About Us

Our Story

My Deep Roots In Music — A Love Story

Anthology opened its online doors in late 2009. But in a bigger sense, this all began a long, long time ago.

While many a long and winding road has lead to this endeavor, my journey really shifted into high gear back when I left the Midwest for Los Angeles to study music at the Guitar Institute of Technology in the late 80's.

Until that point, I was a rocker through and through, my young musical career limited to garage bands with set lists ranging from Zeppelin to Sabbath, or sometimes Judas Priest to RATT. At the time, if you'd mentioned Coltrane, Bill Monroe, or Yo Yo Ma, a glazed look would have fallen over my eyes, followed by, "Your what hurts?"

Well, the path to Anthology really began when my ears and eyes were opened to the much larger world of music. I will never forget the shock when I first heard bluegrass players tear apart any shredder I'd ever heard — or when I first heard the most transformational musician of our time, Charlie Parker.

Yes, there was more to music than my young mind had first understood. A lot more. And I was quickly on a quest to discover and devour it all.

My education at G.I.T. included master classes with some of the finest musicians on the planet. The variety of styles and techniques I was being exposed to was really opening my ears wide. But aside from style and technique, I learned the key ingredient to great music: passion.

This was driven home to me while attending a student concert from blues legend Albert Collins. On stage with Albert were a number of the instructors who were master technicians. This would clearly be a mismatch. Before the show, I assumed these monsters of the guitar would put Mr. Collins to shame. Oh, how wrong I was.

 The instructors would break into impressive solos, and then make room for Albert. What I heard blew my mind, and blew the roof off the building. I've never experienced anyone pouring more emotion and passion into a single note. Albert made one note, or one simple phrase, mean more to the soul than the vast chops of the masters. Not only did the jaws of everyone in the audience drop, but you could also see all the instructors on stage just shaking their heads in amazement.

 Once again, my understanding of music was profoundly changed forever.

 Taking what I learned during my time in L.A., I set out on my music career, gigging and doing as much session work as I could find. After years of traveling this road, it became clear that something was missing from my musical experience. I looked back and realized that in spending so much of my time as a sideman, playing the expected part, I had neglected what really lit my fuse: creating music that was more experimental — exploring the vast array of possibilities that music offered.

And so I finally began to apply my energy more towards the art of music rather than the business, a shift in priorities that elevated my love for the craft more than ever.

The Design Connection

Ironically, feeding the creative process in that way opened a door for me to begin to explore another interest: design.

Something interesting happens when you give yourself permission to create without restrictions. Other parts of your brain are stimulated, and you find yourself hearing and seeing... well, more.

But like music, there is no easy path to mastering design. You still just have to pay your dues. I couldn’t simply learn Photoshop and call myself a designer. To do interesting things musically, I needed to commit to the study of music. If all I know were three chords, my exploration and expression would be limited to those chords. The same applies to design.

So I began to study the principles of design, and after a few years of study, I jumped into the professional world to hone my chops as a graphic designer.

Interestingly, there are many similarities between music and design. (Is it any wonder British art schools ushered so many rock greats into the world?) With both, you start from the same place: Nothingness. No sound. An empty canvas. From there you bring together a multitude of elements, styles, and influences in an effort to create something that communicates.

This part of the process is always the hardest. In fact, it can be excruciating. It’s the crux of the love/hate relationship we artists tend to have with the creative process. “Can I do it?” “Will it be good or terrible?” “How can I call myself a musician/designer?”

Only when you’ve done the hard work of exploring/experimenting, and come out with something worth sharing, does the process begin to pay off. Well, I came to love design.

Still, after working for 10 years in the field, a restless stirring began to take hold —something strikingly similar to my experience as a musician. My passion for design began to stretch beyond the boundaries of what the corporate world offered. I wanted a more personal, less restrictive canvas to work with. The seeds of Anthology ere beginning to hit the dirt.

But first, another medium would enter the picture.

Road To The Cinematic

Somewhere on the journey between playing music and graphic design, I stumbled into an affair with the art of filmmaking.

