How To Attach A Banjo Cradle Strap

by Kim Bean

Deering leather cradle straps are wonderfully secure and safe for your banjo. The cradle strap is made up of three pieces of leather and two attachment options. We will walk you through the ins and outs of attaching one to your banjo.

Attachment with shoelaces is our primary recommendation.**

 

Sheepswool Cradle Strap Shoestring Attachment

 

Cradle Strap Components

  1. A long broad piece with length adjustment slots.
  2. Two slender leather ends with length adjustment holes.
  3. Two attachment shoelaces. (Used to bind the loose strap ends together)
  4. (Alternate Attachment Option) Two Chicago Style screw and brads which are easily attached and removed from your strap.

Cradle Strap Attachment- With Shoelaces

Definitions before you start:

J Hook: Long thin metal hook that pulls the metal tension hoop tightly down on the head. The strap ends will thread under these and cradle the banjo. (AKA Bracket Hook)

Tailpiece: Large flat metal piece near the bridge where the loop end of the strings are attached.

Instructions:

  1. Remove the shoelaces from both strap ends.
  2. Position the banjo with the head facing you and the neck straight up at the 12 o’clock position.
  3. Locate the second J Hook on the right hand side of the banjo neck at 2 o’clock. Insert the slender leather end next to the Gold Deering Logo under the J Hook with the finished leather side showing outward. Thread from left to right away from the neck. Keep the broad part of the strap underneath and to the left of the banjo neck. This thin strap end will rest behind the neck when playing. *If strap end does not fit under J Hook please see the troubleshooting section.*
  4. Continue threading the slender leather end under the next five J Hooks until you reach the 3 o’clock position and pull some of the excess through.
  5. Locate the J Hook at the 5 o’clock position. This is one J Hook to the right of the banjo Tailpiece.
  6. Take the other leather end, keeping the strap to the left of the banjo, and insert this end under the J Hook keeping the finished leather side out as well. Thread from left to right away from the tailpiece. Continue to thread under the next 3 J Hooks to meet the other strap end you have already threaded. You will need to adjust it's legth based on your needs. 
  7. Adjust the strap to the proper length by pulling in or out the ends until you have a comfortable fit around your neck. *If this method is too short please see the Chicago End Installation Section.
  8. Take one shoelace to secure the leather ends together.  Do this by threading the shoelace through both thin leather pieces using the small eyelet holes provided where the leather ends meet. Tie shoelace securely in a double knot or secure tie to protect your banjo. You may overlap the leather ends shown above, or you can sandwich them shown below. You may keep the second shoelace to replace over time.
  9. Insert the overlapped leather ends back into the J Hook channel so they sit flush to the rim or remove extra leather end by cutting with shears if they will not fit in the channel.

You are now ready to play!

 Sheepswool Cradle Strap With Sandwich Attachment

  

Alternate Option: Cradle Strap Attachment- With Chicago Ends

Do you need as much length as possible in a strap, or would you like to attach your strap to another location on your banjo? Attachment with Chicago Ends will give you both. This installation is similar to using shoelaces, however only thread the ends through one J Hook or more if desired. You can then tightly attach the Chicago Ends to the location that feels best for you. 

Definitions before you start:

J Hook: Long thin metal hook that pulls the metal tension hoop tightly down on the head. The strap ends will thread under these and cradle the banjo. (AKA Bracket Hook)

Tailpiece: Large flat metal piece near the bridge where the loop end of the strings are attached.

Chicago Screws: Small round metal screws that fit flush to you strap. Has male and female ends that join together.

 Instructions:

  1. Remove the shoelace ends from the strap ends and take out the Chicago Screws.
  2. Position the banjo with the head facing you and the neck straight up at the 12 o’clock position.
  3. Locate the second J Hook on the right hand side of the banjo neck at 2 o’clock. Insert the slender leather end next to the Gold Deering Logo under the J Hook toward the banjo neck from right to left with the finished leather side showing.  See Chicago End Picture below. Keep the broad part of the strap underneath and to the left of the banjo neck. This thin strap end will rest behind the neck when playing. *If strap end does not fit under J Hook please see the troubleshooting section.*
  4. Connect Chicago Screws as shown below or you may continue threading under J Hooks away from the neck to your appropriate length.
  5. Next, locate the J Hook at the 5 O’clock position. This is one J Hook to the right of the banjo Tailpiece.
  6. Take the other leather end, keeping the strap to the left of the banjo, and insert this end  toward the tailpiece and under the J Hook, keeping the finished leather side out. Connect the Chicago Screw or continue to thread under J Hooks away from the tailpiece as needed for length. 
  7.  Be sure to tighten Chicago screws securely to protect your banjo using a small flat head screwdriver. If you have chosen to thread ends through for this option, please skip threading on the second to last J hook to keep metal screw ends away from sitting flush to the banjo rim to prevent scratches to the finish.  

 You are now ready to play!

Soft Leather Cradle Strap Attachment With Chicago End

Troubleshooting Tips

Our upper line Deering Banjos have a large space between the J Hooks and the banjo rim to fit cradle straps. Straps made for heavier banjos have thicker ends and will easily fit through this larger space. Our Goodtime Series, Eagle Series, Vega banjos, and Boston models may have a tighter spacing which mean the cradle ends can be more temperamental to fit. While we have custom made straps for both types of fits, we do have some suggestions for troubleshooting to help you fit your strap with greater ease.

My Leather Ends Won’t Fit Under the J Hooks

Please make sure to purchase one of the straps made especially to fit your banjo. Please note: Our Sheepswool Leather Strap, Latigo Leather Strap, and Rustic Leather Straps may not fit Goodtime, Vega, Eagle II, and Boston banjos due to extra leather thickness. 

We keep the leather as thick as possible to offer the most security for your banjo. The space between the J Hook and the wood banjo rim where the strap ends thread will vary depending on the banjo model, year it was made, and head tension. If your banjo head is older and has been tightened many times, this will make the J Hook space smaller than normal. In the event that the leather end is a millimeter or so too thick to fit under the J Hooks there are a few courses of action.

One easy fix is to slightly hammer the last ¼” inch of each leather end and it should then thread easily under the J Hook. If that does not work you may remove the J Hook on your banjo where you will be installing the strap. This can be achieved by loosening the Hex Nut enough to remove the J Hook. Be cautious to retighten Hex Nut to the same tension of your surrounding hooks. Do not over tighten. You may than use the Chicago Screws to secure the strap to your banjo. 

My Strap is Too Short

If your strap is too short to use with the shoelace attachment try the Chicago method. Attach the Chicago Ends on the J Hooks at 2 o’clock and the other at 5 o’clock without further threading. This will give you maximum length. Be sure to tighten screws securely to protect your banjo using a small flat head screwdriver.

My Strap is Too Long

There are adjustment slots on the wide flat main strap; however we suggest you adjust the thin threaded ends first. If this is not enough to shorten the length, adjust the position of the thin leather ends on the main strap by moving it up the slots.

You may cut off any additional leather from the thin ends once you have it adjusted to length. Be sure to adjust before removing any of the leather with shears.

 **The Rustic Cradle Strap may only be attached with shoelace attachment.**

Cradle straps are a secure and stylish way to support your banjo. These attachment tips will have you playing in no time. 

Purchase Your Deering Cradle Strap Here!

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