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View Full Version : Installing strap button on a soprano ukulele...an overkill?



silveraven
11-09-2013, 07:53 PM
Hello! I'm toying with the idea of getting a strap button installed on my soprano ukulele, but after reading a few threads on strap buttons, I was wondering what the general consensus currently is on such strap buttons on soprano ukes? Yay or nay?

P/s: I already have a uke leash but I still find it hard to switch between some chords while holding my uke up. It doesn't "float" like how some people describe it. It may just be me holding the uke the wrong way.

janeray1940
11-09-2013, 07:59 PM
I play soprano and have installed strap buttons on all my ukes. Makes a world of difference in my playing, which is all that matters - to heck with the general consensus :)

kohanmike
11-09-2013, 08:16 PM
I add strap buttons to all of my tenor ukes myself, but I don't think the size of the uke matters. To me it's about being comfortable and secure, and able to let go of the uke. I had one of the classical guitar sound hole straps and didn't like that I could not let go of the uke.

Dan Uke
11-09-2013, 08:19 PM
I wouldn't worry too much about consensus. If you think it helps, go for it.

Strumdaddy
11-09-2013, 08:50 PM
i personally don't use strap buttons on any size uke (even my baritone)
When I teach beginners I show them how to squeeze the ukulele with their right arm, this takes most of the weight of the uke, but still leaves some on the neck. So the neck still needs some support from the left hand - especially between chord changes when there are often no left hand fingers on the fret board. Most often the neck is resting on the pad at the base of the first finger.
It all sounds more complicated than it really is. I just fell into playing without a strap, it feels more "cosy" that way, but depending on the player and the style of music being played, opting for a strap is perfectly fine. I doubt it will not get you laughed out of the local luau.

kohanmike
11-09-2013, 08:54 PM
In the two ukulele groups where I play, I'd say half of the 50 people use a strap.

I also have a strap for each ukulele, I make them up myself with a Levy 3/8" black cloth mandolin strap ($10 US), attached to a Martin leather strap extender ($6, the newer ones have the name embossed with no color), held together with a small key ring ($2, gold or silver as needed).

http://www.kohanmike.com/images/uke strap.jpg

ohmless
11-09-2013, 09:14 PM
I only have one uke, but even after two days couldn't hold the instrument up with the chord or dynamics changes I was doing. I use a classical strap instead of having pegs put in. It was a little cheaper than having them installed and buying a guitar strap.

westcoast
11-09-2013, 09:34 PM
On my travel soprano I use a uke leash because I'm not really sure there's much of a wood block at the end for a strap button. On my tenor I have a strap button.

Tootler
11-09-2013, 10:49 PM
P/s: I already have a uke leash but I still find it hard to switch between some chords while holding my uke up. It doesn't "float" like how some people describe it. It may just be me holding the uke the wrong way.

I get the impression you're a fairly new player. Learning to support the uke can take a little time and some extra support in the early days can be very helpful.

If you can't let go with your left hand when you have the uke leash on, it's likely you need to shorten the main strap some more. You should be able to support the uke by the uke leash and your right arm. Try adjusting the uke leash until you can.

When I started playing, I had trouble supporting the uke and got a uke leash which made a big difference, once I had it properly adjusted. Gradually, I got used to playing sopranos without it but I still use it with concert and tenor ukes.

If over time you just can't get used to holding the uke without extra support, then by all means have strap buttons fitted. After all you need to be able to hold the instrument comfortably and if that means using a strap, the you should use one.

silveraven
11-09-2013, 11:10 PM
In the two ukulele groups where I play, I'd say half of the 50 people use a strap.

I also have a strap for each ukulele, I make them up myself with a Levy 3/8" black cloth mandolin strap ($10 US), attached to a Martin leather strap extender ($6, the newer ones have the name embossed with no color), held together with a small key ring ($2, gold or silver as needed).

http://www.kohanmike.com/images/uke strap.jpg

I'll just buy the adaptor for the uke leash since I purposely bought it a size longer just in case I couldn't get the hang of squeezing the uke to my body (as how Strumdaddy describes it). Is that even possible for a soprano? I can imagine doing that on a concert sized uke though.


I get the impression you're a fairly new player. Learning to support the uke can take a little time and some extra support in the early days can be very helpful.

If you can't let go with your left hand when you have the uke leash on, it's likely you need to shorten the main strap some more. You should be able to support the uke by the uke leash and your right arm. Try adjusting the uke leash until you can.

