What Types of Guitar Straps are Best?


Many new and intermediate guitarists often overlook the importance of a proper guitar strap. However, anyone that’s spent any significant amount of time playing on their feet understands how crucial a properly fitted guitar strap can be to save your shoulder and back from hours of agony. 

Your strap is an essential piece of equipment that supports the weight of arguably your most prized possession. The best type of guitar strap for you will depend on two important features. First, the type of guitar you play; and second, the weight of your guitar.

Below, you’ll find the necessary information to help you match the appropriate guitar strap to your particular guitar. As always, comfort is a subjective area, but these guidelines will offer you a good starting point.

Which Guitar Straps are Best for You

What Are The Different Types Of Guitar Straps?

There are a variety of straps to choose from. Not only do the textiles vary, but the designs, elasticity, adjustability, and even latching mechanisms will vary from one strap to the next. Some straps are very budget-friendly and basic, while others are extremely elaborate and expensive.

A typical store-bought strap can range anywhere from two inches to four inches in width. Occasionally, you might find one that’s around 4 ½ inches. The average length can be anywhere from 40 to 60 inches, and most are adjustable. 

The most common straps are usually in the two to three-inch range.

When shopping for a strap, don’t overlook the importance of the length. Be sure to check the functionality of its adjustability, as well as ensure that it will reach the length that you need it to reach based on your height and body build.

Straps can be constructed with a wide variety of materials, and each has its own set of benefits. Here are the most common straps on the market.

1. Nylon Straps 

Nylon straps are probably the most common of the guitar straps. They are lightweight and come in a wide array of colors, patterns, and styles. They’re strong and durable, and they are difficult to damage. 

In addition to being the most common, they are also the cheapest and are usually provided with starter guitar packs. They are easily adjustable and fairly easy to attach to the strap pins on your guitar.

2. Polyester Straps

Polyester straps are still very affordable, but a little more expensive than your basic nylon strap. Made from polyester, as the name suggests, these straps often offer a good selection of motifs to choose from. 

Many of them come with heat-transferred high-resolution images that you can tailor to your personal style. These straps are lightweight but strong, offer a slight bit of elasticity, and are great for beginners and those on a budget. 

3. Cotton Straps

Many musicians claim that cotton straps are exceptionally comfortable, and they’re the preferred choice for guitarists that like their guitars to stay put.

Other straps will slide back and forth over the shoulder, but because of cotton’s increased friction, they have a tendency to remain in place without sliding. 

Cotton straps are soft, affordable, and won’t cut into your shoulder as other straps do. They come in a wide array of options and styles, and some are even padded. They traverse a wide spectrum of prices from the mid-teens to the sixties depending on what you’re looking for. 

4. Leather Straps

Leather straps are by far the strongest, most durable, and most expensive. They can endure a great deal of wear and tear and are highly resistant to damage. 

However, some guitarists simply don’t like them. Some say they can be too rigid, while others claim that leather lacks essential breathability and causes the skin to sweat a lot more. Leather also tends to stretch out over time. 

Additionally, leather ladder straps are a bit more complicated to adjust, and some just don’t like the hassle. 

Leather comes in many different varieties including full-grain, top-grain, Nubuck, and suede. Leather is typically much more expensive than your average strap, but it also affords you the opportunity for a custom made strap that’s perfect for your style. 

5. Seatbelt Straps

You may hear the term “seatbelt strap” tossed around by guitarists and wonder what they’re referring to. Seatbelt straps can come in any of the aforementioned textiles and are simply dubbed as seatbelt straps due to their design and resemblance to a traditional car seatbelt.

6. The Betty

Another term floated around by guitarists, also called the MONO Betty, is a unique wide wale design with a thin memory foam core. Designed to offset fatigue while on stage, it has a smooth neoprene underside. 

Which Guitar Straps Types Are The Most Comfortable?

Obviously, comfort is subjective and what’s comfortable for one may not be for another. However, a good majority of guitarists claim that the most comfortable guitar straps are the ones that have added padding to the shoulder regardless of the material it’s made with. 

