Music is culture.
As such, a musical genre goes beyond our ear’s perception.
After all, music is not just music per se. It involves beliefs, poetry, customs, and costumes.
Indeed, the outfit is an important aspect to consider when thinking about music. Otherwise, we wouldn’t think about mohawk hairstyle when listening to punk, or long dreadlocks when listening to reggae.
They are stereotypes for sure, but they are they exist for a reason.
Talking about style, it is not uncommon to see guitarists wearing big leather belts, especially if they play in a metal band.
Now, there is a huge disadvantage when playing guitar while wearing such an adornment: belt wear.
Belt (and button) wear occurs when the metal of the belt or button erodes the guitar’s finish due to constant friction.
This is a sad thing to occur, and it is advisable to prevent it as soon as possible. But how?
Belt and button wear can be avoided by covering the belt’s buckle with a soft cloth, including the shirt itself, or a leather-covered buckle. Additionally, one may turn the belt to a side of the waist when playing guitar, or place the guitar above the belt.
Once you finish reading this article, you’ll be relieved to know how to avoid this issue from occurring.
Not to mention, you’ll find solutions for those who learned about belt wear the hard way.
What is belt and button wear on guitars?
Belt and button wear (also known as belt and button scratch), is when the guitar’s back gets damaged due to constant friction against your belt or button.
Let’s explain this with an image.
Picture yourself wearing a cool black leather jacket and a pair of denim jeans. Cool isn’t it?
Now, imagine that you are wearing your favorite Dora the Explorer underpants as well.
Although these are your lucky charm, you really don’t want people to know you wear Dora the Explorer underwear (and rightfully so!).
Therefore, you get yourself a belt to prevent the jeans from falling down and revealing your guilty pleasure.
However, this is no regular belt. This is the belt.
The belt’s buckle has the British Steel razor from the Judas Priest album cover. It’s huge, and it looks awesome!
Now, you go out and play with that killer outfit and feel the audience going wild.
Unfortunately, after the third song, you realize the guitar’s back is full of scratches and marks. And this was your brand new guitar!
It takes a moment, but you soon realize the belt buckle is the one to blame for the scratches. After all, the belt was so big that it rubbed the back of the guitar for 15 minutes non-stop.
The result? A worn finish and a ruined good-looking guitar.
The damage is done, but you are still so mad that you decide to tear the belt and throw it at the audience.
Next thing you know, your pants fall off and every fan discovers your passion for a Discovery Kids show.
That’s belt and button wear.
6 ways for protecting your guitar from belt and button wear
There is no need to panic. Belt wear can be a thing, but there are some alternatives to implement and avoid future regrets.
Start implementing one of these:
1. Don’t Tuck In Your Shirt
It is unnecessary to tuck your shirt under your pants just to show off your belt.
After all, your guitar will be covering the belt anyway, so it is futile.
The soft cloth of your shirt will work as a protector, so the finish won’t be damaged.
Also, wear buttonless shirts or pull-over shirts if you can.
2. Place guitar above belt
It might be uncomfortable for some, but really convenient for others.
Johnny Cash would generally hike his guitar high up under the arm pit, and the instrument’s back laying between his chest and his stomach.
Check it out and try it yourself, you’ll surely look awesome.
3. Turn belt buckle to one side
The buckle doesn’t have to be in the middle.
Gently turn it to either your right or your left and avoid scratching your guitar.
4. wear leather-covered buckle belts
Protect your guitar’s finish with a soft piece of leather. It will work as a cushion.
5. Cover the buckle’s belt
Any dry cloth or towel could function as a barrier between the belt and the guitar’s body, not necessarily a leather-covered buckle.
6. Simply avoid wearing a belt!
Really simple, isn’t it? I bet you can do it.
Bonus Tip: Use Your Own Belly to Cover The Belt
All you have to do is fill your stomach up with tons of beer and pizza. We are counting on you, so don’t fail us!
(Yes, we stole that joke from someone else. But it was too good to not mention it!)
Can belt and button wear on a guitar be repaired?
More often than not, dents and worn finish in the back of the guitar can be repaired, as in any other part of the instrument.
You may take the guitar to a professional and have it repaired for you.
Sometimes, depending on the depth of the scratches, a new coat of paint will be enough to hide the belt and button wear.
Needless to say, you’ll need to vanish the guitar with sandpaper to take the older paint first.
Now, we would like to provide food for thought.
On certain occasions, a belt or button wear doesn’t need to be repaired.
Truth is, some guitarists love the “vintage-like” style that a worn-out guitar finish shows.
Plus, even if button wear “ruins” the finish, its sound and playability will still work perfectly.
Do belt and button wear decrease the value of a guitar?
In most cases, belt and button wear may decrease the value of the guitar or bass guitar.
We have already mentioned that a ruined finish looks aesthetically pleasant for some. Unfortunately, it looks horrendous to others.
So, button and belt wear will be strongly related to the idea that the guitars have been “used too much”.
Now, it always depends on who you are selling the instrument. Some pawnbrokers couldn’t care less about one or two dents in the guitar’s finish.
On the contrary, some others would pay lower because, indeed, its value has decreased.
We believe that, if a guitar has scratches and marks, then they better be on the back than in the front.
Lastly, consider that most beginner guitarists buy used guitars when looking for their first instrument. This means that belt wear is not too much of a problem.
As long as the guitar functions, who cares about a dent or two?
So, to sum up, it always depends on who is paying for the guitar.
Are all guitar finishes prone to button and belt wear?
Certain guitar finishes are more resistant than the standard. For example, polyester and polyurethane finish.
A more resistant finish will make it harder to inflict scratches with a belt or any other material.
Of course, this is not the same as saying that the finish is indestructible. On the contrary, it could get ruined in the long run.
Nonetheless, its higher quality is noticeable, so the finish will not wear off all of a sudden.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.