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View Full Version : Oh Straps, where have you been all my life?



mr79
07-13-2014, 10:18 AM
So, after hitting a wall last week and then getting tons of sound advice on here I finally fitted a strap button to my Pono concert yesterday, and put the strap on for the first time today... fitting a button and using a strap has been something I resisted, but...

It's brilliant!

Straight away (and for the first time) I was able to play a round and round cycle of 5 different chords without looking at the ukulele! For ten minutes! Without a mistake!

That probably sounds like no big deal, but suddenly I feel like, hey, I can do this...

So thanks to all who suggested this, and if anyone else is wondering about doing this it's well worth it.

Incidentally, the strap I found was made by Souldier in Chicago, and I think it was meant for a mandolin. It's fabric, about an inch wide so not as bulky and wide as a guitar strap nor as inflexible as a leather strap. Although the crimson and black celtic pattern on it did make my wife say that it looked like I was auditioning for some sort of ukulele burlesque routine (now, there's an act waiting to happen... not sure I've got the legs for it though).

Tomorrow I continue with the Ukulele Aerobics book with renewed purpose... huzzah!

janeray1940
07-13-2014, 10:22 AM
Welcome to the dark side :)

I resisted straps for a long time - I used to play sopranos only and it always seemed sort of silly to me. Then I tried a friend's uke with a strap, and - that same weekend brought all my ukes to the shop to get drilled. Not having to worry about holding the uke makes focusing on playing well a whole lot easier. I use a mandolin strap as well, one of the thin leather ones.

srpompon
07-13-2014, 10:39 AM
i use straps in my tenors, help a lot.

Nickie
07-13-2014, 11:42 AM
I know a big guy who uses a strap on all his ukes, even the soprano. I love my straps....I'm collecting them in different colors/patterns to match my outfits!

I know, I know.....GEEK!

tbeltrans
07-13-2014, 11:54 AM
Welcome to the dark side :)

I resisted straps for a long time - I used to play sopranos only and it always seemed sort of silly to me. Then I tried a friend's uke with a strap, and - that same weekend brought all my ukes to the shop to get drilled. Not having to worry about holding the uke makes focusing on playing well a whole lot easier. I use a mandolin strap as well, one of the thin leather ones.

Janeray -

I think you posted a recommendation in Uketalk that I saw for a Levi's mandolin strap that is 1/2" wide. I got one for each of my two ukuleles because the Mobius strap ALMOST works for my Kamaka Ohta-san (if I am really careful), but not quite as I move my fretting hand around. Anyway, I ended up getting a second one to use on my Ko'olau even though the Mobius does work well on it. I can leave these straps on my ukuleles when I put them in their cases, so I am not having to take them on and off every time I want to play. These are perfect because they are very secure, I can leave them on all the time, and they are not intrusive in any way. I got them from Elderly Instruments because they were less expensive than anywhere else that I could find (including the Sam Ash Amazon storefront), and on top of that, they had a 10% discount and free shipping.

I agree with the OP that a good strap really does free a person up to play the ukulele.

Tony

coolkayaker1
07-13-2014, 12:25 PM
jake, brittni, kalei and taimane use straps, so i use a strap.

SailQwest
07-13-2014, 01:37 PM
I love my straps. Functional and decorative.

janeray1940
07-13-2014, 03:51 PM
Janeray -

I think you posted a recommendation in Uketalk that I saw for a Levi's mandolin strap that is 1/2" wide. I got one for each of my two ukuleles because the Mobius strap ALMOST works for my Kamaka Ohta-san (if I am really careful), but not quite as I move my fretting hand around. Anyway, I ended up getting a second one to use on my Ko'olau even though the Mobius does work well on it. I can leave these straps on my ukuleles when I put them in their cases, so I am not having to take them on and off every time I want to play. These are perfect because they are very secure, I can leave them on all the time, and they are not intrusive in any way. I got them from Elderly Instruments because they were less expensive than anywhere else that I could find (including the Sam Ash Amazon storefront), and on top of that, they had a 10% discount and free shipping.

I agree with the OP that a good strap really does free a person up to play the ukulele.

Tony

Right Tony, the Levi's mando strap is the one I always recommend. Glad it worked out for you!

