A strap is a strap is a strap…right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. There are so many variations of guitar straps out there and they’re made from everything you can think of too. So, how do you wade through all of the boring, well-intentioned but poorly constructed straps and find a superior strap? You find one that’s built by musicians for musicians.
About Pinegrove Leather
Pinegrove Leather, run by Rod Boyes and his wife, Lou Comerford Boyes, has a simple, straightforward mission – to bring people beautiful things to enjoy. Pinegrove is based in the beautiful Pennine town of Hebden Bridge, England, well known for its art and creativity. The company name comes from “The Pine Grove Blues”, a famous Cajun song that Rod used to play when with the Cajun Aces dance band from 1993 to 2003.
In putting together this review and our other review for Pinegrove Leather’s Guitar Player Wallet, I was able to dialogue a little with Rod about his company and how they operate. So, you’ll find a little question/answer dialogue in a few sections within this review.
Tim at BL: What sets Pinegrove Leather apart? What makes you unique?
Rod: Pinegrove’s focus on music accessories is due to my own interest in making music. I am a singer, guitar player, and harmonica player. Over the past 25 years I have played bluegrass, Cajun, and Western swing in a variety of bands. My current band is called The 309s – named after the last song Johnny Cash ever wrote & recorded. We play a wide range of American music from the 1920s to the 50s, including Western swing, jump blues, honky-tonk, and some rockabilly too. We have recorded two albums, both of which can be heard at our website, www.the309s.com. The history of Pinegrove goes straight back to making music. I had been playing harmonica for a year or so and had built up a collection of blues harps, but had nowhere to put them. I raised the idea with my other half, Lou (an expert seamstress), who found some flimsy scrap leather in the bottom of her sewing box and made me the original roll-up case. Admiring comments from friends at sessions sparked the idea for Pinegrove, and here we are today with a complete range of harmonica cases. That old one has been retired for a while now, but I still use it for storing a set of hole punches in the workshop.
I received the Pinegrove Leather Vintage Style One Inch Guitar Strap from Rod in light tan leather. This is one fine guitar strap. The “Vintage” name for it is well deserved as this would be an excellent strap to don on an old Rickenbacker, Gretsch, or Gibson hollow-body. I, however, have none of those, so it went on my trusty ol’ BC Rich acoustic (which I hear is becoming somewhat of a collector’s item itself).
The strap and shoulder pad are substantial pieces. And the hardware is heavy duty as well. I can’t imagine what it would take to wear out this strap. I do know this…whatever it would take would certainly jeopardize the integrity of your guitar. So, my advice is just take it easy and let this strap last forever while keeping your guitar in good shape.
Tim from BL: What type(s) of leather you use? Where do you get your leather?
Rod: As I like to be creative with different textures of leather, I use quite a wide range. These are mostly sourced from A&A Crack in Northampton, the traditional home of British shoemaking. Most of the leather is around 5oz (2mm), although our guitar straps use 9oz (4mm) buffalo hide. I use a mixture of top grain, full grain (for a natural grain effect) and nubuck cowhide. I sometimes use full grain pigskin for linings. Recently we have used capeskin glove leather from Pittards for making hatbands for an upmarket milliner. I buy all the leather myself and spend a long time checking it for quality in strength and finish.
Tim at BL: How you perform your construction (machine, all by hand, combination of both)?
Rod: Most pieces are pressed out for perfect results every time. Our cutting “knives” are custom made to our designs and totally unique. Some hand cutting and punching is still required. Stitching is performed using a specialized walking-foot machine, which can take the heavy thread we use. Handling the machine requires a lot of skill as there is no automated control and mistakes cannot be covered up. One you’ve made a hole in a piece of leather it stays there! When you become a leather crafter you become obsessed about neat stitching, way beyond what most people would ever notice! Some pieces, such as our single harmonica pouch, are wet molded by hand. Edges are burnished by hand.
Tim at BL: Tell me about the type of thread and other components you use.
Rod: I use the best quality, synthetic, decay-proof thread from Coates. Our buckles and studs are solid brass, mostly English made by Abbey England’s foundry in Walsall.
The strap, due to its thickness, is a little stiff at first. However, once it’s in place on your strap pegs, it’s perfectly secure. As I took the strap on/off over the course of a few weeks, it has softened up and become much more pliable.
The 2.5” wide shoulder pad is fantastic and very comfortable. Adjusting the strap is something that takes a little time given the nature of the two Chicago style screws/posts that connect the strap together on each end. The screws are tucked away behind leather belt loop sheaths to protect the finish of your guitar, which is a great feature. The strap can be adjusted from 41” to 55” in length.
The thick buffalo leather, along with the expertly sewn lines of the heavy gauge thread combine to create a very attractive strap. It also has a nice feel to it – while just carrying it and when wearing it. I’ve had multiple comments about this strap. Pinegrove also makes this strap in black and dark brown.
The Pinegrove Leather Vintage Style One Inch Guitar Strap is a great choice. It’s ingeniously designed and expertly crafted in a way that will accentuate your guitar and keep it positioned just where you want and need it while playing. And it will last forever. If for some reason it doesn’t last forever, it has a lifetime guarantee behind it from Pinegrove Leather. At £44.50 ($77 US), it’s a great deal. And, as with all Pinegrove products, you will receive a handy guitar pick keyring too.