This is a little unorthodox, as I know you’re raring to get into some serious discussion about the best guitar strap locks, but I’d like to tell you a story first. When I was 14, I bought myself my first nice guitar – an ebony and gold Aria PE. I’d been saving money from birthdays and odd jobs for what felt like an eternity to get something that felt and sounded great, having spent the previous four or five years playing a beaten-up classical and then a no-name Strat knock-off.
When I got my new guitar home, I spent the whole night playing it, standing in front of the mirror with it and walking around the house with it hanging off my bare chest – all the time feeling like the coolest mofo around.
It was during one of these little trots that disaster struck. My strap came undone at the button on the butt, and my most prized possession suddenly and dramatically came crashing down onto a tiled floor. The sound reverberated through the house in the most sickening fashion.
Though I was quick to salvage it, my beautiful PE was marked for life – a huge, garish chunk taken out near its input, and about half a dozen light scratches all over the body. Not only that, it never sounded the same again. I know people might call that out as BS and probably just in my head, but as far as I could tell it just didn’t; I was gutted.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that I was an idiot – I didn’t have strap locks. I actually didn’t even know that strap locks existed at this point. You, on the other hand, are obviously smarter than I was and want to invest in some good strap locks. Smart move. They’re important – and you don’t want to learn how important first-hand. Trust me on this.
Best guitar strap locks: Our top picks
If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to spend hours sizing up your options, then just go and grab yourself some Schaller S-Locks (opens in new tab) for your guitar strap. They’re a little predictable but, for our money, they’re probably the best all-round strap locks out there. Since Schaller updated the design in 2018, there’s no more going back to retighten nuts, and you get a lot more extra purchase on the threads, meaning you can use them with much thicker straps (up to 6mm). They come in a wide range of finishes, too, so you should find some to match your hardware.
If you want something less obvious – both literally and figuratively speaking – the Loxx Strap Lock Set (opens in new tab) for Electric Guitar & Bass is one of the best low-profile options going. Discreet, tidy and efficient, these locks accomplish what a lot of other strap locks fail to do, and they’re also among the easiest steel locks to install.
Best guitar strap locks: Product guide
Schaller is perhaps the most famous and well-used strap lock manufacturer out there. Alongside Jim Dunlop, the German company is one of the earliest innovators in this field, having first developed its product in 1981. Fast forward to 2018, and it took on user feedback to launch an improved S-Locks design and hold on to its industry-standard status.
Working on a pull-pin-style system, the S-Locks are easy to take off when need be, but sit firmly enough that you don’t have to worry about any accidents. Their extra-long threads make them more suitable for thicker straps than any other product on this list. And these guys are also pretty easy to install, with the button and screw coming as a set piece that you can just screw into place with an allen key.
These strap locks also come in a choice of eight colors, so it’s unlikely you’ll struggle to find something you fancy.
Schaller and Jim Dunlop could justifiably describe themselves as the ‘big two’ of the strap lock world at the moment – however, if this set is anything to go by, German firm Loxx could soon be joining them.
Based on mechanisms designed for the auto industry, the Loxx Strap Lock Set for Electric Guitar & Bass comprises low-profile pull-pin systems that are neatly cased in smart little buttons. They’re easy off and on, but unlikely to pop off.
One of the best things about the set is the provided fixing tool, which is basically a cross between a spanner and a two-prong case wrench. Look after it, though, as it’s proprietary, meaning you’ll need it to make any adjustments.
Like the Schaller S-Locks, the Jim Dunlop StrapLok Strap Retainers Dual Design (SLS1031N) have carved out a longstanding reputation for quality and reliability.
However, whereas Schaller’s locks work on a pull-pin-style system, these have a button-style release, which means they’re a little harder to get on and off but less prone to accidental releases. One thing to note about button-style locks is that they sit a fair way off the guitar, meaning it won’t fit so well inside a snug hard case with the strap on.
Overall, though, Jim Dunlop’s strap locks are a superb offering and a great alternative to the Schaller S-Locks, especially given their more affordable price point.
While D’Addario can hardly be thought of as a newcomer to this scene, its PW-SLS-02 Universal Strap Locks are one of the more recent additions to the market. Launched in 2018, they’ve taken off in a pretty big way, becoming a fierce competitor to Schaller and Jim Dunlop’s offerings.
For good reason, too. Working on a pull-pin-style system, D’Addario’s locks are functional and boast a short profile that sits very neatly alongside your guitar body – something D’Addario was conscious of when designing them.
One key feature of D’Addario’s locks is that their pull pin is mounted on a big button. This can be both a good and a bad thing. On the positive side, the larger surface area is easy to grip – handy for when you need to mount and dismount the locks. On the negative side, there’s more chance that the locks could get snagged on something. This is worst-case scenario stuff, though, and the PW-SLS-02 Universal Strap Locks are generally an efficient and effective solution.
