For any of us who have ever played guitar standing up for any length of time, such as in long rehearsals or live performances, we know all too well the exhausting and uncomfortable persistent feeling of a guitar strap digging into our shoulders hour after hour.
With each passing moment, you can literally feel the compression in your back and your feet pressing oh so heavily onto the hard floor. It can really start to weigh you down after a while.
When you’re responsible for “wearing” your instrument like guitar players are, your body will make certain that you know every ounce counts.
At first glance, some of the tips below may seem insignificant on their own, but here’s a case where all the little things really do add up.
There is also another great benefit of a lighter instrument. Let me explain.
When you play a heavy guitar, you notice it. Simple as that. The heavier the guitar, the more you’re aware of how heavy it is.
Remember that the point of playing guitar is to make music.
With each added “ounce” of attention you give to noticing the weight of your guitar, the less attention you have left to focus on the music that you’re making. If your guitar weighed 80 pounds, playing music on it would probably be the last thing you’d be worried about – you’d be screaming “Get this thing off of me!”
As your guitar becomes lighter and lighter, you notice it less and less, and it becomes more and more transparent to the music you’re trying to create, and the more you are able to express yourself.
Let’s check out some of the easier ways we can immediately lighten our load.
One great way to save some weight is by getting lighter tuners. I’ve searched high and low, and they are out there for sure.
If you don’t want to change your whole tuning machines, or don’t have the budget for it, a cheaper option would be to get plastic buttons (these are the tuning knobs you use to tune your guitar). Plastic buttons come in all shapes and colors and are a great way to get a custom look.
The best option would be to get both lighter tuners and plastic buttons.
Another great area to save a lot of weight is the bridge. Most electric guitar bridges are made of brass or steel, both of which are quite heavy. To save weight, consider an all-aluminum bridge, or at least a bridge with some aluminum parts.
You can also look for bridges that use less material than your current bridge, that is, bridges with thinner and/or smaller parts.
If you have ever taken metal knobs off of a guitar such as a Telecaster, you know that they can be surprisingly heavy! Especially if your guitar has more than one knob; additional knobs can really add up in weight fast.
Consider replacing metal knobs with plastic knobs. Also, you can replace large diameter or taller knobs with smaller diameter or shorter ones to shave a few more ounces. This also allows you to turn your knobs faster.
4. Lighter strap
Your strap may not be a part of your guitar necessarily, but you have to bear the weight of the strap too! Consider choosing a lighter, but still secure strap. There are tons of options available.
5. Wider strap
I know this may go against what I mentioned about getting a lighter strap, but getting a wider strap can actually make your guitar feel much lighter on your shoulder because it spreads the weight out over a larger area. Try it out at your local store. It works.
6. Strap buttons
An overlooked area for weight savings are strap buttons (the metal pieces you attach your strap to). If your guitar has metal buttons, consider replacing them with plastic versions.
Many players like to use strap-locks, and for good reason, but I’ve found something lighter. A great weight saving alternative that I have personally used for years is what I like to call “Grolsch locks.”
Simply buy a couple of Grolsh brand beers and save the red washer on the top of the bottle. You can stretch the washer to fit over your existing strap buttons to hold the strap in place. Works like a charm, and you get a couple of bottles of fun to keep you company while you do it.
7. Neck plate
Many people argue that the neck plate on bolt-on guitars contributes to better sound.
To put it quite frankly…. it doesn’t.
Even if it did, the added expression available from a lighter guitar far FAR outweighs the microscopic hair-splitting difference that a neck plate “adds.” In addition, the absence of a neck plate allows easier access to the upper frets.
That’s it for part 1 of this article. In part 2 we will take a look at some more involved methods of weight reduction.
Originally published in Tuned Up Tuned In.