We’ve checked out (and recommended) El Dorado straps before, but that was many years (and new readers) ago, so the time has come again, especially since the company recently released two new lines.
Those who were around in ’98 might remember that we gave El Dorado’s git-tar straps a big thumbs up for their quality, appointments, and overall aesthetic appeal. The new lines, aptly dubbed “Vintage” and “Plain” offer more of the same, but with different esoteric qualities.
Before delving into details, we should reiterate that El Dorado’s top-grade, vegetable-tanned saddle leather is very nice, very thick, and very sturdy. Chances are you will wear out before this strap will.
And given the vibe carried by the company’s “Original” line, it would follow that the “Vintage” line isn’t far removed. In fact, the only differences between them are the widths of the strap and shoulder pad; the vintage strap is 1″ wide where the original is 1 1/2″, and the shoulder pad is 3″ wide where the original is 3 1/2″.
Otherwise, the line offers the same three color options (russet, black, and brown) and two tooling choices (acorn and oak leaf or flower and leaf). The shoulder pad is tooled in traditional basketweave pattern and backed in genuine sheepskin shearling. The contrasting touch is offered in the hand-engraved, solid nickel-silver buckle, which is finished in sterling silver.
If you like your straps smooth to the touch (and eye), take a look at the “Plain” line, which use the same saddle-grade leather, size specifications, and technical merits as the “Vintage” and “Original” lines, but without tooling. The line’s buckles are made of chrome-plated brass or solid stainless steel, and lack the engraving of the other two lines.
Apart from the drop-dead appeal of the El Dorado straps, though, is a major factor overlooked by many makers of cool straps – sheer comfort. The shoulder pads are thick and – and this is important – stay in place quite well.
Also, the tooling is exquisite – deep, and defined. And El Dorado says they’re individually hand-tooled in the U.S. Custom sizing and lettering is an option.
Are there nits to pick? Not really. But, like any strap with sizeable buckles, you’ll want to take care that said hardware doesn’t inflict any damage to your guitar’s finish. The extra care is worthwhile, though, because the buckles add much in terms of aesthetics.
And if you’re looking for a dramatic departure, you might consider El Dorado’s “Gator” straps. Not quite what it appears, the strap’s “gator skin” is, in fact, beautifully embossed cowhide backed with full-grain, vegetable-tanned leather. It a realistic pattern variations, the company says, create unique differences from one strap to the next.
So, if you’d like to share of the mojo being enjoyed by players with names like Santana, Dylan, Vivino, Vaughan, Ramos, Easton, Nash, Yoakam, Anderson, and Ray, grab yourself an El Dorado strap.
El Dorado Vintage and Plain Guitar Straps
Type of Strap: Vegetable-tanned saddle leather.
Features: Hand-tooled leather, hand-engraved buckles. Various widths and lengths, choices of colors and tooling/engraving styles, sheep-skin-shearling strap pad.
Price: $89 to $139.
El Dorado “Gator” Strap
Type of Strap: Embossed cowhide with vegetable-tanned full-grain leather backing.
Features: Realistic “gator-skin” embossing, vegetable-tanned, full-gran leather backing, quality construction.
Contact: El Dorado Guitar Accessories, PO Box 92894, Pasadena, CA 91109, www. eldoradostraps.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Oct. ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.