Second only to guitar picks, guitar straps are easily the most overlooked piece of a guitar player’s rig. No one hops onto Ebay (or Craigslist, Amazon, Reverb etc.) to drool over the latest strap from their favorite manufacturer. Likewise, you’re never going to pop into your favorite guitar forum and see thread after thread of people heatedly debating the pros and cons of their favorite strap. However, even though straps aren’t the most exciting piece of gear, the right one can go a long way in assisting you in your guitar playing journey.
So if you’ve ever been curious as to what strap is the best for your needs, you’ve come to the right place. This article will tell you all that you need to know about guitar straps and give you great recommendations that won’t break the bank.
- What To Look For In A Guitar Strap
- Top 5 Guitar Straps
What To Look For In A Guitar Strap
Personally, I don’t use cheap straps. Lots of guitar players get by just fine with a $5 nylon (or polypropylene) Ernie Ball strap, but I’ve never been a fan of them. It’s worth it to me to spend another $20 or $30 to get a strap that will distribute the weight of my instrument comfortably. That being said, a cheaper strap might do the job for a lot of you who are just starting out. For the price point that the aforementioned Ernie Ball strap occupies I can’t say that I have any complaints about its quality or reliability. It’s really more of a matter of personal taste and your situation, though I will say that if you’re rocking a heavier guitar like a Les Paul you really should consider getting a nicer strap.
If you decide that you want something a bit more comfortable it can get a bit complicated. Guitar straps are a bit like t-shirts. They’re easy to personalize and there’s decades’ worth of examples to take influence from, so a lot of different companies have tried their hand at it at one time or another. Thankfully, like t-shirts guitar straps are also pretty difficult to screw up. The market for straps is so crowded that it’s not hard to find something that will work provided you’re willing to shell out some cash.
As a quick aside for all my fellow tall people, I’ve had a good experience with the Planet Waves Embossed Leather guitar strap. I use it for both bass and guitar and I’ve never had any issues. Luckily, with guitar straps you don’t necessarily have to pay a premium just because you’re a bit on the tall side. If only that were true with jeans, am I right?
Top 5 Guitar Straps
Ernie Ball Polypro Guitar Strap
A household name among musicians for decades, Ernie Ball has inarguably transformed the landscape of music in a way that few other companies can boast. Without Ernie Ball it’s hard to imagine the direction that music would have taken following the rock revival of the 1960s.
Roland Sherwood Ball (Ernie) was born into a musical family. His father, Roland Adelbert Ball, was a car salesman who gave lap steel guitar lessons in his spare time. Ernie Ball initially picked up the lap steel in order to please his father, and he eventually went on to become a professional musician in his own right. He actually was the lap steel player for Tommy Duncan, the lead singer of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Ball became a local celebrity in Los Angeles, due in no small part to his regular performances on the 1950s television show “Western Varieties” on KTLA television. This (at the time) prestigious position went on to secure him numerous teaching jobs as well as regular studio work.
In the late 1950s, Ball also became an entrepreneur. He opened up what was arguably the first guitar store in the country. Funnily enough, his decision to forego selling any instruments besides the guitar was widely criticized. Music sales representatives were constantly telling him how a store that focused exclusively on selling guitars was never going to be commercially viable. Thankfully for Ball, guitarists from miles around flocked to the store.
It was actually during his tenure as the owner operator of a music store that Ball noticed that most beginning musicians struggled to play the popular strings of the day. During this time most strings came with a wound “G” string, which if you’ve played a set of strings that features this configuration you know how hard it can be on your fingers.
Ball’s idea was rejected by the majority of major manufacturers of the time. Both Gibson and Fender refused to invest in the idea, which eventually led Ball to pursue producing a thinner gauge string on his own. Thankfully, the gamble paid off. Before too long professional and hobbyist musicians the world over were using Ball’s guitar strings.
Though the company made its name on selling guitar strings, they’ve actually produced a variety of notable guitar accessories and instruments. One of the most popular accessories produced by the brand is the Ernie Ball Black Polypro Guitar Strap.
The most notable feature of this strap is how cheap it is when compared with similar products. The reason you see this strap so much is that it’s the most affordable option available. This is a huge plus when you’re just starting out, as between strings, a guitar, and an amp, your budget for other accessories is likely to be relatively non-existent.
Aside from that, the strap is still very functional on its own merits. The Polypropylene used in the strap is incredibly durable, so as long as you’re not extremely abusive towards it odds are it’s going to last. The leather ends are also durable, ensuring that your guitar is always going to be stable and secure. The stitched material on the leather ends is made from nylon, which while it may not be the most attractive choice it is incredibly rugged.
