Should You Leave Your Guitar Strap Always On?

Guitar straps may not be the most exciting component of playing music but they are one of the most important. 

And to others, they are one of the most visible parts of your gear. So let’s give them their due and talk about them a bit.

Whether you should leave your strap on your guitar all the time depends a lot on how you store your instrument. For particularly valuable instruments some other things to consider are the type of finish on your guitar, the material of the strap, and how the strap length is adjusted.

If you only have one instrument or an equal number of instruments and straps you may think it’s all right to set it and forget it. 

That is probably fine in most situations but are there some times when it can cause damage to your gear?

Reasons to leave your guitar strap always on

We’ll cover the positives first. The ideal situation for leaving your guitar strap on all the time is with an instrument that you use regularly. 

You don’t have to play every day but I think several times a week is plenty of justification. This applies for a guitar that you usually store on a guitar stand since if the strap gets caught on the guitar stand it isn’t a huge deal. 

There is the added benefit of preserving your strap. 

Attaching and removing a strap from your strap buttons constantly will cause wear and tear on your strap and eventually it won’t fit tightly anymore.

Are there any reasons to remove your strap when you are not playing?

However, even if you play the guitar often I think hanging the guitar on a wall is a different situation. 

One great thing about putting your guitar up on the wall is it becomes a decoration like a piece of art. 

But if there is a strap hanging down the effect is kind of ruined. And I have noticed players who currently or used to work at music stores love to recreate the look of a store in their practice room. 

And if you are lucky enough to have a lot of guitars hanging on the wall with some above others then the strap needs to come off

Taking a guitar with a strap attached off the top row could easily cause the strap to become tangled in the tuning pegs of a guitar below, sending it to whatever fate awaits it on the floor.

Should you leave your guitar strap on when you put it back in the case?

Here’s another situation where I would advise taking the strap off if the guitar is valuable. 

Especially if you are putting the guitar away in storage for a long time and laying the case flat. 

You really don’t want the weight of the guitar pressing it against a strap or an adjustable buckle on a strap for a long while (this is more of an issue with electric guitars than acoustics). 

Guitar finishes are softer than most people think and some are thinner than others. 

Nitrocellulose finish isn’t as tough as polyurethane or polyester so I would take more care with it.

 I don’t think this is a common way to damage a guitar but if the guitar goes through changes in heat and humidity I think it is best not to take chances. 

I mean there is a reason the inside of a guitar case is soft right? So if you do keep the strap on when you put your guitar in its case at least make sure it isn’t under the guitar.

Does this work for all kinds of straps?

Like most things, straps come in many different fashions and materials. 

So as far as what would be best if you choose to store your guitar in its case with the strap, leather or a strap covered with a soft and smooth material are good choices. 

I think that polypropylene or nylon straps that are textured for grip would be more likely to poke into the guitar finish over time. 

And of course, straps that use a buckle to adjust the length are riskier than straps with ladder-style adjustment.

What are the most practical kinds of straps for leaving them always on?

If you are not storing your guitar in a case or hanging it on the wall near other guitars then you can choose whatever strap strikes your fancy.

But if you play standing up for long periods and have a heavy instrument there is a case to be made for wider straps that distribute the weight better. 

And if you always leave your strap attached I really suggest that you invest a bit of money in strap locks

They are one of the best accessories to have in my opinion. 

Personally, I like the simple Ernie Ball polypropylene straps with Dunlop strap locks and I have never had a problem with them. 

Now all of this is great food for thought if you have a new or expensive instrument. 

But except for the scenario where your strap becomes tangled on another guitar and knocks it to the ground, a lot of this is about minor cosmetic issues. 

And people pay a lot of money for relic’d instruments these days. 

I think you should always make an effort to take care of your things but after a guitar has a few battle scars there is something to be said for “letting go” and just enjoying the instrument without worrying about the small stuff too much. 

For example, I keep my favorite guitar in a hard case that is stored vertically and I usually leave the strap on. 

There are plenty of dings in the finish and a lot of buckle rash on the back already. But you know what? It plays great!