This one is on Amazon.com, if you want to check it out, it is called: Dunlop SLS1101N Straplok Original Strap Retainer System.
Make sure to buy them and take them along with a sales representative to guide you about it or if possible somebody to physically explain to you what to do.
Ask him/her to set it up for you, just so you can avoid any inconvenience later and you don’t harm/scratch your guitar. And of course, you can also watch some videos on YouTube about how to do it.
Like this one by Fender, for example:
If you decide to do it yourself, please take all the necessary precautions so that it is as safe as possible.
Note: Don’t end up on one of those YouTube guitars fails where people try to do the 360 spins with their guitars.
I also wanted to recommend you this video by Marty Music in which he talks about “Guitar Straps and How to Play Guitar Standing Up”
I encourage you to watch it if you want to start transitioning from playing while you are sitting down to standing up.
He shares some very good tips on this, and what he personally prefers to do.
This topic, as I said many times, is all about personal preferences.
You might be one of those guys that simply can wear a guitar strap in every way possible without getting injured.
Or, on the other hand, you might be one of those people that get injured really fast because of an improper form.
In the end, just make sure that you are comfortable and you are able to play everything you want. Don’t limit yourself just because you might look cool.
But again, it’s all about the music.
Find your own way and don’t imitate, we have them, we don’t have you.