This strap isn’t going to be showy, and if you have a heavier guitar there is a potential that it dig into your shoulder a bit. However, all things considered you would be hard pressed to find a better value for a functional strap.
There’s a reason that just about every guitar player has had one of these straps at one point or another. They’re cheap and they’ll last forever. There is zero concern with quality control issues with this strap, as evidenced by the fact that hundreds of thousands of musicians all over the world have used this strap and it’s still sitting at an astounding 4.6 star rating on Amazon.
The Ernie Ball Black Polypro Guitar Strap may emphasize function over form, but it is a product that you can depend. It’s never going to let you down, and so long as you don’t subject it to any extremes it’s going to last as long as you choose to continue using it.
Planet Waves Classic Leather Guitar Strap
Founded in 1994 by Howard and Robert Silagy, Planet Waves first started as a small guitar strap company in Hicksville, New York. Their approach to business was to create a high-quality product, attractive, and durable product, and then let word of mouth do the rest of the work for them.
It was their dedication to producing a great product that first attracted D’Addario to the brand, and just four years after the founding of Planet Waves D’Addario would go on to absorb the company. D’Addario actually used Planet Waves for their first foray into producing a product that wasn’t aimed exclusively at guitarists. This product was an innovative new cable that featured enhanced durability, a patented strain-relief design, and gold contact points that increased connectivity and limited oxidation. These new cables were designed to be entirely tonally transparent, and were actually among the first cables that were designed to do more than simply carry a signal.
Under the close supervision of Jim D’Addario, Planet Waves has grown to become one of the premier manufacturers of musical accessories in the world. The company arguably has the widest range of musical products on the market today, and with their dedication to providing quality accessories at a reasonable price they’ve quickly become a household name for musicians the world over. No exception to this trend, the Planet Waves Classic guitar strap presents a great value for any guitarist.
The first thing that players are going to notice when they’re looking at this strap is that it’s easily on of the cheapest leather guitar straps available. Leather has always been prized for its durability, especially so in guitar straps. There’s nothing worse than a strap breaking and sending your guitar careening into the floor, especially if you’re playing a more fragile instrument. Leather also doesn’t stretch as much as other materials commonly used in guitar straps, which helps keep your strap pins from sliding out of the strap.
Even better, raw leather (like what you find on the inner portion of a guitar strap) doesn’t have a tendency to slide around when you’re playing. This is incredibly important, especially when you’re performing to a live audience.
As far as the strap itself is concerned, one of the best parts about the Planet Waves Classic Leather Guitar strap is the system it uses to shorten and lengthen the strap. Rather than using buckles it utilizes a slip and knot configuration. While this configuration is a bit more difficult to adjust on the fly than a buckle it does help ensure that your guitar isn’t going to be scratched while you’re playing.
The only thing to keep in mind with this strap is that it isn’t really padded. This isn’t going to affect anyone playing a lighter guitar (think a Fender or most semi-hollow or hollow body instruments) but it may cause heavier guitars (like a Les Paul) to dig into your shoulder while you’re playing. Your experience with this is going to vary depending on the way you position your strap and your instrument.
As far as quality is concerned, when considering the price of this strap most musicians aren’t going to find it lacking in any way. The leather is a bit softer than what you’d find with a higher-end strap, but all this means is that it may have a bit of a settling in period (the strap may stretch a bit when you first use it with an instrument, so you may have to adjust the length a time or two).
Also, the inner side of the strap is unfinished. While this does mean that it’s not as likely to slip around on your shoulder it may be a bit irritating if you play in a tank top. Of course, this is also going to depend on how you position the strap and your instrument.
The Planet Waves Classic Leather Guitar Strap presents a great value to any musician. So long as you don’t overly abuse this strap there’s no reason to believe that it won’t stand up to the rigors of regular practice and/or performance. It’s also one of the most cost effective options available, which is a plus if you’re budget is a bit thin.
Dunlop D3809BK Guitar Strap
Founded in 1965 by Jim Dunlop, Dunlop Manufacturing has been one of the most prolific manufacturers of music accessories for decades. Jim Dunlop was a Scottish immigrant, and he actually founded the company as a small side business while working as a processing and chemical engineer at Barr and Stroud in Glasgow. He was actually an apprentice to the man who would go on to create the first hip replacement.
Dunlop’s first invention was the Vibra-Tuner, which was one of the first electronic tuners. The device worked by comparing the vibration of the guitar to that of a small reed. However, rather than utilizing a clip (like what you’d see with a Snark or Korg tuner) the device used a suction cup. Dunlop was also one of the first to create a capo that was able to properly function with a 12-string guitar. Later, Dunlop also worked to create new guitar picks.
