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Fitting a strap button on a Martin

27 Dec 07 - 07:36 PM (#2223456)
Subject: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Murray MacLeod

the time has come to fit a strap button on my beloved Martin HD-28VS .

I am going to fit this myself (perfectly competent to do so, just canvassing opinions)

I cannot come to terms with drilling a hole in the side, adjacent to the heel (ie into the neck block) it just seems like sacrilege.

by the same token, I am extremely reluctant to drill a hole into the side of the heel, that seems like sacrilege as well.

so the only solution as far as I can see is to drill a hole into the base of the heel (ie the "triangular" bit covered with white Micarta ) and insert the screw there.

the only slight worry I have is that the Martin heel is quite delicate compared to the chunkier heels of some other makes, and I have a niggling worry that the strain of the pull of the guitar strap might cause problems. I don't think it will, but I would be interested to hear the opinions of others who have tackled the problem.

please, don't tell me to attach the strap to the headstock, that is not an option for a style victim like what I am ...


27 Dec 07 - 08:00 PM (#2223470)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: GUEST

Murray,
I sympathise with your problem and I have had to face this three times now with my beloved Martins, once with a Gibson and once with a Takamine.
The solution that worked for me each time is as follows:
(1) Lay the guitar down on some bubble wrap on a level surface whilst working on it, that avoids any scratches, drink a small Scotch. Ready?...
(2)Drill a very small hole about a quarter of an inch deep with a hand-held modelling drill in the inside part of the heel, that's the bit closest to your body when you are playing (neck block) where you want the button to be, masking it first with a little masking tape so the drill won't slip. Remove tape when it's done.Clean with alcohol to get the sticky stuff off.Don't ever use a power tool!!!
(3)Expand the existing drilled hole for about half it's depth with a slightly larger bore bit in the handheld drill, what we are looking for is to avoid any splitting when the retaining screw is fixed in.The hole should be slightly cone-shaped.
(4)Cut a leather washer to the same size as the strap button base, it'll need a small hole to take the screw, and then place:
   (a) the washer next to the heel stock
   (b)Then the strap button
   (c)Then the screw into position in the hole.
(5) Screw it into position very slowly and carefully. Not too much pressure at the end when the button presses against the washer - ok?
(6) Attach strap and grin, drink somewhat larger Scotch.
I really don't recommend fixing the button onto the Micarta area as it's permanently under pressure from the guitar case lid when your Martin is in the case ( think about it).
Hope I've been of assistance to you, this has always worked for me and I was shown by an expert.,
Happy New Year,
Roger Knowles


27 Dec 07 - 08:26 PM (#2223478)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: catspaw49

All good.....Here's the dope from Frets.Com


Spaw


27 Dec 07 - 09:02 PM (#2223492)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Murray MacLeod

good advice, from Roger and also from Frank Ford via Spaw.

one thing Roger, the strap button on the heel cap wouldn't actually be under pressure from the case lid, there is sufficient gap there to accommodate the button without any adverse consequences. This may or may not have been the case in the older Martin cases, I wouldn't know.

as Frank Ford points out, one drawback to doing it as I plan is that the guitar would have a tendency to pitch forward, and fitting the button to the side of the heel would counteract this.

decisions, decisions ...


27 Dec 07 - 09:06 PM (#2223493)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: michaelr

You want the button on the side of the neck heel that faces the floor when you're playing the guitar. It's not clear to me from Roger's post whether that's what he meant.

Cheers,
Michael


27 Dec 07 - 09:50 PM (#2223510)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Bugsy

I agree with michaler. I had a button on the base of the heel (ie the "triangular" bit covered with white Micarta )on a guitar once but found that the guitar tended to roll away from me all the time. With trial and error, I have found that the best place (for me) is on the underside of the heel about half way up.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.


Cheers


Bugsy


27 Dec 07 - 09:56 PM (#2223513)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Bugsy

oops! I should have read ALL the posts here before posting myself. It seems that I am just reinforcing the opinions expressed by others.

Sorry Murray


Bugsy


27 Dec 07 - 10:36 PM (#2223529)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Bee-dubya-ell

All my non-cutaway guitars have their strap buttons in the meaty part of the treble side of the heel. All my cutaway guitars have their strap buttons in their heelcaps. Why? Because a button on the treble side of the heel is in the way if you play way up the neck, and that's what cutaways are meant to allow you to do.

I've never had any problem with a guitar with a strap button in its heelcap wanting to pitch forward or roll away. First, it would have to find its way off the natural shelf provided by my no longer svelte abdomen before it could do any pitching or rolling.


28 Dec 07 - 12:55 AM (#2223556)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Richard Bridge

I have had no problems with fitting strap buttons onto the "triangular bit" on any of my guitars, none of the same value as an HD 28VS, but some probably rarer (thinking of the 3 Hagstrom J-45s and the matched pair, a 6 string and a 12-string Mugen).

I aim to put the hole slightly body-wards of the middle of the "triangle". I prefer not to use a compressible washer, but rather not to clamp the screw down, leaving it so that the strap button can rotate. In use the strap pulls the button away from the heel, "up" the screw so wear is not a problem.

I use three drill sizes. The pilot hole should be very very small - 1/16th inch is too big. It should be as deep as the tip of the screw is going to go. The next size up should be a fraction but only a fraction smaller than the root diameter of the screw, so that the thread of the screw will be biting into wood but there wil be virtually no splitting force. This should go not quite as deep as the tip of the screw, so that the depth that the drill goes in will be less than the length to which the pilot hole will go by twice the pitch of the screwthread. If there will be any shank (the unthreaded bit) of the screw going into the heel, then the third drill should be exactly the size of the of the shank, and you will want this size hole in the little micarta bit to stop it splitting.

