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View Full Version : The Danger of Playing with Straps



hikaru
03-25-2017, 03:45 PM
I began to use straps pretty soon after I started playing the ukulele a year ago. The strap stabilizes my ukes, makes finding barre chords easier, and helps me make lots of progress!

But today when I was visiting the local music store and trying to show off some of my progress on all these fascinating ukes, without a strap of course, I was shocked that I've lost all my ability in the playing!!! My left hand can not move as freely as usual, and the song I tried to play has broken in every possible way!!!:wallbash:

Guess now I will just stick to my straps FOREVER, possibly bring one with me when I walk by my local music stores. Playing with strap is really addictive!

plastuku
03-25-2017, 04:09 PM
I don't think you should feel bad about that; think of guitar players.

The only reason people can play a uke strapless is because the instruments are so lightweight. You could retrain yourself if you want to. Thing is, though, you've learned to play without the separate and specialized extra effort of supporting the uke. As small as that effort is, it makes a big difference in everything about your physical interaction with the instrument.

Have you tried playing in a sitting position and supporting the uke on a knee?

Jim Hanks
03-25-2017, 04:23 PM
Yeah I can't play without a strap either, at least a UkeLeash "half strap", but I greatly prefer the ones with a button. The half strap would not be a bad idea for music store use as it does not require a button (which most new ukes don't have) and can easily go on/off different headstocks.

kohanmike
03-25-2017, 04:28 PM
I have seven ukes and fourteen bass ukes/mini basses, each with their own strap and on most I installed two buttons.

hikaru
03-25-2017, 04:41 PM
I don't think you should feel bad about that; think of guitar players.

The only reason people can play a uke strapless is because the instruments are so lightweight. You could retrain yourself if you want to. Thing is, though, you've learned to play without the separate and specialized extra effort of supporting the uke. As small as that effort is, it makes a big difference in everything about your physical interaction with the instrument.

Have you tried playing in a sitting position and supporting the uke on a knee?

Thanks for the comment!

Actually I only play/practice when I sit and put the uke on my knee with the strap ties to the head stock. Even when sitting I need the strap. The neck is quite heavy on my long neck soprano, and the glossy body is slippery. I can find tons of excuses!

The bright side of using straps, for a beginner like me, is that it makes the uke stays in the same position everyday, so it kinda makes me form a "stable" way of playing. And I can always free both of my hands to have some snacks without completely putting my uke down:D

Strumdaddy
03-25-2017, 05:02 PM
I really like the feel of picking up a uke, pressing it close to my chest and strumming... I can do that for anything I want to play on soprano or concert, but find that for tenor and baritone it gets a bit harder to leap up and down the neck. It can be done, just hug tighter - I can even play a baritone standing without a strap, but it starts to limit more complex playing. I wear a strap when performing with a tenor.
I came from playing steel string guitars (as many here did), and love the feel of finger flesh connecting nylon (or FC) strings, and hugging that little instrument close when you play, there's less between me and the music the more "naked" I get. In fact playing naked would work well too!!!
p.s. no photo - it didn't happen

Mivo
03-25-2017, 10:19 PM
I like being independent of a strap, so about half of my practicing time is spent playing without one. The other half is spent with Uke Leashes. I really prefer the Uke Leash to regular/full straps even after buying several rather costly ones. Definitely a matter of preference, anatomy, playing position, and dimensions of the instrument.

Croaky Keith
03-25-2017, 10:48 PM
Seldom do I use a strap, but then I mainly pick melodies with my thumb, holding the uke with my hand, but on the occasions when I strum, I still don't feel the need of a strap, perhaps it is really only necessary for those who do fast strumming. :)

mountain goat
03-25-2017, 10:54 PM
Try practicing your playing without a strap sometimes.
Just to experiment, see how it feels.
I'm from the opposite school; I have never used a strap between soprano and baritone.
Playing without a strap forces you to focus your energies in other directions and they can be quite liberating.
Don't get me wrong, I understand the convenience of a strap
but also it is nice to freewheel. I think of busking situations et al.
Here you can adjust your stance/sitting position and move around the crowd etc with more freedom.
There is no one way to roll. We each roll as we do.
Interesting thread. Thank you.

janeray1940
03-26-2017, 12:07 AM
I've played for 8+ years and am a big fan of the strap. The first year I started playing I insisted a strap was not necessary since ukes are small, but I wasn't making nearly the progress I felt I should be. In frustration, I borrowed a friend's uke that had a strap button and - it was as if I progressed exponentially within minutes! I've never looked back. I also really don't like to be constrained to sitting down, and using a strap frees me from that.

True, it's kind of a drag not being able to play at my usual standards when trying strapless ukes in stores or at friends' houses. For just casual trying-out it's fine, but if I'm seriously considering the purchase of a uke, I'll bring a Uke Leash (http://www.ukeleash.com/) with me which helps me recover a good part of my playing ability.

But I'll admit that I do lament my inability to play without relying on a strap occasionally. I can strum just fine sans strap, but for the more complicated fingerstyle playing I prefer to do, it's a necessity. It is what it is!

CeeJay
03-26-2017, 01:32 AM
Try practicing your playing without a strap sometimes.
Just to experiment, see how it feels.
I'm from the opposite school; I have never used a strap between soprano and baritone.
Playing without a strap forces you to focus your energies in other directions and they can be quite liberating.
Don't get me wrong, I understand the convenience of a strap
but also it is nice to freewheel. I think of busking situations et al.
Here you can adjust your stance/sitting position and move around the crowd etc with more freedom.
There is no one way to roll. We each roll as we do.
Interesting thread. Thank you.

