I was approached by Chad Beauchaine, the owner of a company called Fifth Child Music Products, and given the chance to review a great new product that they have available. I was super-excited to check it out and give it a try! The product is a strap for your banjo that doesn’t rely on the traditional shoulder strap configuration. You can read my impressions below.
This product will help many pickers!
I have heard many pickers complain of banjos being too heavy for them and suffering back and shoulder pain after an extended picking session. The answer for some pickers is to go with a different strap configuration, one that wraps around your waist and puts the weight of the banjo nearer to your center of gravity, and that’s what the Neotech Super provides. This isn’t the first attempt at such a configuration; I bought and used a “waist” strap in the mid-90’s. There is one HUGE difference with the Neotech Super though: this one beats all the others for quality and durability. My previous example was made of ballistic nylon with plastic buckles and fasteners (think of the average backpack). The Neotech Super is made of thick, premium leather with metal components. This thing is a HOSS!
First, the bad
While there is quite a bit of adjustability to the strap, in my tests the strap example I was sent didn’t easily go small enough to fit someone who is only slightly built. It will fit people with builds from average to large fine, but as you can see in the pictures above, the model is fairly trim with a slight build. If you notice the straps in the side-view pics, you can see that the “tails” are quite long because we had to run them to the smallest position. The strap size I received isn’t really made to go to the extreme small position, and it took a little wrestling to get the hardware and fasteners to connect when going as small as we could. Chad at Fifth Child tells me that they now have two sizes, with one being for waists smaller than 32″.
Another point of contention were the directions. They were excellently done and understandable, but I found that when attaching the strap as instructed, the banjo had a tendency to “roll forward”, trying to fall off me by tipping over. The fix was simple; I relied on my high-school physics knowledge and using different attach points for the strap was able to fasten it in such a way that the banjo didn’t “roll forward”. In fact it became rather stable. I’d hate for someone to attach this strap to their banjo according to the instructions and give up on it because it keeps wanting to tip over. Fifth Child can and should factor this into their instruction sheet. This would be a simple fix and doesn’t reflect negatively on the actual product.
And now the good
I was quite impressed with this product. I don’t want to glance over what I mentioned in the opening of this blog post: this thing is well made! The strap I tried to use in the 90’s was ridiculous and had to be abandoned before too long. The ballistic nylon didn’t hold it’s shape; the whole thing tended to collapse and fold up, and the plastic buckles were easily broken. The Neotech Super is made of thick, durable leather, with heavy duty metal components in the fasteners and hardware. You’ll never have to buy another one of these straps unless you lose it!
The fit is comfortable and secure, and your poor aching back finds great relief when you wear the Neotech Super. If you spend hours at the jam sessions or gig a lot and you experience back or shoulder strain, you’d do well to get a Neotech Super.
I couldn’t write this review without being honest about any shortcomings I found when trying the product, but I hope my description of those shortcomings above don’t sway you from trying this strap. In this day and age of imported, mass-produced cheap junk, the Neotech Super is a refreshing and encouraging example of good ol’ American made quality, and I for one hope you’ll support Fifth Child Music. We need to make sure endeavors like this stay afloat. Fifth Child and the Neotech Super are good for the economy and good for America, not to mention good for your back! Here is some further information:
Neotech Super Banjo Strap, Black
- Tailored neoprene pad with internal control-stretch design
- Easy to attach
- Very strong and durable
- Fully adjustable
- Made in the USA