How to Install Guitar Strap Buttons

Published Categorized as How To/Tips, Tuning Restringing & Maintenance

Securing a guitar strap is key for performance and practice, but factory-installed strap buttons often come loose or break. We’ll walk through a simple, low-cost way to upgrade your guitar with new strap buttons for better stability and reliability. With just household items and basic tools, you’ll learn how to install guitar strap buttons and play your guitar safely and comfortably.

How To Install Guitar Strap Buttons

Table of Contents

Materials Needed

When installing new strap buttons on your guitar, having the right tools on hand will make the process easier. You’ll need:

  • A basic screwdriver set with both Phillips and flathead bits to remove the existing strap buttons and install the new ones
  • A power drill with a small drill bit, around 1/16-inch, to drill the pilot holes
  • A guitar strap button kit with the new buttons and necessary hardware. The kit should include:
    • Ferrules to reinforce the screw holes
    • Screws with extra shaft length to accommodate various guitar finishes
  • Other useful items:
    • Soft cloth
    • Painters tape
    • Rubber grommets to protect the guitar’s finish

Choosing the Location for Strap Buttons

When installing new strap buttons, one of the first decisions is where to place them on the guitar body and neck. Traditionally, the buttons are positioned to balance the instrument when worn with a strap. However, personal preference and playing style should also be considered.

Body Button Position

The main strap button on the body is usually installed on the guitar’s bottom “horn,” around 2 inches from the bottom edge. This provides enough clearance between your body and the guitar while playing in a standing position. Some players move it in slightly to bring the instrument closer. Just be wary of potential scraping on your body.

Neck Button Placement

The neck button gives you some flexibility. Most guitars have it placed at the heel area where the neck meets the body. But it can be moved up the neck for better balance depending on your strap, or down toward the body for a lower-slung guitar. Test different locations with your strap to find the right fit.

Related: How To Clean A Guitar Neck: Your 101 Guide

Step-by-Step Installation Process

Installing new strap buttons on your guitar is a straightforward process, though care should be taken to avoid damaging your instrument’s finish. Following some key steps will ensure the buttons are securely mounted.

Preparing the Guitar

Before starting any work, gather your strap button kit, tools, and other materials and clear a flat workspace large enough to accommodate the guitar. Make sure the surface is clean and dust-free to prevent scratching the finish. Cover the area immediately surrounding where you’ll be working with a soft cloth.

Put a piece of painter’s tape on the guitar’s surface where you plan to install the buttons. This protects the finish when drilling the pilot holes.

Drilling Pilot Holes

Using a 1/16-inch bit, drill perpendicular pilot holes into the body and neck at the desired button locations you marked earlier with tape. Drill just deep enough for the screw’s threads to catch—usually 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

Twist the drill gently and let it do the work—forcing it can damage the finish or crack the wood. Periodically back the bit out to clear dust before continuing.

Mounting the Strap Buttons

With clean pilot holes drilled, you can insert the ferrules and mount the strap buttons using the provided screws.

Place a ferrule into each hole, with its outer flange resting flush on the guitar body. Then align the screw hole of the strap button itself with the ferrule’s center opening. As you thread in the screw, apply firm pressure on the button so it remains perpendicular and fully seated.

Drive the screw down until just below flush with the button’s exterior surface. Be careful not to strip the head by overtightening.

Perform this mounting process first on the body hole, followed by the neck button site.

Finishing Touches

With both strap buttons solidly installed, remove any painter’s tape used during the process to prevent tearing the guitar’s finish. Give the buttons a gentle final tightening with the screwdriver if necessary, while taking care not to crack the surrounding finish.

Before stringing up your guitar, do some test runs clipping on your strap. Make sure the instrument hangs properly and the buttons feel snug. Reinsert either one to realign it if anything seems off. Consider adding clear nail polish around the button if you notice excessive shifting while playing.

Related: How to Replace a Guitar Nut

Problems and Troubleshooting

Installing strap buttons is usually straightforward, but some common problems can arise. Being prepared with solutions will allow you to fix any issues smoothly without damage.

Stripped Screw Heads

Applying too much pressure when driving the screw can strip out the head’s edges. If this occurs, remain patient and avoid forcing. Instead, use pliers to carefully unscrew the damaged fastener by gripping the sides. Replace it with a fresh screw once removed, drilling out remnants if necessary. When reinstalling, turn slowly and let the tools do the work.