I find it easier to work accurately and delicately with a very small power drill rather than a hand drill.


I don't like the strap button in the "Taylor" position. It gets in the way.


28 Dec 07 - 01:13 AM (#2223558)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: GUEST,Roger Knowles

Michaelr is right....I didn't make it too clear, facing the floor when you are playing,
Roger.


28 Dec 07 - 05:00 AM (#2223587)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: John MacKenzie

I did my D28 myself, and it was a toe curling moment, but it all went OK.
As has been recommended, I fitted it on the treble side of the heel, and slightly more than halfway down the heel from the fret board.
I can now play comfortably, albeit not any better.
Giok


28 Dec 07 - 11:53 AM (#2223729)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: bubblyrat

As per "Giok"------ I have done ditto on a Martin DM and a Martin MC 16 ( my current love !! ) with no problems. I used a hand -drill, of course !! ( and on an Avalon, a Simon & Patrick,two Yamahas and a Samick 12-string, although that was so cheap, it didn"t really matter ! ).   Roger ... ( another one ).


28 Dec 07 - 12:31 PM (#2223748)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: PoppaGator

"please, don't tell me to attach the strap to the headstock, that is not an option for a style victim like what I am ..."

I've always tied my strap to my headstock (just above the nut and under the strings). I didn't realize there was anything un-stylish about this, and always assumed it was the normal procedure with acoustic guitars, which don't come with an upper strap button built into their bodies. My assumption about those who wanted to add such a button was that they were players who started out playing electric instruments and therefore became accustomed to "feeling" the strap in a familiar position.

I know that I feel just slightly uncomfortable/disoriented when I borrow a guitar both ends of whose strap are attached to the soundbox. It's just a different feel, not what I'm used to. Stands to reason that a player similarly accustomed to the other arrangement would prefer their way just as strongly and just as irrationally.


28 Dec 07 - 01:00 PM (#2223776)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Backwoodsman

The only position recommended by Martin is on the treble side of the heel of the neck, equidistant between the top of the fingerboard and the heel-cap. Any other placement invalidates the warranty. They sent me a drawing and instructions.


28 Dec 07 - 04:33 PM (#2223936)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Tweed

I like to use a 3" sheet rock screw and a 18volt black & decker Murray. Saves a lotta time and worry.

However, I did learn that when you install new tuners, always use a hand reamer instead of a drill bit. I reamed out the holes on a 50 dollar Harmony electric with an electric drill and damned if, on the last one at the top, the bit caught and jammed and the goddammed headstock split. Undeterred, I made quick repairs using...a sheetrock screw installed laterally and all is well again.

Okay for a 50 dollar 1970 Harmony solid body but probably unsuitable for a Martin.


28 Dec 07 - 07:13 PM (#2224024)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Murray MacLeod

I like your style, Tweed.

there's not much that can't be fixed with a drywall screw and a bit of enthusiasm imo.

I have decided what to do with the Martin.

I am going to drill a 5mm hole in the heel cap (slightly bodywards as Richard Bridge suggested above) and tap out the hole to M6.

into the hole there will be screwed a (30mm -40 mm?) length of M6 stainless steel studding which has been drilled through the center and tapped out to M4, and this will be filed flush to the Micarta heel cap.

a M4 bolt will be threaded into the insert and this bolt will secure the strap button.

overkill perhaps, but it will look like a professional installation.

if there turn out to be problems with the guitar tipping forward then at least the installation can be concealed by removing the cap, grinding off the end of the insert and fitting a new cap.

then I can go the Martin recommended route.


28 Dec 07 - 11:16 PM (#2224110)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: GUEST,leeneia

'there's not much that can't be fixed with a drywall screw and a bit of enthusiasm'

So true. Duct tape works well, too, but it can mess up the patina.


29 Dec 07 - 04:15 AM (#2224152)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Richard Bridge

Ha Ha


29 Dec 07 - 05:51 AM (#2224191)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Big Al Whittle

I think its a bit cheeky of Martin not to put one on in the first place. they know exactly how you feel - i met Chris martin at guitar fair once when I had just bought a D35. He explained to me about there being plenty of 'meat' at the side, but added if I felt uncomfortable - to get someone else to do it. In the end I asked them to do it at the shop, where I'd got it.

i can't see the point in not having one.


29 Dec 07 - 06:43 AM (#2224196)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Backwoodsman

Al, if you check out similar threads on UMGF, you'll find that a lot of people, for various reasons, don't want a strap button on their Martin (they play sitting down/they like the strap attached to the head 'cowboy-style'/they feel it detracts from the guitar's monetary or aesthetic value/ etc., etc., ad nauseam.

I guess not putting one on is Martin's way of giving the player the freedom to choose.

Me? I always put one on, on the treble side of the heel (a la Taylor (spit)), most comfortable for me.


29 Dec 07 - 07:27 AM (#2224201)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Big Al Whittle

UMGF....? - John don't talk with your mouth full!

Best wishes for the new year!


29 Dec 07 - 10:15 AM (#2224288)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Backwoodsman

Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum

Good wishes to you and yours too, Al. :-)


29 Dec 07 - 07:21 PM (#2224629)
Subject: RE: Fitting a strap button on a Martin
From: Grab

I might as well publicise my solution to the problem, which is modding the strap instead of the guitar.

http://gunfire.sourceforge.net/about_guitar_strap.html

Works well for me, and seems to hold the guitar in place better than a regular strap to the headstock or a heel strap-button. YMMV.

Graham.