They have no effect on your tone but make no mistake; guitar straps matter. The right height, width and material will all affect your playing experience on a comfort level, and just as important is the look. Your guitar strap makes a statement about you as a player, and if you love your guitar it deserves that finishing touch courtesy of the best guitar straps around, right?
But the only problem with choosing one is the sheer breadth of choice out there – it’s overwhelming. Worry no more! We’ve done the legwork for you and rounded up our pick of the best guitar strap brands and designs to do your electric, acoustic or bass guitar proud.
What is the best guitar strap?
Levy's PM32 Garment Leather guitar strap is a top pick for us. Leather ages well and its aesthetic fits the timeless quality of our guitars, but for a strap to make the grade for us as the best all-rounder it has to offer comfort along with its looks. The reality is that some guitars are heavier than others (Gibson Les Paul Customs, we’re looking at you) and that has an impact on players’ bodies – especially the shoulder area. So while there’s some astounding value out there for leather straps, this ticks all the right boxes.
If you’re searching for bang for buck Ernie Ball’s Polypro is very hard to argue with – and although black works with most guitars it’s reassuring to know Ernie Ball provide 11 colour options – including a rainbow coloured design similar to ones we’ve seen Bob Dylan, Jimmy Page and Tom DeLonge use. With 2" wide Polypropylene webbing and adjustable length from 41" to 72" this will suit most needs as your first guitar strap… who knows, it could also go the distance and be your last!
Best guitar straps: some history
We all know guitars are collectable, well so are most things connected to them too. And that definitely includes guitar straps. Because there’s history here; the need to attach the guitar to the player’s body by fixing a strap to the guitar’s endpin/s goes back a long time. In the early days of guitar playing it was normal for a performer to be seated – 19th century instruments didn’t include enpins. In the 20th century this changed.
While even the trailblazers of jazz such a Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt in the 1930s were in no hurry to stand up, country and folk musicians in the US had other ideas. Musicians including Woodie Guthrie and Maybelle Carter would often stand in live performance with cloth cord straps fixed to the headstock of their acoustics and archtops (second strap buttons were not common then).
Straps were some way behind guitar technology until the mid 1950s when things got a little more exciting in the width, shoulder comfort and style departments. And that coincided with the heavier solid body electric guitar entering with rock ‘n’ roll with a second strap button – and the nature of guitar performance changing to become a truly lead instrument.
By the mid sixties leather straps with thicker padded shoulder parts were a common sight. Woven jacquard styles sewn to a leather or fabric backing nicknamed ‘hootenany’ straps began to surface with a myriad of patterns and colours. The guitar strap became more of a statement piece with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash’s adoption of this style of strap, helping to ensure their continued popularity to this day. But they’re only part of the strap evolution we’re going to cover here…
The best guitar straps around today
Canadian company Levy’s have a 40-year history crafting guitar straps and this one ticks all the right boxes for a price we’re seeing around $65 online – quality leather is used outside and in the lining for comfort, and a 2.5” width makes it able to spread the weight of heavier wood guitars more.
There’s five colours available – with black and white solid colour options, plus brown, dark brown, tan and white with black edging and backing. Usefully, there’s 3” and 3.5” width options available for bassists or those needing more weight relief for their guitars.
It’s hard to go wrong here – a great starter strap in a wide selection of solid colours that’s an ideal entry to Ernie Ball’s ever-expanding range of straps (we love the retro vibes of the company’s Jacquard polypro patterns and the useful Pickholder straps too).
These 2” wide straps are extra long to cater for most player heights and the leather ends will help ensure the Polypro will do you proud as long as you need it.
The greatest guitar player of all time deserves recognition for his service to popularising woven jacquard straps, Dunlop understand that so they’ve dedicated a whole range to him. And it’s a great balance of style and tribute with a collection that recreates his landmark strap designs – the Fillmore, Shreveport, ITG Studios, Monterey and this Woodstock design.
The latter is our pick of the bunch because the design has serious provenance – it was also used onstage by Elvis (see the 1968 NBC TV ‘Comeback’ Special) and Johnny Cash (Folsom Prison). Unsurprisingly the originals by Ace are collectible on the vintage market.
Favoured by Steve Vai and John Petrucci, the ClipLock series is a well-established quick release strap system – the first company to use a heavy duty plastic clip to allow you to switch the strap between guitars quickly. Your other guitars just need to be fitted with a pair of Cliplock fasteners that screw in to replace your strap buttons.
The idea is these ClipLock fasteners (available to buy separately too) stay on your guitars even when you detach the strap. The straps are made from 2” wide car seatbelt material for comfort and strength with a wide range of colours and patterns available from solid black to Vai’s colourful signature series.
Relic’d guitars can divide opinion. We understand that, but what about a subtly distressed leather guitar strap? We think the results from Fender are highly persuasive here and continue the high standards of the Road Worn series that’s been such a hit with its guitars.
The soft broken in leather punches above its price point with online prices falling significantly under the RRP, plus it’s available in black as well as the brown shown here.
Not all acoustic guitars come fitted with a second, upper endpin button for straps. So if fitting one fills you with dread it makes sense to work with what you have and attach a strap to the headstock, old school-style. This will solve that problem, with the cord helping to keep your fretting hand away from the main bulk of the strap. But it also offers a second advantage…
The Quick Release system is just that – allowing you to detach the strap (and yourself from it) with just one squeeze. This is a great value solution for acoustic players.
Whether you’re a fifties vintage devotee or just looking for a lower profile look for your strap, this is a great value option from Fender.
It’s a thinner strap with the practicality of shoulder comfort. The buckle is even a replica of their original design from back in the golden era with the improvement of a thicker shoulder pad this time around.
It’s tempting to go for leather and studs to sell your credentials but the lightning bolt is for the real connoisseur of classic heavy thunder; just ask unashamed metalhead Rivers Cuomo who rocks a similar design with Weezer. Surely a nod to Kiss’s former spaceman Ace Frehley who was one of the first to sport one – we’ve also spotted The Strokes Albert Hammond Jr, Eagles Of Death Metal’s Jessie Hughes and Regina Spector rockin’ the bolt too.
This nylon strap gets you into the select club at an affordable entry fee, and if you’re playing a Gibson guitar too it’s the perfect match.