Using a banjo strap will make you a better banjo player. Such a dramatic statement needs to be backed up with good reasons. Let me show you why.
1. Playing Position
When properly installed, the banjo strap should hold your banjo at about a 45 degree angle relative to your body. This angle allows your hand to reach up to the top of the neck with ease without over stretching. With banjos, as opposed to guitars, the pot assembly should sit in the middle of your lap. Because banjos are “bottom heavy” they sit naturally in that position and allow your arm greater freedom. The added support of the banjo strap around your body makes it all work.
2. Freedom Of Movement
If you are not wearing a banjo strap, your fretting hand has to do “double duty” as it must support the neck of your banjo as well as travel up and down the neck as you fret during a playing session. If you have the banjo strap fit properly to your body, you could actually let go of the neck and the banjo would be safe. This means your fretting hand has only one job - to move freely up and down the neck while you play with greater comfort and ease.
You have invested your treasure, your time, and your talent into your banjo. If you have a strap on it, you can help prevent an unforeseen accidents and the banjo will sit securely wrapped around your body thus preventing it from being broken during a fall.
If you are performing with a banjo, you will definitely need a strap. Upperline banjos are very heavy. There is no way to walk around a stage with a 12 pound, bottom heavy banjo and still be able to give your best performance for the audience. It isn’t safe for your back or for the banjo and the addition of the strap will keep both things safer. Even if you have a lighter weight Goodtime banjo, you are much safer and freer in movement with a banjo strap attached.
5. Better Playing Technique
Because the strap holds the banjo in the right place, your wrist and arm will sit at a more natural position. By placing your thumb at the middle of the back of the neck, it can act as a fulcrum to allow your fingers to come up and over and down on the strings so you are less likely to get muted/fuzzy fretted notes. This is only possible because the neck is no longer being supported by your hand but by the banjo strap!
Choosing the Correct Banjo Strap
Here are a few little things to look for to help you choose the right strap for your banjo:
- Make sure that it will work on your banjo. The space between your hook and rim may bit tight so be sure that if you choose a cradle strap that the ends will go through the space. At Deering, we put information on the strap to help you choose the right one for our many different banjo models.
- Be sure there are no metal parts to scrape the finish or hardware. Metal hooks can extend beyond the hooks you attach them too and can scrape the top edge of your resonator. Examine how it fits so you can prevent any finish damage. The reason we recommend cradle straps is to ensure the safety of the parts of your banjo as well as give you a solid support system when you play.
- If you have a heavy banjo, make sure your strap has some padding or that it is wider to distribute the weight a bit more evenly.
- Leather straps, by and large, are the most durable material. They will have the ability to mold to your body and soften nicely over time. If you want greater durability, choose a leather strap.
So there you have it. Get a strap and be the best banjo player you can be. Just make sure you have fun, because that is really what it is all about!