How to a Guitar Strap
Now just a little explanation here. I did some keyword research and found that the exact wording I’ve used in my header is used a few thousand times a month and it seems like no one uses it on their websites. So if you searched with that wording you probably found me. Cool, thanks for visiting. I hope you find something interesting here.
Now about that guitar strap.
Guitar Strap 101
Guitar straps come in all shapes and sizes and there is no such thing as a best strap. So let’s get that out of the way. The first question is, why do you want a guitar strap? Lots of people, especially when they are learning, play sitting down and in that case a guitar strap is pretty much a nuisance or at least a waste of time. Some people will go out and buy a guitar and strap and never use it.
The important thing is utility. If you want to perform standing up, like most people do in bands, then you need a strap that is balanced to the weight and size of your guitar. You want it to look good, but more importantly you want it to feel good.
A guitar strap that slides off your shoulder is a liability. It needs to feel comfortable, be well balanced and adjustable so that the guitar sits naturally in the exact position and angle you prefer to play at. That means you can walk around, do something with your hands, like maybe hand out your charts to the band and not have to mess around with it again before you start playing.
Types of Guitar Strap
There are so many different types of guitar strap available off the shelf. A strap can be a fashion statement as well as a tool. One of my first guitar straps was made of a silver glittery metallic material. I thought it looked cool at the time, but it really didn’t nor did it match the type of music I was playing. It had very little adjustment capability because of the design, so not only did it look stupid, it also wasn’t very practical. I guess that’s why it was in the sale bin in the music store. But the inner geek in me wanted it. It was never seen on a stage.
My Tex Morton original guitar came with a string strap with a few tassles at one end. It’s incredibally basic, but it has lasted probably around 80 years, that’s how old this guitar is! Not a bad innings considering the guitar has probably been played and thrashed at parties by dozens of people over the years before I was given it.
It’s not a heavy guitar so the string isn’t really a problem. It’s well tied on around the top of the neck headstock and also around the strap pin, which has a big lip to stop it slipping off.
This was a very cheap guitar in its day, but country and western guitar players were often pretty well dressed in cowboy finery and would probably have a leather, perhaps custom made strap.
Your more basic guitar strap, like the one on my V is made of polyester and comes in every colour you can imagine, often with writing on it. I bought this one at Charlies in Orlando because I hadn’t seen one like it before. It says Police Do Not Cross and it looks like the tape that Police put around a crime scene. I bought it for novelty value, but it works fine, is adjustable and good fun, especially if you are singing Frankie and Johnny type songs. You can get one of these very cheaply, delivered to your door on this link.
If you look around there are many hundreds of straps with something similar on them. When you are paying somewhere around $6 for a strap that works, you can afford to buy a few of them as a fashion accessory and have some fun with them. If a strap starts getting a little frayed from overuse you can simply toss it out and put another one on.
Having said that, I’ve had this strap now for many years, it’s been well used and still looks almost like new.
I’ve mostly used that strap with acoustic guitars because it isn’t great from a weight distribution perspective. So no problem with a light guitar, but if you are playing a heavier guitar like my Gibson Les Paul, you will want something a bit easier on your neck and shoulders especially if you are playing long sets.
Again it is very adjustable and is a very good fit once you set it up. Your guitar will always be on the right angle and being designed for a bass, it spreads the weight nicely over your shoulders so that they don’t get tired.
It’s a bit more expensive but well worth the money.
What Could go Wrong with a Guitar Strap?
This is really important. So you have a guitar worth $3,000 and you put a strap over your shoulders and you’re set.
Not so fast. This is my strap where it goes over the pin under my guitar.
What can you see? The leather is fraying and the hole that slips over the pin is getting stretched.
On a few occasions I have bent over, maybe to adjust the sound on my amp, or to pick up a song sheet that had fallen on the ground and the action was just enough for the end of the strap to come off the pin.
I can still feel that moment of enormous stress as my guitar started falling to the ground. Fortunately I had lightening fast reactions and caught it before it landed on my pedal box. It’s not a light instrument and it could have been a very expensive mistake.
How do you stop your guitar strap from falling off? Get yourself a strap lock. For a few dollars you can buy a little gadget that holds the strap in place on your guitar at each end. You can take the strap on and off easily, but it will not fall off.
These few basics are, in my opinion the key things you want to worry about. Comfort and allowing you to play for a long time. If you want to safely do things like slide your guitar onto your back, you definitely want to get a couple of those strap locks. If your guitar goes flying as you try to flick it onto your back, you’re going to be feeling pretty ill and imagine if you were playing a gig and it was the only guitar you had with you. Imagine if you loaned the guitar to someone else to play and they dropped it because the strap slipped off the peg. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
Did I miss something? Sure, there are straps made of all sorts of materials, lots of people have custom made straps and it’s not expensive to do things like have your own logo printed on a strap. You could even have your name or your band name on straps and sell them on your merch stand.
Feel free to leave a comment about your own experiences. Did you ever drop your guitar because the strap came off? What is your favorite strap?