As for leaving them on all the time - some people believe having the leather come into contact with the instrument for extended periods of time can cause finish damage. But my luthier told me not to worry about it - since my ukes get played every day and I only have a couple of them, it's not problematic. I'm guessing with your two ukes it wouldn't be a problem either, but I'm just mentioning it for those with multiple ukes.

janeray1940
07-13-2014, 03:52 PM
jake, brittni, kalei and taimane use straps, so i use a strap.

For the most part they all seem to play just ONE uke (yes, with a strap), too. Hmmm. Makes one think :)

DownUpDave
07-13-2014, 04:21 PM
jake, brittni, kalei and taimane use straps, so i use a strap.

Same with James Hill. I use straps on everyone of my ukes as well..........including the soprano.

Czutney: so glad you are finding improvement with tne changes you have made. Good for you in stepping out and asking for help in your previous post, looks like it is paying big dividends.

cantsing
07-13-2014, 04:22 PM
... put the strap on for the first time today... fitting a button and using a strap has been something I resisted, but...

It's brilliant!

That probably sounds like no big deal, but suddenly I feel like, hey, I can do this...

Like you, a strap made all the difference for me when I started playing. My only regret is that I waited so long to try one.

tbeltrans
07-13-2014, 04:30 PM
Right Tony, the Levi's mando strap is the one I always recommend. Glad it worked out for you!

As for leaving them on all the time - some people believe having the leather come into contact with the instrument for extended periods of time can cause finish damage. But my luthier told me not to worry about it - since my ukes get played every day and I only have a couple of them, it's not problematic. I'm guessing with your two ukes it wouldn't be a problem either, but I'm just mentioning it for those with multiple ukes.

Thanks janeray. I will keep that in mind.

Tony

caukulele
07-13-2014, 04:46 PM
I also recently started playing with straps..and I love it...It seems to me much easier as I can concentrate on my playing and not worry about the uke sliding around....

Icelander53
07-13-2014, 05:28 PM
So, after hitting a wall last week and then getting tons of sound advice on here I finally fitted a strap button to my Pono concert yesterday, and put the strap on for the first time today... fitting a button and using a strap has been something I resisted, but...

It's brilliant!

Straight away (and for the first time) I was able to play a round and round cycle of 5 different chords without looking at the ukulele! For ten minutes! Without a mistake!

That probably sounds like no big deal, but suddenly I feel like, hey, I can do this...

So thanks to all who suggested this, and if anyone else is wondering about doing this it's well worth it.

Incidentally, the strap I found was made by Souldier in Chicago, and I think it was meant for a mandolin. It's fabric, about an inch wide so not as bulky and wide as a guitar strap nor as inflexible as a leather strap. Although the crimson and black celtic pattern on it did make my wife say that it looked like I was auditioning for some sort of ukulele burlesque routine (now, there's an act waiting to happen... not sure I've got the legs for it though).

Tomorrow I continue with the Ukulele Aerobics book with renewed purpose... huzzah!

It's huge isn't it! :D I have total admiration for those who play well and don't seem to need them, even on the tenors.

chikon2000
07-13-2014, 06:33 PM
This is probably a stupid question, but how do mandolin straps work on an ukulele? I understand that one end attaches to a strap button, but what about the end that forms a loop? Does this attach to the head stock somehow? Many thanks. Michael

srpompon
07-13-2014, 06:53 PM
Thanks janeray. I will keep that in mind.

Tony

Ok, but if you remove the strap when dont use the uke is ok?

Phluffy the Destroyer
07-13-2014, 07:01 PM
Welcome to the dark side :)

That pretty much sums it up. Great things, straps!

fretie
07-13-2014, 07:11 PM
Yup, I'm another strap fan!

Got 'em on all my ukes. Can't imagine playing with any dexterity without using a strap.

janeray1940
07-13-2014, 07:30 PM
This is probably a stupid question, but how do mandolin straps work on an ukulele? I understand that one end attaches to a strap button, but what about the end that forms a loop? Does this attach to the head stock somehow? Many thanks. Michael

It attaches around the headstock with a short cord (basically a shoelace) - might be more easily seen in photos than described in words:

68847

janeray1940
07-13-2014, 07:34 PM
Ok, but if you remove the strap when dont use the uke is ok?

