How do you wear a guitar on your back? To wear the guitar on your back, wear it as if you’re going to play it; get the strap around your shoulder, with the guitar in front of you, and gently push the guitar’s body down and around your waist until it’s positioned upside down on your back.
Whether you are traveling with your guitar to another destination, attending a jam session, or going to a gig, you cannot escape its weight on your hands—or your back.
And while carrying the instrument on your back may not seem like a big deal, you might often find it dragging, especially after an extended period of jamming or playing in a gig.
Another thing that can worry any guitarist when having their guitars on their backs as they move around is their precious stringed companion sustaining scratches, dents, and other forms of damage.
How do you wear the guitar on your back without breaking it, and how to ensure your guitar strap won’t come off? Keep reading!
Should You, or Shouldn’t You?
Carrying the guitar on your back sure has its drawbacks, and many guitarists can attest to this.
If you can help it, have the guitar transported in a vehicle, as it is the safest way to bring it from point A to B without much risk. But if you’re going on foot, then read on for useful tips.
Wearing the guitar behind you can be heavy and hard on your back, especially if it’s enclosed in a hard case. The hard case, in most instances, can weigh even more than the instrument itself.
When you have to carry the guitar, it is best to enclose it in a gig bag or hard case as they offer protection against damages. The tough guitar case provides the best protection against physical (scratch, dent, puncture, breakage) and environmental (heat, humidity, moisture) damages. Meanwhile, the gig bag can also provide some degree of protection with its paddings.
The beauty about guitar case and gig bag is that you can easily slip it on your back and wear it just like a backpack, or carry it easily like a regular case. Plus, you won’t have to worry much about the instrument bumping against objects or people in crowded, busy, and small spaces while you lug it around. The guitar is safely nestled in its padded enclosure as you walk or catch public transport.
Now, what if you’re on your way to a gig, and you don’t want to arrive at the venue with your hands and arms already tired from carrying the guitar?
Well, if you must, you can also carry your guitar on your back without the extra weight of the hard case or gig bag. Especially when you are traveling on foot and in short distances, you can wear the guitar minus any covering.
But remember to factor in instances such as sudden downpour, for example. If you’re not so sure about the weather, it might be best to put it in a case or gig bag.
Wearing the Guitar on Your Back
You might think that wearing a guitar on your back is as simple as wearing the strap around your shoulder and slinging the instrument behind you. Although that is pretty much the essence of it, there are things to keep in mind to ensure that you will not expose the instrument to damages. Nothing complicated; just a few pointers.
The easiest way to wear the guitar on your back is to first wear it as if you’re going to play it. Stand up and get the strap around your shoulder with the guitar in front of you. Then, gently push the guitar’s body down and around your waist until it’s behind you and on your back. You are kind of swiveling the instrument from your front to your back, with the guitar’s body turned upside down (neck pointing downward).
One important thing to keep in mind when wearing the guitar on your back is to make sure that it will stay in place. You have to secure your guitar so it won’t accidentally fall off! You don’t want to end up standing there, dumbfounded, with the guitar lying broken on the ground.
The usual culprit for this kind of mishap is a strap that has come undone. This is because the strap pins on the guitar’s lower body are not designed to hold the guitar in the way we’ve previously described.
How do we prevent the straps from getting loose? Well, say hello to your new friend, strap locks.
These little guitar lifesavers are rubber rings that you push over the guitar’s strap pins, effectively keeping the strap on no matter what, until you take the tiny thingamajigs off. These contraptions are also really cheap, and they work like magic. Don’t think twice about getting strap locks, thinking you don’t really need them; you do, especially if you will be doing a lot of wearing-the-guitar-on-your-back routine.
Better safe than sorry, they say…
Now, what if you don’t have strap locks, and you don’t have the time to shop for them?
There is this system some guitarists do to hold the guitar in place and keep it from falling on the ground: they tie a string to either end of the guitar and secure it with slip knots before adjusting the string exactly where they want it.
When wearing the guitar on your shoulder, avoid strains or tension on your back and shoulders by maintaining a good posture: back straight, spine aligned, and shoulders relaxed (don’t raise them or pull them forward).
Juanes, a Colombian guitarist, once said: “I always travel with my guitar. I take it myself — with me in my hand. I don’t like to send it by cargo because it’s dangerous. There is no way I would do that.”
Like him, many guitarists would prefer to have the guitar with them at all times when they travel. They think it’s much better to have the guitar within their sight.
But going places and carrying the guitar on your back can sometimes be really stressful—you worry about your back’s comfort and your guitar’s safety.
With these tips, some careful planning, a little bit of luck, and common sense, wearing the guitar on your back while preserving both the instrument and your back is possible.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.