In many ways, film is a closer relative to music than design. Both use the vehicle of time to tell a story. Both begin by setting up the mood and tone of what you’re about to experience. Both take you through a period of conflict/tension/dissonance. Both take you on a journey into the unknown. Point. Counterpoint. Twists and turns on the way to climax and, finally, resolution.

Another similarity between film and music is that they can both be so mysterious. By that I mean you can’t just follow a series of instructions and end up with something great. It requires the hard work of dedication, not just to master techniques but to master the process of exploring ideas. Such exploration can lead to a dead end, other times to the profound. Ideas can be simple and beautiful, or complex and intense, and everywhere in between. There is always new territory to uncover.

But in the end, it’s all about story. Music, design, and film are all about life and communicating to others in a compelling, moving way what we’ve discovered on our road through it.

So to really take shape, my story, I started to sense, would need to combine music, design, and filmmaking into a singular passion project.

The Birth Of Anthology

An-thol-o-gy (noun):

1. A published collection of poems or other pieces of writing.

2. A collection of songs or musical compositions published on one album.

What does this definition have to do with musical instrument accessories, you ask?

I define “Anthology” as a collection of one's finest creative works and Anthology Gear Wear is more than a collection of products, it’s a quest to find and create something of value, personal pieces worth sharing with those on the same road to creative fulfillment.

In a sense, our guitar straps, gig bags, and the other pieces we offer constitute an open canvas. They are a direct reflection of my desire to create something of lasting and intrinsic value — functional works of art.

As a self-diagnosed obsessive perfectionist, I can assure you that the design of every cut, stitch, and rivet is worked and reworked until I feel it's worthy of presenting to likeminded musicians, individuals who value quality workmanship and design in their gear as much as I do.

Over time, I will also begin to add short films to this project; films that explore the relationship of musicians to their craft; stories of the personal path musicians have traveled to find their voice; films about songwriting, improvisation, varieties of musical approaches, and life on the road.

As a musician, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the common threads that make music from any genre something worthwhile and enduring. The artists that inspire me all have the following in common: they put in the hard work to master their craft and create music that's truly unique.

They’ve made music that leaves a mark.

This approach has inspired me a musician, designer, and filmmaker. And, ultimately, my hope is you’ll likewise be inspired to enter the Anthology discussion and explore with us, to become part of our family.

Welcome to where the roads rise together. Welcome to Anthology Gear Wear.

Anthology Leather Guitar Strap

Perhaps you’ve stumbled upon this site searching for something different or unique, possibly even something rare and extraordinary that reflects a deep-seated existential yearning to connect your music to the universe.

Or maybe you’re just looking for cool leather guitar straps.

Either way, welcome to Anthology Gear Wear. You’ve come to the right place.

Why Anthology? In a word, value. Given this age of strip malls and mega-chains, the term is too frequently misused to mean a bargain, a promotional sticker slapped on something cheap. Anthology I built over on the other end of the spectrum, where “value” is still rooted in what’s “valuable” — meaningful, exceptional, personal, meant to endure; like music that touches your soul. Anthology guitar straps and gig bags are all about my desire to create functional, lasting works of art.

Initially, I was just looking for a custom guitar strap. After shopping around, however, I realized it was the inspired craftsmanship and singular, expressive character one finds in classic guitars that I was really after in a strap. A visionary curator working with quality construction and commensurately high-level design skills would trump customization.

Then, as tends to happen in music, what I started out looking for became what I needed to create. As a result, a piece by Anthology is much more than just another disposable, cookie-cutter assembly line slab of cowhide. Our leather matures and beautifies with use so that, over time, each guitar strap and gig bag melds to the musician using it. Call it fine custom aging: the piece takes on a personality through the individual characteristics unique to you and the road you take it on. By the time you’re ready to hand an Anthology guitar strap down to your junior rockers, that heirloom will possess a richness and distinction that can neither be replicated nor exceeded.