For heavier guitars and bass guitars, MONO Betty straps are extremely popular due to their wide-wale design that more evenly distributes the weight of the guitar.

Wide-wale is similar to corduroy except the vertical ribs are much wider. MONO Betty straps are acclaimed for reducing fatigue in the shoulder area thanks to their memory foam padding. 

While comfort is subjective, most guitarists agree that their least favorite options are thin guitar straps that dig into their shoulders over a long period of time. The thinner the strap, the more localized the discomfort.

Do Heavier Guitars Need Wider Straps?

Many guitarists do prefer a wider strap for heavier guitars because they directly affect the comfort level of playing while standing. A wider strap will distribute the weight more evenly across your shoulder thereby creating less strain and fatigue for you. 

However, there are some that feel the wider straps create unnecessary bulk and impede playability, especially if you wear your guitar up high.

Additionally, as a person of small stature, I don’t particularly like them simply because my shoulder isn’t big enough to bear the width, and they cut into my neck. 

So while wider straps will distribute the weight more evenly, for some evenly doesn’t equal comfortably. At the very least, if you have a heavier guitar, wear the widest strap that you can comfortably wear.

Which Strap Types Are Best For Long Playing Sessions?

Very simply, the one that’s the best is the one that’s comfortable for you. Because everyone is built so very differently, our levels of comfort are also different. However, a good majority of guitarists prefer straps that are padded, regardless of the material they are made from. 

What Size Strap?

While your strap is a very important piece of gear, there’s no definitive one size fits all answer to which one is best. 

You’ll want to make sure it adjusts to the desired length to suit your playing style, and you’ll want to make sure that it comfortably bears the weight of your guitar without cutting into your shoulder or neck. 

Slippery vs Grippy Straps

If you like your strap to slide on your shoulder, or you have a tendency to move your guitar around a lot as you play, then you should probably avoid cotton straps. As already mentioned, they tend to seat securely on the shoulder. 

Avoiding leather ladder straps is recommended if you have the habit of adjusting your strap a lot, as they are notoriously a pain. 

Wide vs Narrow Straps

When playing heavy guitars such as a bass or even a Les Paul, the wider the strap the better, so long as it’s not too wide for comfort. Evenly distributing the weight makes longer playing sessions so much easier and saves your back and shoulder from a lot of undue pain. 

If you have a lighter instrument like an acoustic or a semi-hollow body, then a standard 2-3 inch strap would be sufficient enough. Just choose a textile and style that you’re comfortable with and go with a padded version for added comfort.

The Best Strap Type For Acoustic Guitars

Depending on whether your acoustic guitar has one strap pin or two will greatly influence the answer to this question. A strap connected to a front pin will feel much differently than a strap connected to the headstock. 

Because acoustics are typically lightweight, usually nylon and cotton straps are sufficient enough. Some guitarists prefer the leather straps because they just look and feel classier, but other guitarists prefer the nylon because it’s easier to work with. 

Stylistically, wider straps will look better with larger dreadnought and jumbo-style guitars, while smaller straps look better on smaller bodies. Seeing a thin strap on a jumbo guitar just looks disproportionately weird.

The Best Strap Type For Electric Guitar Players

Electric guitars and bass guitars are substantially heavier than your typical acoustic. For this reason, a good portion of guitarists recommends wide leather straps. As already mentioned, the wider straps help distribute the weight better and can make your experience more comfortable. 

In general, leather is substantially better quality than nylon and is, therefore, more durable so you won’t have to worry about your strap degrading over time. 

Regardless of what kind of material your strap is made of, at the very least you definitely want one that’s padded. Your shoulder will thank you.

Padded straps are usually made of neoprene, memory foam, or fur and will give you the most comfortable set-up allowing you to play longer without any substantial discomfort. 

Final Thoughts

While there’s no definitive answer for which guitar straps are best, these guidelines will start you out on the right path

Key factors include verifying that it adjusts to your desired length and ensuring that it’s wide enough to distribute the weight evenly without cutting into your neck or shoulder. Of course, padding is always an added bonus that enhances comfort levels.