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View Full Version : Making sense of strap button placements that impede playing up the neck



kissing
11-29-2018, 12:33 PM
EDIT: Here is a video demonstrating my problem with certain strap button positions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgqpN64W0GA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgqpN64W0GA


I'm a fan of strap buttons on uke.
Personally, if I was to play an ukulele standing up and want a strap, I prefer the security and stability of having my ukulele on a strap held by 2 strap buttons (one at endpin area and one at heel of neck).

What I have never come to understood is the decision by some technicians or manufacturers to install it on the side of the neck that would poke your hands and interfere with playing high up the neck.
(images borrowed from Google Image search):

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kyacK1v2uDw/WAyyk578wQI/AAAAAAAAKak/sIX30GGJSzArtb5oGRfV96HOzixLbfvegCLcB/s1600/_DSC0131.jpg

I've asked for strap buttons to be installed from reputable online stores, and sometimes they come like that. I have found this position to quite obviously interfere with any playing up in the neck - and they sometimes even install it in that position on instruments with a cutaway, defeating the purpose and advantage of a cutaway.


This location of the strap button seems to make a lot more sense to me:
https://soundchime.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/standard-ukulele-strap.jpg

It's not interfering with playing up the neck or with the instrument's cutaway.


What I'm wondering is, are there any inherent advantages of installing it the first way, on the side of the neck?


I'm enquiring because I emailed a store well in advance (a week ago) of them shipping that I prefer the strap button installed the second way. Unfortunately that email was missed and has been installed the first way and shipped. They have been gracious enough to say I can send it back if I don't like that strap button location, but I'm pretty sure in advance that I won't like it.

But why install it there in the first place, when it quite clearly will interfere with high fret access?


I am aware that on guitars, some people say that it gives better balance and avoidance of "forward tipping" in that location, but their necks and cutaways are massive compared to on ukuleles, therefore not interfering with high fret access:

http://www.lutherie.net/000CX1E_strapbutton.jpg

Ukecaster
11-29-2018, 12:39 PM
I dislike strap pins installed on the back of the heel. To me, it makes the face of the uke angle away from you. When installed on the treble side of the heel (as in the pic), the uke top tilts slightly inwards towards you, which I greatly prefer. Of course, everyone likes different things, so there's no wrong answer. YMMV.

besley
11-29-2018, 01:39 PM
The treble side of the neck (#5) is usually preferred on acoustic guitars, as it does keep the guitar from tilting forward. Installing on the heel cap (#2) has two problems (again for guitars). First, the wood there is easily split by a screw, and second, on most cases there is no recess for that strap pin in the case, which means that the weight of the guitar can be concentrated on that point. For a lightweight uke this might not be as much of a problem.

I can certainly agree that on ukes the neck position does seem to block upper fret access more than on a guitar. My favorite location is position #3, on the upper part of the upper bout. (Some folks call this the "Doc Watson" style.) Only problem with that location is that you can't just put the strap pin screw into the side of the uke (or guitar) without some type of block behind to reinforce things. This is the location on my Blackbird Farallon, Klos Tenor, and Beltona Tenor - but then all three of those are composite bodies that don't need reinforcement. If you wanted to use that location on most wood ukes it's a simple thing to glue a small block on the inside to hold the screw.

https://www.stewmac.com/tradesecrets/newsletter/ts0055/ts0055a.jpg
https://wichitarutherford.typepad.com/wichitas_blog/images/2008/04/29/doc_watson.jpg
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1150/3636/products/Farallon_04.png?v=1486159588

