Have you ever had that nightmare where the strap on your precious Stratocaster just slides off the strap button and your guitar falls to the ground?
Perhaps it wasn’t a nightmare and that happened to you. Hopefully, you were able to catch it before it hit the ground.
The whole strap and strap button system has existed since the inception of the electric guitar, and let’s be honest: It sucks.
Thankfully, years of engineering had brought us alternatives to avoid our worst nightmare from happening. Enter the strap lock.
If you just want to know which I think are the best strap locks for a Stratocaster, here is my list:
The 3 best strap locks for a Stratocaster are:
- D’Addario Planet Lock/Pad Lock
- Fender/Ernie Ball strap blocks
- Dunlop/Schaller/Ernie Ball strap locks
For those who want a deeper dive into this topic, in this article, I will talk about everything you need to know about strap locks. I will justify why my choices are the ones above, and I will even give you some cheap homemade alternatives.
Are you ready to get started?
Are strap locks worth it?
It depends on how strong is your spider-sense really. If you have a reliable sixth sense that lets you catch your guitar every time the strap comes undone, congrats, Peter, you shouldn’t waste money on strap locks.
In my opinion, strap locks are worth it for every guitar player since the traditional strap button and strap hole system is archaic and very prone to failure. A strap lock, for very little money, will give you the security that your guitar strap would never slide off the pin.
How do strap locks work?
There are many kinds of strap locks, and they all work differently. All of them are engineered very cleverly. The common purpose of all of them is to act as a stop between the strap and the strap button. They lock the strap in place so it could never slide off unless the strap lock is removed first.
Would any strap lock fit a Stratocaster?
The short answer is yes, any strap lock would fit a Stratocaster. Strap buttons on electric guitars are pretty much universal, and also, strap lock makers take into account the popularity of the Stratocaster, they wouldn’t design something that wouldn’t work for a big share of the market.
Do I have to drill to install strap locks in a Stratocaster?
You should not have to use a drill to install strap locks in a Stratocaster. All brands are designed to fit without major modifications to the guitar. If the replacement screws of your strap lock kit don’t fit the holes of your original ones, you could just ignore them and install the kit with the old screws.
My top 3 strap locks for Stratocaster
I’m a very obsessive guy when it comes to keeping my guitar strap in place. I hate having to worry about my instrument falling.
Since I was a beginner I decided that the clever way around it was getting a set of strap locks and so I did my due diligence to find the better fit for me.
Remember that this is just my opinion and it might not completely resonate with you.
Here are my top 3 strap locks for a Stratocaster:
1. D’Addario Planet Lock/Pad Lock
Is this cheating?
I know, this is not a strap lock per se but isn’t it just easier if the strap itself had the locking mechanism?
This is what the engineers at D’Addario wondered and put into practice.
The Planet Lock has been my strap of choice for years now. It’s just so convenient: You just slide it over the strap button and wind the lock as if it was a vintage film camera.
I can’t think of any downside for this system unless you have a favorite traditional strap or you like fancy designs. You are pretty much stuck with the ones that D’Addario offers since the lock is in the actual strap.
2. Fender/Ernie Ball strap blocks
Again, is this cheating?
A strap BLOCK is not a strap LOCK, I know, but why do we need to overcomplicate things when simpler solutions might just work?
Strap blocks are small rubber rings that you jam in your strap button after placing your strap. These blocks fit tightly and prevent the strap from sliding over.
These are cheap and discrete.
I chose both Fender and Ernie Ball ones, but they are all pretty much the same. You just can’t go wrong with these 2.
3. Dunlop/Schaller/Ernie Ball strap locks
Now, to stop cheating, here are some actual strap locks.
I don’t think that any of these is better than the other, they are just different approaches for solving the same problem.
Here is a nice explanation about the differences between the most popular Dunlop and Schaller ones:
Strap locks are a bit harder to install, but hey, my options before were extremely easy, it’s just a matter of contrast actually. You could have these working on your guitar in under 10 minutes for sure.
I think, if the alternatives above don’t work for you, you should go for any of these. But just give the others a try first.
Are strap locks permanent?
Strap locks are not permanent and you can revert to the original strap buttons of your guitar at any time. The installation difficulty might differ between models, but all of the better-known models are installed in a non-destructive, completely reversible way. Try them out with no worries.
Can I change my strap after installing strap locks?
No, In all cases I can imagine your strap will be locked once you installed the strap locks. This doesn’t mean that this is a permanent situation, you can always uninstall the locks to change the strap. However, this is inconvenient and I’d recommend you decide on a nice strap before the installation.
9 cheaper, or even homemade alternatives to strap locks
I don’t want to brag or make you cry, but growing up in a poor country with very low availability of import guitar accessories makes you tap into your creativity to solve guitar issues very often.
Here is a list of 9 alternatives to strap locks I came up with:
Metal washers are the cheapest and most common alternative to strap locks. You just undo your strap button screw, add a washer between the button and your strap, and install it again altogether. You’re done.
An alternative I can imagine is cutting a gap on the washer, so it ends in a horseshoe shape and you can slide it on and off on top of your strap to make a movable mechanism.
2. Grolsch beer bottle cap
The red rubber of the bottle cap of a Grolsch beer can be used as a great strap block, here is a video showing you how
3. Elastic bands
This is a more wacky one. Just jam your strap in place with as many elastic bands as you can find.
You can use a hairpin to make the hole of your strap grip the button tighter. Here you can see how:
5. Sewing the strap hole once in place
Just install the strap and with a heavy-duty needle and some thread you could sew the strap hole so it fits very tight.
6. Zip ties
Same philosophy as with plastic bands, just zip tie the situation away until the strap is completely locked in place.
A messy one here, but if you don’t care about the looks of your guitar, or maybe its looks are messy, you could try different kinds of glue to just lock the strap in place.
Same as with zip ties or washers, just make a tight ring of wire between the strap and the strap button and nothing would ever slide there.
Good old duct tape will always work for keeping things in place. Just go crazy with it. Really.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.