Playing the guitar is a great form of expression. No matter what your skill level or preferred style of music, there's nothing better than time spent with your favorite axe.
And yet owning a guitar is about more than learning chords and practicing your chops. You also need the right accessories for maximizing the playing experience.
One of the most important accessories is your guitar strap. Buying the right strap is more important than you might think. In fact, using the wrong strap could make for a long night on stage.
In this article, we look at some mistakes to avoid when choosing a strap for your guitar. Keep reading to learn the facts.
Types of Guitars
It should come as no mystery that there's more than one style of guitar. The three basic types are electric, acoustic, and classical. Let's look at each.
Most electric guitars have a solid wood body. A Fender Stratocaster is a perfect example of a solid-body electric guitar. This body style is much thinner than the other guitar types on this list and is also much heavier because of the solid body construction and onboard electronics.
There are also hollow body electric guitars such as a typical jazz guitar or many Gibson models. Yet these guitars are also much heavier than the average acoustic because of body size and onboard electrics.
Because of the weight of an electric, you'll need a strap that can support the heft of the guitar without digging into your neck and shoulder. This means you'll want to avoid purchasing a strap that's designed for an acoustic or classical guitar. Make sure it features a padded area that helps protect your shoulder from bruising.
Most acoustic guitars feature a body made of wood, though some have a back and sides made of fiberglass or plastic. Acoustics are typically lighter than electrics because the wood is shaved as thin as possible to minimize sound absorption.
Acoustics are available in a variety of body sizes. Dreadnought and jumbo style guitars are big, thus producing tremendous volume when played. Smaller body styles include an SJ or small jumbo, grand concert style, and travel size acoustics that have become increasingly popular over the past decade.
An acoustic strap will be wider than an electric strap, and won't need as much padding to protect from bruising.
Classical guitars are typically the smaller and lighter of the three major guitar types.
The guitarist positions their body with one leg elevated slightly, thus angling the fingerboard upward, resting the lower body of the instrument against their inner thigh.
Classic guitars are also acoustic, but feature a wider neck, with three wound metal strings and three nylon strings that produce a crisp yet slightly muted tone compared to guitars with six metal strings.
A classical guitar requires a unique type of strap that loops around your neck, then dips around the bottom of the instrument to hook onto the lower lip of the soundhole.
This is far different from a strap designed for an electric or traditional acoustic. So don't make the mistake of thinking any old strap will fit your classical instrument.
Your Body Type
Another thing to consider is your body size and type. A person with a broader frame will have different needs than someone with narrow shoulders. Keep in mind that each style of strap will fit each body type differently. So experiment with several types of straps to figure out which is most comfortable for you.
Your Style of Play
Style of play also makes a huge difference. Jazz players and rockers are drawn to different styles of straps. You should also take into consideration how much you move around the stage during a performance.
The weight of your strap is a personal preference. But avoid buying one that is heavier than you need. After all, the weight of the strap will add to the overall weight of your instrument, and you don't want to carry around more than necessary.
Many players choose a nylon strap to eliminate as much bulk and weight as possible.
The two primary materials used for guitar straps are leather and nylon. Both materials make great straps, so the decision is mostly personal preference. Again, nylon is lighter, but leather will last longer is more visually attractive.
The length of your strap is one of the most important factors to consider. You don't want it to be too long or too short.
If it's too long, the instrument will sit too low on your body, making fingering difficult.
And a strap that is too short will position the instrument too snuggly against your chest, which again can negatively impact your ability to play.
The width of the strap mostly impacts the way the strap rests against your neck or shoulder. A strap that is too narrow will likely dig into you, and this gets old very quickly, especially if your guitar is heavy.
Finally, let's discuss the aesthetics of picking a guitar strap. Once you've determined the length, width, and weight that is most comfortable for your body type and playing style, you can now focus on choosing a strap that reflects who you are as an individual.
There are two extremes to avoid: Avoid boring and avoid going overboard on bling. Unless you're a boring human being and want the world to know it, choose a strap with some style and flair. But also don't overdo the flashiness. A little personality goes a long way.
Things to Avoid When Choosing Your Guitar Strap
Choosing the right accessories for your guitar is important. Especially the guitar strap. When performing on stage, your strap can help make all the difference in the quality of your performance.
Click here to learn how to properly care for your leather guitar strap.