The Miller Guitar Strap
For those of us who played guitar back in the 60′s, 70′, and 80′s (and perhaps earlier) you can certainly remember that acoustic guitars did not have strap pins on the body or neck heel like they do now. Back in the day, if you wanted to play your acoustic guitar standing up you had to secure the front end of the strap by tying it to the headstock just in front of the nut. It was effective, but not necessarily the most comfortable way to play.
When guitar manufacturers started adding pins to the neck heels and upper front bouts, life got much simpler; any guitar strap would suffice. However, there are still many old guitars around, and also many new luthiers purposely do not put pins in their guitar. For owners of those guitars, you had only two choices – play sitting down, or use one of those old, cludgy neck straps.
A Strap Revolution
Matthew Miller, a guitarist and leather worker from the Midwestern US, came up with a revolutionary design for a new guitar strap – dubbed the Miller Guitar Strap. Born from the need to (a) create a strap that didn’t require a neck heel pin and (b) create a strap that didn’t attach to the headstock, Miller invented a unique, cradle strap that holds the guitar in place almost like a papoose. By literally placing the guitar in the strap cradle, all of the weight of the guitar is taken off your neck. It allows you to move much more freely when playing. The Miller Guitar Strap also positions the guitar in such a way that creates a much more snug fit; you really feel as if the guitar and you are one, which every guitarist can certainly appreciate.
Each strap is made of high-quality leather. Each strap is adjustable thanks to a very safe and secure brass rivet fastening system. For those of you with guitars that have an endpin on the bottom bout of the guitar, the strap does have a hole for the pin to make it even more secure. The stitching is excellent, too, so there is no fear of the strap falling apart.
The straps come in two sizes (dreadnaught/large body and Martin 000/small body) and two colors (black or brown).
What About Cutaway Acoustics?
I spoke with Matthew about acoustic guitars with cutaway lower bouts. He admits that this strap is not reasonably suited for those guitars, but he has been researching those models and is considering adding another model to the product line that will address these guitar shapes. If you have a cutaway acoustic, this probably isn’t the strap for you. But, if you have a non-cutaway acoustic then I cannot recommend this strap enough. It will make you fall in love with playing acoustic guitar all over again!
For a Good Cause
According the website, a non-profit organization around the development of the strap is the ultimate goal of designer Matthew Miller. So, not only will you be getting a great strap, but you’ll also be contributing to the development of an organization that will help others.
Yes, There is Something New Under the Sun!
Published April 08, 2009 by:
David A. Reinstein, LCSW
Everyone who plays an acoustic guitar understands that there are, essentially, two postures it can be played in. Sitting down and standing up. Those who play standing, generally affix a guitar strap to it. There are two ways of mounting a standard guitar strap. The oldest known method (and that favored through the mid-late 1960′s) involved connecting one end of the strap to the end pin – the button on the bottom of the guitar and attaching the other end of the strap, by lacing of some kind, to the headstock (the end of the guitar where the tuning machines are.)
By the late 1960′s, a newer style of mounting the strap became popular. This involved installing a second ‘strap button’ near the base of the neck of the guitar. The strap’s journey was shortened and the strap was less obtrusive and made the neck somewhat more easily accessible. That style has remained the mainstream standard for strapping acoustic guitars ever since.
The Miller Guitar Strap successfully addresses and resolves a each of the core issues related to strapping acoustic guitars in this manner.
The problems have been threefold. 1)It requires drilling a hole then inserting a screw where a hole and screw was never really intended to be, 2) The guitarist’s neck became a kind of fulcrum causing the neck and body of the guitar to require almost continual adjustment to keep the angle of the neck, frets and strings as the player wanted them, and 3) The ideal guitar “3-point” positioning developed by classical guitarists, where the top of the upper bout rests against the heart of the player, was nearly impossible to achieve or sustain.
Innovation has struck again. This time in the form of the Miller Guitar Strap, developed by guitarist Matthew Miller over a period of years of experimenting and tweaking design. The Miller Guitar Strap addresses all three issues with a new strap design that requires no neck screw/button and literally cradles the guitar into a firm and reliable position – including the ideal “3 point” if that is what is desired.
The bottom button fits into a special hole, an adjustable strap goes over the right shoulder (for a right handed player) and the guitar is held, much as a baby in a body-contoured front-carrier. The strap easily slides
around and firmly holds the upper and lower bouts of the guitar. Adjusted properly, the resonance of the instrument can be felt against the heart and the body of the guitarist and the instrument itself become closer to being one.
The Miller Guitar Strap comes in two styles/sizes (OM and Dreadnought) and two colors (black and brown.) I first saw it mentioned in an Acoustic Guitar Magazine online forum and contacted Matthew Miller. He was not fully ready for internet retail yet.
Once he was, I was his first customer. I hope that many will follow me. For players of Jumbos (12-strings, big Gibsons, etc,) I have found that the Dreadnought size fits them perfectly adequately.
There is a feeling of firmness that regular straps lack – a sense of security and stability that this cradle design provides that is different from any other strap then or now.
Interviewed by phone, Matthew Miller told me that during the developmental phase of this strap, he sent it to America’s premiere acoustic guitar manufacturer, Martin Guitars of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, to examine. While Martin was not interested at the time in manufacturing or marketing the Miller Strap, they did concur with Matthew’s own findings that it neither damaged the surface of guitars nor did it have any discernible impact on an instruments sound. I expect that Martin Guitars will soon have reason to regret declining that initial opportunity.
With the slogan of “Don’t Screw Up Your Guitar,”( a double-entendred reference to having to place a screw in the bottom the neck) the Miller Guitar Strap provides something we acoustic players have not really had before. For a price roughly equivalent to that of any good quality leather strap, the Miller Guitar Strap is new, well conceived and a boon to players who spend at least some of their time standing.
The leather is a little stiff at first but after being used a dozen times, it becomes quite supple. Matthew Miller’s website provides ordering information as well as an instructive video in using the strap.
Really new (and good) ideas do not come along all that often. Without a doubt – the Miller Guitar Strap is one of them.