Seconded...:biglaugh::music::rock:

DownUpDave
03-26-2017, 03:48 AM
I am also deeply entrenched in the strap on everything camp. I really do marvel at and admire those that don't use a strap. As others have said I can play some simple stuff without a strap and I practice that. But the music I like to play and constantly play requires a strap for me to play it well. I am ok with that and everyone needs to do what they like to do the best. No hard and fast rules, ukulele is supposed to be fun.

Arguably the two best ukulele players in the world are Jake and James Hill, they both use a strap. We are in good company.

Down Up Dick
03-26-2017, 04:00 AM
I mostly play seated and use straps to keep the peg head up. I have paracord on some banjos and my mando banjo. I think straps free up my left hand for better fretting. I like the Uke Leash attached to my right shoulder and the fret head too. However, it's kinda scratchy on the neck with only a T-shirt on.

I think moving around while playing would be easier with a strap not freeing -- just a thought. :old:

Rllink
03-26-2017, 04:26 AM
Like a lot of things, it does not have to be one or the other. I'm generally a no strap player, but I've found a strap to be very helpful if I'm going to be standing a lot, so sometimes I use one. It all just depends on circumstances for me. I certainly don't avoid using one. I have a friend and she can not play her guitar unless she is sitting in her special guitar playing chair. I think that it is because she has never played her guitar when she wasn't sitting in it. I make an effort to stay versatile in all aspects of my playing. To the OP, I would suggest practicing without a strap once in a while, until you can play a song in a store with or without one.

hendulele
03-26-2017, 05:29 AM
Yeah I can't play without a strap either, at least a UkeLeash "half strap", but I greatly prefer the ones with a button. The half strap would not be a bad idea for music store use as it does not require a button (which most new ukes don't have) and can easily go on/off different headstocks.

Good advice if you're accustomed to a strap.

I also found a strap, made by Souldier, that's my favorite. It's like a classical guitar strap and connects by cloth-covered hook to the top and bottom of the soundhole. Certainly a great one to bring along if you're going to a music store and taking a test drive. They also make straps that loop around your neck and end with a single hook that fits on the bottom of the sound hole.

SoloRule
03-26-2017, 05:45 AM
Downupdave got me into using strap along with many other things.

I too admire people don't need strap but mostly are men players. I guess It all depend on how you hold the instrument! I owned a Tiny Tenor. It sat perfectly on my lap. I did not need a strap. I miss that little thing. Wish I still have it.

Doc_J
03-26-2017, 05:48 AM
I believe ones playing can be best with a strap. However, I play strapless 99%, but sometimes use my thigh to support the lower bout on tenors or baritones.

bariukish
03-26-2017, 06:23 AM
Since I play the larger size instruments I too am in the pro strap camp. To add an end pin is an easy thing to do. About a year ago I discovered the D'Addario elliptical end pin button and now I wouldn't use any other. I have dinged a few bindings when the strap comes off the round buttons but I have never dropped an instrument that has the elliptical shape. They come in three different finishes, too.

redpaul1
03-26-2017, 08:59 AM
If you need a strap, you may be holding the ukulele wrong. Have a look at this and see if it helps.


https://youtu.be/nHpL-U3qZ9A


The whole set of Phil Doleman's incredibly useful Two Minute Tips are to be found here (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLplB1uutyYgGef8sA_UBfeEl0AtctdhP8)

Mivo
03-26-2017, 09:13 AM
The problem with holding it like this is when you finger pick over the soundhole, especially if you fret higher up the neck. Depending on the uke, the forearm can also mute the sound a bit. "Regular" strumming (= not like Roy Smeck) works fine, and thumb picking too (I had initially ruled this out, but after watching WS64/Wolfgang and Herb Otha Sr. I started to practice it a bit), just picking is difficult without some kind of support even when I cross a leg over the other and rest the lower bout of the instrument on the thigh. It works, but it doesn't necessarily feel stable. I'll continue to practice, though! Just looking at George Elmes etc shows that it's doable.

flailingfingers
03-26-2017, 03:52 PM
Arguably the two best ukulele players in the world are Jake and James Hill, they both use a strap. We are in good company.
That pretty much says it all for me.

valde002
03-27-2017, 02:21 AM
To to be all about me, but I refuse to use a strap. My friend's guitar teacher said... no strap...nerdy?? I agree.

I sit to play and when standing, I guess I am so used to is slipping occasionally that I will time my playing with re-adjusting it in my arms. Anyone who plays the accordion will know that you have to time the bellows so that you don't run out of air in the middle of a phrase. After a while, this becomes second nature and you just focus on the playing while it happens automatically.

Check out the other thread about non-slip surface mat...That might be your answer!

hollisdwyer
03-27-2017, 02:44 AM
Maybe it's because I was a guitar player but I use straps on all my ukes, even when sitting down. I have a very dodgy left wrist and the support that the strap provides makes it so much more comfortable to play.

Tootler
03-27-2017, 03:01 AM
I played without a strap for about 4 years but when playing standing up I never felt entirely secure. I used a uke leash for a while and that helped but it didn't entirely deal with the feeling of the uke slipping. I realised just how much difference a strap made when I bought a Risa Uke'Ellie which comes fitted with strap buttons and is set up to use the strap on the bag as a strap when you play. I found it so much easier to play with a strap so I got strap buttons, first for my tenors and eventually for all my ukes, including the sopranos. (which are easiest to manage without a strap) I wouldn't be without them now, they make it so much easier for me.

I notice that the pros seem split over straps. Some play without and some play with. It's a matter of personal choice.