When it comes to playing your acoustic guitar standing up you are going to need a strap.
This post will help you to choose the best acoustic guitar strap for you so that you can make an informed decision about which type is best for you.
The first thing to think about is whether your acoustic has one or two strap pins.
One or Two Strap Pins?
If you have an acoustic guitar with two strap pins then you’ll attach your strap by placing it on the two strap pins.
However, most acoustics only have one strap pin (at the bottom of the body). If this is the case then you still have the same choice of straps but you’ll need to attach some string (a shoe lace works well but you can also get purpose designed strap ends) to the end of the strap.
The shoe lace or string then ties around the headstock.
If you only have 1 pin on your acoustic but want 2 (i.e. don’t want to tie around the headstock) then you can also have a 2nd pin installed. I suggest you have a trained guitar luthier do this though. You could do it yourself but you risk splitting the wood if you don’t know what you’re doing!
What’s the Better Way to Strap?
Some guitarists prefer to have the strap tied around the headstock. Others prefer to have the strap attached to a 2nd strap pin on the heel of the guitar.
This might partly come down to what you’re used to. For example if you’re an electric guitarist starting to play acoustic then you might like the 2nd strap pin because that’s how you are used to attaching it on your electric guitar.
Some people prefer the weight distribution of the headstock strap and others prefer the movement of the 2nd strap pin.
If you’ve never played standing up, and your guitar only has one strap pin, then I’d recommend trying the headstock method first to see if you like it. If you do then you don’t need to get a strap pin installed. If you’re not sure, then try an acoustic that has two strap pins and see if you like that better. If you like that better, then you’ll need to get a 2nd pin installed.
O.k. so now you know how you want to strap your guitar (hopefully!). This doesn’t necessarily affect your strap choice (because headstock straps are usually just the same straps and come with a piece of or string or other material to tie to the headstock or you can just get one without any string and use a shoelace or buy a specialist product for the job) but it’s something you’ll want to decide when strapping your guitar on for the first time.
When you do go to buy a strap, you will need to make sure that it will adjust to the length that you want it to. Most straps will have a decent range and should fit but make sure. Especially if you are particularly tall – make sure that the strap will be able to go long enough.
Because we are talking about acoustic guitars, you shouldn’t need to get anything that adjusts to extremely long.
The width of the strap probably isn’t the most important part – but it can affect the comfort and mobility of the strap.
If the strap is too narrow it won’t distribute the weight over your shoulder and will probably become uncomfortable quickly.
If it is too wide, then it could restrict maneuverability.
Straps are usually between 2” and 3”.
Material – Comfort, Strength and Longevity
You’ll need to decide on the material of the strap that you want. There are a few different strap materials that are common.
You’ll want to think about how comfortable they’ll be, how strong they are, how long they’ll last and weigh all of this up with how much they cost.
Most cheap guitar straps are made from Nylon. Think of a cheap seat-belt material. That’s kind of what they’re like.
Pros: Low cost
Cons: Not that comfortable, cheap looking
Even nylon straps often have leather ends (the bit where the strap pins on your guitar attach) though not necessarily.
If you want to step up in terms of style, strength and comfort then you might want to consider a leather strap. Leather straps can be a bit stiff and not that comfortable to start with but as you wear it in it becomes more and more comfortable and flexible.
Pros: Stronger, more durable, comfortable once broken in
Cons: Takes a bit to break in, more expensive (though you can still get reasonable priced options)
You can also get cotton straps. These can be a good alternative to Nylon straps. They’re a bit softer and less likely to cut into your shoulder but are still reasonably cheap – usually a little bit more than nylon though.
Pros: More comfortable than nylon
Cons: Not as strong as leather, slightly more costly than nylon
Then there are straps that are actually made from seat-belt material. These are stronger and smoother to adjust than they’re cheaper nylon counterparts.
Pros: Strong, smooth adjustments, affordable
Cons: Still not that comfortable, more costly than nylon but still affordable
Finally, we come to Vinyl. Probably the most expensive straps on average but also typically really comfortable and strong. And they have a really different classic look. Not for everyone but if you like that kind of style then you should consider a vinyl strap (if your budget allows for it).
They are often quite thick and can be the best option for heavier guitars.
Pros: Stylish (though this is in the eye of the beholder), strong, comfortable
Cons: More expensive
You can also get straps that have extra padding for where the strap will be on your shoulders. This is great for if you play for long periods of time standing up or have a heavier guitar.
This padding is usually made from neoprene foam.
Strap Locks – Extra Protection
Finally just a quick word on strap locks.
Once you’ve decided on the best strap for you, you should also consider getting strap locks. Strap locks secure your guitar to your strap more securely which is a great idea, especially if you have an expensive guitar to protect.
Thanks for reading
I hope this post has helped you to decide on the best acoustic guitar strap for you. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.