RafterGirl
11-29-2018, 01:49 PM
All but one of my ukes have strap buttons on the heel of the neck. Pretty much in the positions shown in the top & bottom pictures above. I have never noticed it interfering with my hand position playing up the neck. But, then I don't play really high up the neck a lot. I do have one uke (my Gary Gill) that I couldn't put a strap button at the heel of the neck. Both Mim and Gary Gill himself advised against it because of the method used to join the neck to the body. I hate tying straps to the head stock, so I found a product called a Uke Loop that attaches to the uke body, more in the position of the middle picture, except it's a flat disc. I can't tell a difference in balance either way. The one lesson I learned the hard way ...... don't let someone who doesn't know what they're doing put a strap button on for you. I don't trust myself to do it, so if it doesn't come from Mim, HMS, Loprinzi, or Uke Republic with one in place, I take it to my local acoustic guitar & ukulele shop to do it. However, I found out that not all the guys at that shop know how to position it correctly.

kohanmike
11-29-2018, 02:44 PM
All of my ukes are cutaway and I install buttons myself. I've placed them like 4 and 5 depending on the space on the heel, I don't like 1 and 2 for the reason others have mentioned. I never thought of adding a small block inside to do 3, I like that a lot.

http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Strap button positions.jpg

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video

Croaky Keith
11-29-2018, 11:40 PM
I too, fit them myself, & position them at roughly the #4 position, inside curve of the heel, as far to the rear as possible. :)

(It's easy to fit buttons, you just need a pinvice with a small (2mm) bit to drill the tap hole for the screw thread.)

Croaky Keith
11-29-2018, 11:41 PM
(Double posted.)

Tootler
11-30-2018, 06:22 AM
I only have two strap buttons on my baritone and 6 & & string tenors. I fitted the neck button in position 2 as shown in posts #3 & #5. I fitted them myself. I used a small hand drill with a 1.5 mm bit to drill a pilot hole for the strap button. I find it works OK. Most guitarists I know seem to have their neck buttons in the same place.

For my other ukes, I tie at the neck. I tie them between the tuners rather than just behind the nut. I find having the neck tie just behind the nut gets in the way of the left hand when playing first position chords. Between the tuners keeps the neck tie out of the way.

Down Up Dick
11-30-2018, 06:41 AM
For years guitar players tied their straps to the head joint. I wonder why it changed at all. I never saw a Hawaiian uke player using a strap (except maybe Jake).

I play my string instruments seated and don’t use their straps. I mostly use the straps when I’m carrying instruments around the house.

I usually strum my small ukes, when I play them at all, so they don’t have straps. :old:

Brad Bordessa
11-30-2018, 10:47 AM
Got a strap button on my Moore Bettah in the #5 position. I use the high frets all the time without any problems.

Rllink
11-30-2018, 12:05 PM
I can go either way with the strap issue. I don't always use one. Most of the time when I do it is to free my hands to do something else, like turn a page, or adjust something, or wave at my friends. I've always tied off at the headstock. I used a ukulele once that belonged to a friend that had one in the position that the OP is showing and describing. I did not like it. It felt like I was always pulling the ukuele back in to me. He gets along with it fine. I suppose though that one gets used to it. I think that everything, I don't care whether it is using a strap, not using a strap, or where you attach the strap is all about getting used to it. But nothing works for everything or everyone, so if it isn't working you just need to try something else. I don't think that anyone can expect someone else to tell them what is going to work for them.

bratsche
12-01-2018, 03:05 AM
Three of my ukes (2 tenors, 1 bari) came to me with buttons installed on the treble side of the heels, and I do often play high up the neck, but they never interfere with my hand at all, as it is naturally arched over the fretboard and clears the button by a wide margin.

bratsche

kissing
12-02-2018, 06:16 PM
Ok, the uke arrived today.
It's a Seagull Soprano scale acoustic-electric.

Attached is how the strap button is installed.

I absolutely hate the strap button location!

I understand, as some people have stated in this thread that it's a fairly standard position, and it gives better balance when using with a strap.

But how on earth are you supposed to PLAY the uke with the button portruding and blocking your left fretting hand any time you want to go beyond the third fret?

Want to slide up the neck anywhere? Nope! Bang-hit-strap button.
Want to play any barre chord higher than B-flat? Nope? Bang-hit-strap button.

