How low you should strap your bass is a question that has as many answers as there are bassists.
Some prefer to strap their bass so high that they look like they are in the Beatles. Others prefer to strap it so low that they can barely reach their G string.
With all the different styles out there, it can thus be hard to tell how high your bass should be. Therefore, I decided to write this article to tell you everything you need to know about strap height.
You will learn how to find the perfect strap height, and why some bassists choose to strap their basses so low. I will also show you why the angle of the bass matters, and how your strap width can impact your playing.
How high should your bass be?
A medium height to strap a bass guitar is against the abdomen, with the strings aligned to your navel. As a general rule, it is preferable to strap a bass so that it can rest the same way against your body both when standing and sitting. Bassists opt for vastly different strap heights due to physiology and aesthetic preferences.
As long as you’re not hurting, and you find the bass comfortable to play, your bass is at the right height.
Personally, I strap my bass relatively high, with the edge of my bass` body at the same height as my belly button. Few bassists I know prefer to wear their instrument this high, but I start finding it uncomfortable to play if I go much lower.
I recommend starting with your bass at a medium height. Then, adjust it from there if you find it uncomfortable to play. If you find this difficult to do on your own, a tutor can help you in finding a height and angle that is well suited for your style.
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Some bassists also like the look of holding their basses excessively high or excessively low. If you value how you look when playing, there is nothing wrong with doing so.
However, I would not recommend anyone to conform to a trendy strap height within a genre because of outside pressure. As long as it doesn’t come at the cost of hurting when you`re playing, you should strap your bass at a height that you yourself prefer.
At what angle should you wear your bass?
A bass guitar should be worn at an angle that’s comfortable and allows your fretting hand to feel unencumbered. This angle should feel comfortable both when standing and sitting. As a general rule, a 45-degree angle is a great starting point and can be adjusted slightly to accommodate your physiology.
Some claim that the best angle to wear your bass is at a 45-degree angle. I do not agree that this should be an absolute rule. However, I do believe most bass players will find their optimal angle to be close to it.
Personally, my bass is always angled at a 35 – 40 degree angle when I`m playing. If I go much higher my arms quickly start to feel strained. I also find it awkward to position my fretting hand properly.
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You might find that the same goes for you, or that anything below a 50-degree angle just feels wrong. Therefore, you should experiment with different angles. Take your time, give the angle a fair shot, and find out what works best for you.
It is also a good idea to get a wide strap for your bass if you don`t have one. This ensures that the weight of the bass is more evenly spread out across your shoulder and decreases the chance of developing back pains. It also makes playing less cumbersome and will allow you to play for longer periods of time.
I recommend this 3.7-inch (9.4 cm) strap from Asmuse. This is because it is wider than most straps, without being excessively large. Its full length can also be adjusted from 43 to 53 inches (109 to 135 cm). This gives you enough wiggle room to hang your bass either high or low.
Why do bassists hold their bass so low?
In general, bassists who strap their basses low do so because of improved playability or for aesthetic reasons. Some bassists experience that strapping the instrument lower allows for more flexible playing. Holding the bass low is also a widespread aesthetic choice in genres like metal and punk.
Like with any strap height, some bassists find their instrument easier to play when they hold it low. A low-hanging bass can allow for a more relaxed and free plucking hand. It can also make it feel like your fretting hand has better reach across the frets and like you are overall more in control of your instrument.
I find that hanging my bass low gives my fretting hand better reach, though playing for longer periods of time feels more cumbersome. I also feel like I have significantly less control over my plucking hand.
Furthermore, some bassists prefer having their bass low simply because it looks cool. Iconic punk bassists like DeeDee Ramone (The Ramones) and Karl Alvarez (Descendants) had their basses strapped low. Thus, a low bass has been an iconic look within the punk genre for decades.
Similarly, in the metal genre bassists like Steve Harris of Iron Maiden and Robert Trujillo of Metallica both strap their basses low. As a result, some bassists who are inspired by their playing adopt the strap height as well.
So, how low should your bass strap be? By the end of the day, it is a matter of comfort and preference. It`s best to start with your bass strapped against your abdomen, at a 45-degree angle.
Most bassists will find the bass most comfortable to play somewhere in this ballpark. However, if this does not apply to you, there is nothing wrong with deviating from this position as much you want.
Strapping your bass high or low to achieve a certain type of look is fine. However, I advise switching to a different height if you start finding the bass painful to play. You should also switch if the strap height is impacting your technique negatively.
Strap width will impact how comfortable your bass feels to play, especially for longer sessions. It is best to get a strap that is above 3 inches (7.6 cm) and avoid straps that are 2 inches (5 cm) or thinner.
If you are struggling to find a comfortable strap height, the problem might not lie in your strap height but the size of your bass. If you can`t find the perfect height, consider trying a short-scale bass instead. These are smaller basses that can be a better fit if your height or hands are on the smaller side. You can learn more about short-scale basses here.