Everything you need to know to easily secure your acoustic or electric.
For most performers, it's essential that a guitar has strap buttons (Fig. 1). Though many guitars come with strap buttons already installed, some don't. If you have a guitar without strap buttons and want to install them, the good news is it's a straightforward job—if you know the correct procedures.
There are two critical considerations: The first is to find the right location. If strap buttons are installed incorrectly, your guitar won't balance well when you play standing up. The second consideration is to be very careful when installing a button on the neck heel—you can crack it. So, using both an acoustic and an electric guitar to illustrate the process, let's find out how to do this right and avoid those potential problems.
Recently, a client brought in two guitars: a Larrivée OM-03 Vintage Sunburst and a 2002 Gibson SG Supreme. The Larrivée already had an endpin, but it lacked a strap button. The owner wanted me to install one so he could stand when playing onstage. For the SG Supreme, he wanted me to replace the stock buttons with a set of locking devices, so he could safely rock out with his band. For the Larrivée, we decided on a standard nickel-plated strap button and felt washer from Allparts; for the SG Supreme, we chose Schaller Security Locks.
My client wondered if adding a strap button would devalue his acoustic. On most modern flattops, a correctly installed strap button won't devalue the instrument (two exceptions are high-end vintage guitars or classical guitars). A strap button is useful for working musicians, and most guitar manufacturers will offer to install one before the guitar leaves the factory. Another reason to add a strap button to an acoustic is that tying a strap around the headstock (the old-school approach) can damage the finish, and in some cases, add unnecessary pressure to the neck joint. There's a lot of debate about this. Most collectors would never want anything installed on a guitar that was not considered original, so if you have a vintage axe keep this in mind.
Selecting the location.
Fig. 2 (left) To install a strap button on the treble side of a flattop's neck heel, you need to take two measurements. One is the distance down from the fretboard. Fig. 3 (right) The second measurement is the distance away from the body.
Let's begin with the acoustic. The first step is to decide where to install the strap button. For the Larrivée, I determined that the best location was on the treble side of the neck heel about 1 1/4" below the top of the fretboard (Fig. 2) and about 1 1/2" out from the body (Fig. 3). I selected this spot for balance and structural integrity: This placement will keep the guitar from leaning away from you when you play, and this part of the neck heel is very stout, so you won't have to worry about cracking the heel—assuming the button is installed correctly, as we'll discuss in a moment.
Fig. 4 - Mark the strap button's location by pressing the screw tip into the wood.
Once you've made these two measurements and located their intersection, mark it. You can mark the location using a pencil or gently press the strap button screw into the heel (Fig. 4).
Tip: If you use a screw to mark the drilling location, be careful not to slip—you could scratch the heel.
Selecting the drill bit.
The goal is to drill a hole that's slightly smaller than the outside diameter of the screw. If you use a drill bit that's too big, the screw will strip the wood and the button will not hold properly. Most strap button screws are relatively close in size, but they do vary depending on the manufacturer. Make sure you measure both the threads and the screw shaft so you know what size drill bit to use.
For example: The outside diameter (including threads) of my strap-button screw was 9/64", and the shaft (without threads) was about 7/64" in diameter. By choosing a 7/64" bit, I left enough wood for the screw to tap (or thread) itself into the heel without damaging it.
Gauging drill bit depth.
Fig. 5: Measure drill bit depth, then mark it with a red Sharpie.
With the screw inserted into the button, measure the depth needed for the screw and mark your selected drill bit with a red Sharpie (Fig. 5). This way, you'll know how deep to drill the hole. If you drill too far, you could hit the neck pocket. But if the hole is too shallow, you could crack the heel when you install the screw. Measure carefully and get it right.
Drilling the hole.
This is where all your measurements pay off. Remember, you don't have to push hard—let the drill and bit do the work. You simply control the process by keeping the bit aligned and watching the depth (Fig. 6).
Fig. 7: Countersinking the hole with a Phillips screwdriver.
Before you insert the screw, use a medium-tip Phillips screwdriver to countersink the hole you just drilled (Fig. 7). This prevents the finish from chipping around the hole when you insert and tighten the strap-button screw. After countersinking the hole, install the strap button with a small felt washer between the wood and metal. The washer prevents the strap button from marring or denting the finish and wood, and it looks nice.
Fig. 8: Place a felt washer between the neck and button, then slowly tighten the screw until
the button is flush to the neck heel.
Voilà—a correctly installed strap button can add utility to a steel-string guitar (Fig. 8).
Fig. 9: Each Schaller Security Lock consists of an integrated screw and button, a locking mechanism that attaches to the guitar strap, and a washer and nut used to secure the locking device to the strap.
There are many different types and brands of locking devices on the market, but as I mentioned, my client wanted Schaller Security Locks (Fig. 9) for his SG. Once you've selected your locking hardware, it's crucial you measure the length of the included screws that go into the body and subsequently attach to the locking mechanism. In a moment, we'll see why.
The work begins.
Fig. 10: Comparing the length of the stock SG screw and button (left) with the Schaller screw.
