Guitar Straps: An Introduction
A guitar strap isn’t exactly the most exciting piece of gear to shop for. However, as a guitar strap serves as the lifeline for your expensive, precious instrument, you will want to ensure that you are using one that is reliable, comfortable, and cool!
In this guide, we’ll be taking you through the variety of guitar straps that are available today. And trust us, there are a lot!
Taking a closer look, we’ll also investigate different materials (and their benefits) as well as the huge choice of designs. We’ll also cover strap lock systems and their importance, as an extra level of security certainly doesn’t hurt!
Where do I start?
If you’re a beginner, buying everything you need to get started on your musical journey is an exciting prospect! There are plenty of accessories out there that you can purchase to accompany your guitar or bass, but a strap is certainly one of the most important.
Why? Because a guitar strap is the component that supports your guitar or bass. Without it, you won’t be able to play your instrument standing up, which means you won’t be able to rock out on stage! And how boring would that be?
Consider the weight of your Guitar/Bass
When some guitars and basses can weigh up to 4-5 kilograms, a good quality guitar strap should be designed to handle that weight without breaking a sweat.
For example, Gibson Les Paul’s are notorious for being heavy due to their all-mahogany construction, which is why you should find a strap that can take it!
With that in mind, it’s worth considering the width of a guitar strap and how it affects comfort. For example, if you’re using an instrument on the heavier side, then a wider strap will distribute the weight across your shoulder more evenly. This means it will feel less straining on your shoulder or back, so if you intend to play long sets then you might want to give this a think.
By that logic, if you use a thin strap to support a heavy instrument, then it will dig into your shoulder and cause pain. This is something you shouldn’t have to deal with! The benefit of a thinner strap however is that it may feel less cumbersome and some may think it looks better. Using an acoustic or hollow-body? Then you could certainly get away with using one like this.
Some guitar straps out there will also feature a padded section in case you suffer particularly badly with shoulder pain. The Gibson Leather Modern Vintage Strap has a thick foam pad stitched into the strap, cushioning your shoulder to relieve stress.
You should also consider a strap that offers great longevity. A high-quality strap will serve you for a good few years, whilst offering comfort and flexibility when you’re up on stage. You’ll notice that there are many brands out there with different designs and styles.Using materials such as leather, cotton, nylon and suede, players have their own preferences in terms of look and feel. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to materials, but we’ll break down their differences…
Why Is It Important To Find A Good Guitar Strap?
If you want to get out there and rock, you want to do it in style! In the world of music, the right “look” plays a part in your success. By this, I don’t mean you have to be super flamboyant or extroverted by buying the brightest, most artistic strap out there. What I mean is that buying a strap that suits the aesthetics of your instrument accentuates its appearance as well as your own.
However, the most important factor of a decent guitar strap is its functionality. Which is why we’ve investigated the different types of guitar straps available out there…
As with guitars themselves, the materials used often determine the feel, durability and price of your strap. Let's take a closer look at the most popular options:
This is a material that you’ll see used in many mid to high-end guitar straps. Leather is a luxury, natural material which generally has a high price tag anywhere, as it’s strong and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Because of its durability, you'll find that even straps made of other materials use leather for the parts that take the most strain. It's also fairly easy to source, so you'll often find a great variety in terms of feel and appearance.
This is arguably the most common material used in guitar strap manufacturing. It's inexpensive, synthetic and easy to dye, so you'll often find a wealth of options in terms of appearance. Nylon is also very strong and difficult to stretch or rip, as well as being smooth - this makes it a very comfortable, easily adjustable material to work with. If it helps, it's the same material that seatbelts are made of, so you know your guitar is safe!
Straps constructed from polyester are also at the lower end price-wise, but still provide plenty of durabilty. Again, one of the big advantages with polyester straps is that they are easy to dye and print onto. Because of this, you'll often see polyester straps with patterend and stylised designs on. If you like your accessories to be eye-catching and unique, polyester might just be the one for you!
Cotton is a natural material, and cotton straps are often quite affordable. With a rougher feel, cotton does not slip over your clothing easily like nylon or some leathers; while some may prefer their strap to have less friction, cotton may be preferable if you prefer your guitar to stay put when you're playing it. Further to this, if your guitar is heavy or imbalanced in terms of its weight, a higher-friction cotton strap may be beneficial to help you keep your balance!
These handy products work by offering you an extra degree of reassurance. Although most guitar straps latch on to your guitar's strap pins, there's always a chance that they'll slip off. A strap lock is a simple gadget that prevents your strap from coming loose at any point. Speaking from personal experience, this can save you from serious embarrassment – not to mention money!
How do strap locks work?
There are several varieties of strap lock; one of the most popular, made by Schaller, features a screw-on bolt design that's not only aimed at locking your strap in place, but also allowing safe and hassle-free detachment when you need it. The Schaller locks replace your existing strap pins with an easy screw-in design.
Manufacturers like Jim Dunlop and Stagg offer similar screw-in strap lock options, but if you're looking for something super straighforward, the Jim Dunlop Straplok clips on to your existing strap pins, to provide simple protection against looseness or detachment.
The Strap Pins on my guitar are loose. What can I do?
This can be a fairly common problem, which arises after years of playing the same guitar. If the strap pins on your instrument are loosening, then it won’t fill you with confidence playing on stage. Knowing that they could rip out of your guitar any minute will make you sweat with anxiety!
We wouldn’t recommend using glue to seal the strap pins, as once you do that it will be nearly impossible to remove them if need be. One trick that works well is to remove the offending pin and and to insert a cocktail stick into the hole. Make sure you snapped the stick to the correct length first, and then gently re-install the strap pin. As the screw will have fresh unaffected wood to grip into, it should keep a strong, unified bond to the guitar body.
You may have never imagined you would put so much thought into choosing your guitar strap! Hopefully after reading this article, you're feeling far more informed about the different choices available on the market.
Whether you need a simple solution to practice standing up at home, a heavy-duty strap for the long haul, or anything in between - you now know what to look for!
While you're at it, why not check out the rest of our buyer's guides? You might just find something else you like!