When I started playing, I had trouble supporting the uke and got a uke leash which made a big difference, once I had it properly adjusted. Gradually, I got used to playing sopranos without it but I still use it with concert and tenor ukes.

If over time you just can't get used to holding the uke without extra support, then by all means have strap buttons fitted. After all you need to be able to hold the instrument comfortably and if that means using a strap, the you should use one.

Hi Tootler, yes I'm pretty new - I only got my uke in July! :) I thought I wouldn't need a strap but lately I can't switch from bar chords to Em without feeling like I'll drop the uke. Maybe I concentrated on my fretting hand too much that my grip (hug?) on the body loosens up too much.

Manalishi
11-10-2013, 04:19 AM
I have installed strap buttons in the past on two tenor scale ukes,
but for concert and especially soprano, I see no need.Just practice
holding them until you get it!

Gerald Ross
11-10-2013, 05:00 AM
I have two strap buttons on all my ukes - all tenor. The buttons are at the base (bottom) and on the underside of the neck heel. A strap frees up your arms and hands from the job of supporting and balance the instrument. I you have a death-grip hold on the neck of your uke with your left hand to keep it from falling you will never be able to switch chords quickly. If your right forearm is bracing the uke you will only be able to strum/pick in one area of instrument.

Granted, a strap will prevent you from executing ukulele pyrotechnics - spinning the uke, fanning it away (ala Roy Smeck), playing it upside down, behind the neck. But you can always remove the strap for this very small (please... very small and only once a night) part of your performance.

The tradition of not using a strap is a choice, not a rule.

drbekken
11-10-2013, 05:05 AM
Feel free to do whatever suits you and your playing best. Personally, I was trained to be a pianist, so I never stand up while playing. No matter what. :-)

flailingfingers
11-10-2013, 05:33 AM
I have two strap buttons on all my ukes - all tenor. The buttons are at the base (bottom) and on the underside of the neck heel. A strap frees up your arms and hands from the job of supporting and balance the instrument. I you have a death-grip hold on the neck of your uke with your left hand to keep it from falling you will never be able to switch chords quickly. If your right forearm is bracing the uke you will only be able to strum/pick in one area of instrument.

Granted, a strap will prevent you from executing ukulele pyrotechnics - spinning the uke, fanning it away (ala Roy Smeck), playing it upside down, behind the neck. But you can always remove the strap for this very small (please... very small and only once a night) part of your performance.

The tradition of not using a strap is a choice, not a rule.

Well said. Straps work. What's the downside? Perhaps if the early Hawaiians had strap buttons available the tradition would be straps?

janeray1940
11-10-2013, 07:08 AM
The tradition of not using a strap is a choice, not a rule.

Well said, and probably true for a lot of things ukulele-related - my instructor always tells me there are no rules :)

The few people who have questioned my use of a strap have addressed three things: tradition, resale value, and practice. I've already disclosed that I don't give a hoot about the first - if I was into tradition, I doubt I'd be playing Bach on ukulele because that isn't exactly traditional in and of itself! Resale value has not been an issue, as I've re-homed several K-brands via UU, all with strap buttons, and all to buyers willing to pay a fair market price. And as for practice - I had already been playing, seriously and A LOT, for a couple years when I realized that if I didn't have to worry about actually holding the uke, I could focus on what really matters to me - playing the music, not worrying about what I look like to others. And, being able to stand up and play was important as well, since I play with ensembles - without a strap, the only way I could play was sitting down with the uke in my lap.

I'm going to throw one other point out there as well: anatomy. My guess is that some body types can easily hold a uke without a strap, whereas for others, particularly of the female variety, it's more challenging.

iamesperambient
11-10-2013, 07:16 AM
Hello! I'm toying with the idea of getting a strap button installed on my soprano ukulele, but after reading a few threads on strap buttons, I was wondering what the general consensus currently is on such strap buttons on soprano ukes? Yay or nay?