One of the main differences between strap lock systems is the way in which you lock them, and, while everybody will have a preference for a certain style, it’s hard to look past the Fender Infinity Strap Locks for sheer functionality.
Thanks to their smooth, ball-bearing-style system with pinch-button release, they’re incredibly easy to take off, but almost impossible to do so accidentally.
One thing to consider is that, even though they look very compact, these strap locks actually stick out a fair way, so you might need to take your strap off if you’re packing the guitar away. They do look cool, though, and would really enhance the look of your Fender.
While most of the strap locks in this guide are pretty simple to install, none can match the D’Addario Dual-Lock Strap Locks for ease of use. With their slide-on/slide-off, clip-style mechanism, they’re the perfect choice for people who don’t want to faff about changing buttons and threading bolts through their straps.
Of course, these being plastic clips that slide over the top of your strap, you shouldn’t expect them to be as sturdy or reliable as, say, Shaller or Ernie Ball locks – but, unless you’re turning in The Dillinger Escape Plan-style performances, they should do the job alright.
While peace of mind is worth paying for when we’re talking about valued possessions, these strap locks are significantly more affordable than just about everything else out there – and can even secure your guitar cable at the same time – so are well worth a look if you don’t want to spend a lot.
Very comparable to the Fender Infinity Strap Locks, Ernie Ball’s Super Locks are a great option for those guitarists who like a pinch-button release.
As you’d expect from some of the most expensive strap locks on the market, the build quality here is exceptional. If only we could say the same thing about their looks.
Ultimately, that’s a matter of personal taste, though, and going on quality alone, the Ernie Ball Super Locks are a seriously safe choice that you can put your trust in.
If you like the look of the Schaller S-Locks but want a more affordable alternative, then you’re in luck. Stagg’s SSL1 BK strap locks are basically like a budget version of the S-Locks and, at around $14/£10 a pair, are probably the most attractively priced steel locks on the market.
While they’re a solid offering and will do pretty much everything you need them to do, the lower price point does come with a couple of trade-offs. Firstly, these strap locks have a much shorter thread, so aren’t suitable for thick straps. They also use a nut-and-washer system to secure them to the strap, so you’ll have to keep an eye on them and tighten them from time to time.
However, given that you could buy almost three sets of these for the price of one set of other-brand steel locks, the Stagg SSL1 BKs are certainly ones to consider.
If you’re planning on taking your guitar strap on and off a lot, and you aren’t an acrobatic performer, then you might want to consider Fender’s Strap Blocks. With their rubber build, they’re unassuming to look at, but they’re actually pretty effective.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect the same level of quality that you’ll get with other items further up this list, but these guys are a great no-fuss, tried-and-tested option. Simply sliding over the top of your strap and button, they can be attached to your guitar in a minute. As they’re made of stiff rubber, it does take a little bit of effort to get them on, but that’s kind of reassuring.
Ultimately, if you want something simple, easy to fit and ultra-affordable, then Fender’s Strap Blocks are a perfect choice.
Best guitar strap locks: Buying advice
How do guitar strap locks work?
As you’ve probably guessed by now, guitar strap locks are designed to attach a guitar strap to a guitar in a more secure fashion than standard strap buttons.
How they work depends on the type you go for. Most will be fixed through your strap like the classic Schaller S-Locks or the Jim Dunlop StrapLok Strap Retainers Dual Design, and will require you to change out your existing buttons with the locking system’s buttons. But there are easy-fix options, such as the Fender Strap Blocks and the D'Addario Dual-Lock Strap Locks, which go over the top of your strap and button so that you can keep everything as is.
Things to consider when buying the best strap locks
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The main things to consider when buying strap locks are how secure you’ll need them to be – will you be thrashing around a lot or sitting down most of the time? – and how much work you want to do when attaching them. Depending on your current setup, you may need to re-drill the screw holes to fit the new buttons. With most types of strap lock, though, it should be as simple as removing your current buttons and replacing them with the strap-lock-compatible ones. Just double-check the gauge of the screws against each other before conducting any work, to ensure that you don't end up damaging your guitar by trying to force thicker or longer screws into place.
Other things to consider are the profile of the systems and the type of release you want. Some systems end up being quite long after you’ve put all the parts together. If you want something more compact, then the D'Addario PW-SLS-02 Universal Strap Locks and the Loxx Strap Lock Set for Electric Guitar & Bass are probably your best bets.
The last thing to think about is the strap locks’ appearance. Most types come in a range of different finishes and colors, so you should be able to find something that complements your hardware.
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