5 best guitar straps
Do you need a guitar strap?
The short answer is no. You can easily play the guitar “strap free” while sitting down and with a bit of effort while standing. You can even invest in a stand-up guitar support stand that will hold your guitar up for you. But if you want to play bass, electric or acoustic guitar and be able to move around, feel comfortable, and keep your guitar in a consistent position you are going to want to get a guitar strap. As a bonus, guitar straps look great and allow you to let your personality shine.
How to put a strap on a guitar
Most guitars come with strap buttons at each end of the guitar’s body. These are small metal disc-shaped pins and just like their name implies, you put on a strap like you button up a pair of jeans
At each end of a guitar strap you will find small key-shaped holes. You simply slip one hole over the button at the end of your guitar and one over the button near the neck. If you do not have a button on the body near the neck see below on what the string is for.
Sometimes it can take quite a bit of force to get a new strap to fit over the buttons, but over time it will loosen up.
What is the string on the guitar strap for?
Many acoustic guitars only come with one strap button on the body. In order to attach a strap, You’ll have to tie a string to the top of the neck just behind the nut, and run the string through the hole in the strap.
Over the years I have used ribbon, shoelaces, and the tie from the hood of my hoodie. Instead, I suggest checking out Calvary Straps Genuine Leather Guitar Strap Button. It’s a small piece of leather that will give you a consistent and trustworthy place to attach your strap.
How high should you wear a guitar?
Where you wear your guitar is a personal preference, everyone’s body is different. As a starting place, I would suggest adjusting your strap so that the center of your guitar is roughly at your belly button. From here you can adjust up or down for comfort and playability.
To get roughly in the right spot: start by sitting in a chair with your guitar on your lap. Attach the strap and adjust it so that the guitar floats just above your thigh. At this setting your guitar will be at the same height while sitting and standing.
For maximum consistency a strap should be worn sitting down or standing up.
Although may rock guitarist wear their guitars incredibly low, I would advise beginning players to use the suggested height until you feel very confident on the instrument. Playing with your guitar hanging very low can make it difficult to play.
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What to look for in a guitar strap
Straps come in a variety of materials and widths, both of which can greatly affect your comfort when playing your guitar. For the most comfort, look for materials that are soft and pliable, also avoid sharp edges and extra thin straps.
If you play electric guitar you’ll want to look for a wider strap. Something that is at least 2 inches wide, maybe wider if you will be holding it for a long time.
Acoustic guitars tend to be lighter so a thinner strap might be ok. Personally, I just use an Ernie Ball Polypro with my acoustic and it works just fine for me. That said, I am strong and have broad shoulders.
You will want to consider your own body, a wider strap will distribute the weight of the guitar over more surface area relieving stress on the shoulder and back, padding can help in this area as well.
It can be tempting to buy a guitar strap on looks alone. But be sure it’s practical too. A strap should be easy to put on and take off, be adjustable, stay where you put it, and not let your guitar hit the ground (unless you want it to, Hendrex style). A good strap will also keep the neck of your guitar from diving. This is when the weight of the neck pulls the guitar toward the floor if you let go of it.
It’s good to think about these things when picking out a strap:
Length – As talked about above you are going to want to position your guitar for maximum comfort and playability. Staps come in lengths of Short, Regular, and Long. Most straps have some kind of adjustment for fine tuning, but be sure to order one in the right ballpark. If you are very tall you will not want to buy a short strap. Some leather straps do not adjust, there are made to order or you get what you get, be sure to check before buying.
Two popular adjusters are:
Buckle – easiest
Like a seatbelt, a guitar strap will have an adjustable buckle. Simply adjust the strap’s length by sliding the buckle up or down.
Slotted (usually found on leather straps) – more difficult to adjust
You’ll have two pieces: a wide one that has several slots cut into one end. The other is about 1” wide with a 2-inch wide tab and will have one slot. Here’s how to put it together:
- Pass the 1-inch piece of leather through the center slot of the wide piece. Pull it almost all the way through.
- Attach the 1-inch piece to the button at the bottom of your guitar’s body and the larger end to the pin at the top.
- Play your guitar to see if the length feels right.
- Now lock the strap in. Pass the narrow end of the 1-inch piece through the slot directly behind the slot that the 2-inch piece is threaded through. As it comes through the slot, pass it through the slot on the 2-inch tab. This creates a cinch.
- Pull the narrow end of the 1-inch piece through the bottom slot on the wide piece and pull it tight. Hook the narrow end opposite the tab onto the guitar to permanently adjust it.
Locking mechanism – A strap lock is a device that secures the strap onto the instrument so it does not come loose during exuberant playing. Strap locks range from rubber washers to spring loaded clasps that can hold hundreds of pounds. Strap locks make it nearly impossible for the guitar and strap to separate.
Extras – Some straps have some bells and whistles. Things like padding, pick storage, built in strap locks, and cooling technology. None of these extras are necessary, but they sure are nice to have.
You wouldn’t pull your brand new boat to the lake on a Radio Flyer Wagon, so I assume you are not going to hang you shiny new guitar from junk either. Straps can fail, I have seen it, and sadly I have experienced it (I did cry a bit). To save you my pain, please buy a quality guitar strap.
