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I started making leather instrument straps about 25 years ago for our family’s instruments. After several prototypes and lots of design adjustments, I finally came up with something that looked good and securely and comfortably held our instruments. After locating the best harness leather available I made a few for the local musicians in the area to try out. They loved the straps and I worked a couple of suggestions into the design. Other musicians saw the straps and I got requests to sell them and things just snowballed from there. The new straps I’m currently selling have some additional design changes and options that I’ve made, some of them again resulting from customer suggestions. The Vintage Leather Straps came about from a customer’s request to make him a mandolin strap that looked like it would have been original equipment on his 1923 Lloyd Loar Gibson F-5.
For many years now music has been a large part of my life. I favor bluegrass music and play the banjo, although most of the damn kids at the festivals can play better than I can 🙂 I’m always thrilled to get one of my straps on another instrument and I always enjoy getting to know a little about my customers and what instrument each of my custom made straps is going to.
Vintage Leather Straps
My vintage leather straps are handcrafted from thoroughly cleaned and meticulously reconditioned select old/vintage leather. Each instrument strap is a unique creation and inherently different from every other one. The leather could have distress marks, indentations, surface cracking and other blemishes naturally acquired over the years.
These straps are made for daily use and each shoulder piece is lined with new suede leather. I’ll custom fit and finish each strap to the length and attachment points given by the buyer. The Guitar/Banjo straps could be set up for either a guitar or banjo and most would work fine on a dobro. Some Mandolin straps would work for a small guitar or open-back banjo if you like a small shoulder piece. Go To Vintage Leather Straps
New Leather Straps
My New Leather Straps are custom made by me one at a time using the finest full grain harness leather available. This is excellent quality, oil tanned 9 oz. USA made leather and is thicker than most leather straps. The leather will break in and become soft and very comfortable with a little use. Over time the color will gradually darken. Shoulder pieces are lined with new suede leather. Unlined shoulder pieces available upon request. Many other options are available. If there is some detail that you’d like that you don’t see listed on the strap options, just ask. Go To New Leather Straps
Some Comments on Storing Straps and Instruments
Although lots of players keep their straps in the case without a problem, most instrument builders recommend not storing the instrument in contact with any strap – leather or any other material. Besides possible color bleeding onto the finish, keep in mind that under certain conditions (playing outside in damp or very humid conditions) any leather strap may possibly absorb moisture. Whatever strap you use, make sure it is dry before storing it in the case with your instrument for an extended period of time. And NEVER let dew get on or in your case at an outside jam.
I have sold literally hundreds of my new straps made from the highest quality natural oil tanned leather available and have had only two instances of some slight bleed-over into the finish. Both occurrences happened on factory fresh Martin guitars stored in humidified rooms. I did a little research with a qualified instrument builder and found that it can take 6 months or more for some instrument finishes to fully cure. If your sweetheart still smells like lacquer, take off the strap when you’re not picking!
As far as the vintage leather straps, the leather is old and aged to start with and I use only “Leather New” brand liquid glycerin saddle soap to do the cleaning, which usually is several applications with serious scrubbing going on. After the leather thoroughly dries, I work in a few applications of pure Neatsfoot Oil. Both of those could be spilled on the finish and do no harm. However, some of the vintage leather that I use could have originally been dyed and I recommend that the straps not be in contact with the finish when the instrument is being stored. That being said, our instruments are all equipped with both my new and vintage leather straps that are never removed, either in or out of the case. We’ve never had a problem.