And that’s the whole point. Anthology isn’t “what you see is what you get.” Anthology is “what you’ll see is where you’ve been and what you’ve given.” Our value exists to tell a meaningful story about you. To get there, I’ve poured my heart and soul into the design of each guitar strap and gig bag, burning the midnight oil in my design studio, away from the wife and kids, to create a collection of precious canvases for you to paint your story onto.

Hope you sign on for the ride.

Brian Griffith

Expand

Understanding The Guitar Strap

Having read the title of this section you are perhaps saying to yourself, “Dude, it’s a guitar strap. It holds up a guitar. It’s not a quantum mechanical, micro-fabricated, molecularly self-assembled nanotechnological biopeptid*.”

And while I have no idea what you just said, point taken. But hear me out on this a bit, because the purpose of a guitar strap, I believe, goes beyond its basic function.

At a minimum, I know musicians. And I don’t think any musician goes into a store and grabs a guitar strap without looking at it, feeling it, and really considering it closely. They might say: “I like black.” Or: “I like simple.” Even: “I like lighting bolts and fake fur.” (Never particularly understood that fetish myself.) But no question about it, appearance is part of the equation. The audience can hear your amp, pedal board, and guitar, but what they see is basically you, your guitar, and your guitar strap. And if you’re like most guitar players, you pick a guitar strap based on how it represents you visually.

Much of that stylistic consideration, however, is a matter of attitude. How do you approach songwriting or improvisation? How do you attack your instrument? On stage, are you laid back or in the audience’s face? Do you stand still and get lost in the music or are you raging full-throttle with veins popping? Some people look for a strap in terms of their preferred musical genre. “No Quarter”, one of our most popular guitar straps, for instance, definitely has a hard rock quality in the eyes of most. But I also know jazz and country music guys who snapped it up. Why? Attitude transcends genre: despite musical differences, they happen to share a certain take-no-prisoners approach to their playing and they found that spirit reflected in the strap.

Also, beyond aesthetics, there’s the physical connection to consider. No one wants to be two hours into a gig, just hitting their stride, only to feel their Les Paul pressuring their back muscles into a mutiny and generally dragging them out the zone with guilty urges to take a break from the set. Popping pain killers is surely not a promising path, and unless you’ve got the budget to hire a full-time personal masseuse for the road, much better to let an Anthology guitar strap help take some of the load off. To provide maximum comfort and support, all Anthology guitar straps are made with premium padding at the shoulder as well as the highest grade full-grain leathers — which more efficiently distribute the guitar’s weight for a better playing experience. Anything less is going to give you just that: less.

*Special thanks to Wikipedia for providing this impressive yet entirely random collection of words. (You’re welcome, Scrabble players.)

Expand

Want A Custom Guitar Strap?

If so, here’s where I make the case for why you should think again.

I wanted a custom guitar strap. Or at least so I thought. Way back before Anthology was even conceived as an idea, I went off searching for a custom guitar strap that would be uniquely “me”.

I came up empty.

Not for lack of trying, believe me. I searched online. I scoured every guitar store I could get into, pestered every staffer behind every counter. All I found was the same old tired stuff. So many of the so-called custom guitar straps were basically nothing more than initials hammered into leather. Most of those straps were also, to be blunt, flat-out ugly.

I wanted a strap that reflected my style, my taste as a musician; a strap that satisfied my admittedly exacting standards for quality. Suddenly, I started to realize that “custom” wasn’t really the essential criteria. “Custom” was more a sensibility — and that sensibility would actually be better served by a visionary curator working with quality construction and commensurately high-level design skills rather than customization per se. To find straps that possessed the inspired craftsmanship and expressive character present in classic guitars I loved, well… I would have to go make them myself.

Luckily, this struck me as an appealing idea. Inspiration took hold and this lifelong musician, professional graphic designer, and self-proclaimed perfectionist embarked on a journey to create the absolute finest designer guitar straps and gig bags the world has ever seen. (Or, at least for now, the finest I have ever seen.)

