Ever guessed the most crucial item that makes a rock-star? Guitar Straps. The underappreciated geniuses behind the whole ordeal.
The guitar strap is an apparatus that is attached on the sides of a guitar and is worn around the neck, across the chest so that your hands are focused just on creating music.
They make the whole difference between jamming like a couch sloth and breaking the stage in a crowd. It is an important accomplice, often taken for granted. It's your saving grace when you're feeling like the neighborhood rock-star. When you started as a beginner, you must've heard about guitar straps once or twice.
That is because it hardly comes in handy if you happen to be a classical player, then all you need is a chair, a footstool to prop up the leg and a mellow crowd. However, for those who ever only wanted to jam their hearts out on a stage especially for the electric ones, it is the path to greatness. But it is always beneficial to use one, as it keeps your guitar in place for a correct position and avoids the risk of it crashing to the ground. It’s a particularly important accessory as it bears the weight of the instrument, and hence must be amply solid so as to not give away and fall off.
A worthy strap must be of solid quality to disseminate the heaviness of the guitar on your shoulders. They are as essential as picks, strings, amps, and other stuff. Now, let's answer the most basic question of all. Is there a difference in the straps used for acoustic or electric guitar? The answer is, NO. Almost any choice of yours can work for either. However, there are certain models that require a distinctively considered and chosen strap. It usually happens with heaver and bulkier models.
If there seldom does arise a difference, it comes up in the form of attachments. While electric guitars provide double attachment i.e. strap fasteners on either side of the body, several acoustic guitars have just a single attachment available. But with the variety of straps in the market, it hardly proves to be a problem. So, while it may not be the most exciting thing to shop for, it unignorably acts as an indirect insurance to save it from taking a 4ft dive onto the floor and lead to an untimely demise of your beloved guitar. Therefore, it needs to be shopped for with utter consideration, keeping in mind some tips.
Wider is better
Comfort is the foremost concern while purchasing a guitar strap. While some insist on wider straps, others prefer thin stringent ones. However, the most ergonomic is the one that causes the least amount of strain and maximum support. This said, wider fabric guitar straps or leather straps are a better option as they disperse the weight of your guitar evenly across your shoulders- preferably the 2 inches wide one.
However, some people claim that it conduces to limit their movement, and acts like a wide obstructive band. Albeit, in comparison to thin shoelace like straps that cause stress marks on your skin, these are a total win-win. Plus, the heavier your instrument, the wider should be your strap.
Longevity is key
Secondly, you need to consider the length of the strap. Nowadays, the adjustable strap is the most common and coveted choice as it allows you to use it with the utmost versatility. You can practically put them on any guitar and adjust the right length. The standard length of straps can be adjusted between 40-60 inches. However, if you're exceptionally tall or playing bass, you might need a slightly greater longevity.
The perfect feel
Once you've picked out the right length, feel the strap you want. Guitar straps are made of various different materials, each acting as a benefit on its own. But what you need should be beneficial to you. Don't immediately buy a strap because it looks comfortable, do make sure that it feels the same. It shouldn't dig into your back or your shoulder.
Some materials cause nasty rashes and stress marks on your skin or leave a mark for life. There are several fabric guitar straps made of materials like cotton, polyester, leather, suede, tweed, hemp and many more. The material also affects the pricing, weight, and durability of the guitar strap. While studded leather straps look the epitome of death metal and pop, they add a good three to four kilos on your shoulders. This sometimes leads to hindered movement.
Leather straps, however, are the most wanted because of their huge variety that caters to a wide target market. They don't slide easily off your shoulder. If you consider purchasing an instrument with a solid body like a Fender Stratocaster that pulls a good four kilos on your shoulders, you need a strap that is strong enough to endure the weight of your guitar while providing the scope for movement. In such a case the wide, sturdy leather straps are what is required on the stage. Also, leather is just downright classy.
Other cheaper options would be the fabric guitar straps, for instance the nylon straps. They are uber cheap as compared to the leather straps, are extremely stable and dye able. However, in these cheaper options that come out as less unyielding as leather straps- the weight gets focused on the hole at the end piece of the strap and often leads to a torn strap-hole in the long term. So sturdy end pieces of leather or suede are attached to the nylon straps for better performance.
The material is also often mixed with other materials like cotton, jacquard etc to create a versatile range of fabric guitar straps. They also come out in sweet designs. Sometimes you just need a strap that compliments your style of music and your overall personality, and these multi-material straps provide the widest range of choices for you.
From bright pop pinks to snazzy uptown patterns. You can also check you exclusively handcrafted straps personalized to your taste. Isn't that cool? Now, cotton is another material used in guitar straps. It is a natural, raw material that is known for its comfort. While exclusively cotton straps are also available, the material is combined with other materials such as tweed, felt and many more- exuding a classic, contemporary feel.
