Hot Rod Bassoon Strap

When­ev­er pos­si­ble, I prefer stand­ing up to play. I do this for solo works, small cham­ber pieces, and I’ve even helped con­vinced a wood­wind quin­tet to stand to per­form. Stand­ing gives me more free­dom of move­ment, which I feel allows for more musi­cal free­dom, as well. This free­dom of move­ment also makes it eas­ier to com­mu­ni­cate with my fel­low per­form­ers, whether through eye con­tact or phys­i­cal ges­ture. Of course, he bas­soon also tends to project bet­ter when played stand­ing up, and a stand­ing play­er is gen­er­al­ly just more inter­est­ing for the audi­ence to watch.

To facil­i­tate stand­ing it’s impor­tant to find a strap that’s com­fort­able, along with any acces­sories that make stand­ing eas­ier (I use a bal­ance hang­er and a right-hand crutch). There are many options for straps out there, but they most­ly fall into three cat­e­gories: neck straps, har­ness­es, and slings. I’ve tried all three. I find that neck straps put too much weight on the neck and don’t put the bas­soon in a good play­ing posi­tion. Double-shoulder har­ness­es dis­trib­ute weight bet­ter, but are hard­er to get in and out of and can be visu­al­ly dis­tract­ing. I have, since some time in my under­grad­u­ate years, used a single-shoulder sling.

My usu­al sling is a black one made by BG that has a thick shoul­der pad. I wear it over my right shoul­der, which is the oppo­site of what many peo­ple do. The sling does put pres­sure and weight on my right shoul­der but I feel that it’s much more even­ly dis­trib­ut­ed than with a neck strap. The sling also allows my bas­soon to hang in a com­fort­able play­ing posi­tion.

When I played Dead Elvis last mon­th, I didn’t want to wear my black sling over my white Elvis jump­suit. Luck­i­ly, I had a white BG dou­ble shoul­der har­ness that I won as a door prize from Mid­west Musi­cal Imports at a dou­ble reed event a few years ago. I dis­as­sem­bled the har­ness into two pieces, one of which was basi­cal­ly a sling with­out a strap pad. It worked very well, and that got me think­ing about mak­ing anoth­er strap from scratch.

Strap Parts

Poly­ester web­bing, para­cord, mod­i­fied s-hook, reduc­ing rings, and strap adjuster.

Rather than just go for anoth­er solid col­or, I found some inch-and-a-half wide poly­ester web­bing embla­zoned with hot rod flames. Along with the web­bing, I ordered a whole array of slides, adjusters, rings, and oth­er strap hard­ware. I went through quite a few iter­a­tions before set­tling on a final design. My final strap uses the items at right — it’s a fair­ly sim­ple con­struc­tion.

The actu­al method of attach­ment to the bas­soon proved to be the most dif­fi­cult aspect. My BG sling uses a small rubber-coated s-hook, closed at one end, with a 90° twist in the mid­dle. I searched all over, online and off, but couldn’t find any hooks the prop­er size and shape. In fact, I couldn’t find any hooks with a 90° twist at all. I tried a num­ber of alter­na­tives, includ­ing var­i­ous clips, snaps, quick links, rings, and swivels, but none were suf­fi­cient for my pur­pos­es. I end­ed up tak­ing a stan­dard closed s-hook, bend­ing it to my required shape, then coat­ing it in Plasti-Dip.

S-Hooks

L to R: Unmod­i­fied S-hook, hook with 90° twist, twist­ed hook with rub­ber coat­ing

The fin­ished hook is sim­ply thread­ed onto a triple strand of para­cord, which I used to tie the two ends of the strap togeth­er. The strap itself con­sists of a lit­tle less than four feet of web­bing, one strap adjuster, and two webbing-to-cord reduc­ing rings. I decid­ed to for­go a strap pad, and am hop­ing that the wider web­bing will suf­fi­cient­ly dis­trib­ute the weight. The hard­ware (oth­er than the hook) is met­al and powder-coated in black, which looks pret­ty slick. I don’t own a sewing machine, so I had my neigh­bor­hood shoe/luggage repair per­son sew the strap togeth­er. My total costs for the fin­ished strap were about $12 or $13 in parts and sewing. Of course, I spent quite a bit of time on it. But now that I’ve set­tled on a design, the next one (should there be a next one) will go sig­nif­i­cant­ly faster.

And the final pro­duct:

Strap with Bassoon

  • Laura

    December 2nd, 2011

    Reply

    Awe­some!!! I want one!! may­be in pink.… .when will you start sell­ing them? 🙂

    • David A. Wells

      December 2nd, 2011

      Reply

      I can do pink! Let me put mine through its paces a lit­tle longer to be sure the design is sound. Then, I can start think­ing about mak­ing more of them. Check back with me in a week or two?

  • Scott

    December 2nd, 2011

    Reply

    If you’re going to start mak­ing more of the­se to sell, I’d like to put up a link to your page on my site!

    • David A. Wells

      December 2nd, 2011

      Reply

      I’m plan­ning to! One more week in the semester(s), then I’ll start strate­giz­ing about how I want to do this. I’ll keep you post­ed. Also, as I flesh out my site, I’ll even­tu­al­ly have a place for links and I’ll add you!

  • Scott

    December 2nd, 2011

    Reply

    Great! Do keep me post­ed. And if you hap­pen to know any­one in need of oboe or bas­soon reeds, feel free to send them my way!

  • Strapworks.com

    February 29th, 2012

    Reply

    Hey! I know that web­bing! Thanks for post­ing your mate­ri­als online, David. Let us know if you need any­thing.

    • David A. Wells

      February 29th, 2012

      Reply

      Just the 1.5″ webbing-to-cordage reduc­ing rings that have been back ordered for months 😉

  • Relja Kalapis

    July 31st, 2014

    Reply

    Dear David,

    Can you make the white one shoul­der strap?
    And what is the price?

    Regards,
    Rel­ja Kalapis

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