by Craig Anderton
Reviewing a guitar strap may seem ridiculous, but this isn’t your normal guitar strap—here’s why.
Have you ever had a strap slip off an end pin? I sure have. Fortunately, thanks to quick reflexes developed in my errant youth by playing excessive amounts of pinball, I was usually able to grab the guitar before it went crashing to the floor. Except twice: Once when it happened to a blonde Rickenbacker 360 12-string, which was heartbreaking, and once with a Peavey Milano. (Fortunately, it landed on its end pin and survived unscathed. Then again, this guitar has survived Delta Airlines’ baggage handlers on transcontinental trips, so it’s proven an inherent indestructibility.)
Since then, I’ve tried various arcane ways of holding straps to end pins—the kind of strap that’s screwed in between the end pin and guitar, custom straps, and the like. They all worked, but had some kind of limitation—usually that it was hard to remove the strap to use on a different guitar, or before slipping the guitar in its case.
Then I got turned on to the Planet Waves Planet Lock Guitar Strap. I don’t know who at the company thinks up these weirdly genius things, but it’s pretty cool.
Each end of the strap has an open and closed position. In the open position, a rotating disc exposes an opening (Fig. 1). The large hole fits over the end pin head, then you pull on the strap end so that the end pin’s bevelled section fits in the small hole.
Fig. 1: The strap end in the open position.
Rotating a clickwheel/thumbwheel rotates the disk around the end pin’s bevelled section (Fig. 2), gripping it firmly. The disc doesn’t have to rotate around it completely in order to be effective.
Fig. 2: The strap end in the closed position.
The clickwheel has ratchets to hold it in place. If you want to remove the strap end, you simply push a release button; this allows rotating the disc to the open position so you can slide the strap off the end pin.
There are several variations on the strap I reviewed, including multiple styles (Fig. 3).
Fig. 3: Different Planet Lock strap styles.
Although the strap works with most end pins, it doesn’t work with all of them. If you have incompatible end pins, Planet Waves will send you a set of guaranteed-to-work end pins (black, gold, or silver; see Fig. 4) if you send them a copy of your store receipt and $2.50 shipping/handling.
Fig. 4: Universal end pins for the Planet Lock strap.
These are also available for sale individually for $7.99 street if you have multiple guitars with incompatible end pins, and want to use the strap with them. However, these end pins weren’t designed specifically for the Planet Lock strap, so they’ll work with other straps as well.
For $20 there’s not much to complain about, except that the strap lacks heavy padding (and also, that it didn’t exist when I bought my Rickenbacker). However, the 2” width distributes weight evenly, and I haven’t found it tiring to wear for hours at a time. But more importantly, I don’t have to worry about the guitar turning into a runaway and crashing to the floor.
Craig Anderton is Editor Emeritus of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.