Installing the Schaller button on the SG's lower bout was easy because it was already pre-drilled for the original strap button I'd removed. Because the Schaller screws with their integrated buttons were longer than the original Gibson hardware (Fig. 10), I redrilled the hole to the proper depth using a 7/64" drill bit. So far, so good.
Fig. 11: The Schaller screw is too long for the SG's neck joint—it might hit the truss rod.
Ah, but the other strap button was a different story. On SGs, Gibson typically installs a strap button on the back of the guitar, right behind the neck joint. After I removed the stock button and measured the depth of the Schaller screw against the SG's neck joint (Fig. 11), I realized the screw would penetrate too far and possibly hit the truss rod. Yikes!
This left me with two choices: see if I could use the original hardware, or shorten the supplied Schaller screw and integrated button. Fortunately the Gibson button fit inside the Schaller locking mechanism, so I decided to reuse the original screw and button, rather than shorten and rethread the Schaller screw. Once again, I included a felt washer between the body and button.
Loading the strap.
Fig. 12: Attaching the Schaller Security Lock to the strap.
One of the features that makes the Schaller system so secure is that the locking mechanisms attach to your strap. It's simple: Slip the strap-lock base into the strap's slit. Place the included washer over the device's shaft. Using a 9/16" deep-well nutdriver, tighten the nut over the washer (Fig. 12). This makes it nearly impossible for the locking mechanism to slip out of the strap. Rinse and repeat.
To mount the strap to the guitar, simply pull up on each lock's post, slip the lock onto its respective button, and release the post to lock it to the button.
- The ABCs of Output Jacks - Premier Guitar ›
- Guitar Shop 101: How to Install a Soundhole Pickup - Premier Guitar ›
- Tools for the Task: Strap Locks - Premier Guitar ›
- (Acoustic) Size Matters - Premier Guitar ›
- (Acoustic) Size Matters - Premier Guitar ›
- Guitar Shop 101: How to Install a Soundhole Pickup - Premier Guitar ›
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
For part two of our crash course in harmony for bassists, we’re talkin’ triads.
As bass players, our job is often to indicate and support what is happening rhythmically and harmonically in the music we’re playing. And to do that, it’s important for us to understand the basics of tonality and how it works. In fact, every bass player must have a strong knowledge of harmony to do their job correctly. This month, we’ll continue last month’s harmony crash course with some more ways to brush up on your ear skills, in italics below, so you can do your low-end job effectively.
The basic building block of harmony is the dyad, which gives us our basic intervals. But the basic building block of tonality is the triad, a grouping of three or more tones (root, 3rd, and 5th) that give us the four chord qualities—major, minor, diminished, and augmented—which you’re probably already familiar with.
Just as with intervals, we should train our ears to recognize chord qualities instantly. Start with two qualities (major and minor). Once you can identify those two correctly about 95 percent of the time, add another. Keep going until you can identify all four qualities consistently.
Another great exercise is to take a melody (either major or minor) and convert it to the opposite quality. Start out with something you know well, like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” This may take a while at first, but the goal is to keep on doing these until you can convert most stuff on the fly instantly.
“This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.”
Each chord quality has its own distinct sound, but major and minor are related, and both feel very grounded. Because of the 5th in each, our ears can easily hear which note in the chord is strongest (the root), which gives major and minor a sense of gravity. This feeling persists even if we change the order of the notes (invert the chord).
Have a friend or an app play inversions of major or minor triads. Find the root of each chord by singing it. Work towards being able to identify these triads in root position (root in the bass), first inversion (3rd in the bass), or second inversion (5th in the bass).
Pay attention to bass lines that land on a root, 3rd, or 5th on the first beat of the bar and then practice coming up with your own examples.
Diminished and augmented triads are much more ambiguous. Without a perfect fifth (diminished has a b5 and augmented has a #5), no tone in particular sounds strongest. Thus, both chords lack gravity. In fact, to most of us, every tone sounds equal, like being lost in the woods where every direction appears the same. Both seem to want to move towards something else more stable. When this occurs, it gives a sense of release, or resolution. This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.
The top part of a dominant seventh or V7 chord is a diminished triad. For example, a C7 consists of the notes C–E–G–Bb. If you remove the C, we’re left with an E diminished triad. This is where the moving sound, or the desire to resolve, comes from. The important takeaway is that we’re making something very stable—a major chord—and making it less stable when we add the b7, because of the diminished sound, which in turn sets up the need to resolve.
Listening for V–I: On a guitar or keyboard play any major chord, then add a b7 (transforming I to V7) and try to hear where the progression “wants” to go next. Move to the new key (a fifth down) and repeat. After twelve V–I progressions you’ll arrive back at the original key.
The Dominant Gateway: On bass, try playing a walking bass pattern over the cycle of fifths, strategically using a b7 to move to the next key. This foreshadowing is a great voice-leading skill.
That's all for our crash course in harmony. If you take your time with these exercises, you should notice not only your ears improving, but your bass playing too!