The idea is that the leather may or may not be properly... cured, I think is the word? The chemicals in the leather might react with the uke's finish. So yes, if that's something you are concerned about, then I've been told it's safest to remove the strap before putting the uke away.

For those of us with only a couple of ukes, it's not really a concern since the strap will not be in extended contact with the same spot on the uke for any length of time. But if the uke is going to be in a case, unplayed, for more than a couple days, then take the strap off.

DownUpDave
07-14-2014, 12:50 AM
It attaches around the headstock with a short cord (basically a shoelace) - might be more easily seen in photos than described in words:

68847


I love that picture of your three Kamakas lined up together...........great looking family you have there. I have the same strap on my Gretsch. For those that are not familar with this straop it has strap button holes on each end. This allows you to set it up with a button on the bottom of your uke and one at the heel of the neck like an acoustic guitar. You can set it up like Janeray1940 as well.

I have done things differently with just a button on the heel of the neck only and both ends attach to that, it forms a loop that I slip over my head and it sits around the back of my neck

tbeltrans
07-14-2014, 01:03 AM
It attaches around the headstock with a short cord (basically a shoelace) - might be more easily seen in photos than described in words:

68847

The ukulele in the middle in your picture of three, looks like my Kamaka Ohta-san. Nice group of ukuleles you have there.

Tony

coolkayaker1
07-14-2014, 04:18 AM
i use straps in my tenors, help a lot.

I keep the straps on some of my ukes, leather and such, and don;t play them for two or three months, and never saw any ill effects. Perhaps I have "cured" leather.

(PS I love your new avatar of 22nd and 24th US president, Grover Cleveland, srpompon. Super retro cool).

chikon2000
07-14-2014, 04:31 AM
Thanks, Janeray, that was very helpful. And your ukes are beautiful!

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 04:43 AM
I love that picture of your three Kamakas lined up together...........great looking family you have there. I have the same strap on my Gretsch. For those that are not familar with this straop it has strap button holes on each end. This allows you to set it up with a button on the bottom of your uke and one at the heel of the neck like an acoustic guitar. You can set it up like Janeray1940 as well.

I have done things differently with just a button on the heel of the neck only and both ends attach to that, it forms a loop that I slip over my head and it sits around the back of my neck


The ukulele in the middle in your picture of three, looks like my Kamaka Ohta-san. Nice group of ukuleles you have there.

Tony


Thanks, Janeray, that was very helpful. And your ukes are beautiful!

Thanks all :)

I've actually thought about adding a button on the heel on my Ohta-San, just to see if I like it even better. On the other two it seems like overkill, but I'm wondering if the guitar-style two-button setup might add even more stability - guess I'll have to find somebody with this setup and try theirs out to see if it makes a difference...

coolkayaker1
07-14-2014, 04:48 AM
Thanks all :)

I've actually thought about adding a button on the heel on my Ohta-San, just to see if I like it even better.

When I went to a strap on the heel of my ukuleles, M, and it made a huge difference. They were ideal then. I, too, use the thin cord on the headstock, plus the strap on the heel. I use Lori's UkeLeashes and bought her strap extender for heels, and that works superbly. Plus I have a few of thos ePLanet Waves straps, like Kris Fumagachi uses.

Anyhow, heel buttons rule.

And while you're at it, might as well get that heel button for free. How can you get a heel button for free? Add a pickup for occasional live play. :-) Handy when someone else has an amplifier; at home can use one of those Fender or Honeypot ones that run on 9V batteries and make it all grungy and play dark songs that wake the devil. It's fun!

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 05:08 AM
When I went to a strap on the heel of my ukuleles, M, and it made a huge difference. They were ideal then. I, too, use the thin cord on the headstock, plus the strap on the heel. I use Lori's UkeLeashes and bought her strap extender for heels, and that works superbly. Plus I have a few of thos ePLanet Waves straps, like Kris Fumagachi uses.

Anyhow, heel buttons rule.

And while you're at it, might as well get that heel button for free. How can you get a heel button for free? Add a pickup for occasional live play. :-) Handy when someone else has an amplifier; at home can use one of those Fender or Honeypot ones that run on 9V batteries and make it all grungy and play dark songs that wake the devil. It's fun!

