Even if you’re an absolute beginner, you’ve most likely heard about Martin guitars. These are, without a doubt, some of the best instruments that money can buy. However, they don’t always come cheap, which might seem strange for a guitar that’s missing a strap button. So what’s the deal here, do Martin guitars come with strap buttons at all?
Firstly, if you spent a ton of money on a new Martin, don’t panic. If anything else, I’d like to congratulate you on making one of the best purchases in your life. Secondly, bear in mind that this is perfectly normal.
Pretty much all (at least to my knowledge) Martin guitars come with only one strap button. It’s attached to the bottom of the body, or the very end, opposite to the neck.
But what’s the deal with this whole thing? Why did the designers from Martin decide on this? What are you supposed to do about it? Don’t worry, all the questions that you might have are easily answered. And, above all, you’ll be able to play your guitar standing up, which is the whole point here.
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Do Martin Guitars Come With Strap Buttons?
So you take a look at this super-pricy Martin guitar at a store, and you realize that there’s no strap button. Well, there’s one on the bottom of the body, while the other one’s missing. However, this is perfectly normal. And when you buy a Martin guitar, you are supposed to get an additional strap button with the guitar.
Of course, Martin isn’t the only brand that does this. A lot of companies do it this way, even within the cheaper categories. On the other hand, some brands don’t send this additional strap button, so you’ll have to look for one by yourself.
Why Do Martin Guitars Come Without a Strap Button?
What’s the deal here then? Why do they send it without a strap button installed? Well, the explanation is actually quite simple. The idea is to minimize all the potential risks of damage in transport. After all, these guitars are made meticulously, they’re expensive, and you don’t really want any structural damages. We know how rough transports can be, so there’s obviously a pretty good reason why they’ve decided to go about the issue this way.
How to Go Around This?
So instead of installing it, Martin just sends it with the guitar. But what are you supposed to do in this case? Should you just play your instrument sitting down. No, Martin doesn’t want to ruin your rockstar experience and stop you from standing up with a guitar.
There are two ways for you to go around this “buttonless” design:
- Easy mode: You can just purchase a one-pin guitar strap
- Hard mode: You can install the additional button to the guitar
Of course, both these solutions work for any brand that makes guitars without the other strap button. However, if you’re not confident about modifying your precious instrument on your own, a one-pin guitar strap will do. Sure, it will feel a bit different, but it’s easier to get used to.
Should I Install a Strap Button to My Guitar?
But if you really prefer to have two strap buttons on your instrument, then this would be the better option. Using a regular two-pin guitar strap, where both sides are attached to the body, might feel more comfortable. This is why lead players prefer to have such a
However, I’d advise you to find a professional luthier and consult them first. Even better, you’ll want them to do it, especially if you have no experience doing any adjustments. But on the other hand, it’s not impossible to do it yourself either. Just make sure that you’re extra careful and that you have the right tools for the job.
How to Install a Strap Button
NOTE: Again, I’d rather recommend that you find a professional luthier who has experience doing these things. It’s not an impossible task to do on your own, but if you don’t feel confident, skip this part.
When you’re installing this additional strap button, there are only two spots where you can place it. The first thing that you should know is that the pin shouldn’t go directly into the body, but rather the heel. For those who are not familiar, the heel is where the neck meets the body. It’s a thicker wooden part on the backside of acoustic guitars. So this is where you can make adjustments, not the instrument’s hollow body.
So there are two spots on the heel where you can drill:
- The treble side of the heel, the part that faces towards higher strings
- The backside of the heel, the one facing your body
The first option is probably the “safest” one since the strap would sit securely in it. Plus, you don’t have to be super precise about it, as there’s some variation to where exactly you can drill the spot.
The second option, or the heel’s backside, makes higher frets more accessible. This is why lead guitarists prefer to have it this way. Just make sure that the hole is drilled precisely and straight down the heel. Preferably, it should be right at the center of the heel’s backside and not go diagonally. Even a slight change in direction can result in a poorly drilled hole which can potentially damage your instrument.
Drilling the Hole
Next up, you’ll need a drill for the basic “pilot” hole. This hole should be just slightly narrower compared to the strap button’s screw. So choose an appropriate size of the drill bit. Preferably, you can test this using a random disposable piece of wood, if you have any lying around.
You’ll also want to think of the appropriate depth. For this, you can measure the screw and mark the exact length on the drill bit using duct tape. Leave the tip and the necessary length of the drill bit free and duct-tape the bottom part.
After determining the exact spot, cover that part of the heel’s surface with gaffer tape and mark it. Then drill the hole carefully and perpendicularly to the surface. Just make sure to do it steadily. If needed, take your time with it. It’s really important not to rush this step as you can potentially damage your instrument.
Installing the Strap Button
After this part is done, you can start installing the strap button. Put the screw through the button, put the tip of the screw through the felt, and slowly screw it all into the pilot hole. For this part of the process, you’ll want to use a screwdriver (Phillips-head) instead of an electric drill. A drill can potentially slip and damage the guitar, or just overtighten the screw.
And that’s basically it! If you do it properly, you’ve got yourself a Martin (or any other) acoustic guitar with two strap buttons!
What Makes Martin Guitars So Special?
So what’s the deal with Martin guitars? What makes them so expensive and popular? In fact, some may even think that Martin guitars are way more difficult to play compared to most of the other brands.
However, there’s a good reason why they’re popular. It’s way more than just some random hype. Here are some things that make Martin guitars so special:
- The use of quarter-sawn wood
- The use of hide glue
- Rosettes around the soundholes provide structural support
- They apply a thinner gloss finish on their instruments
- Most of the building process is still done by hand
Quarter-sawn wood is highly valued when it comes to guitars. Firstly, it keeps some of the highly valued sonic qualities. Secondly, it keeps better structural integrity. But in addition to this, quarter-sawn wood also looks much better, ultimately giving Martin guitars that prestigious look.
The topic of hide glue is just mildly controversial. However, most of the luthiers and other professionals have only good things to say about the choice of hide glue. Martin used other glue types over the years but eventually came back to it again. It creates a pretty strong bond and it even impacts the overall tone of the instrument.
One of the most interesting things about Martin guitars are rosettes around their soundholes. You might think of these rosettes as purely aesthetic features. However, they’re way more than that as they also provide important structural support of the instrument. This is a pretty interesting approach to their instruments’ design, which you don’t see with most brands.
Thinner Gloss Finish
If you’ve seen your favorite guitar heroes with Martin guitars, you may have noticed how these instruments look worn out. They’re not super-worn-out, but just slightly more compared to other brands. The main reason behind this is because Martin prefer to use much thinner gloss finishes on their instruments. The main philosophy behind this is that too much lacquer can make an acoustic guitar sound too dull.
And finally, most of the guitar-building process over at Martin is done manually. Of course, there are mechanized parts of the process, but the company still values instruments made by hand. Additionally, they’re well known for keeping their employers for longer periods compared to other companies. Ultimately, you have hand-made guitars that have been made by the same people. Ultimately, this results in improved quality and consistency.
So bear this in mind: don’t be too harsh if a Martin guitar doesn’t have a strap button. There are so many advantages to the company’s guitars, and you can always simply install the button that comes with the instrument.