Without even knowing all the hype around Rachael’s work at Heavy Leather NYC, there was still a certain feeling about unboxing such a finely crafted strap. After playing for years in sweaty bar bands where the singer couldn’t hit the notes, this felt like a reward and just made my guitar rig feel more…elite.
The more I learned about the story of Heavy Leather NYC, I realized that this line is the epitome of American craftsman values. Rachael Becker was a custom leatherworker who has been running her own business since 2008, and she’s created custom pieces for some big names. Prince, Justin Timberlake, The Misfits, Motorhead, and Black Sabbath, to name a few. She obviously takes the culture of the musician very seriously and thinks of the show, the shop, and the source.
A mini gallery of Jonathan Bojan’s new “Shout at the Devil” guitar strap.
Not to say I don’t value the labor of foreign workers, but I have much higher confidence in the labor conditions of US-made products. Knowing this strap came from a small custom shop with vegan leather gives me a lot less to worry about as a socially and environmentally conscious musician.
The “Shout at the Devil” strap that I got had this swanky Zebra pattern that grabbed my attention but didn’t clash with the simple wood finishes that I tend to prefer. Another benefit for me is a strap that distributes the weight of my relatively heavy instruments. I play an Ibanez SR-506 (6-string bass), and I’m quite sure that years of playing with it has visibly lowered my left shoulder. I’ve also had a lot of guitar straps that drop my instrument during shows as the pinholds fatigue.
This strap is quite thick but also pliable enough that it distributes the weight on my shoulders quite evenly, and also should resist the pinholds wearing out for a long time. I gave the strap and the instrument a minute of aggressive shakes from the angles that the strap tends to detach from – solid as a rock!
Peep a video of Heavy Leather NYC in the old Leatherland studio.
There’s an extremely wide range of adjustability as well, which means if I ever gave this strap as a gift I wouldn’t have to worry about whether the recipient could adjust it to their taste. I come from a classical background where I adjust the headstock to be level with my head. It was easy to get the strap to my ideal position just from the three wide-space holes on the tailpiece, but I could have gotten it down to cock-rock position easily by re-threading the tailpiece through the adjustment notches. Having both the three tailpiece holes for a quick adjustment and the wider range through the thread notches was an advantage I had never thought of before, but quickly realized how nice that would be for instrument switches.
If I could have gotten a piece this nice from the mom-and-pop stores downtown, I certainly would have. But getting such a quality strap from a reputable maker like this one is definitely worth your while. It shows a level of buy-in to the culture of musicianship to invest in local craftsmanship, and that is a hallmark of my value system.
Guest Author: Jonathan Bojan is a writer for TakeLessons, a company that offers free – online guitar classes – for guitarists of all ages.