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Straps and Pads, Tying a Cymbal Knot

Music City Mystique Cymbal Instructor Alex Queen walks you through the basics of straps and pads, from selecting the right kind of cymbal strap to learning to adjust strap tension and tie a cymbal knot. A must-see video for every new cymbal player who wants to care for their instrument!

Learn all about cymbal straps and pads with Alex Queen:


An important aspect of being a cymbal player is learning about caring for your instrument, including how to select the right type of strap, adjusting strap tension for a comfortable fit and how to properly tie a cymbal knot.


You should frequently check the integrity of your cymbal straps. If you notice any fraying, cracking or other signs of wear, especially around the center hole of the cymbal, it’s time to replace your straps. The last thing you want is for the strap to break during a performance or rehearsal! Better to spend a little money on new cymbal straps than replacing a cymbal if it falls to the ground and cracks.


There are a few choices when deciding on which type of strap to use. A leather strap is traditionally the most comfortable to the hand because of the softness of the material and has longer durability, but can be more expensive. A nylon strap is less expensive and has a little more elasticity, making it more flexible for cymbal visuals. Ultimately it’s up to personal preference.


Many percussionists in a concert situation prefer to not use pads because it gives them more control over the cymbal and eliminates any muting of the cymbal. For marching cymbals, a pad is almost always used because it eliminates most of the hand’s contact with the cymbals.

Before you begin tying a strap, run your finger along the edges of the center hole in the cymbal. If it is slightly rough, you may wish to lightly sand the inside of the hole with a fine grit sandpaper. This will help prolong the life of the strap.


Start by layering the ends of each side of the strap on top of each other. You can alternate which side of the strap to place on top depending on which hand the cymbal will be held in for a more comfortable fit. Next, stack the four tail ends on top of each other and feed them through the cymbal pad.

Pull the straps through the pad. Hold the ends of the strap in one hand and place the opposite hand in the “Garfield Grip.” Adjust the tension, or amount of length to the strap, to a relaxed comfortable position in the hand. If the strap is too loose, you won’t have control over the cymbal. If the strap is too tight, it’s difficult to quickly grip the cymbals and may cause pain in your hand over the course of a rehearsal or performance.

Feed the ends of the strap through the hole in the cymbal and pull them up to the contact point of the pad. Hold the ends of the strap and place the opposite hand in the Garfield Grip. Make any fine adjustments to the tension of the strap before beginning to tie the knot.

Take one of the other ends and loop it over the closet strap and under the furthest. Repeat for the last strap, making a loose box knot.

Begin pulling the ends a little at a time to tighten the knot. Don’t over tighten any one strand as you may wind up with a lopsided knot. Double check the grip to make sure you didn’t add tension to the strap.

At this point, you have the option to tape the knot with electrical tape. This will not only clean up the appearance of the knot, but will also keep the strands from loosening over time. Cut three pieces of tape – 2 short (about 3 inches) and 1 long (about 6 inches).

Stack the ends of the strap on top of the box knot and lay 1 short piece of tape over them at a 45% angle. Repeat with the 2nd short piece of tape in the opposite angle. With the long piece of tape, start on the underside of the side of the knot and wind it around the circumference.

Once you’ve applied the last strip of tape, you’ll have a nice, clean cymbal knot that looks great and won’t come undone!

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