They say the one thing in your home you should spend decent money on is the place you spend the most of your time – your bed. If you’re going to spend almost 3000 hours a year lying on a mattress, surely it’s worth investing the money in having a decent one?
So what’s the guitarist equivalent of a mattress? Well, it certainly doesn’t compare in price, but as a guitarist you’re going to spend every minute you stand playing the guitar with a strap thrown over your shoulder.
Now many people think straps don’t really matter, and pick up whatever $5 plain black strap is for sale at the guitar store – and then they hang potentially thousands of dollars off it. You see the problem?
The other issue with cheap straps is they tend to essentially rest on a thin line of real estate across your shoulder, and for players with heavy guitars (I see you Gibson), this is a recipe for disaster.
So what’s the solution? Levy’s have been making awesome leather straps since Dennis Levy accepted some leather working tools instead of cash for an odd job in 1973 and realized he actually kind of enjoyed it. Fast forward 50 years and they’re THE maker of premium leather straps for not only guitarists, but bassists, sax players, and even outdoor enthusiasts.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’ll be looking at one of their most revered leather guitar straps, the PM32CH-BRN 3 inch wide garment leather strap. Our friends at Sweetwater sent us the strap after reading our guide to neck dive, but they had no input as to the content of this review, and everything covered below is our own opinion.
If you’re in the market for a grown-up’s guitar strap, you’ll definitely want to keep on reading.
Who is This For?
The PM32CH-BRN 3 inch wide garment leather strap is a premium leather strap that has both classic styling but also modern comfort, and is perfect for anyone who knows they’re going to need some extra support.
While the strap is more expensive than a plain black strap, it is a must-have for anyone who’s plaing long sets, who has a seriously heavy guitar, or is experiencing any kind of back pain that’s made worse by hanging a guitar.
In addition, this one is perfect for owners of guitars that suffer from neck dive – the garment leather on the underside gives you some extra grip across your shoulder and might just stop that head from dipping without any modifications to your guitar.
Leather is one of those timeless looks for a guitar strap, with everyone from Joe Perry to Slash to David Gilmour to Brian May rocking them over the years. In that tradition, the PM32 looks incredible.
The strap itself is actually made from a padded core with two different kinds of leather on either side. The front has pull up leather, which we found had a really cool “lived in” feel – think of it like a relic’d guitar, a leather that’s durable but can look gloriously worn in after a time. We didn’t quite get to adding battle scars, but the strap already looked like it had character out of the box.
On the underside, Levy’s have used garment leather which had this great padded feel that added tremendous comfort to the strap as it went across our shoulders – almost like a padded strap, but much more durable. That said, we found it had enough grip to hold even the most neck diving SG in place.
The three inch PM32 comes in three colors – brown (which is what we had), black and tan. There’s also a 3.25” butter leather strap in brown and black, and if you’re looking for a wider range of colors, there’s a 2” model that also comes in white as well as a white with black edging color.
Overall the feeling of the strap was somehow both soft and firm, with the naturally oiled leather giving a certain charming smell that we don’t expect in a strap. While the PM32 does cost more than a simple nylon or polypro strap, we could tell that this one was built to last a lifetime longer than a cheap strap.
Finally this model is a generous 3” wide, ensuring the weight of the guitar is well distributed across the shoulder.
Performance / Comfort
As you would expect, the PM32 was incredibly comfortable – it didn’t make our Gibson Les Paul Custom suddenly 10lbs lighter, but with the weight of the guitar evenly distributed across the shoulder and with the padded feel of the strap, we definitely felt like we could wear it for much longer.
In addition, as we’ve mentioned before, we found the garment leather on the underside of the strap held just about any guitar in place – super helpful if you want to take a sip of water on stage without risking your headstock knocking off a guitar amp or front row patron.
The ladder style adjustment might be confusing to some who are used to the simple adjustment of a nylon strap with a plastic buckle, but after a little experimentation we found it’s actually significantly more sturdy and left us at no risk of the strap unexpectedly moving, no matter how much we practiced our “punk rock jumps”.
Final thoughts on the Levy’s PM32CH-BRN 3″ Wide Garment Leather Guitar Strap
We really enjoyed this strap, and of course appreciate Sweetwater sending us one to try out (you can see why they’ve been our favorite US retailer for years).
The strap is not only stylish, it’s also incredibly comfortable across the shoulder, and really spreads out the weight of the guitar, making long sets a breeze, and avoiding the telltale ache you can get between your shoulder and your neck.
Not only that, but as an office with several SG players, we found it kept the guitar exactly in place, and looked good doing so. Can’t say better than that!