My name is Neal Caldwell. I've been a guitar player for nearly 30 years. This page is a warning to purchasers of Fender-Schaller strap locks. (Just skip to the bottom of the page for photos if you don't feel like reading the details).

Last summer, I saved up and purchased my first truly expensive "nice" guitar; a Taylor T5.

I also immediately made the purchase of some "insurance": a pair of Fender (designed by Schaller) strap-locks, to ensure the new strap wouldn't come off, destroying my new guitar.

I installed them properly, tightened them up to (and possibly beyond what was necessary), and assumed all was well. I bypassed other strap-locks for the Fender-Schaller brand because Fender represented quality to me and I felt sure they would do as the package indicated: protect my purchase.

As it turns out, they did the exact opposite and I truly would have been better off with nothing, as compared to these. Rather than protecting me from damage, they caused the damage.

Last night at practice with my band, my Taylor simply dropped to the floor badly damaging the headstock. It truly doesn't matter how badly or what the cost to repair will be: the real matter is the strap-locks failed.

One of the other guitarists commented that he'd recently made the decision to quit using the exact same locks because they had a habit of spinning around and allowing the guitar to slip off the lock as they only stopped it's removal in one direction and the spring-loaded "pin" meant as a "fail-safe" clearly failed. Please note: I'm extremely careful with my instruments and have done my own repair work on them for years. I routinely check things like these strap locks and the screws that hold them into the instrument. They were tight when I checked them two weeks ago and used an adjustable crescent wrench to verify. It's assumed that once you've attached Fender branded strap-locks, your worries are done. That's the assurance I paid for. Otherwise, why bother with them at all. Clearly, they worked loose and the pin completely failed.

This is a design issue. The lock will pivot even when very tight as mine was and when the rounded spring-loaded pin slips free, the guitar falls. If it remained oriented properly, at the very least, it wouldn't fall even if it weren't completely secure. Elongating the lock by 1/4" would probably prevent this, by placing the guitar's leveraged weight at the end away from the pivot point to hold it in a properly oriented manner.

So why did I build this web-page? Simple: At this point, I haven't called Fender. When I do, I expect them to tell me that it's not their problem and they can only guarantee the strap locks themselves, not what they're attached to which is ludicrous: you buy these things to prevent this exact occurrence from happening. Their very nature assures that will be the consumer's understanding.

If Fender will not "do the right thing" and pay for the repairs to my Taylor as damaged by my correct usage of their product, I will leave this page up and I will be also be registering a URL purely for the purpose of warning other musicians about these poorly conceived strap locks. It's my duty and right as a consumer. If I never receive a dime for my repairs from Fender, at the very least potential buyers of their products will refrain from the purchase. Like most angry consumers who have been badly burned, I will make it a vendetta. I have purchased thousands of dollars of musical gear over the years and I know a lot of musicans and stores that I will be informing about this issue. I will also call the shop I purchased them from and a Sam Ash executive in New York who I know personally. I haven't had the time for an estimated repair but it's probably around $500. I've been angry and focused on Fender and their products up to this point.

Within a short time, Google and the other search engines world-wide will have scanned this web-page and made it available to anyone doing a search for Fender and their products. I leave it up to Fender to decide what is proper. If I register a URL, it can only inform more consumers, of course.

I do this as a service to fellow musicians. If Fender does the right thing, which is a complete repair to the damages to my T5, and a refund for these inferior and poorly designed strap-locks, I will remove this globally visible critique of these strap-locks, although they will remain complete garbage in my opinion and I won't hesitate to steer other players away from them. I've had some cheap $5 plastic locks on a bass for ten years and never once had them fail. I bought the Fender brand for my Taylor, again, because I thought an expensive guitar warranted expensive "insurance". I now completely recommend the cheap plastic ones over these. Or, truthfully, none at all. Your odds seem about even.

If nothing else, I hope you'll at least learn from my experience and won't consider Fender products in your future. I know I won't.

Totally unrelated to these strap-locks: One of my band's guitarists recently had extreme issues with an expensive (and new) Fender amp. After several months of trying to use it, he was simply told it was a design flaw and purchased an Egnator. He's been playing 40 years: this guy isn't a novice. He's also the same guy who has removed these same Fender strap-locks from his own guitars. I'm beginning to see a pattern...

Update: I just spoke to Fender. As expected, they decline to accept responsibility. I was told that "maintenance was the consumer's responsibility" never mind that there was a total of 4 hours played on this guitar from the last time they were checked for tightness. Some people on internet forums I've read, have recommended using "Locktite", which I believe is a form of thread lock such as you would use on manifold bolts when assembling an automobile engine. (You're kidding me, right?) This is a common problem and Fender has continued to sell this product (and to the best of my knowledge, didn't mention or recommend using "Locktite" on the outside of the package.) I'm joking, of course.

From the Fender web-site (note the irony of "from falling off"):

Strap lock system designed by SchallerĀ® to keep your FenderĀ® instrument from falling off while you're rockin' out! Available in chrome and gold. NOTE: Gold assembly includes locks only (strap buttons/washers sold seperately).

A link to the Fender site and a photo of the locks in question:

The damage to my Taylor (and I haven't even checked the neck set-up yet. I didn't have the heart to keep playing afterwards and someone else put it in the case for me. Taking the photo is the only thing I've done since it happened.)