Guitarists have no shortage of accessories to choose from when they’re a hobbyist, an intermediate player, or even a gigging professional.

Between fretboard cleaner, string winders, pick holders, cables, and capos, there are a number of accessories that can help a guitarist care for their instrument and improve the quality of their performance.

For the gigging musician, there are a few main accessories they depend on constantly. One of these is the guitar strap. A strap is something any player can use, as it has the simple function of making it more comfortable to play while standing up. But for those who play standing up at shows on a regular basis, having a quality strap is not just helpful – it is vital.

Good straps offer guitarists a mix of style and convenience. They can look great and complement a look the band is trying to achieve while also accentuating the look of the instrument. They also provide valuable protection, allowing the guitarist to comfortably hold their instrument over their neck and shoulder without fear of it falling.

Choosing the best strap is a matter of preference in most cases, though there are some prominent brands and features to look for.

What Features Should a Strap Have?

A guitar strap should, above all, provide stability and comfort for the musician using it. Those who play guitar usually want to take great care of their instrument, meaning they want a strap that is strong enough to hold the guitar reliably without fear of it dropping.

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Musicians also favor comfortable equipment, especially during long gigs. Even adjustable straps can get uncomfortable quickly if they are made from poor-quality material. For those who have never used a guitar strap before, it could be likened to wearing a seatbelt that is too tight. It can put immense pressure on the neck and shoulder that can make the musician sore and even negatively impact their performance. Some straps come with additional padding, providing more comfort for the user.

Most straps can be adapted to the type of guitar being played. For example, even a strap made for an electric guitar could be used on an acoustic without a designated strap button near the neck. Most straps can simply be tied above the upper nut with a string, allowing them to hold acoustic and electric models with ease.

It’s also wise to look for straps that feature locks. These features usually require little-to-no modifications to the instrument itself and can even allow the musician to perform tricks like “slings” where they toss the instrument over their shoulder and catch it coming up from the other side.

Strap locks are also helpful for the guitarist that plays other instruments on stage like keyboards or harmonica and may find they need a free hand or two to manage this feat.

Which Strap Material is the Best?

Guitar straps are made from vinyl, suede, and even leather. While vinyl guitar straps may come for a cheaper price, leather guitar straps offer a little more protection and (in some cases) more cushioning for the musician’s shoulder and neck.

Popular brands like Gibson, Fender, and Levy all make high-quality straps that are used by gigging musicians around the world. These straps are engineered with the musician in mind and can usually provide the full range of functions while still looking good.

Some musicians may also opt to have a custom guitar strap made. This can feature the name of the band for added effect and can help a musician stand out on stage. Custom straps can be engineered based on individual preference – whether a person wants a simple vinyl strap or a leather one complete with locks, modern manufacturers can make it happen with ease.

Almost all straps are adjustable, and custom options can be designed for special cases as well. For example, a person playing a double-neck guitar may need a stronger strap with stronger locks to compensate for the added weight. Likewise, a taller or bigger person may need a bigger strap as well.

How Long Do Guitar Straps Last?

Like many musical accessories taken on the road, straps can wear down quickly. Particularly, those that are taken off and put back on often can find the openings for the strap buttons wear down quickly.

This can put the strap at a higher risk of failing, and potentially letting the instrument fall. Leather straps tend to wear down slower than others, and many musicians don’t unlock their straps in order to stop this type of wear from occurring in the first place.

Guitar straps are the type of accessory any guitarist can use – but for those who gig regularly and play standing up often, having a quality strap is extremely important.

 

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