Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Never Knew I Was So... Unique

I have been making custom handmade guitar straps for a very long time. For years I had filled our home with all kinds of needlework... needlepoint, embroidery, long-stitch, all of it. One day my then 14-year-old son, who was learning to play guitar, asked me if I could decorate a strap for him. So, I bought a $5 Ernie Ball strap and started working on it, just filled it up with every kind of color and stitch I knew. When it was done, I presented it to him and he LOVED it. His friends loved it. Their friends loved it. I made so many of those little straps! I decided to get serious and started researching guitar straps, the advantages and disadvantages of different materials, function limitations, width, length, just every detail I could find about what makes the best strap while balancing cost.

I learned that 2-inch straps are the standard, 3-inch straps are the ideal, 4-inch straps are difficult for smaller people to use. So, the foundation for my straps is 3-inch wide, commercial grade, 2,000-pound test polypropylene that I buy in 100 yard rolls.

I learned that the conventional leather button tabs on commercial straps are prone to warp and tear over time and bass guitars are particular victims of this flaw because of their length and weight. So, my leather tabs are double density, top quality suede, sealed with commercial tanner's glue and stitched with a heavy waxed leather sewing thread.

I learned that a guitar strap that doesn't extend to at least 72 inches (6 feet) is going to be too short for some people. So, all my straps are 6 feet long from button tab hole to button tab hole. While I can make a custom length strap that is longer, so far no one has asked for one.

I learned that one of the frustrations of guitar players is when the strap slides around on their shoulder and bunches their shirts up. So, all my straps are lined on the back with a slick fabric: satin, rayon, brocade, something that will slide when you need it to slide but won't take your shirt with it.

I learned that sewing machines are fast but, ultimately, the stitching is not reliable if a guitar is hard-played. So, all my guitar straps are hand-stitched. Completely. Totally. No machine, not ever.

It took me about a year to put all these observations and suggestions from musicians together. Based on them I have put together one of the best-designed guitar straps on the market. Also, one of the most affordable. But, honestly, I did not realize how unique my straps were until I started really looking around at the custom guitar strap market. To me, my strap design is a no-brainer. Why wouldn't everyone make their straps, at least their fabric straps, the way I do? Well, I don't know... but they don't. I could not find one single guitar strap maker, custom or otherwise, who makes their straps the way I make mine. Maybe the difference is that I'm less interesting in cutting my costs than in I am in making a guitar strap that people really, really love.

So, that's what I make. Soon I'll put a post up of HOW I make them. Then, anybody who wants to can make straps as good as mine... LOL Thanks for reading! Terri