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Thread: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

  1. #1
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I'm so used to playing guitar/banjo without a strap while seated.

    I gather, from reading, that a mandolin should always be strapped, even when seated.

    Is that sound advice? My instruments hang around me in my office - I grab a guitar and strum it. The more I have to do to get set up for playing, the less inclined I am for spur-of-the moment playing. Quickly picking out an idea in my head.

    I guess I need a mandolin strap at the ready for grabbing the mandolin off the wall...
    Last edited by Bazz Jass; Aug-23-2021 at 9:05pm.

  2. #2
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I almost never use a strap and when I do put one on it is only for drop protection it is supporting none of the instrument weight, even standing.
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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I always use a strap.

    Jethro never used a strap.

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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    It depends on your physiology, posture , any back issues etc.

    For me a strap is the only way of guaranteeing I have the mandolin at the right height and angle for tone and agility, and also corrects my tendency to hunch over the instrument - which wasn't such a problem when I was young.

    But I still pick up the mandolin and play without strap plenty of times too.
    Bren

  7. #5
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I am with Bren on straps. I find that a strap frees my left hand from taking the weight of the mandolin which can happen easily when playing strapless, and this can have an effect on left hand freedom. I usually play sitting down, but the strap is generally in use; same on my octave. I use a strap much less on my acoustic guitar. I find the guitar has a better balance and I am not so inclined to take the weight on my left hand.
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  9. #6

    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I agree with John. Getting the weight off the left hand reduces the tendency to grip the neck tightly and stymie its fluid movement. Nothing worse than “death grip” to kill momentum while playing.
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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    Interesting I never noticed much weight on my left hand but now I am going to check. I have noticed strapless, standing tends to limit my range of motion with my picking arm. What I mean is the motion is limited to where along the strings I can play, like shifting close to the bridge or moving up over the fret board. Like other almost all my playing is sitting but I think standing is needed practice as well.
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    What I mean about tone is that with a strap I can much more easily angle the mandolin so my pick hits the strings at the desired angle.

    This varies for everyone I guess. But I think that is something that's more critical on a mandolin than a guitar.
    Bren

  12. #9
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    at a recent jazz jam before the variant...no strap ever sitting or standing!

    I've never used a strap on a mandolin except to sling it around at Renn faires.

  13. #10
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I've been playing mandolin for a bit more than 4 years and never felt the need for a strap. However, I always sit when playing and the F5 model sits comfortably. Even so, some of the reasons cited for using a strap are intriguing.

    Play on and enjoy!
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I would say one should always hold a mandolin correctly, but that certainly does not require a strap.

    I have gone back and forth on straps. I go long periods strapless, and a few of my mandolins do not even have a strap button and are always played strapless.

    But I also have a couple of mandolins that are on the heavy side for which a strap makes things much more comfortable. My resonator, and my five course.

    I do not stand when I can sit, I do not run when I can walk and I do not walk when I can ride. (That last part from Churchill.) I can play strapless standing, if I have to stand.

    And then sometimes I get in the habit of using a strap, need it or not, because, like wearing a tie, it is a piece of colorful customization that I can do easily.

    By the way it is just as easy to hold a mandolin incorrectly with a strap as it is without. Just sayin...
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    You can do either, and be comfortable doing both. I like a strap and it's necessary for me when standing. Unless I am home sitting in a relaxed chair, I still use a strap sitting. It keeps my mandolin in the same place sitting or standing. That is important, especially if you are starting out.
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    Because of my guitar background, a strap just seemed to be part of the setup. So have always used it. Even now, it feels funny to sit without a strap on the mandolin. Will do it if switching between instruments, but generally like it.

    It also helps position the instrument otherwise I play too far off to the right with the left arm reaching out for the neck. Again, a mechanical holdover from guitar playing.
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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I sit all the time and I don't use a strap. I've never actually found a way to use a strap that doesn't get tangled up in my hands, throw the balance off, end up falling off my shoulder or move the instrument while I'm playing. I've failed at strap using so many times!

    That being said, it all depends on what you're used to or what suits your style. Should you always use one? Even while seated? Yes if it works for you better that way. The more you play, the better you'll understand the pros and cons and what suits your technique. I would never discourage someone from doing what feels right when it comes to making the mandolin feel secure in your hands. I find that a strap is too distracting and doesn't work for me, so I've only used one once, and that was when I was pretending to be a strolling minstrel during a play and needed my hands for other things. I started out as a bowlback player, and straps are seldom a thing for bowlbacks, and never changed. YMMV
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  22. #15

    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I've often thought that best of all would be an assistant who would hold the instrument in any position for you. And in an inconspicuous manner so as not to distract your audience.

