Although the whole issue of whether or not ukuleles should or shouldn’t be played with a strap is something musicians may never agree on, the plain fact is that many people find them helpful to both support their instrument and to free up their hands when necessary.
Here we look in some detail at what to look for when shopping for a ukulele strap, with some suggestions on where you can find the best uke straps on the market.
The three most important things to consider and look out for are:
- The type of strap which is best for you
- The way it looks
- How long the strap will last
- Where to shop for the best straps around
Types of ukulele straps, the benefits they offer, and who they are best suited to:
The regular uke strap
Easily the most popular – and consequently the type with most choice and the cheapest price tags – is a standard strap, it has two buttons which are simply secured to your ukulele. They are easy to use as you just have to attach them as needed, and they have the additional plus point of not lowering the balance of your ukulele.
They are also comfortable and generally adjustable so they are good for players of all sizes.
The one button/semi-guitar strap
These are pretty much like the standard to button straps but one end attaches to the headstock rather than a dedicated button. This is the first choice for anyone reluctant to add to buttons to their precious instrument. (Few ukes come with strap buttons in place, so adding them always means drilling to add them.)
Uke leashes/ Mobius strap
Another strap that doesn’t need buttons, this one attaches to the headstock only, with the rest of the strap fitting over the player’s closest shoulder to it, then under the opposite shoulder before being secured. This holds the uke snug to your body.
Clip on strap
Simple and easy to use, and especially popular amongst children who play the uke, these adjustable straps are equally good for adults.
If you can’t bear to drill into your uke look at these as they attach to the soundboard rather than a button, while the strap sits under it and loops around your neck. This type of strap means the uke shouldn’t fall down if you take your hands off it – though it could still move or turn over – but offers no support to the player so this is a poor choice if that is a must-have feature.
The design of your ukulele strap
The design of a strap is often a key decider on which one is bought as it’s a great way to express your personality and style. As this is such an important factor manufacturers make sure there are definitely plenty for uke players with various tastes to choose from.
Years ago most featured Hawaiian inspired patterns, a nod to the history of the ukulele, but although there are still plenty of those around there are plenty more besides. Here are some of the patterns and designs you can expect to see:
- Plain, block colors in various shades. Perfect for those with simple tastes
- Bright colored geometric or abstract designs
- Edgy patterns with gothic influences
- Statement designs representing a country or nationality
- Calming natural images such as flowers, butterflies, and animals
- Popular characters like Snoopy or Disney princesses
- Shapes like polka dots, diamonds, and hearts
Uke players who want something unique have the option of buying one-off designs, or having a strap custom made by artists and crafters who advertise on sites like Etsy.
The material of a uke strap
It’s worth paying attention to what a uke strap is made from because different materials have different life expectancies.
Leather straps are the most durable, while nylon straps are vulnerable to fraying and snagging over time. Tween and linen are good middle of the road materials in terms of cost and hardiness – we found these straps to be the best.
Places to find great uke straps
If you prefer to shop in person and be able to touch or even try on things then the best places to find a ukulele strap will be either a music or a guitar store within traveling distance. It may be worth calling them before you visit to make sure they have the type you want to look at in stock.
People who prefer to shop online will definitely have a lot more choice, sacrificing seeing before buying for both this advantage and the convenience. Serious market players such as Amazon are one outlet, as is Etsy, which we mentioned as being great for people looking for original or hand crafted straps.
The major auction site eBay is also a good bet, and many people who sell via eBay offer goods for immediate sale at a set price. Don’t overlook the smaller outfits with an online presence though. There are plenty of music sites selling equipment, plus of course many physical retailers also have an online presence.
The final option is to have a go at making your own ukulele strap! You don’t need to be a top class artist or sewing guru so long as you have the enthusiasm and patience needed to create something. There are lots of ideas on sites like Pinterest to inspire, and tutorials on how to make a simple strap on video hosting sites like YouTube.
The other option which may appeal to keen crafters is to make your own ukulele strap. There are lots of video tutorials and examples on YouTube or elsewhere online, and with a little imagination and effort you can be sure your strap will definitely be one of a kind.
It may seem like there’s a lot to think about when buying something as simple as a ukulele strap, but taking the time to make the right decisions early on could save you a lot of time and money later on. Good luck and happy shopping or creating.