The Most Important Guitar Accessories For Beginners
No matter which type of guitar you get, you will need some guitar accessories for that guitar. This article explains what must-have accessories you should buy for your guitar as well as some nice-to-have items. The necessities you should definitely get with your first guitar include a case, a strap, a stand, picks, and most importantly, a tuner. We’ll discuss these items in detail these items as they pertain to acoustic and electric guitars. The items listed in the Acoustic Guitar section are also necessities for electric guitars. However, I list them once for acoustic guitars so that this post is not redundant. The last section talks about some nice-to-have items that you will probably want at some point but do not need right away. These nice-to-have guitar accessories are not specific to the type of guitar you own.
What Accessories Do I Need For Acoustic Guitar
Acoustic guitars these days are often sold as acoustic/electric guitars. If you have an acoustic/electric you might want to check out the section on electric guitar accessories because you will eventually want an amplifier and some of the things that go with an amplifier. The items listed here are also items you will want with an electric guitar. These are mentioned in my Beginner Lesson as well because they are important items to have.
The first thing you will need and the most important thing you will buy for your guitar is a tuner. There are a ton of tuners out there, some good, some bad. So let us talk about a few. First, you can download a tuner on your smartphone and use the microphone on your phone to tune your guitar. These are often free, however, they are definitely not my favorite option. The reason I do not like these tuners is that the microphone can often pick up outside noises and make it difficult to get an accurate tuning on your guitar. The second option I’ll mention here is clip-on tuners. These are really good accurate tuners that only cost you a few dollars. My favorite is the Snark clip-on tuners. The clip-on guitar tuner is super accurate and super affordable so don’t hesitate to get one. One thing to be aware of with acoustic/electric guitars is that some of them have electronic tuners built into their electronics. If this is the case you are ahead of the game.
Not everyone sees a guitar strap as a necessity but I do. The reason why is that having your guitar strap on whether or not you are sitting or standing, stabilizes the guitar in your arms. The strap keeps your guitar close to your body and makes playing it that much easier. The other reason I think it is a necessity is that you just invested a lot of money into a new guitar. Putting a strap on it and using it keeps it from slipping out of your hands and crashing to the floor. This happened to a 12 string guitar I had that a friend was trying out. It slipped out of his hands and went crashing to the floor. That guitar was never the same afterward. I forgave my friend, but I rarely, if ever, let anyone play my expensive guitars because of this incident.
Guitar Strap Locks
I was introduced to strap locks a few years ago and think they are the best thing since sliced bread. Strap locks are awesome because, without them, your guitar may slip off of the strap pegs. The problem with plain old strap pegs is when the cut in the strap that is supposed to fit into the peg, is too big or small. If its too big, the strap is loose on the peg and is at risk of slipping off. If its too small, it may never get fully onto the peg and is also at risk of falling off. I highly recommend getting strap locks. They are reasonably priced and worth the investment. You might also be able to find straps like this one that have them built-in. I own this guitar strap and absolutely love it.
If you decide to invest in strap locks and have more than one guitar, you should try to get the same strap lock for each guitar. That way the strap will fit on multiple guitars. When I bought my bass, I purchased strap locks for it. Then a couple months later I bought a Stratocaster from a friend who had already installed the strap locks oon the guitar. The two locks do not fit the same strap.
Picks or Plectrums
A pick is not really a necessity, it is possible to strum the guitar with just your fingers. However, if you are playing riffs or scales you will find a pick a necessity. There are a million different styles and textures of picks out there. Try a bunch out and see what you like. Many beginning guitarists like a light size such as the .60 or .73 mm but try out the different sizes and see what works for you. Picks are very inexpensive so having a variety around is a good thing. My favorites are the Dunlap Max Grips. .88mm. I really like the texture and size of this pick.
At some point, you are going to need new strings on your guitar. This depends on how much you play it and how hard you play. If you play really hard then you may end up breaking a string and needing to replace it. It is good to have an extra set on hand for when this happens. You should also learn how to replace the strings yourself. I will cover that topic in another post in the future. A lot of music store will change your strings for a nominal fee or sometimes for free if you buy the strings from them.
Even if you are not taking your guitar anywhere, storing your guitar in a case is usually the safest option for your instrument when you are not playing it. Hard shelll cases are the best, but they can be expensive. However, if you have an expensive guitar, don’t skimp on the case. Gig bags are super popular right now as well and some even come with a hard casing on them.
What Electric Guitar Accessories Do I Need
If you have an electric or acoustic-electric guitar you will want to get the necessary items listed above. However, in order to plug in your electric guitar, there are a number of items you will also need to get. Plan on getting an amplifier and cords at the very least. Playing an electric guitar without the amplifier is a pure drag!
