Review: Guitar Strap Shifter

Back in the ’80s, I bought a gimmicky, super-stretch guitar strap by a long-forgotten manufacturer.
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Back in the ’80s, I bought a gimmicky, super-stretch guitar strap by a long-forgotten manufacturer. I used it with my Les Paul, and I had all kinds of dumb fun pulling the guitar down to my knees and letting it snap back up to my waiting hands. And then, at one show, my Les Paul shot up and clocked me under the chin, knocking me silly and spraying the blood from a severely bitten lip all over my shirt, the stage, and a horrified bass player. I immediately retired elastic gear from my rig.

A much safer method to change the length of your strap—at least if you’re clumsy like me—is offered by the Guitar Strap Shifter ($45 direct). The handmade-in-the-USA device can be easily affixed to any 2" nylon strap, and with a snap of its handle, you can adjust your guitar’s position from, say, punk-rock low to jazz-player high. The Guitar Strap Shifter absolutely does what it’s supposed to, but how easily it does it depends on your style and stage wear. First, I recommend using the Shifter with some type of strap-lock system, as your guitar is being briskly raised and lowered, and a cheap strap with a less-than-tenacious hold on your instrument may send it floor bound.

Then, there’s the operation of reaching behind you to operate the Strap Shifter, and whether you’re nimble enough to get your guitar in the preferred position quickly in order to perform a desired musical passage. I was never consistently as fast as the chap who demonstrated the product in the company’s YouTube video, but I could usually make the transition between my band’s solo and rhythm sections and back without much of a hiccup. However, the operation went super smoothly only if I was wearing a t-shirt (like the guitarist in the demo). For the shows with my punked-up Monkees tribute band, I wear an unbuttoned ’60s-style jacket over a mod dress shirt, and the jacket tended to get in the way of my swiftly hitting the Strap Shifter’s handle. In some cases, the Strap Shifter got hung up in the folds of the jacket, making for either a bit of nervous fumbling or a quick decision to play with the strap as it was. It appears that t-shirts or smooth and completely buttoned dress shirts are the best fashion choices if you plan to make the Strap Shifter a part of your act.

Construction-wise, the hard-plastic Strap Shifter is well made, road tough, and the latches and swing joints are near bulletproof. I’m willing to assume you’ll get years of wear and tear out of the device with no problems. I dropped the Strap Shifter onto the street outside of a rehearsal space and tossed it across a tile floor with no ill effects.

The Strap Shifter definitely makes for a decent element of a stage show, as the audience watches you snap your strap up and down. At $45, it’s a fairly expensive accessory, due to its custom parts—especially factoring in the added cost of a strap and perhaps strap locks. As such, the Guitar Strap Shifter may be an acquired taste for some, but if you buy into the concept, it certainly delivers on its promise.

Kudos Extremely rugged and durable.

Concerns Pricey. Seamless operation compromised by frilly shirts, jackets, and most anything besides a t-shirt.