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Thread: Mandolin Strap button installation

  1. #1

    Default Mandolin Strap button installation

    I had my strap fitted at the headstock but did not like it. It felt unbalanced to me compared to my guitars. I decided to fit a strap button on the neck heel as I have on my guitars. I bought a nice wooden button from Stew-Mac (see photos).

    Here are few comments on the installation. Hopefully info will be useful to others who want to install a strap button.

    Checklist:

    1. I used hand drill for the pilot hole for the wood screw. Refer to Breedlove and Artisan diagrams for screw hole location. It needs to be 1/2inch from the body.

    2. I used a half oval M3.5 x 25 mm screw. I used a spare Schaller screw (black screw) from a strap lock. The screw that is supplied with your button is likely to be too long. The Stew Mac screw was #6 x 1 inch, which is equivalent to M3.5 x 30mm.

    3. Measure depth of hole carefully. Put tape marker on drill if you need to.

    4. Use a felt washer.

    5. Put a tiny amount of candle wax on screw to help it screw in. Go slowly.

    I ran into 1 problem where the varnish next to hole started to lift from the wood. I applied a few drops of super glue to halt the spread. Hopefully this has fixed this issue.

    The installation is easy to do. Just go slowly and take your time.

    I am happy with the end result. The mandolin is much more playable for me.
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  3. #2

    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    more photos (hopefully!)Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #3
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    Stew mac has a thread cutting wood screw, essentially a cut the length of the threads , like a Tap.
    a Dremel tool could make one from a wood screw,
    so it cuts the threads in a pilot drilled hole ,
    rather than just forcing the wood to yield, which may be adequate in softwood carpentry ,
    but not a fine musical instrument..


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  5. #4

    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    mandroid: do you have link to this part ? Can't find it on Stew-Mac site

  6. #5
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    You could contact the company on the Phone and ask if they have one , they may.
    They may have discontinued offering them, online, with numbers too small to ensure all orders are fulfilled..
    but still have a few..


    They say No .. .. so then you go DIY.. (You know what a thread cutting tap for metal looks like?)

    You modify a wood screw just like the one for the button..
    Consider starting out with a Torx head wood screw.. best grip compared with a cross/Phillips type head ..

    Add a piece of tubing over the screw/thread cutter..
    it will be just long enough to stop the screw from going in too far..??

    they added a brass hex, to the shaft, as I recall . to turn with a wrench,

    Perhaps a Torx bit in a screwdriver handle, they offer 1/4" drive sockets with a magnet to retain the bit. [Snap On]

    (though when the porch deck was rebuilt on my house, the Torx screw bit was in a power tool)






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  7. #6
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    If you ever come to sell or trade in your mandolin,you'd better hope that folks like 'holes' drilled into it. I'm not being 'antsy' here,i did it myself on a once owned "A" style mandolin, & after thinking about it - had that very thought - to other folks,holes = damage !.

    The previous owner of my Ellis "A" style did exactly what you've done.The button was a huge Bass guitar strap button,the size of a dinner plate & was seriously in my way. I removed it,only to find that the felt washer had left a rough patch around the hole. I filled in the hole with hard,black wax but the rough area is still there.

    These days the 'strap under' method seems to be the more acceptable way of 'hanging' an "A" style - but,that's down to ''individual preference'',
    Ivan
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    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    My mandolin does not have an overhanging fretboard so the 'strap under' method was not an option.

    The strap button makes the mandolin much more balanced and playable.

  9. #8
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    [QUOTE=TontoZed;1610611]I ran into 1 problem where the varnish next to hole started to lift from the wood. I applied a few drops of super glue to halt the spread. Hopefully this has fixed this issue.
    [\QUOTE]

    I always chamfer the upper edge of holes with 45 degree reamer or file so the outside diameter of the hole is as large as the thread diameter, otherwise the threads cuttin into the wood WILL always push up some splinters or finish chips. I even do this for tuner screw holes that will be invisible forever.
    Adrian

  10. #9

    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    HoGo: that is a good tip.

