Uke Leash Review

Ukulele straps are a bit of a vexed issue. Traditionalists dismiss ukulele straps as being unnecessary. While plenty of people find them essential – with problems varying from boob-interference to the need to play lightening fast licks.

For my own playing, I’m mostly in the traditional camp. I don’t use a strap myself. But I’ve lightened up on straps in general. Particularly since the popularity of tenor ukuleles has exploded.

The big problem is that most ukuleles – even tenors – don’t come with buttons allowing for a strap. And there aren’t many ukulele specific straps so people make do with comically outsized guitar straps.

But people have started tackling these problems in ingenious ways. The latest being the – manga sex pun named – Uke Leash. Lori was kind enough to send me a couple of leashes to check them out. I’m not going to enter the whole strap debate, so this review is mostly going to be covering how well it works and comparing it to standard straps.

How It Works

The Uke Leash only attaches to the headstock of the uke. The other end has a loop that goes on your shoulder (or on your belt if you’ve got plenty of time or on your leg if you want to look a total spanner). That means you still hold it in your strumming arm the way you usually would but your fretting hand is free to twiddle wildly/send an email/slap a small child.

You can also drop the uke entirely and it won’t crash to the floor (although it will smash into any wall or kneecap that gets in its way as it’s penduluming).

There’s two main pieces to it: a long strap with the arm loop and a mini strap that goes round the headstock. The two click together so you can buy a headstock bit for each of your ukes and just attach the main one to whichever uke you want to use.

You can get various adaptors from the website that let you use it with a banjo ukulele and as a normal, guitar-style strap. I didn’t try those out though.

Overall, it works as advertised and does a good job of reducing the fretting hand’s workload. It attached to all my non-ridiculous ukes without any problem.

So this or a normal strap?

Advantages Against a Standard Strap

Non-invasive

The big advantage is that it’s much easier to attach to a standard ukulele than a normal strap. You can put it on and remove it easily and have your uke in exactly the same state it was before.

I also much prefer the way this one attaches to the uke thong – which attaches to the body and therefore dampens the sound. (I also worry about it scratching the body but that’s based on my neuroticism rather than any actual facts or evidence.)

More in-keeping with the ukulele

Having a full-on guitar strap on a ukulele does feel like complete overkill. Using a Uke Leash feels much more natural.

Disadvantages Against a Standard Strap

A bit uncomfortable and restrictive

It’s not a pain to use but I was adjusting it and myself often. And I found it to be more of a faff to put on than a normal strap.

I like to point the uke away from me when I play – much more than most people do. And I couldn’t do that with a tenor while I had the strap. But I was near the top end of the strap size I chose. It would have been less restrictive if I’d skipped up to the next size.

I just didn’t feel right using it. It felt like I was wearing socks with sandals. And, of course, it stops you spinning the ukulele over your shoulder and looking like a rockstar badass as I often like to do.

Still requires body-holding

It is a lot less secure than a full-on strap. Your strumming arm is still going to have to do plenty of holding work. I was quite happy with that but people who rely heavily on a strap and aren’t used to it are going to struggle.

And the holding does mean the soundboard is more muffled. In his review, Ian Chadwick found he was holding it less with his strumming arm and therefore getting a better tone than playing without a strap. I didn’t find myself holding it loosely enough to get any noticeable tone improvement, though.

Am I Going to Keep Using It?

I can see some people enjoying the Uke Leash but it’s not for me. Now that I’m doing reviewing it they’ll packed away and never used again. It doesn’t offer enough stability in exchange for the loss of movement and general feeling of being a socks-and-sandals-wearing twazzock.

Visit UkeLeash.com

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20 Comments

  1. Kyle Frazer September 12th, 2012 7:42 pm

    I tried these various things – shoelaces tied around the headstock & body, leash, thong etc, but I went down the guitar route and had strap buttons drilled into all of mine.

    I say ‘I’, I mean someone else. No way in hell am I drilling into my babies, let alone hold it down when the luthier drills into it – what do you think I am, an animal?!

  2. Wilfried Welti September 12th, 2012 7:55 pm

    I get your point. The Uke leash may sometimes be better as nothing, but I absolutely prefer a real strap. There are wonderful uke straps available which fit even a soprano ukulele well. And it’s no problem to put an end pin on most ukes. And when sitting, I don’t need a strap at all.

    However — I really don’t get what’s wrong about socks with sandals!

  3. JimUke September 12th, 2012 8:48 pm

    I never bought the Uke leash, instead used a shoelace in the exact same way, tied to headstock and around my arm, worked as well and was much cheaper for me. Obviously did not look as good, but a nice way to find out if this is for you or not. I liked it, as a beginner it helped me a lot.

    On my newer uke, concert size, I have a regular strap button installed. I like that more than just the leash, but not by much. If for some reason no strap button could have been installed, I would go for a leash-like solution.

  4. ukuhippo September 13th, 2012 9:11 am

    Tied around the headstock and over the soundhole around the body, I swear by hippostrap 1.0 aka a shoelace on my soprano.
    I admit it’s kind of like wearing just socks. With holes in them.

  5. Herman Vandecauter September 13th, 2012 9:12 am

    recently I’m experimenting with straps again. I attach the strap at one of the tuning pegs between the ukulelehead and the strap I use an elastic part some 15 cm that gives a less rigid feeling and on the other and of the strap I just sit on it so I can adapt the lengt very well also. If I schould play standing I would attach it on my belt (right side). Since I’m always sitting position I don’t need it for a tenor but it becomes useful for a

  6. Herman Vandecauter September 13th, 2012 9:13 am

    recently I’m experimenting with straps again. I attach the strap at one of the tuning pegs between the ukulelehead and the strap I use an elastic part some 15 cm that gives a less rigid feeling and on the other and of the strap I just sit on it so I can adapt the lengt very well also. If I schould play standing I would attach it on my belt (right side). Since I’m always sitting position I don’t need it for a tenor.

