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 Looking for a good seat strap
Author: Terry Stibal 
Date:   2007-01-31 16:27

Well, I've got to start in playing bassoon again, and so I must again start looking for a seat strap.

My horn is an old used Schrieber, originally only with a boot cover and no attachment point. I've had a spilt ring added, and would use my old strap from the 1970s' (which was a hideous leather belt with the buckle removed and a bass clarinet neckstrap hook through one of the notch-holes) but my lovely wife, in a fit of good taste, decided some years back to give it to the Goodwill Industries.

I've got a "bucket" affair, made of poorly prepared split leather, but it's a real nuisance to use. What I'd like to do is to purchase one that meets the following specifications:

1) Not flashy - brown or black plain leather

2) Sueded finish on one side, Japanned or shoe leather finish on the other

3) No buckles or other "adjustment means", just a straight leather strap

4) Provided with a permanently attached hook

Does such a commercially available animal exist, or do I need to visit the nice people at the local leather shop and have them stitch one up for me?

(We have used them before to fix band equipment and to hem my now-skinny wife's leather pants, so they could do the job without a problem (but at a custom cost).)

Thanks in advance for any help that can be given.

Terry Stibal
Leader, Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra
Visit our website at www.sotsdo.com

leader of Houston's Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra
info@sotsdo.com

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 Re: Looking for a good seat strap
Author: cairngorm 
Date:   2007-01-31 23:30

I think you are talking about my seat strap - how did you know that's what I have! But where did I get it? Heaven knows, it was about 30 years ago, but it is exactly what you are looking for.

I noticed in the Charles Music catalogue (www.charlesmusic.com) that they sell a Fox seat strap that looks like what you want, either with spring clip or traditional hook. Personally, I like mine which has a spring clip. That way, when I stand up for whatever reason, the thing stays attached and doesn't fall off when I don't want it to. (You might have to add a keyring thingy if the hole in your bassoon is too small. That's what I did - plucked one out of the wastebasket in the hardware store and attached it to the horn and never looked back)

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 Re: Looking for a good seat strap
Author: Terry Stibal 
Date:   2007-02-01 02:24

I've already had the split ring added when I had the horn overhauled a year or so ago. The original did not even have a hole through it, thus forcing the use of that bucket abomination, and it about drove me batty trying to swap out horns in a hurry. I'm not going through that ordeal again, that I know.

This evening, we went down to the local leather shop, located in our Montrose "alternative lifestyle" area. The guys that run the place have been more than helpful with other leather working problems in the past, and (while they did not at first understand what it was that I wanted) we finally worked out the finished plan for the leather tailor to work on sometime next week.

They didn't have any leather finished only on one side (their normal clientele is big on smooth finished leather on both sides, along with shiny metal studs), but he felt that a combination of their normal stock for the top half with a sueded layer stitched to the bottom side would both trap the hook in place and keep it aligned, and provide the "non-slip" tack to hold it all in place on the chair.

Sandwiched together and finished off with some topstitching around the periphery plus some cross belt rows to "lock" backing in place, and with some heavy stitching around the back side of the hook to keep it in registry, it should do just fine.

For now, it's back to the old standby, a worn out belt with a bass clarinet hook through the bottom-most hole. Now, if I only had thought ahead enough to have a whisper key lock installed during the rebuild...

leader of Houston's Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra
info@sotsdo.com

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 Re: Looking for a good seat strap
Author: Terry Stibal 
Date:   2007-02-14 04:05

An update on the seat strap issue:

It was supposed to be ready this past weekend, but when we went to pick it up, the hook had been installed with the open end (the "bowl" of the hook) facing off the short end of the strap.

Three days later, all is well. Instead of stitching the neckstrap hook in place, the leather tailor elected to use a flat stud riveted through the top and bottom layers. Much more practical and more permanent too.

Once placed on the seat, the "sueded" layer on the bottom grabs the seat just so, while the upper layer is smooth enough to allow you to shift around on the seat without displacing it beneath your bottom. Sweet.

I took the other neckstrap hook (one of two from the Selmer chain neck strap that came with my pro bass oh so many years ago), and dropped it off for a second one to be made for the boy. And, next week we will take my lovely wife's leather dress into them for modifications (she's lost a lot of weight over the past year), and get that fixed as well.

leader of Houston's Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra
info@sotsdo.com

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 Re: Looking for a good seat strap
Author: cairngorm 
Date:   2007-02-15 02:05

I'd be interested to know: was this an expensive thing to do (sort of "doing it yourself" seatstrap)?