The choice of your strap also depends on your body. If you perspire in excessiveness then almost all the above mentioned will slip right off your shoulder. In this case, your ideal choice would be a raw leather, polypropylene or a suede strap. They deal better with moisture than the leather or fabric guitar straps. To date, the most widely accepted material for guitar straps has been leather. Because of their extensive variety, sturdiness, and durability. Bison Boa's 'The Buffalo King' from their Core Line guitar strap series is a promising option. Made exclusively from buffalo hides, it is highly pliant, rugged and with no compromise to quality.
A super strong, comfortable and durable for all possible sizes. A high-quality guitar strap serves for quite a reliable time and offers easy comfort. Some straps also feature a cushioned padding inside for people who suffer from shoulder pain. It provides a buffer to your shoulder and helps relieve stress.
The strap material shouldn't be flimsy. Always take a look at the keyhole that actually holds up the guitar. It shouldn't be a flimsily stitched keyhole that can breed the probability of wear and tear.
Next up is the locking mechanism. Straps locks are the most secure and reliable feature of guitar straps. Plus, an extra level of security is hardly a price to pay to not have your guitar mixed in with the hardwood dirt. They prevent the slipping of the strap from your shoulder and limits cheap breakage.
There are different kinds of straps locks available like button locks, sliding locks, and clip locks. The most common one- Button locks are the easiest option. They are easy to pop on but present quite an unaesthetic and cumbersome look to your guitar. It also jiggles sometimes and makes noise.
Next, the Slide-in straps are much less diminutive as compared to Button lock straps. They slide meticulously over your instrument and are secured with a screw. However, it does have a drawback. The slide-in straps are a bit exacerbating to maintain, as the screw on their locking mechanism favors to unhitch itself and cause loss.
Moving on, there is another category- Clipping Strap Locks. These are slightly smaller than button locks, but present a principal restraint as they are made for just one strap. It completely eliminates the option of removable straps as the ends are attached by fastenings.
Which means you have to get accustomed to the constantly lying buckle strap on your guitar. Strap locks don't necessarily mean you need to compromise on the look of your guitar strap. A major chunk of your buying decision trickles down to just how pleasing your strap looks to you. We happen to be visual creatures, naturally aesthetics top the list.
But with such different styles available, it becomes quite a task finding the perfect one that fits your look. Look around for inspirations, at the trends charting the season's list, artists of different genres. You never know what catches your eye.
Looking back at the famous examples of guitar straps, we find some really cool ones. Such as John Mayer's Monogrammed Guitar Strap in black, metallic blue and light gray. From those kaleidoscopic colorful vintage fabric guitar straps worn by Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Jimi Hendrix; to John Lennon's snazzy rare tan and gold one. Or Noel Gallagher's cool looking, precisely customized leather in country western guitar straps; contrary to Willie Nelson's iconic, jazzy strap featuring a rather unconventional method of craftsmanship- weaved in a blue and red macramé is, till date, the most stylish rock and roll symbol.
One of the major guitar strap trends were the Spring '17 runway going extra over this piece of music accessory by revamping a leather or fabric guitar strap as a handle for your old satchel and handbags.
This game changer trend had been an absolute hit on the runway and streets, among major brand driving people to the edge of chic by adding a modern/trendy spin to the bag. Designers took an uber-trendy take by releasing heavily embellished, beyond stylish straps that seem to be perennially in vogue.
While we drool after this fashionable accessory that seemed to have taken a detour from the music stores to the runway, let's go back to our initial interest. Coming back to the guitar straps, we now talk about the pricing.
Guitars are pricey, their equipment also isn't considerably cheaper. So are the accessories, and it is a godsend benefit that we have many options to choose from. Some, however, obviously are out of our range. While many guitarists go for the cheapest option can find, a quality guitar strap is rather an investment than an optional accomplice.
Surely, some of us think of using it once in a blue moon, but you don't need a strap that breaks down on you over time. Not that you need to put your arm and leg in line for the price of a guitar strap, but choose the best within your purchasing power.
Lastly, to choose a comfortable, perfectly fitting guitar strap- carry your guitar to the store and try on the various straps. Because as convenient as it seems to check out the already propped up guitar straps, it isn't the most effective solution. The comfort that comes with your own instrument is hard to judge on any other, and so if you're spending big bucks you might as well go all the way.
Bison Boa is a one-stop destination for classy, unique, boutique style gear that exudes a statement of luxury with their super comfortable, durable and sumptuous feeling products made with 100% genuine hide that is tanned and strengthened to perfection. In a world hard pressed with aesthetics, we look forward to Bison Boa's newest line of 'London Looms' for a promising and even classier range of guitar straps to drool over. Till then, happy strumming!