Like guitars, amplifiers can cost an obscene amount of money. You don’t have to break the bank buying a decent practice amp. Maybe you are telling yourself, I can just play it without an amp until I can afford to get one. I did this years ago, and I regretted it. Because I never had good amplification on my electric guitar, I rarely played it and stuck with my acoustic instead. If the electric guitar is going to be your main guitar, you MUST get the amp, practice with your amp, and explore the different tones that your amp and pedals provide. Two of my favorite, which I do not own yet, but will soon, are the Spark amp and The Fender Mustang amp. These two amplifiers both have effects built right into them which makes buying pedals unnecessary. This is a great option for practicing and figuring which tones you want from your setup.
Currently, I use the Fender Rumble Bass Combo amp. I absolutely love this amp. Great tone, I can plug in an auxiliary line from my computer and play songs through it so I can practice along with real songs. It also has a headphone jack so you can practice quietly. This is a great amp for both bass and guitar!
Don’t forget to get a cable to connect your amp to your guitar. If you have pedals, don’t forget the patch cables for those as well. Look for cables that offer no unwanted noise, it should be the right length, and has a warranty, has low capacitance (reducing hiss and other unwanted noise). Gold cables are generally known for being better. This because they are less corrosive and tend to last longer.
There are a ton of effects pedals on the market. What I did when I was exploring pedals was to go into a music store that had them on display to demo and I played with them using a similar guitar and amplifier to mine. You can also consider one of the new digital amplifiers on the market today which have a ton of effects built into the amp. As I mentioned the Spark amp and The Fender Mustang amp are two that are very popular. However, if you are old school and love that tube amp sound, you will want to get some pedals. Pedals are a lot of fun to play around with.
Miscellaneous Guitar Accessories
There are a number of items that you may want to consider down the road in your guitar playing journey.
If you use books or sheet music you should get a stand. A music stand put the music at eye level and helps you to play ergonomically. This will help your posture and put you at the proper playing level which will allow you to play with more comfort and less pain over time. If you use a computer or tablet, you can still use a stand for these as well. I highly recommend getting one.
Guitar Stand Or Hanger
The great thing about putting your guitar on a guitar stand or wall hanger is that it is right there in front of you begging to be played. I know I stated above that putting a guitar in its case is the safest place for it, and it is, but having at least one of your guitars easily accessible is fun and you get to look at that pretty guitar when you are not playing it. I keep my less expensive guitars on a wall hanger and my more expensive guitars usually reside in their case.
A guitar capo is almost an essential guitar accessory. The reason I say a capo is almost essential is that whatever song you are playing that requires a capo can be transposed. So what exactly is a capo? A capo is a small device that clamps onto the neck of a guitar and shortens the length of the strings thereby raising the pitch of the guitar. When you are just starting to learn chords you probably won’t need a capo right away. However, once you start grabbing music off the internet, you will find it a handy little tool and a bit easier than trying to transpose the key of the song.
I changed my strings for years and never owned a string winder so its not a necessity, but damn I regret not having one now that I own one. The process of winding those strings is so much easier and faster with a winder. Not only is it easier but string winders are pretty inexpensive so why go without.
Playing with a slide is a specific technique not everyone gets into. If you play country or blues, however, you may want to consider getting one and learning this technique.
Music Books or Website Subscription to Music
There are a ton of books and website that offer you instruction or music to play. Some are free, others are not. One of my favorites is Ultimate Guitar. This is a free music tab website that has an insane amount of songs, how to play them, all in tablature. The free version offers tabs submitted by users. The subscription or Pro version looks like a Guitar Pro file and is generally a lot more accurate than use submitted songs. You also get multimple instrument tracks so you can learn the different parts of the song. Chord only versions if you just want to strum along. Printable so you can create your own song books, and it offers Tonebridge compatibility so that you can incorporate the correct tone. At the very least, book mark them for the free stuff.
Microphones and Microphone Stand
If you plan on performing for an audience other than a campfire, you will probably want a microphone and mic stand. Again there are a tone to choose from so we won’t go into too much detail. This will likely be a topic for its own post.
Computer Or Audio Interface
At some point, you might want to plug your guitar into your computer so that you can either play along with online music or record your own music. In order to connect your guitar to a computer, you will need an audio interface. The audio interface allows your computer to process the guitar’s signal into something the computer can understand. There are a ton of options on the market for affordable audio interfaces. The biggest thing to keep in mind when choosing an audio interface is the latency of the unit. Latency is the period of delay measured in milliseconds between when an audio signal enters a system and when it emerges and you hear the output. In these terms, the less latency a system has, the better. I use the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 as my interface. I love it because I also purchase a program from them called Guitar Rig, which lets me plug my guitar in and play with all kinds of different effects and tones.
Recording your music is beyond the scope of this article and is a complex subject. However, if you wanted to get started you would need a computer, an audio interface, cables to connect them, and recording software. If you have an Apple computer that has Garage Band, which used to be free with your MacIntosh, then all you need to do is connect to start using it. If not I would recommend Reaper recording software. You can try it before you buy it, its simpler to use than some out there and there is a ton of video instruction on their website.
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