Levy's M12 Review: Chrome-Tan Leather Guitar Strap
- Width: 2"
- Length: 52"
- Material: Chrome-Tanned Leather
- Design: Classic Style with Ladder Adjustment
I used to consider straps as minor tools that allow me to play while standing. But that all changed when my Strat unexpectedly dislodged from a cheap strap while I was performing. Thankfully, I was able to grab the neck and catch the bottom of the guitar with my foot. So while I was mending my dead toe nails, I had an epiphany, that I need to invest in a good quality and reliable strap.
I didn't really set out to get a Levy's strap, it just caught my attention as I was passing a local store. At first I thought that the price is quite exorbitant (the price was much higher when I bought it), but upon closer inspection, it made more sense. I ended up getting the Levy's M12, and after almost a decade of use, it still is my favorite.
Compared to nylon, the look and feel of leather in this strap is as different as night and day. It's just a pleasure to touch and look at, similar to the feel of smooth leather belts and bags.
The Levy's M12 features "chrome tanned" leather, which meant that the leather material was first dyed in chromium sulfate and other chemicals, before having the intended color applied, which in my case is brown. This is a common method of leather tanning used in upholstery and fashion, it is preferred because the resulting leather can be thin and soft without compromising durability.
While the top side has a smooth feel, the underside is rough yet soft, and this helps the strap stay in position while I play. It allows me to move as I play without worrying about my strap moving out of place. Note that I don't do extreme motions like high jumping or running on the stage - you'll need a more secure strap for that.
The common downside to leather is that it's prone to scratches and damage, but surprisingly, my M12 strap is still mostly unscathed, even after almost 10 years of use. My main complaint is that the leather material was initially stiff, but it eventually adapted to how I wear my guitars.
Here is a nice video demonstration of how Levy's leather straps are made:
Strap attachments are holes where guitar strap buttons are attached, and this is the weakest point of many cheap straps. While nylon is tough, their low quality attachments loosen, or worse break off overtime. The Levy's M12 has a seamless design where in the strap attachments are part of strap itself. This helps structural durability and it also means that the attachments are as strong as the strap. After over nine years of use, both on stage and at home, I can say that the strap attachments of the Levy's M12 have not failed me even once. When attached properly, it keeps the strap buttons secure and stable. Note that at first, I had a hard time attaching the strap to the buttons because of how stiff the attachments were, but it gradually eased out.
Width, Length and Adjustability
This strap is 2" wide, which is the typical width of straps. While others prefer wider straps, I find that this strap is thick enough to make playing heavy guitars, like my Les Paul, comfortable. At first the 52" length seemed too long, but since it has a ladder adjustment, it became a non-issue. Ladder adjustment is an old school style of adjusting the length of a strap - by running the bottom part of the strap through a "ladder" of loop holes. This lets me adjust the overall length without the need for guides or buckles that may inadvertently damage my guitar. The downside is that there's no way to make quick adjustments as I play, the strap has to be dislodged if I need to change its length. This is not a deal breaker for me because I want my strap in a fixed position, but for some who play in different positions, this can be an issue.
I bought this strap primarily for use with a Gretsch hollow body with its locking strap buttons, but it felt so nice that I ended up using it on all my guitars. I am pleased at how comfortable and dependable it is regardless of the guitar I am using. I've used it on guitars with different sizes with no hiccups, from the Gretsch hollow body to a parlor guitar, a Martin OM acoustic, a Fender Strat, a Gibson Les Paul, and I've even used it on a heavy old P-bass a few times.
Durability and Value for Money
I've had leather belts and leather bags fail on me after just a few years of use, they end up having so many cracks, discoloration and shape deformation that render them useless. Surprisingly, the Levy's M12 has retained much of its deluxe look and feel, with only some minor cosmetic issues after almost a decade of use. There are some parts of the strap that are slightly deformed, but not as much as expected from an old leather product. I don't even have any complex maintenance done on this strap, I just clean it with a cloth when needed, and store it in a guitar case, usually rolled up underneath the headstock.
Even though I could get cheaper alternatives, I got more than my money's worth with the M12 - especially if I consider the possible damages to my guitars that were avoided because of how reliable this strap is. Note that I paid substantially more for the M12 compared to its current price, which is quite cheap for its superb quality.
- No quick length adjustments
- Feels stiff initially, but will loosen up with use
- Elegant appearance and feel
- Simple yet secure attachment to guitars
- No sharp or solid parts that can damage the guitar
- Classic style makes it work well with different types of guitars
- Durable and Reliable
I have nothing but good words for the Levy's M12, and with its superb reliability and durability, I can't recommend it enough.