How To Put A Strap On A Guitar With No Buttons

Guitar straps are a convenient way to keep your instrument secure while standing, but unfortunately not all guitars come with them from the factory. This is more common with classical acoustic guitars, but there are other styles that are not supplied with them. If you’re interested in learning how to put a strap on a guitar with no buttons, keep on reading.

In this KillerGuitarRigs guide you will learn:

  • Why should you put a strap on your guitar?
  • Do you have to drill into your guitar?
  • What supplies and tools do you need to install a strap on a guitar?
  • How to put a strap on a guitar with no buttons?

Before we begin, let’s look at some fast fact about installing strap buttons

  • Using a strap can improve your guitar skills
  • You may have to drill into your guitar
  • You should always use a hand held screwdriver when installing buttons
  • There are non destructive methods of button installation available

Why Should You Put A Strap On Your Guitar?

In order to play guitar while standing, it is usually necessary to have your guitar secured with a strap. Not only do they prevent you from dropping your guitar and potentially damaging it, but they also allow you to relax your left hand grip and free up your strumming arm, which will result in smoother playing.

The majority of guitar straps are secured at the center of the base, and wither on the upper bout, or horn for some electric guitars, or on, or below the heel in the case of acoustics and other styles of electric guitars. It’s not uncommon to find guitars, particularly acoustic guitars with only one button at the base – in this case the other end of the strap is secured above the nut by a string. 

Do You Have To Drill Into Your Guitar?

Whether or not you want to drill into your guitar is up to you. Understandably, many are nervous about taking power tools to their instruments, especially if they are high value, or antique, however, if you take your time and do it right, you won’t cause any damage. Installing permanent strap buttons by drilling is definitely the most secure way to install them.

Alternatively, you could opt for a non destructive, or less destructive method by using suction cups. This method will be explained in full in the how to guide below. It’s not as secure a method as drilling, but if you aren’t particularly animated when you play, it is still a viable alternative.

What Supplies And Tools Do You Need To Put A Strap On A Guitar With No Buttons?

In order to put a strap on a guitar with no buttons, you will need the following:

Drilling method

  • A screwdriver (size and type dependent on the screws on your guitar’s cavity cover)
  • A drill
  • A ruler and pencil
  • New strap buttons

No-Drill Method

  • Suction cups
  • Gorilla Glue (optional)
  • Guitar strap (must have multiple sizing holes)
  • Thin ratchet strap
Make a guitar strap – it's quick and easy!

How To Put A Strap On A Guitar With No Buttons

Drilling Method

Step 1 – Locate the dead center of the base

As the sides of the guitar generally tend to meet dead center at the base of an acoustic guitar, there should be a line that marks it clearly. Measure the center point of the depth along that line where the sides meet and mark with your pencil. This is the only point at which you should drill at the base as there is a solid wooden block on the inside.

Step 2 – Place the guitar on a sturdy working surface

Ensure that the guitar is on a sturdy work bench before starting. You’re far less likely to slip and damage the guitar if it is steady.

Step 3 – Drill the hole

Be sure to use a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw you’re installing. Exactly on the mark you’ve made, carefully drill around an inch into the guitar.

Step 4 – Install the button

Place the button and then the felt washer onto the screw (ensuring that it is the washer that will contact the wood when tight). Line up the screw with the pilot hole you drilled, and gently screw the button down. It is always recommended to use a hand tool here rather than an electric screwdriver to ensure you have proper feel for when the button is properly tightened.

Do not overtighten! When the screw starts to feel tight, and you see slight compression on the felt washer, it’s time to stop.

Step 5 – Mark the second button location

The heel of an acoustic guitar is the best location for the upper strap button. It’s solid wood and will be able to accommodate a screw without causing damage to the guitar. When choosing a spot on the heel, always use the top side, and try to make sure that the face of the button is as close to pointing towards the back of the guitar as possible to prevent the strap from slipping off.

Step 6 – Drill and Install

Repeat steps 3 and 4. You now have permanent strap buttons on your guitar.

No-Drill Method

Step 1 – Add a suction cup to the treble side of the base

You have 2 options here. If you’re dead set on not permanently modifying your guitar in any way, simply moisten the suction cup and apply. If you’re simply not confident enough to drill, but you want to permanently add strap buttons, apply a thin layer of Gorilla Glue to the suction cup, and carefully place it towards the treble side of the base. 

Step 2 – Rig the strap

Note – if you’re using glue, skip to step 3.

If you’re not using glue, install the guitar strap using the second to last hole, and run the ratchet strap through the very last hole. Be sure to use the dead end of the ratchet strap at the base and use the adjustable end at the top. 

Run the guitar strap around your back and over your leading shoulder. Take the ratchet strap over the front of the guitar, then pass it around the treble side upper bout and back around the neck. Feed the ratchet strap through the top hole and tighten.

Step 3 – Add a suction cup to the back of the guitar

If you’re planning to glue the suction cup on, you will want to do this dead center, directly below the heel on the flat back. Take a small amount of your glue, spread it on the suction cup and firmly place it on the guitar.

With the suction cup method, it’s always best to use the suction cups that have a small hole in the shaft. Once the strap is on them, you can use a keyring, or something as simple as a paperclip to feed through the hole and prevent the strap from coming loose.

Final Thoughts On Putting A Strap On A Guitar With No Buttons

The only truly secure way to put a strap on a guitar with no buttons is to drill and install actual strap buttons. Understand that if you opt for the suction cup method, you do run the risk of dropping your guitar if you’re playing while standing. If this is the case, always be aware that it could happen, and try to limit movement while you’re playing to avoid unfortunate accidents.

Main image courtesy of flickr user Alan Devine

Martin Holland

Growing up in rural Australia, there wasn't much to do but play guitar and stare at the red dirt. When things broke, the only person to fix them was fifty miles away, and eventually fixing gave way to building, giving me my career as a luthier. I wouldn't have it any other way.