When shopping for a leather guitar strap (or any other leather product for that matter) it's important to understand the different grades of leather out there:
- Full-grain leather: the best leather money can buy. Full grain leather is closest to the surface of the hide. The closer you get to the surface, the more dense the fibers and grain. The further you get away from the surface, the more likely the leather will weaken and pull apart. Full-grain leather is the strongest, most durable and, best yet, helps distribute the weight of your guitar far better than any other type of leather. Beyond the attributes of strength and durability, full-grain leather also retains the oils and preservatives, causing the leather to burnish and beautify with age. Over time, full grain leather will develop real, distinguishing character.
- Top-grain leather: not as strong or as durable as full-grain leather and doesn’t age as well. Top-grain has the very top of the hide shaved off to eliminate aesthetic imperfections (at Anthology Gear, we like these imperfections because they add character). Top-grain leather might look "cleaner", but in the process of achieving that look, it has lost some of its strength and durability.
- Genuine leather: genuinely worse than top-grain. This is probably the most ubiquitous term out there - beware!
- Bonded leather: the hot dog of the leather world. In other words, leftover scraps are ground up and glued together kind of like particleboard. Now you know.
"100% real leather" is another phrase commonly used. But "100% real leather" tells you 0% about the leather quality or grade. Bonded leather and full grain leather are both 100% real leather, but they are completely different when it comes to quality.
Also, worth mentioning, you may see the above terms combined, such as "genuine full grain leather". Using two terms together just cancels out the meaning of both terms.
The words used to identify leather are, unfortunately, often used incorrectly, sometimes intentionally but usually ignorantly. You can take our word for it that every Anthology Gear leather guitar strap is made from full grain leather. When building the best products, it all begins with the absolute highest-grade materials.