Look for good materials, good stitching, and genuine leather. The heavier the guitar, and the more moving you do while playing, the better your strap will need to be.
Here are some popular strap materials:
Leather – Leather is the most popular strap material because of its durability, feel and high quality.
Seat Belt – These straps that are made of actual seatbelt material. They’re strong, affordable and adjust smoothly.
Polypropylene – Not only is this material incredibly durable, but it’s 100 percent recyclable.
Below you will find 5 straps that meet all the requirements of a good strap. They are arranged from least expensive to most expensive, but they will all get the job done.
Guitar Strap Round-up
Ernie Ball Polypro
The Ernie ball Polypro is an ultra-inexpensive, basic guitar strap that does its job. It’s made of resilient Polypropylene webbing capped with real leather ends — and it’s made in the USA! The strap has plenty of length for those who like to wear their guitar low, but can also be shortened with the sliding plastic buckle. I like that I can roll this strap up and fit it in my guitar case, away from my guitar.
At only 2 inches wide, it’s fine for lighter guitars, but for beasts like Les Pauls, it may dig into your skin. With heavier guitars, the Polypro may be uncomfortable because it’s not padded. The buttonholes stretch with time and may begin to slip, but at this price you can just buy a new one if that happens. You could also solve this problem with a set of strap locks. It comes in 10 vivid colors and one rainbow pattern. The construction and effectiveness are decent for the price.
Mono M80 Betty
The M80 Betty is a very ruggedly constructed, animal cruelty-free strap. It’s made of tough, military-grade webbing that’s muscular enough for heavy guitars and basses, and filled with comfortable memory foam. The soft Neoprene underbelly is designed for breathability, but it gets very warm after about 30 minutes, as though retaining body heat. The rubber ends lock nicely onto the guitar and come off easily when you’re done playing.
Due to the memory foam, this strap is on the thick side, meaning it might not fit in your guitar case, depending on how much room you have in there.
A lot of straps don’t deal well with neck dive, but the Betty is grippy and supports a neck-heavy guitar. It’s slippery enough not to bunch up your shirt but rough enough to keep a bass in place unless you move it. When you first unbox it, the Betty feels stiff but will be broken in within a few weeks.
The Betty is easy to adjust and contains a pocket to store a pick. It comes in two lengths Short, and Long. Be sure to get the right size for your body, and playing height preference. The Betty is backed by a three-year warranty.
Legato Leather Guitar Strap
The Legato leather guitar strap is a midrange strap that blows away pricier ones. It’s tastefully designed and made of top-quality, genuine leather. The strap is soft and double-padded, yet strong enough to distribute the weight of heavy guitars and basses. At an ample 3 inches wide, it spares your neck, back, and shoulder and does a great job of balancing your instrument.
It is a long strap at 50 to 57 inches, which may be too long for some players. The strap is slot adjustable and stays in place. It’s breathable and doesn’t make you sweat as some straps do.
Legato is USA-based, so when you buy from them, you’re supporting small American businesses. The owner often sends out handwritten thank you notes to customers. Who does that these days? Exceptional customer service.
KLIQ AirCell Guitar Strap
The KLIQ AirCell strap attempts to solve some of the problems that come from wearing a guitar for a long time, discomfort and sweating. The underside of the strap is equipped with raised “AirCells” that absorb shock and moisture while allowing unobstructed airflow. The air cells are nice and cushiony. That combined with the 3” width really makes this strap very comfortable, especially for heavier guitars. The ends of the strap are real leather so should last for a long time and are backed by a limited lifetime guarantee.
A few downsides to this strap are that it can be slippery, meaning your guitar may move around more than you would like it to. If you like to let go of your guitar often this could be a problem. Also, the strap has about 2 to 3 inches of flexibility, which can take some getting used too. This can cause your guitar to bounce around a bit if you do a lot of jumping while playing.
The Aircell strap comes in 5 colors and has a length to suit every body type, extra short, long and regular.
Levy's Leathers MSS1
The MSS-BLK is a beautifully constructed strap made of soft garment leather. It is a chunky, 2 1/2-inch padded strap, which distributes weight better than a 2-inch one. It’s heavy duty and works great on basses and bruisers like Les Pauls. The strap has just the right amount of grip-slip on the shoulder so your guitar won’t bounce or sway. It comfortably adjusts to the contours of your neck, back, and shoulders.
This is the most expensive of the straps listed but should last for decades. Leather can go and go. As a bonus leather tends to get softer as it ages. That being said, it will take more care, and more space to store than something like the Ernie Ball.
My hands-down favorite out of all of these straps is the Legato leather guitar strap. It has high-end performance and luxuriousness but won’t break the bank. Not only is the Legato beautifully crafted from premium leather, but it perfectly balances heavy instruments thanks to it ample 3-inch width. The strap is long, easily adjustable and stays put. It’s breathable so you’ll stay cool and sweat-free underneath. It’s also amply padded for extra comfort.
Legato’s customer service is jaw-dropping. After you buy your strap, the company’s head honcho, Lowell Alia, might mail you a handwritten thank-you note and along with a handful of Legato’s cool, colorful picks. You can’t beat that!