If this sounds like a simple task, let me assure you: designing and producing a really great guitar strap is not easy by any means. Sure, one could go to a leather store, buy some stock off the rack, start cutting, slap on some conchos, stitch it all together and declare it good, but that’s been done. Given I was after something exceptional, just considering different materials and construction methods took me a year. I needed to find leather produced at the absolute highest possible standards that would burnish and beautify with age to truly reflect the journey of the musician. As a designer, I needed to throw down and produce pieces that captured my love of detail and subtlety.

And so Anthology Gear Wear evolved from search to solution. Along the way, every design, every cut, every stitch, and every rivet has been worked and reworked exhaustively until I felt it was precisely right. I’ve spent days sorting through rivets, traveled for weeks to visit tanneries discussing leather, revised designs for months, and all-in spent years to make sure I’m providing fellow musicians with products they will be as proud to own as I was determined to get right.

Now that this mission had connected us, definitely feel free to let me know what you think.

Expand

Guitar Gear

Let’s be honest. When most guitar players think gear, they don’t think guitar straps.

They don’t think gig bags and other such accessories either. They think amps. They think pedals. They think FX processors, compressors, gates, limiters, EQ, gain stages, tone woods, pickups, and head/cab combos — even all the way down to specific tubes and circuits.

By contrast, the guitar strap is a mere afterthought, the bastard stepchild of the gear world. Why such disregard? Well, most guitar players are fixated on tone, as they should be, and the common assumption is that a guitar strap has about as little to do with your tone as the color of paint on the ceiling.

Allow me to begin dismantling that common assumption by noting that no one on this big rock orbiting the sun is more of an obsessive hardcore gear-head tone junkie than yours truly. After twenty relentless years of searching — through incalculable combinations of guitars, amps, pedals, etc. — I can honestly say I’ve locked down the tone of my dreams. Now I couldn’t possibly love my rig more. It fits me flawlessly, allowing me to play unselfconsciously, completely free from ever having to overcompensate for weak tonal areas. It’s my sound sanded down to perfection, responsive beyond belief. The absolute control and comfort there — whether laying back to get super subtle or hitting the gas to attack hard and tear it up — is just sublime. It’s Christmas ever time I plug in.

Now, I say this not to brag but for context. People who aren’t tone freaks simply don’t get it. They don’t understand the all-consuming preoccupation and intoxicating rewards of finally reaching your personal tone Valhalla. For one thing, they simply can’t hear the difference between one setup and another. Lacking a basic critical apparatus for appraising all the distinctions — which, in all fairness, can be incredibly subtle and nuanced — they will never know that driving hunger to finally get through your amp what you’ve heard in your head for so long. However, for those who do understand, here’s why I think you need to reconsider the guitar strap as part of your gear chain rather than an accessory outside it.

Especially on your feet, playing live, the functional fact of the matter is that the strap is what literally connects your body to your instrument. Invoking a design term, it’s the principle of Gestalt: the unified whole is more than the sum of its parts and so each part, no matter how minor, becomes essential. And to realize the strap is an element relevant to a player’s attack and tonal fingerprints, one need only consider Jimmy Page, with his Les Paul often hung so low it was all but grazing his ankles, allowing him to lurch forward and threw his weight into those colossal riffs. Page illustrates how, like your amp, your strap has to be there for you. Overall, you have to trust — to feel as well as know— that it’s going to hold when you push it hard. And as an Anthology Gear War strap ages, it’s full-grain leather molds to your body and stance, fortifying and customizing that feel significantly.

So is the strap worthy of being viewed as gear? Absolutely, for the simple fact that tactile integrity is so critical: to play at your best, everything needs to feel at its best. Investing in a strap built to last that reliably enhances the comfort and control of your physical connection to your guitar can only impact your tone for the better. Your strap can and should be a supportive extensive of your unique posture, and therefore your sound

This belief is why I have made it my mission to elevate guitar straps to the level of “gear” and invest in them the attention to quality and detail that all you fellow tone junkies out there deserve in your noble search for sonic perfection.

This concludes deep guitar strap thoughts with Brian Griffith.

Expand