LAURINBURG — Six years ago on a quiet Saturday, Joseph Bowen was strumming a few tunes on his guitar when the strap slipped off the end of the instrument. The guitar hit the floor, the impact causing a gaping hole in its side.
Today, the Laurinburg native now holds the patent to his first invention, inspired by the “fatal” accident of his beloved acoustic-electric — the Strap-Jack. The simple plastic plug, which took more than five years to patent, fits onto a metal piece that protrudes from the bottom of the guitar called the endpin jack, preventing a strap from sliding off when the instrument is not plugged in.
Bowen’s invention followed a futile search in music stores, electronic centers and among fellow musicians to find a device that would hold his guitar strap in place. He even expanded his search to online forums where he held discussions with many who had encountered the same issue.
Puzzled but determined, Bowen was convinced there had to be something to help solve his problem and so he created a prototype — a standard jack plug and with a quarter super-glued to the top of it — and presented it to half a dozen stores as an example of the sort of plug he needed.
“They all loved it but they wanted to know where they could get them,” he said.
Thus, the Strap-Jack was born.
“It’s been a long process,” Bowen said. After five and a half years of researching unbreakable plastics, experimenting with different materials and moldings to use for his invention, his prototypes became a final product.
Bowen endured several setbacks, including the initial denial of his application and the subsequent filing of a hefty pile of paperwork. He hired a lawyer while searching for any products similar to his and appealing the denial.
When Bowen was notified that his patent shouldn’t have been denied, after it was proven that no such invention had yet been created, he received his patent in May.
Bowen joked that his daughter, 12-year-old Samantha Bowen, makes employee of the month every month since she and his wife, Nikki Bowen, help to sort and package the Strap-Jacks into individual bags.
“I was so excited,” Samantha said, grinning. “I wanted to put the patent in a frame…I think it’s pretty. I was so proud of him.”
The Strap-Jack can be purchased online at strap-jack.com and at Music Master on U.S. 401.
Rachel McAuley can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 15. Follow her on Twitter @rachelmcauley1.