Misaligned Buttons

If a button fails to sit perpendicular or wobbles, the pilot hole likely misses the ferrule underneath. Protect the finish with painter’s tape and redrill closer to the ferrule’s center until aligned. Take a step back periodically when drilling—rushing increases the chance of misplaced holes. If needed, fill unused holes later with a toothpick and wood glue after installing the strap buttons correctly.

Alternatives to Traditional Strap Buttons

While screw-in strap buttons remain the most common method to secure a guitar strap, some alternative options exist for those wishing to avoid drilling into their instrument. These strap-locking systems offer extra protection against accidental drops without damaging the finish.

Strap Locks Add Security

Strap locks involve adding a male and female component to the strap and guitar. The female piece screws into the guitar using existing strap buttons or new inserts. Corresponding locking posts on the strap then twist and lock into place. Brands like Schaller, Dunlop, and Gruv Gear provide kits complete with all necessary hardware.

Strap locks allow quick attachment and removal of straps without unscrewing. Their tight connection also resists slippage better than regular buttons. However, the protruding posts on the strap can potentially scratch the guitar’s finish.

Adhesive Button Options

For guitarists nervous about drilling into a prized instrument, adhesive strap buttons provide drill-free installation. These use industrial-grade tape or glue to affix either standard buttons or specialized bases onto the guitar surface.

Brands like Straptite and Strap-Lock offer adhesive options that claim durable adhesion without residue upon removal. However, heat and humidity can still loosen their grip over time.

Adhesive buttons work best on finished wood rather than raw patches. Situate them carefully because prying off sticks could splinter the finish. They also lack support screws, making them more prone to shearing off under sudden strain.

What’s The Best Option for Me?

When choosing strap locks or buttons, a few key factors come into play that can guide your decision. First off, assess your playing style and stage presence. If you’re stationary, standard buttons will likely suffice, but highly active performers may want the added security of locks to prevent embarrassing mid-song drops.

The type of guitar is also important – lighter-bodied electrics can get by with simple buttons, while something like a heavy semi-hollow body may require reinforced buttons or locks to handle its weight. Consider too your main performance venues – simple buttons can work well in controlled studio settings, but the rigors of touring call for ultra-reliable locks.

Budget is a consideration too – basic strap buttons are inexpensive, while pro-grade locks cost more but last practically forever. And don’t overlook aesthetics – get locks that match your guitar’s hardware and enhance its look. Brand-wise, Dunlop, Schaller and Gruv Gear have excellent reputations for quality and durability.

Take stock of your needs against these factors. Are you a lead guitarist who jumps off drum kits nightly? Splurge on locks. A rhythm player doing occasional local gigs? Basic buttons should suffice.

Aftercare and Maintenance

  • After installing new strap buttons, perform regular checks to ensure they remain securely fastened over time. As the screws connecting the strap button can loosen slightly from repeated twisting of the strap, examine them closely each time you change strings or clean your guitar.
  • Keep a basic screwdriver handy to gently tighten any loose strap button mounting screws as needed. Take care not to overtighten or you may strip the screw head or crack the surrounding finish.
  • If a button feels loose even after tightening, consider applying a small drop of removable thread locker fluid to the threads. This will help prevent the vibrations of playing from slowly backing the screws out.
  • Stay mindful too of any widening of the mounting holes from perpetual strap button rotation. If a button starts sitting crooked or wiggling, redrill the hole slightly inward toward the center of the ferrule underneath before reinserting the screw. This will realign everything flush.

Wrap Up

Follow these best practices for ideal balance and security. Regularly check for tightness to catch any loosening over time. With the right process, you can install buttons to hang your guitar comfortably, avoid accidental drops, and focus on your passionate performances. Now just grab your tools, button up your guitar, and captivate audiences under the lights!

How to Install Guitar Strap Buttons: FAQs

Why does my guitar only have one strap button?

Many electric guitars come with just one strap button installed from the factory, usually located on the bottom “horn” of the body. This helps keep costs down. You’ll need to purchase and install a second strap button yourself, often on the top horn, to properly secure a strap for standing playing.

Why don’t acoustic guitars have strap buttons?

Acoustic guitars traditionally did not come with any strap buttons installed. It was left to the player to choose where to install buttons if desired. Many acoustic players prefer to just sit while playing. Recent models may include buttons, but add-on options still allow personal positioning.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

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