Along the way as a guitarist, you will need certain guitar accessories, and maybe some extra things, which though may be optional, do make your music life a lot easier. This particular lesson is about all the accessories and extras that you will be needing, including my views about each one. They are all recommended, and you should try and get them at your pace, but you don’t need them all before you can start to play—all you need is your guitar and a pick!
The Guitar Essentials
Starting out on this course makes these items essential. It doesn’t matter if you are playing acoustic or electric guitar; the items are just necessary, and you really should consider getting them as early as possible in this course if you want to get the best possible results and learning experience out of the course.
You will need picks for as long as you play guitar. Picks are the number one essential item when playing, so you will have to buy a few. Initially, you should get very thin picks (get the thinnest you can find) because you will learn to strum better using thin picks. Also, get a couple of picks with medium thickness, because you will need them for playing single notes. They are just better for it.
A Guitar Tuner
Playing a properly tuned guitar is fundamental to making good music. Playing an improperly tuned guitar is a nightmare and a horrible experience for both player and listener. Although a good guitarist should be able to tune a guitar by ear, you on the other hand as a beginner, definitely need a tuner. That is the only way you will come to know the sound of each string, and then you may later be able to tune up by yourself, maybe a few months down the road.
Personally, I must admit that I am more and more inclined to using the iStrobosoft, which is an iPhone app from Peterson. It has a much better display than anything else I have seen, and it is very cheap too compared to standard electronic tuners. It is a good buy if you are an iPhone or iPod touch user
You need Spare Strings too
You must always have spare strings handy, at least, 2 sets. Spare strings are essential to any guitarist because you can never know when your string is going to break, so you should always have some around. There are videos on how to change strings, watch them if you need to learn changing strings
About the string’s gauge, 009 for electric guitar and 010 for acoustic are the standard gauges for most beginners. Thicker strings do sound better but hurt the fingers more. There is also the “treated” Extra Lifeline of strings, which sound better and last longer. They are perfect for players who don’t like to change their strings often, but they do cost more also.
Recently, I moved to D’Addario strings because they are very fun to work with, and I like the NYXL electric strings. They also have a good understanding of what I’m doing, and they want to support the site. Personally, I have played with many different brands of strings, and you too may want to try out different brands, but I think D’Addario would also be a nice brand for you to start with. They are good people, and I recommend their strings.
The Guitar Strap
A guitar strap helps to keep the guitar stable. Buying a strap can be a very good idea because it is also necessary for playing live, like when you are ready to showcase your skills to the world. There is not much to consider when buying a guitar strap, except maybe design. So just get a guitar strap that you like. Also, if your guitar is a very heavy one, like the Gibson Les Paul, then you might want to consider a padded strap to avoid hurting your shoulder.
Recommendation: Any strap.
Strap Locks for Security
Using strap locks are very important when you do decide to use guitar straps. So, during your strap purchase, please also buy strap locks. They can be anything from cheap plastic discs to the more expensive big metal catches. No matter which one you choose, just get it because I have seen many beginners time and over again playing without strap locks and then ended up dropping their guitars to the floor. In fact, I have witnessed a guitar fall and the guitar’s neck snap on three different occasions, just for a lack of strap locks, and the straps fell off. You could also use the red rubber ring from the top of Grolsch beer bottles (the imported type with a “pop top”). Just put it on the strap pin after putting on the guitar strap, it might not hold that well, but it does come with the bonus of a fresh bottle of beer!
A Metronome for Timing
Metronomes are necessary, and you will need and use them a lot while learning. Any metronome at all will do, but an electric or electronic one is recommended. They are much better than the ancient “tick – tock” metronomes.
A music stand is important when reading sheet music because it will help you to prevent straining your neck muscles or causing any other posture problems. Lots of people are used to sitting on the bed or sofa to play the guitar and then keep turning around to read the sheet music by their sides, and then again looking at their fingers to make sure they are correct. This to and fro can be very distracting and may land you at the expensive mercy of a chiropractor. Stands are not very expensive unless you want the type that I use, called an RAT stand which by the way looks truly marvelous.
Recommendation: Any music stand
A capo is that device that you must have seen attached to the neck of so many guitars. What it does is that it shortens the length of the string, depending on the position you attach it to and thereby changes its frequency and pitch, or key as a result. It is used to play songs on a key that would otherwise be very difficult to play on. If you find it difficult playing key F for example, but you can easily play key C, you can use a capo to modulate the strings in a way that allows you to play key F using the finger positions of key C.
*Note that the capo for a classical guitar (with nylon strings) is different and is usually flat and not curved like the ones shown below. We will have them soon in our store.
Display Folders or Ring Binders
Keeping yourself organized is important in everything you do, including in learning to play the guitar. It will help you to learn quickly and efficiently if you stay organized. I will recommend that you buy a clear display folder or ring binder, and they are not expensive.
Recommendation: Premium display folder on Amazon
The Need for a Jam Buddy, Recorder or a Looper
When starting out in music, it’s not enough to have a teacher to learn guitar from. I recommend having a practice buddy as it can be very rewarding both emotionally and mentally, because you have someone you are sharing a beautiful experience with and at the same time you are learning. It is also best when this jam buddy of yours is on the same skill level as you are. While practicing, one of you can play chords while the other goes solo for a while, and then you change roles. Without a jam buddy, you will be left with a recorder. You record yourself playing first, and then you replay it, jamming along to your recording. With a buddy, you could also record yourselves first, then jam along, so a recorder can be very helpful indeed.
The other option is a looper pedal, but only towards the end of the beginner course because getting it now could be a bit overwhelming for you. Personally, I use two TC Electronic loopers called Ditto and Ditto X2. They are very small and portable and reasonably priced too. They are also easy to use, and their sound production is superb. For any beginner who wants to explore the use of a looper as a practice tool, any of the two will be perfect, I recommend either the Ditto or the Ditto X2.