    If/when I do a button installation again (guitar, mandolin etc ) I would lightly countersink the pilot hole using a hand counter sink and seal the surround varnish-wood contact point with a few drops of super glue. I would then slowly and carefully screw on the button.

  11. #10
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    From TontoZed - " My mandolin does not have an overhanging fretboard...". Point noted - it's not obvious from your first pics.

    When you've fitted the strap to the button,place the mandolin on a flat surface on it's side - strap button facing down,& lift it up. I'd be surprised if it doesn't fall forward as the strap on the underside tries to pull backwards underneath the neck = it's not balanced. I put my strap button in the heel of the mandolin - that way, the end pin & strap button were virtually in line, & the mandolin lifted straight up without falling forward. It also gets the pin out of the way if you ever play up the neck that far as i do,
    IvanClick image for larger version. 

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    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    I don't like strap buttons on the neck of a mandolin, I prefer to tie to the headstock. I tie after the tuner to keep the strap far away from my hand. Since I play an A style it balances quite well and is not heavy enough to worry about and is never in the way. I don't like the strap button position that Ivan used as I worry when the mandolin is in the case there may a possibility of the mandolin resting on the button. Don't like much do I
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  13. #12
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    You can actually still use the the strap around the body without an elevated fretboard. You just have to be careful with that. I did it on my Flatiron. With that said it's your mandolin, make it comfortable for you. If anyone is going to do this I'd suggest using the smaller Gibson style strap buttons from AllParts, they look a bit more vintage. I usually go for a slot head screw as well.

    https://www.allparts.com/AP-6695-001...ons_p_490.html

    https://www.allparts.com/AP-6695-002...ons_p_491.html

    You don't really need a screw this long, go to your local well stocked hardware store and find a slot head stainless or brass screw.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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  15. #13
    Registered User Rich Benson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    After going through this debate with myself for 1 year I just had a strap button installed on my Pava Pro at Tom Ellis' shop on a recent trip to Austin. I'm so much happier with how the instrument feels now, I hated having a strap near the peghead. It looks great, functions perfectly, and I'm never selling it anyway!!
    Rich

  16. #14
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    If you ever come to sell or trade in your mandolin,you'd better hope that folks like 'holes' drilled into it.
    Certainly not an issue for me, and I've never had anyone balk at a strap pin when selling a mandolin, either. I always use a strap pin -- even on (gasp) my F-style instruments -- and it works so much better than any other strap-hanging method I've tried.
    Just one guy's opinion
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  17. #15

    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    From rdodger99: “After going through this debate with myself for 1 year….”

    It took me 7 months to get around to doing this small mod. It is always a bit scary doing work on an instrument. Now that it is done and my mandolin is so much more comfortable to play, I am thinking to myself why did I wait so long ?!

  18. #16
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    The only thing that matters is how the mandolin feels to the person who owns and plays it.

  19. #17

    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    The only problem I have with a strap button on the neck heal is a cheapo chrome button you get for five bucks. I had Gryphon put one on from their collection of tooled exotic woods and pearl. Wasn't cheap but I'm not annoyed every time I pop the case either.
    Silverangel A
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  20. #18
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kotapish View Post
    I always use a strap pin -- even on (gasp) my F-style instruments -- and it works so much better than any other strap-hanging method I've tried.
    Same with this guy.

    R.I.P., his bluesy self
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  21. #19
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    I just ran across this thread while searching the internet for mandolin sized strap button screws. The Stew Mac screws are 1" long, which is too long IMO. Maybe it's me, but I can't figure out how 1" = 30mm as indicated by the OP.

    Any ideas on where to get shorter replacement screws for the SM buttons?
    Tom

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  22. #20
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    Simply cut the screw shorter. If you have a belt sander, or a file, it's easy to put a new point on it.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  24. #21
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Strap button installation

    Older buttons had a stud in the button, No head on the button to be seen..

    I assume, now, the wood screw is used as manufactured & perhaps plated for golden finish..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
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