Dunlop now produces an incredibly diverse range of musical accessories. The company has made capos, guitar picks, slides, strings, fret wire, strap retainers, the original Cry Baby wah, the Uni-Vibe phaser, the Heil Talk Box, in addition to both the MXR and Way Huge line of effects pedals.
No exception to Dunlop’s long standing commitment to innovation, the Dunlop D3809BK guitar strap presents a great value to any musician.
An important thing to note with this guitar strap is that it’s made from nylon. Nylon is a very durable material, though in some situations it does have a tendency to slip around. Generally this happens when you’re wearing a slick material, so as long as you’re wearing a cotton or polyester shirt or jacket you should be fine.
This strap is also 2” wide, which is a good moderate width. This strap may dig into your shoulder if you’re playing a heavier guitar (like a Les Paul), though it shouldn’t be an issue with a lighter instrument. The actual strap itself is a bit thicker than other nylon guitar straps, which does help to mitigate the extra strain produced by heavier instruments, though it should be noted that it doesn’t completely eliminate it.
This strap measure from 38” to 65”, ensuring that just about any guitar player should find a length that’s suitable for their preferences. The strap also features genuine leather ends, which helps keep your guitar from slipping out of the strap. Lastly, the Dunlop D3809BK is available in a wide variety of different colors and patterns.
Unlike a lot of other brands, when you buy a Dunlop product you can be assured that it’s going to be a quality product. Dunlop produces products that you can depend on, and even better they’re all relatively affordable.
Though nylon may not be as reputable a material as leather, so long as you don’t excessively abuse it this strap should last you for several years. The leather ends help with this as well, as while leather stretches it does maintain its shape for a longer period of time than other materials commonly used in guitar straps.
The jacquard woven design also helps to enhance the durability of the strap, and it also gives it a rougher texture which helps to keep it from sliding as much as plain woven straps.
Lastly, an important thing to note with this strap is that for the price you would have a hard time finding a similar level of quality. Because Dunlop is such a large company they’re able to produce products for much cheaper than a smaller company would be able to sustain, and they pass this on to the consumer. All things considered they wouldn’t be out of line to charge $20.00 for this strap, so it’s pretty impressive and admirable that they sell this strap for less than half of that.
Considering Dunlop’s legacy as one of the most prolific manufacturers of musical accessories the world has ever seen it’s no surprise that this strap presents a great value to musicians. The strap is durable, aesthetically pleasing, and is made from high quality components. So if you’re looking for a great strap, you definitely can’t go wrong with the Dunlop D3809BK guitar strap.
Perri’s Leathers Suede Guitar Strap
Every musician looks at their guitar strap differently. For some it’s just an accessory, and it doesn’t matter to them how it looks so long as it gets the job done. For others, their guitar strap is a more personal choice. To these musicians a guitar strap is an expression of their identity as a musician, and they can’t imagine playing with a strap doesn’t reflect their personality and taste.
Lou Perri has always catered to the latter type of musician. They know that for some of us the guitar strap is just as personal a choice as their instrument, and so they make an effort to provide high-quality straps that cater to any musician’s sensibilities. Perri was a music teacher and a musician, he was actually a member of The Amigos during the eighties, and during the 80s he acquired a guitar strap company. Perri later passed the company on to his son Anthony.
Anthony founded Perri’s Leathers in 1998, and from that point on the company has been on the cutting edge of guitar strap design. In the relatively short time that the business has been operating Anthony Perri has established contacts in the industry that include more than 700 retailers as wells as tens of thousands of professional and hobbyist musicians.
With the history of the company in mind, it’s no surprise that they’ve never compromised their dedication to providing a quality handmade product. Every strapped produced by the company is design and created in their Canadian headquarters.
No exception to the legacy established by the company, the Perri’s Leathers DL325S-201 2.5 Inch Soft Suede Guitar Strap with Sheep Skin Pad presents a great value to any musician.
The distinguishing feature of this strap is that it includes a sheepskin pad. This is a feature that’s generally exclusive to much more expensive guitar straps, which is a shame because it really does do a lot to increase comfort. A sheepskin pad helps to keep your strap from digging into your shoulder, which depending on how heavy your instrument is can be both incredibly uncomfortable and very distracting.
Another great feature of this strap is that it doesn’t feature any metal buckles. Most guitar straps that do feature metal pieces aren’t necessarily going to damage your guitar, but if you’re playing an instrument that cost several hundred dollars (if not significantly more) why take the risk of damaging your guitar?