Do people mostly only play first position open chords?
I am baffled at how this would be considered the ideal position for a strap button.

I'd pick the backside of the heel strap button any day.

bratsche
12-02-2018, 07:01 PM
Exactly what part of your hand is banging into the button? I just played around a bit (with and without the strap - mine are installed in the #5 position, traditional no-cutaway shape instruments), and I can really only hit the button if I go out of my way to aim for it, and that only with the pad of my thumb, which doesn't really impede my playing. Nowhere else on my hand even comes close to the button. I guess I'm just dense, as I'm not understanding this. I play up on the 16th and 17th frets quite often, and don't have a problem. I'm not playing anything smaller than a tenor, though...

bratsche

kissing
12-02-2018, 07:56 PM
Exactly what part of your hand is banging into the button? I just played around a bit (with and without the strap - mine are installed in the #5 position, traditional no-cutaway shape instruments), and I can really only hit the button if I go out of my way to aim for it, and that only with the pad of my thumb, which doesn't really impede my playing. Nowhere else on my hand even comes close to the button. I guess I'm just dense, as I'm not understanding this. I play up on the 16th and 17th frets quite often, and don't have a problem. I'm not playing anything smaller than a tenor, though...

bratsche

I might make a video or take a photo when I get home, but basically the strap button is hitting the edge of my left palm (pinky side).

Also when I play at a higher region of the neck, the strap button is also blatantly poking the middle of my palm

kohanmike
12-02-2018, 08:32 PM
But how on earth are you supposed to PLAY the uke with the button protruding and blocking your left fretting hand any time you want to go beyond the third fret?
I too can't figure out your problem. I just tested a tenor without a cutaway, the button at #5 and the only way I can touch the button is with my thumb when I actually aim for it. No part of my palm comes close. I especially don't understand you saying the 3rd fret, the button is at the 12th on my uke. I always keep my thumb at the back of the neck and arch my hand, the only time my palm ever touches the uke is when I get to lower bout.

Oh, I just did something I was always taught never to do, wrap my thumb around the top of the neck, as I've seen a number of people do, even use the thumb to form chords, which forces my palm to press on the back of the neck and will hit the button as you describe.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video

kissing
12-02-2018, 09:47 PM
To better illustrate my problems, I made a quick video as soon as I got home:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgqpN64W0GA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgqpN64W0GA

kohanmike
12-03-2018, 09:15 AM
If I was adding a strap button to that brown uke, it would be in position 4, or even on the heel on the opposite side. Or you can easily move it to the back since it's being so much trouble.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video

kissing
12-03-2018, 09:57 AM
I'm in the process of working things out with the store that sold it to me and installed the strap pin.

To complicate matters, I had emailed them ahead of time to install it elsewhere, but my message was missed and they only read it a week late... after they had already installed the pin and shipped it -_-

I had considered having my local luthier remove the pin... but it hurts to have a nice useless gaping hole there on a brand new uke.

The store that sold it to me did offer the opportunity for me to return it to them at their expense for either a refund, or send me another one off the shelf (without the strap button), but yeah, its getting a bit complicated and time consuming.

I do applaud their efforts of trying to make things right (although it would have been better had my initial instructions to install the strap elsewhere was not neglected)

Lesson learned - always have my strap button installed locally AFTER I receive the instrument from overseas so I can give instructions in person of the strap button location.

bratsche
12-03-2018, 12:39 PM
Okay, it makes more sense now after seeing your video explanation! My hand position is way different from yours. Your wrist is lower, with your fingers extending straight across the fretboard and even pointing a little upwards (like a guitar player) and mine is the opposite, with the wrist higher (like a viola player - naturally!) and with the fingers most often pointing somewhat down the fretboard. So you do need that button installed differently in order to avoid contact.