P/s: I already have a uke leash but I still find it hard to switch between some chords while holding my uke up. It doesn't "float" like how some people describe it. It may just be me holding the uke the wrong way.

my concert (les paul) came with strap buttons is a little heavier and totally needs a strap to play if your standing for a long time.
My baritone is very heavy and it came with one peg on the bottom of the uke but i had one installed at the heel and its much needed
for playing for a long time standing. My sopranos on the other hand(and all the ones i used to own) where so light (especially the lanikais)
i never had a desire to put a strap on it. I did see the 'uke leash) which looks like a good option for a soprano without having to drill a hole
into the instrument i actually thought about getting one for a higher end soprano whenever i get one of those again (maybe xmas hint hint..martin)

Lori
11-10-2013, 07:42 AM
Here is another option for the Uke Leash, sent by one of my customers. You can always give that a try. It works for some styles of playing. A strap button and Strap Button Adapter will fix you up for sure if that doesn't do the trick.

If you have a top/ head heavy uke (sometimes happens especially with geared tuners), an additional strap button at the heel of the neck might not do the job. I had a tenor that continued to drop it's neck with that configuration. In those cases it is best to have one button at the bottom, and then connect at the headstock.

–Lori

Tim Mullins
11-10-2013, 07:44 AM
The Mobius Strap works on a soprano ukulele as shown in this video:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeriA2ZfxAg

It gives truly hands-free support with no strap buttons necessary!

tonet
11-10-2013, 07:46 AM
It is a question of comfort I know but If you use a proper position you don't need a strap at all even if you play stand up a tenor ukulele.

Bagaag
11-10-2013, 09:23 AM
I use a strap on my concert ukulele. Nothing else feels right. For what it's worth strap buttons are pretty trivial to install if you have a drill. This video makes the process very simple and clear. I'm not handy at all and was able to install pegs no problem after watching it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2yitWBv194

Peterjens
11-10-2013, 09:54 AM
It's your choice. I installed a strap button on my first uke. But my KoAloha and Martin sopranos are buttonless. I prefer strumming while sitting and keep my 'uke neck supported in a way that allows easy left hand movement. But if and when I have to stand, I make my own strap like Danielle Ate the Sandwich.
60794

Flyinby
11-10-2013, 05:16 PM
Strap buttons are easy to install, though it can be a little intimidating drilling a hole on a nice uke. I just buy them from Amazon, and check the screw carefully for drill size. The soundhole straps are useless to me, or nearly so, and it's nice to be able to stand and not have to worry about supporting the uke in addition to the fingering and strumming.

No reason to not put one on a soprano; Not sure about a pocket uke though...I think that may be the exception.

silveraven
11-10-2013, 07:33 PM
I'm going to throw one other point out there as well: anatomy. My guess is that some body types can easily hold a uke without a strap, whereas for others, particularly of the female variety, it's more challenging.

YES, THIS. I may get an Amy model from Brad Donaldson in the future...but till I can afford a custom, maybe a strap button is the way to go. At least my uke is "just" a laminate. ;)

I do wonder how ladies in early Hawaii played their ukes...


Here is another option for the Uke Leash, sent by one of my customers. You can always give that a try. It works for some styles of playing. A strap button and Strap Button Adapter will fix you up for sure if that doesn't do the trick.

If you have a top/ head heavy uke (sometimes happens especially with geared tuners), an additional strap button at the heel of the neck might not do the job. I had a tenor that continued to drop it's neck with that configuration. In those cases it is best to have one button at the bottom, and then connect at the headstock.

–Lori

Yeap, that's what I plan to do - install a button at the bottom and connect the other end of the strap to the headstock. I tried that option you mentioned (strap around the body) but it felt awkward.

Man, all these talk about proper position...what IS the proper position, really? Even sitting down, positioning the uke on my lap makes playing awkward. I tend to sorta 'craddle' the uke in my arms at about chest level.

janeray1940
11-10-2013, 07:53 PM
I do wonder how ladies in early Hawaii played their ukes...


Most of the images I've seen circa the turn of the last century of women with ukes, both in Hawaii and on the mainland, show them holding the uke low, at waist level (which is where mine sits whether or not a strap is involved)... for sopranos, anyway, this puts the uke below the range of any... pesky anatomy that might get in the way. But again, it would totally depend on body shape, size, etc.

I've seen a lot of how-tos describing "proper" position but none of my teachers have ever said to me that I was holding the uke wrong. When I read about the "proper" way to hold a uke, such as here (http://www.gotaukulele.com/2011/01/ukulele-beginners-how-to-hold-and-strum.html) (where there is even a caveat that it is not a hard and fast rule!), I can't imagine how it could possibly apply to everyone, all the time, especially those of us who are fingerpickers/melody players rather than strummers.