So you’ve bought your new guitar and possibly some means of getting it to produce some noise, but what now? You’re nearly there, but you will probably want to invest in a few more inexpensive accessories before you get stuck in.
Realistically you could spend more than the cost of a guitar and amp on extra accessories, but we’re just going to take a very brief look at some of the absolute must haves, as well as a few optional but super useful products. Most of these products will cost as little as $5 – $10, so they are easily affordable and in most cases are absolutely worth having around.
Picks come in a wide variety of different shapes, sizes, thicknesses, materials and a whole swathe of other options. Depending on what style of music is being played, different styles of picks can have a profound effect on the tone you will produce, and in a lot of cases the ease in which you can play.
Heavier picks with little to no flex are good for heavier music as they allow you to really dig into the strings to produce an aggressive tone, whereas thinner, more flexible picks sound great when used on a clean guitar for strumming and arpeggios.
As a beginner, try and find a selection of picks in a few different sizes and see what works best for you.
- Chromacast Pick Sample Pack – link
- Dunlop Pick Variety Pack – link
- Planet Waves Assorted Pearl Celluloid Guitar Picks – link
If you are an acoustic player you may or may not need a cable, but as an electric player it is a necessity. If possible try and purchase a brand name cable – a $10-$20 lead will last you a hell of a lot longer than the $0.20 cables that come with most guitar kits – and they’ll sound better too! It’s a false economy to keep buying inexpensive cables when one quality lead should potentially last you a lifetime when properly cared for! I remember back when I first started, spending a minute at the start of every practice session rotating my cheap cable to find the perfect position where it wouldn’t crackle or cut-out. And then of course, I couldnt actually move for fear of losing the sweet spot…
- Fender Performance Guitar Cable – link
- Hosa Cable GTR Guitar Cable – link
- Kirlin Braided Instrument Cable – link
You’ll need somewhere safe to store your new pride and joy when not in use – grab yourself a stand, or if you’re handy with a drill, a wall hanger. Don’t be that guy who props their guitar up against a wall – it’ll just end in tears.
- OnStage Stand – link
- Musicians Gear Tubular Stand – link
- Hercules Auto-Grip – link
- Planet Waves Guitar Rest – link
- String Swing Wall Hanger – link
As a general rule of thumb heavier strings will give you a thicker, fuller sound, but the trade off is that they are harder to bend due to the added tension. Thinner strings are easier to bend and sound a little brighter, but they are also more likely to break. Because you never know when a string is going to break, it is advisable to have a spare set around at all times.
Stick with well known brands and you will be well served. Check out this link for some best-selling string sets complete with player reviews.
Myself, I’m a D’Addario player. For acoustic I use EJ16s, for electric I opt for EXL110s, and for bass I use EXL160s. All of these are perfect, all-rounder string sets – start with one of these and go from there!
If your guitar doesn’t have a set of locking tuners (very likely on a beginner guitar) then a string winder is a godsend for speeding up restringing your instrument. Many will come with a built-in string cutter to trim off any excess – definitely get one of these!
If you want to rock out in your bedroom, or start jamming with friends as soon as possible then a good quality strap is a must have. There isn’t a lot to think about here – pick something you like the appearance of, and make sure it looks comfortable. Wider straps tend to dig into your shoulder less and so are generally more comfortable. The extra surface area on the wider straps also helps to counteract guitar dive, i.e when your headstock tries to headbutt the floor.
Check out a selection of popular guitar straps here, complete with player reviews.
If your amp or effects pedal doesn’t already have one, then a tuner is a great tool to have to ensure that you are always playing in correct pitch.
A headstock clip-on tuner is a super useful item to have around as they can tune electric, bass and acoustic guitars. This is because these clever products can tune (very accurately!) via sound vibration. Just clip it to your headstock and you’re good to go. For around $10 this little gadget is an absolute must have! Or if you want to be really flash, and have a little extra cash in your back pocket – the brand new TC Electronic PolyTune Clip is the Rolls Royce of headstock tuners!
- Snark Clip on Tuner – link
- D’Addario NS Micro Clip on Tuner – link
- Fender Chromatic Clip on Tuner – link
- TC Electronic PolyTune Clip – link
A tool no guitarist should be without! The ability to practice an exercise at a slower, more easily manageable tempo, and gradually increase the speed is an absolute necessity when it comes to developing good clean technique. Again, your amp or effects unit may come with one installed, but if not just use one of the many free metronomes available on the internet. If you don’t have internet access a basic metronome should cost you as little as $5. Smartphone users will be able to find a plethora of metronome and drum-machine apps available.
Cleaning your pride and joy will fast become a soothing ritual for you, so it’s important to have the correct supplies on hand to ensure that you don’t damage the guitar. It is especially important to keep your guitar clean if you live in a warmer country where you are more likely to sweat. Bodily fluids will seep into the fretboard and eventually build up into a nasty grimy mess. As an aside to making your guitar look like a hobo, these fluids will also cause your strings to deteriorate much faster, meaning more money spent changing them out. It’s a good habit to wipe down your strings after every practice session.
Pick up an inexpensive cleaning kit such as this one from Dunlop and discover the benefits of maintaining a clean instrument.
If you’re going to be travelling to visit a guitar teacher or to jam with friends, you’ll need something to safely carry your guitar in. Here’s a list of popular gigbags, complete with player reviews. Try and purchase a model with plenty of padding, and a pocket or two always comes in handy for cables, spare strings and what not.
A Set Up
If you have the money, take your guitar to your local guitar store and ask them to set it up for you. They will adjust the guitar so that it is in the perfect playing condition by adjusting the intonation, ensuring the truss rod is correctly aligned, and setting the optimal string height etc. This should cost no more than around $60 for a basic setup and will ensure that you get the best possible start to your new hobby. A cheaper option would be to ask a friend who already plays to do it for you if they are up to the task. This is a very optional step, but could make all the difference if your guitar is a bit of a lemon! A hard to play guitar could kill your ambitions in one fell swoop…
Hopefully that should sort you out with the accessories you will need to make a great start! Next up we’ll tackle lessons…
Part One : Tips Before You Buy
Part Two : Beginner Electric Guitars
Part Three : Beginner Acoustic Guitars
Part Four : Beginner Bass Guitars
Part Five : Amps
Part Six : Effects
Part Seven : Accessories
Part Eight : Lessons