Funny, but I had never played anything with a strap before starting with ukuleles. Mandolin family balanced well enough without them. So when my ukuleles arrived (gently pre-owned) I was kinda miffed that they had these buttons on them, but didn't want to "have a nice useless gaping hole there" either, so I left them on. Eventually I tried using a strap, and found it is sometimes definitely more useful to me on these ligthweight instruments, to keep them from moving around.

I've seen/heard you playing in videos before, but never heard you speak. Love that accent! ;-)

bratsche

UkerDanno
12-03-2018, 02:45 PM
I like tying the strap off at the headstock myself, no extra button and drilling into the instrument, just a button on the bottom of the body.

Futurethink
12-03-2018, 03:04 PM
I use one of these around the headstock, and button the strap to that.

113923

kohanmike
12-03-2018, 08:56 PM
I had considered having my local luthier remove the pin... but it hurts to have a nice useless gaping hole there on a brand new uke.


I was kinda miffed that they had these buttons on them, but didn't want to "have a nice useless gaping hole there" either, so I left them on.

A few years ago I had a strap button moved from position 1 to 4 and the luthier filled the hole with some binding material that made it look like the dot was part of the design.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video

kissing
12-04-2018, 12:23 AM
Thanks kohanmike, that is actually a good idea and I'll have to check with my luthier if he'd do that.

I'm just miffed that this is brand new uke.
I sold 2 ukes and a guitar to afford it, and waited a long time for a setup and international shipping.
It finally came, and I am finding it blatantly unplayable, all because an email I sent specifically detailing strap button position was ignored until too late.

I'm still waiting back to hear what the store says.

ghostrdr
12-04-2018, 03:40 AM
Thanks kohanmike, that is actually a good idea and I'll have to check with my luthier if he'd do that.

I'm just miffed that this is brand new uke.
I sold 2 ukes and a guitar to afford it, and waited a long time for a setup and international shipping.
It finally came, and I am finding it blatantly unplayable, all because an email I sent specifically detailing strap button position was ignored until too late.

I'm still waiting back to hear what the store says.

Well, I donít think itís a big deal. A lot of people prefer to have the button there and they are not wrong. But you obviously think itís a huge deal that the button is there. You also are not wrong. NUDs are supposed to be fun happy days. I feel that youíre not going to be satisfied, or content with leaving the button there or having it removed and filled. Youíll always look at it and have a bad feeling and that will prevent you from truly enjoying the instrument, so I would explore sending it back and getting a replacement. Just my $0.02.

Good luck!

Down Up Dick
12-04-2018, 03:50 AM
Well, I donít think itís a big deal. A lot of people prefer to have the button there and they are not wrong. But you obviously think itís a huge deal that the button is there. You also are not wrong. NUDs are supposed to be fun happy days. I feel that youíre not going to be satisfied, or content with leaving the button there or having it removed and filled. Youíll always look at it and have a bad feeling and that will prevent you from truly enjoying the instrument, so I would explore sending it back and getting a replacement. Just my $0.02.



Good luck!

Yeah, leave it on or take it off. Put a toothpick or a matchstick in the hole and get on with it or, better yet, get your money back.

Itís not a forest fire. You didnít lose your home. :old:

kissing
12-06-2018, 11:33 PM
Thanks everyone!

I've been in communication with that online ukulele store.
They have been absolutely amazing and helpful.

They credited me back an amount we both deemed fair, and I will use some of it towards having my local luthier remove the strap button and fill the hole.
I'll probably have the strap button installed on no. 2 position

https://www.stewmac.com/tradesecrets/newsletter/ts0055/ts0055a.jpg

Rllink
12-07-2018, 03:11 AM
Thanks everyone!

I've been in communication with that online ukulele store.
They have been absolutely amazing and helpful.

They credited me back an amount we both deemed fair, and I will use some of it towards having my local luthier remove the strap button and fill the hole.
I'll probably have the strap button installed on no. 2 position

https://www.stewmac.com/tradesecrets/newsletter/ts0055/ts0055a.jpgThings usually work out in the end. I'm glad that you are satisfied.