People who wish to play their ukulele with a uke strap should pay close attention – we’re not going to talk about the best ukulele strap models today, rather we’re going to get into details regarding how to install them on ukuleles.
Even though you might think this process is simple, it’s actually quite the opposite. There’re a lot of things you should consider before even getting close to beginning, such as the tools required and checking for “compatibility”, but all will we explained in due time. Let’s start off from the start:
Why do I need Ukulele strap buttons?
Simply put, a ukulele without strap buttons won’t be able to support numerous strap types. Your options would be limited to using uke leashes and no-button straps which aren’t to everyone’s liking.
In essence, one of the most commonly used uke strap types require a button or two – these buttons hold the strap’s ends, and there’s no chance to attach them if the buttons aren’t present.
What tools do I need to install ukulele strap buttons?
It’s safe to say that you won’t need any forms of special tools to install ukulele strap buttons – in fact, most people already have the bare necessities at their home. The tools required to install these buttons are:
- A masking tape & a pencil
- A small ruler
- A drill
- A nail or anything sharpish that could help you work the pilot hole (nail, small screwdriver)
- Paraffin or wax to polish the screw with (optional)
The wax is the only optional tool, which means that you could complete the entire process without it – it’s there to make the nail a bit more slippery, allowing for easier insertion.
Step by step instructions on how to install ukulele strap buttons
Step 1 – get properly equipped
Even though we’ve already mentioned the tools required for the process, let’s talk about this matter in a little more detail – this step will explain why you need each tool.
Firstly, the masking tape will prevent unnecessary damage to your ukulele’s tail, right after which comes the pencil which you should used in the combination with the ruler to find and measure the exact spot you’re going to drill.
Any form of masking tape would do the trick
The sharpish tool referred to in the previous section refers to a small screwdriver or a nail, but these tools need to be smaller than the drill’s screw.
Step 2 – choose the uke buttons
Aesthetics do, indeed matter, but choosing your strap buttons is important for another reason. Namely, there are those that come with matching screws, and those that don’t. Of course, you’ll want to go with the former.
Plain black ukulele strap buttons
Some of the most common uke strap button types are chromed buttons, gold buttons, and plain black buttons. For the best combination, pair your uke strap buttons with the hardware you already have on the instrument.
Step 3 – mark the drilling area & apply masking tape
Use the ruler to measure the width and length of your ukulele’s tail. You’ll need to be as accurate as possible, as miscalculations could lead to bad hole positioning, which would later mean potential problems with balance. Apply the masking tape beforehand, as it will be easier to mark the hole’s position.
Since the pilot hole is going to be very small, make sure to use pencil, and not markers or anything that would leave a big mark.
Step 4 – “work” the pilot hole with a small nail
The only thing important in this step is that the screw used to make the pilot hole isn’t larger than drill’s screw. Gently tip the marked position until you’re through just a bit, then proceed onto the next step.
Step 5 – drill the hole
This is the part where you’ll have to pay as much attention as possible, as most ukulele models feature thin, light wood materials. Going in too rough might end up with you destroying your instrument.
Now, you should wax your drill’s screw a bit before you start, after which you should make your first “run”. Drill in gently just a bit, then pull the drill’s screw out, remove excess wood parts from it, then repeat for as many times as needed (usually it takes 3-4 runs).
After the hole is drilled, check if your dimensions are correct by comparing the hole to the uke strap button’s screw. If it’s too small, work it up a bit with a small screwdriver or a nail.
Step 6 – use the screwdriver to install the screw
The final step regards the installation of the button, whereas all of the previous steps were preparation. Grab the uke strap button with your hand and place it into the hole – don’t try to force it in, as getting aggressive might only widen the hole, rendering it useless.
Lock the screw tightly with your hand and spin it with an appropriate screwdriver. Again, a gentle approach is recommended. Once the screw is in position, the installation process is complete. All you can do to make sure that everything is order is to check if the screw is positioned tightly enough. Even though ukuleles are practically weightless, a lose screw might contribute to your strap being useless at some point.
The process of installing ukulele strap buttons might appear as complex or too difficult, but it’s fairly simple – there are just a bunch of steps that demand to be followed to the letter, but each one is plain and straightforward.
For as long as you stick by this guide, you’ll be able to install the buttons on your ukulele like a professional woodworker. Since there are small chances you might underperform with your first try, you could practice these steps on regular pieces of wood before you jump to the real deal – remember, drilling your ukulele might destroy it if you’re not careful.