  7. Ivy Arch September 13th, 2012 9:58 am

    Wearing socks and sandals as I write, I was afraid to out myself here but I’m relieved to find I’m in good company with Wilfried Welti!
    My verdict: socks and sandals good; uke leash – doesn’t work for me.

  8. RobNY September 13th, 2012 3:07 pm

    Not a big fan of straps thongs or leashes. My playing venue,sitting solitary in the living room,there is really no use for them. I would think if one was in a band standing performing on a stage they would be useful. Even as a small boy socks and sandals dumbfounded me. My father who came to America from Italy as well as my many Italian uncles wore them together. Is it a European thing?About two weeks ago me and the wife were stopped at a red light. I noticed an older gentleman standing on the corner wearing dress slacks,button down dress shirt ,socks and sandles. I commented to my wife that my dad wore socks with sandles. My wife told me her dad also an Italian immigrant,sometime dressed exactly like the gentleman on the corner socks and sandles included. Is it more acceptable to wear socks and sandles with pants verses shorts? Also, if one has the courage I would think socks with sandles are much more comfortable than sandales without socks. Someday I will try them out.

  9. ukuleletim September 13th, 2012 4:46 pm

    I don’t ven know what a twazzock is, but I like saying it. I wear slippers in public and that’s weird enough without socks.. so, no socks for me.

    I think 99% of what I play requires a strap. I need mobility for both of my hands without having to hold the instrument. I would even go so far as to advise anyone having trouble playing something that is somewhat technical to consider this.

    That being said, the leash thing wouldn’t work for me. I use a thin mandolin strap and make it work with a string. It is minimal and gets the job done.

  10. Gary September 13th, 2012 7:40 pm

    I just feel less connected to my uke when I use a strap. However, I met Lori at the Wine Country Uke Fest last weekend and I see they now have an adaption dongle that affixes to a strap button. Their colors are swell, too.

  11. Bazmaz September 13th, 2012 10:32 pm

    I was never a believer in straps for ukes (supports, thongs, full straps, anything) to start with, and still have no need for one on sopranos.

    Couple of years ago I tried the half strap from uke leash, and enjoyed using it. Still, was playing mainly either at home or in pub jams sat down and didn’t use it. Then started playing gigs with friends and that was the point (at the end of the second hour playing) I realised how helpful these are.

    Better still she now makes a straight up full strap which is now my one of choice. Sure, anyone can make their own, but Lori is a lovely person making a go of a really well made product.

    Each to their own I suppose. Don’t like straps? Don’t use one. Prefer to make your own? Make your own. But if you want to buy one I like Loris style and product.

  12. Woodshed September 14th, 2012 1:49 pm

    Who knew that socks and sandals would be the most controversial thing I’d ever say on the site?!

  13. Herman Vandecauter September 14th, 2012 2:01 pm

    just recieved a nice soft sensual leather sanda… euch strap for mandolin small adaption classy, the eyes must like it also!

  14. Danny September 14th, 2012 3:57 pm

    Try the uke thing. A buddy of mine makes them and they are awesome.

  15. ben Hammond September 15th, 2012 9:10 am

    Twazzock is a regional variation of wazzock if that’s any help. Not sure socks and sandals is a European thing, I always thought our “Better Dressed” continental neighbours laughed at the English for socks and sandals, (amongst other things).

    On the Uke Leash front I have one for my baritone and find it helps stop the dip of the headstock whilst (mis-) managing complicated chord changes. I have bought a couple of spare headstock attachments to try with other ukes. It took a while to get used to but now I tend to forget it’s there. If I ever got a strap button I would certainly buy the button attachment for it.

    Thanks Lori

  16. Herman Vandecauter September 15th, 2012 9:41 am

    Socks and sandals must be a British thing. A family story goes like this. A aunt (Belgian) went to see her new boyfriend in London (+/- 1960) she met him earlier in Brussels. When she arrived at his house in London he appeared in his door with, yes, sandals and socks and suddenly the magic was over!!! She came back to Belgium and stayed unmarried the rest of her life.
    By the way I’m enjoying straps now on mandolin ,ukes and romantic guitars.Have fun.

  17. JimUke September 15th, 2012 11:47 am

    I have been to many countries in Europe and can confirm sightings of socks and sandals everywhere. It may be contagious, so better watch out while your out there.

  18. Elizabeth O'Kane September 18th, 2012 10:22 pm

    Thank you, Al!! My concert uke can be a bit awkward when I play some “fer pickin’” songs standing up; I rigged myself up one of these. Awesome! For ukers in the States who want to make one, go to Petco and get an “Easy Tag Change” for three bucks, and then make a small loop for the headstock from a sturdy shoelace, and make the shoulder loop part with a bit of paracord from the surplus supply store (that stuff is cheap and handy to have around anyway). Use the “Tag Changer” (A loop with a little plastic buckle and a metal ring) to connect ‘em. Viola.

  19. Tim Mullins March 11th, 2013 6:46 pm

    Herman Vandecauter suggested that I might send my solution to this problem in to Ukulele Hunt. I also wanted something that would allow me freedom with both hands yet not have to modify my instrument. I came up with a loop of polypropylene webbing that runs under the strings, around the uke bodfy and over your shoulders and does it in such a way that it holds the ukulele in a stable and comfortable playing position. Because of the geometry of the way it runs it has to have a built-in half twist which then disappears when in use. I call it the Mobius Strap and full information with instructions and videos of it in use are on my website at http://www.mobiusstrap.com. Please have a look!

  20. Woodshed March 12th, 2013 6:50 am

    Tim: Thanks for the info. I’ll give it a mention.

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