I think we're talking about two different things - isn't the heel on the back of the neck, where it joins the body? In my limited experience with pickups, they go at the bottom where I already have strap buttons installed. But I'm no expert when it comes to terminology.

My first Kamaka came with a pickup such as the one I described. I bought one of those Danelectro portable amps and I think I tried it out all of... once. I didn't get it at all - making my uke sound like something other than a uke was just lost on me. But I'm not much of a rock-and-roll person to start with, so again - what do I know :)

caukulele
07-14-2014, 05:13 AM
Janeray, I have my straps on with two strap buttons, and I like that much better then one button on the bottom of the uke...Before, when I had a strap that was attached to the bottom and tied at the headstock..sometimes it seemed to get in my way..but with the two buttons attached to the body, my fretting hand feels free and the ukes are much more stable to play...

coolkayaker1
07-14-2014, 05:15 AM
Oh, that heel. Well, nevermind. lol

Kidding. I have that button on the heel of my uke neck on my Mya Moes and stuff, but I never use it. The uke strap feels like it's strangling my shoulders and neck! Guitarist use it bc their instruments are heavy and the head is way out in the next county. lol. So, you sure are right to try it out with your friend's neck-heel first. You may love it, if you like that Shades of Grey wrapped up body, fall down when you get out of the chair feeling. lol

I don;t use my Honeytone much either. I keep yanking it off the table.

Lori
07-14-2014, 05:20 AM
Thanks all :)

I've actually thought about adding a button on the heel on my Ohta-San, just to see if I like it even better. On the other two it seems like overkill, but I'm wondering if the guitar-style two-button setup might add even more stability - guess I'll have to find somebody with this setup and try theirs out to see if it makes a difference...

I found success with the two button method depends of the balance of the uke. If the uke is top heavy, a two button arrangement will not keep the neck steady. If it is bottom heavy, then it works pretty well, with the strap staying closer to the body. Placement of the heel button is key. I have played some ukes with 2 buttons, and they barrel roll when you lean over. Very annoying. I have a couple of ukes set up each way, and I could bring one to the next practice if you're interested.

–Lori

mr79
07-14-2014, 05:27 AM
I debated putting a button on the back of the heel too (on the side that faces the floor when playing) as I worried the strap would get in the way, but it doesn't so I'll stick with one button... plus seeing the strap going out past my shoulder makes me feel kinda like some sort of... musician...

Anyway I liked it so much I've installed a button (myself!) today on my tenor, and now it just feels like I'm home. So much so that I think the concert (which wasn't getting much time anyhow) is now looking for a new owner.

Strange isn't it - when I started this I didn't want a strap, and dismissed tenors as 'too close to guitars, not a proper uke'... now I've spent all day with a tenor ukulele tied to me, and I'm loving it!

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 05:42 AM
I found success with the two button method depends of the balance of the uke. If the uke is top heavy, a two button arrangement will not keep the neck steady. If it is bottom heavy, then it works pretty well, with the strap staying closer to the body. Placement of the heel button is key. I have played some ukes with 2 buttons, and they barrel roll when you lean over. Very annoying. I have a couple of ukes set up each way, and I could bring one to the next practice if you're interested.

–Lori

Sure, thanks! I'd be really interested in trying it out. The only uke I've tried with two buttons is a resonator - I didn't notice the barrel-roll problem, but a resonator is a whole other beast so it was kind of hard to compare.

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 05:45 AM
I debated putting a button on the back of the heel too (on the side that faces the floor when playing) as I worried the strap would get in the way, but it doesn't so I'll stick with one button... plus seeing the strap going out past my shoulder makes me feel kinda like some sort of... musician...

Anyway I liked it so much I've installed a button (myself!) today on my tenor, and now it just feels like I'm home. So much so that I think the concert (which wasn't getting much time anyhow) is now looking for a new owner.

Strange isn't it - when I started this I didn't want a strap, and dismissed tenors as 'too close to guitars, not a proper uke'... now I've spent all day with a tenor ukulele tied to me, and I'm loving it!

One thing I've learned with several years of playing behind me - never say never! I've dismissed things only to find myself loving them some years later. And even when you are certain you've found your comfort zone, it may turn out you have more than one comfort zone... it's all about the present moment :)