Glad to know everything came out as you wanted it.

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 Re: Looking for a good seat strap
Author: Terry Stibal 
Date:   2007-02-15 14:17

The main problem with making one has always been the fact that sewing on leather is a daunting proposition for anyone not gifted with a leather sewing machine.

Layout of the strap is simple: a three foot or so length of leather, cut with rounded corners, with one small hole located some two to three inches from the end. Stuff the hook (which in my case has a 3/8" loop formed in one end for the neck strap chain) through the hole, hook the horn to the portion of the hook protruding from the strap, sit on the strap and go to town.

This simplicity is why (for many years) I got by with the belt from the disco era with the buckle end cut off. Smooth on the outside (and with a white finish, no less), natural leather on the inside (sort of rough but smooth, if you will), and with a series of holes pre-punched, it was a minimal cost conversion that worked pretty well.

However, it did have its disadvantages. One was that the outer surface of the belt had leather work (a lace detail) that made it a bit less than comfortable to sit on for long periods of time. Another was that the hook was not retained into the belt in any way, and I had to be alert to it dropping out whenever I handled it. The third was that the thing was so God-awful ugly, screaming "old man in white shoes and matching belt!" every time that I used it.

As I've not been an intensive bassoon users over the last twenty years or so, I lived with the problems until my lovely wife Joyce Ann snuck the old belt cum seat strap into the Goodwill Industries donation box. As I always type up the list when we itemize the stuff before hauling down to their facility, I was not looking when "1 each, belt, men's, leather, poor condition" was placed on the pile. Bingo, no more seat strap.

I thought at once of the old belt trick when I needed to get the horn out this spring. However, we have recently developed a relationship (if that is the word) with a local leather sewing place for other purposes (carrying handle repairs on band equipment, hemming of leather pants for my wife), so I thought, "Why not take the time to do it right?"

The guys at the leather shop (which caters primarily to alternative lifestyle folks, if you get my drift) were more than eager to help. However, our earlier stuff was pretty straightforward, either with a broken item to rebuilt to use as a model, or typical leather sewing stuff (for pants and skirts and so forth). Not so for this project; indeed, the shop owner did not even know what a bassoon was when I started describing what I wanted.

With the seat strap, I drew out a three view "blueprint", and carefully explained what I was looking for to the shop owner. Since they normally use a smooth faced on two sides leather stock for the harnesses and suchlike that they make, I specified a thin layer of sueded leather for the "down" side of the strap. I gave them the hook (which I had to bend around a bit to make it suitable), and pointed out that it had to be pointed so that the open bowl of the hook was pointing towards the long end of the strap. I specified that the thin leather had to be both stitched in place and glued to keep it from shifting.

Then I left it in their hands. One small problem was that I could not get to the shop when the leather tailor was there, and that he was Hispanic, which meant that there were some translation issues. However, after going over it all several times, I thought that they had the information that they needed.

As it turned out, the only fly in the ointment was that the hook had been installed backwards (so that the bowl of it was facing the short end of the strap). This was due to a combination of a translation error and a misguided effort by the shop owner to interpret what was being sought. No problem, however; a couple more day's wait and it was done.

Aside from the simple work of cutting and holing the strap, the shop owner came up with the idea of riveting the hook through both layers of leather with a "flush rivet". It lies flush with the surface of the leather on both sides, and is a far more positive solution to securing the hook from shifting than was my "run three or four stitched through the belt and the hook ring" idea.

Per strap, the work came to $30.00 all told. After using it on Tuesday night, I can categorically say that it is a "perfect" solution, with every detail the way that I wanted it. (Other, commercially produced straps that I"ve seen or purchased over the years don't make the grade, pure and simple. There might be one out there somewhere, but here in musical supplies poor Houston, they aren't readily available.)

Most towns have a leather sewing shop that can do this kind of work. Look for motorcycle leather craftsmen or other "specialty" shops that do leather work, as we did. (My daughter in law used to do this sort of stuff when she was married to a motorcycle nut - she had the right machine and everything. Missed that boat, though.)

One other benefit of all of this trouble. When I haul out the bassoon these days, no one takes a look at my seat strap and asks where my bell-bottomed pants are...

leader of Houston's Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra
info@sotsdo.com

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