Lastly, this strap is also aesthetically pleasing. Even if the strap doesn’t appeal to your sensibilities, it would be impossible to argue that there wasn’t a lot of care taken in designing this strap. The dedication that Perri’s Leathers takes with their straps is reflected in every element of the product, appearances included.
Just like every other strap in this article, there’s nothing about the Perri’s Leathers DL325S-201 2.5-Inch Soft Suede Guitar Strap with Sheep Skin Pad that suggests that it won’t perform as advertised. As of writing the strap has been reviewed by more than 100 people on Amazon, and even with that many reviews it’s still sitting at a 4.5 total rating. Unlike a lot of products, the five star ratings make up the vast majority of the total impressions of the product.
Surprisingly, out of all the reviews the overall consensus is that the strap arrives as advertised. There are some reports that the strap may be a bit too short for taller musicians or those who like to play with the guitar lower on their waist, but of course that’s true with other products as well so we wouldn’t really say that it’s a con.
Lastly, the price of the strap is also very reasonable. You would be hard pressed to find a better bargain for a genuine leather strap, especially one with any sort of padding for your shoulder.
The Perri’s Leathers DL325S-201 2.5-Inch Soft Suede Guitar Strap with Sheep Skin pad presents a great value for the musician who is willing to pay a bit more for a strap that is both more comfortable and more aesthetically pleasing that what you’d find in a lower tier product.
Levy’s Leathers 2 Carving Leather Guitar Strap With Bullets
Do you like bullets? Do you like playing the guitar? Why not combine them? This genuine leather strap will ensure that you make quite the statement wherever you happen to be playing.
Founded in Antigonish, Nova Scotia in 1973, Levy’s Leather has been one of the premier producers of guitar straps for decades. Like many entrepreneurs, Dennis Levy’s foray into the world of producing guitar accessories was inspired by a lifelong passion.
Levy started his business with nothing but a few hides of leather, some leather working tools, and a healthy dose of determination. In the early years of his career he handcrafted a wide variety of leather goods, including but not limited to: belts, watchbands, gun slings, and of course guitar straps. Sometime in the following years he met his wife Cheryl Clarke, and together they invested every penny they had into building what would go on to become the guitar strap company.
Shortly after the company launched, Jerome MacPherson and Harvey Levy were hired to assist the company in 1975. Harvey Levy was a lifelong guitar player, and it was with his expertise that the company finally started producing the guitar straps that would go on to become world renowned.
As of writing Levy’s guitar straps are available in more than 80 countries all over the world, and though the company may be producing products on a much larger scale than they were during their infancy they still maintain a dedication to quality and an approach that emphasizes craftsmanship over raw profit. No exception to this trend, the Levy’s Leathers 2 Carving Leather Guitar Strap with Bullets presents an aesthetically pleasing option to any musician.
The first thing players are going to notice when they look at this strap is that it’s covered in (fake, obviously) bullets. The bullets are purely an aesthetic choice, and aside from introducing some extra weight to the strap it’s not going to have any effect on your playing.
The strap is also made from genuine leather, which is going to ensure that your strap isn’t going to degrade or break (more on the quality of the strap in the sections below). The only con with leather straps is that it can be a bit difficult to force your strap end through the hole, which while that’s a bit of a pain when you initially go to use the strap it does keep your guitar from falling while you’re playing.
Lastly, the strap also features a metal buckle, which functions like a belt. This buckle shouldn’t be noticeable while you’re playing, but the potential exists.
There’s a sharp divide between leather straps and straps made from other materials, whether that material is nylon or polypropylene. Leather is much more durable than just about any other commercially used material commonly found in guitar straps, so when you buy a leather strap you know that it’s going to last.
Of course, because leather is so much more expensive than other commonly used materials that does mean that it’s going to be a higher initial investment. This is doubly true with this strap, because in addition to being made from leather it also features the bullets. A plain leather strap is obviously going to be significantly cheaper, but considering the fact that this strap is mostly going to last you for decades it’s really not priced all that outrageously.
Lastly, one thing to consider about this strap is that it’s a bit long; While this isn’t going to affect musicians of average or above average height, shorter guitar players are most likely going to find this strap a bit uncomfortable (unless of course you prefer to play your guitar farther down on your waist).
While the Levy’s Leathers 2 Carving Leather Guitar Strap with Bullets may require a high initial investment, it is undoubtedly a high-quality product. Your strap supports your guitar, and if you’ve spent several hundred dollars on your instrument it’s worth it to purchase a strap that you can depend on. So while this strap may not be the most cost effective option, you can rest assured that it’s not going to let you down when you need it. And even better, if you’re in to the aesthetics of the strap you’d be hard pressed to find a better option.