    Actually, I have thought the above, but only for the fiddle. For the mandolin, I'd guess I'm Mr Average; standing I use a strap, sitting I don't.

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  24. #16
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    What you want is your mandolin to be in the same place relative to your body sitting or standing. Using a strap makes this easier to achieve. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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  26. #17
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    Lots of interesting varied comments thanks!

    I'd like to throw something else into the mix. In terms of the left hand potentially taking the weight of the mandolin when strapless...

    I find A and F mandolins balance quite differently on my lap. The F tends to lurch neck down - I assume due to the extra weight of the solid wood in the scroll.

    So yes, with an F I do feel the weight of the neck more on my left index finger, which I guess a strap might help with. I'll give it a try and see if it make any difference to my playing comfort.

  27. #18
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I have never ever played an F! But when it comes to neck dive my Penguin is the worst! I have a strap for it but never while I am sitting. Funny how many different preferences and approaches there are. Then again considering the varied and diverse group of people we are I guess it isn't that odd!
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I’m with UsuallyPickin, my strap is perfect for keeping the instrument’s position constant whether sitting or standing. The strap is never removed … when I have multiple instruments each has its own strap.
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I always use a strap whether sitting or standing when playing. Same goes for my tenor banjo and tenor guitar. With the acoustic guitar I only use a strap if I'm playing standing up. I find the strap prevents the weight of the instrument from resting on my left hand, so I can have a lighter touch when playing and better range of motion.

    Having to open a case up and attach a strap to an instrument has never been a deterrent to playing for me - it's a routine established since I started playing electric guitar at 11 years old, it's like part of the ritual of playing from my perspective, though I realize that for others extra steps can act as deterents and respect that - we're all different.

    Finally, if you don't use a strap, how will you ever experience the joys of Strap Acquisition Syndrome?
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  33. #21
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I always wear a strap for mandolin but when sitting with a guitar, playing mainly bar chords I don’t use a strap.

    Two of the main forces on a mandolin are gravity (no changing that), and the finger on the fretboard pushing the neck in a counter clockwise direction when looking at the right handed player from above. If you apply no other force then your mandolin will turn every time you fret a note. To counter this turning force, you can apply very gentle, and ever-changing opposite force with your fretting hand thumb (not recommended all the time), or apply a counteracting force with your right forearm on the body, giving a clockwise motion.

    The axis for these two forces will probably be somewhere around your belly, I find that a strap can stabilise the forearm force.

    Try playing with no thumb at all to be aware of the other forces involved.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Aug-25-2021 at 8:37am.

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    Registered User Dave Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    Always - there are too many constraints on your hand/arm movement, both L and R, without a strap. The strap stays on even in the case. (One strap has strips of leather sewn on as pick holders, which is very convenient. I wish the other was constructed the same way.)

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  37. #23
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I always use a strap. As has been said before, it helps to ensure that the instrument stays in a consistent position.

    I've gone one step further and lined my leather strap with a strip of rubber (from an inner tube). This prevents slippage under certain circumstances.
    Greg Fury

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  39. #24
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    FWIW, my first horizontal instrument was electric bass, and in The Evolving Bassist by Rufus Reid he argued for using a strap at all times so the bass is in a constant position. Took that to heart in 1978 and never looked back.
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    Default Re: Always use a strap? Even when seated?

    I'm another one who never uses a strap on mandolin or Mandoloncello standing or seated.
    The mandolin design allows this, for either the bowlback or carved top, without having to make any contact beyond the edge.
    For the bowlback mandoloncello I use my foot on one of those A shaped guitar stands it sits in when not in use.
    That instrument rests on my thigh on a grip mat & I always play it at a similar angle to a classical guitar (maybe just a tad steeper than typical).
    The neck rests lightly in the groove above the knuckle between palm & index finger, where it can slide easily without friction being an issue.
    Some people think it's some kind of trick, but it's really just using the design to fit your body rather than making the body contort to the design. Once it's correct it is very solid with no slipping or wobbling about no matter how keen I get.
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