September 27, 2022By Brad Tolinski 0 Comment
The Best Guitar Accessories and Gear That Every Player Needs
By Brad Tolinski
Behind every great guitar is a supporting cast of accessories essential to making the instrument shine. Most great guitar accessories are inexpensive and so small they can fit in your pocket or a gig bag, but they can make a big difference in your playing experience. Here’s a list of must have guitar accessories for every level.
Electric Guitar Accessories: What Does Every Guitarist Need?
Depending on your skill level, you’ll need to own different guitar accessories. But there are certain items that are necessary regardless of your playing experience. Check out this essential guitar accessories list for every player:
Guitar picks are perhaps your most important and best guitar accessory—and the easiest to lose! The last thing you want is to go to a lesson, or a gig, and discover that you’ve lost your only pick. They come in many shapes, sizes and thicknesses, so find one that feels good in your hand and buy a bunch of them—a dozen or so should last a while. If you are a beginning player, we recommend you start with a medium pick. Your local music store clerk will know what that means.
You should always have a spare set of guitar strings with you just in case one breaks. But even if none of your strings break, we recommend you get in the habit of changing them approximately once a month. Strings dull with age, and they also get harder to keep in tune.
String Winder and Cutter
Speaking of strings—changing them is always a chore! While no one has invented a guitar string that will change itself, this handy guitar accessory makes the process much easier. A string winder and cutter comes in a single tool: one end allows you to turn the tuning pegs quickly, and the other side has a built-in wire cutter so you can cut away the excess string ends or remove old strings. They usually retail between $7 - $11.
Electric Guitar Cables
You can’t plug in your electric guitar without one of these! You can usually purchase a reliable cable for approximately $20. But just like strings, it’s always good to have a spare just in case. A bad cable can stop your practice, rehearsal or concert dead in its tracks.
Nothing you play will sound professional if your guitar is out of tune! In many ways, having an electronic guitar tuner is as essential as a pick, strings or a cable. Need some help picking out a great one? Here's everything you need to know about guitar tuners.
A note about guitar accessory kits…
In general, we’re a little weary of guitar accessory kits. One reason is simply because we love the ability to customize everything revolving around our guitars - whether that’s strings, a strap, or a stand. It’s also because the products used in accessory kits can be lower quality. Guitar accessory kits tend to give you a good deal, but in many cases, won’t last as long.
Guitar Accessories for Beginners
If you are just learning to play guitar, here is a handy list of additional great guitar accessories you may want to consider. While these are not as necessary as some of the above, they will make your practice sessions easier and more enjoyable.
Buying a guitar stand may seem like a luxury, but it has several practical applications. First, you’ll be more likely to practice if your electric guitar is visible and at arm’s length, rather than tucked away underneath your bed, in a closet or in a case. It’s also a more secure way to store your instrument than having it lay on your bed or leaning haphazardly against your dresser or minifridge. That’s why buying a guitar stand is one of the best guitar accessories for practice and storing your guitar.
I know what you’re thinking—music stands are for dudes in orchestras that play the flute. But not so fast. They are incredibly handy for reading music transcriptions, chord sheets, set lists or watching video lessons on your iPad or mobile device. It beats—by a longshot—having your music precariously balanced on your video game console or taped to your wall. For a beginner, a music stand is a must have guitar accessory for freeing up your hands while you shred.
If you plan to stand while you play guitar, you’ll definitely need a strap. Guitar straps are fun to buy because they come in thousands of colors, materials and designs. They can also be pretty inexpensive. There are plenty of options to choose from in the $5 - $20 range, and all of them will get the job done. If you’re looking for a cheap guitar accessory to give as a gift, a new guitar strap is always a safe option.
Guitar Accessories for Intermediate Guitarists
Assuming you’ve learned your basic chords and strumming patterns, and you’re ready to take your playing to the next level, here are a few of the best guitar accessories you may want to consider. [Read more: Easy Guitar Chords]
Not everyone will need a capo, but if you are playing with a variety of vocalists it can be a life saver. Since everyone’s singing range is different, you can use your capo to help match your vocalist’s preferred key without having to change your familiar chord shapes.
Steel or Glass Slide
Most often heard in blues and country music, slide guitar involves placing a steel tube or glass bottleneck on the fingerboard to produce smooth glissando melodies and deep vibratos. If you decide it would be fun to give this technique a try, the good news is a typical slide usually retails for less than $10. Not to fret (pun not intended), a slide is an acoustic and electric friendly accessory.
Now that you've got some chords down and can play your favorite songs, it's time to start thinking about recording some of your licks. In order to plug your guitar into your computer or mobile device for recording, you'll need an audio interface. Compatible with nearly every recording software available, Positive Grid's RIFF guitar interface is the perfect solution for those looking to start their recording journey. It's the bridge between your guitar and the digital world of recording, making it easier than ever to capture your musical ideas.
While collecting amps is fun, it can definitely be an expensive hobby, and lugging around 100 watt heads can be a pain. This is where the world of guitar software comes in particularly handy. Positive Grid’s BIAS FX 2 gives you access to famous classic and modern amplifiers and effects, right at your fingertips. We’re talking an intuitive, fully customizable virtual electric guitar, bass or acoustic guitar rig for your computer or mobile device. Simply dial up any sound you can dream up, then practice, play and record to your heart’s content. BIAS FX 2 has also gotten a few hefty updates this year which include brand new DSP engine, remastered amps, performance enhancements and more. Looking to write your heaviest riffs yet? Check out the all-new OMNYSS sonically disruptive gear collection.
For the uninitiated, guitar effects pedals usually take the form of smallish metal boxes that can be switched on and off using your feet. The technology within these boxes is designed to alter your guitar tone in a number of ways, from making it distorted and fuzzy to shimmery and downright psychedelic. With Positive Grid’s new Spark Control footswitch, you’ll get all of the fun of physical pedals without the clutter. Seamlessly designed for Spark series guitar amps and allowing you to harness Spark’s lineup of effects, Spark Control is a true plug-and-play, wireless experience. With an expanding library of innovative features and functions, such as the ability to switch presets and assign custom scenarios, Spark Control goes beyond traditional foot controllers. Find out more about Spark Control here.
While collecting amps is fun, it can definitely be an expensive hobby, and lugging around 100 watt heads can be a pain. This is where the world of guitar software comes in particularly handy. Positive Grid’s BIAS FX 2 gives you access to famous classic and modern amplifiers and effects, right at your fingertips. We’re talking an intuitive, fully customizable virtual electric guitar, bass or acoustic guitar rig for Mac and PC. Simply dial up any sound you can dream up, then practice, play and record to your heart’s content. Looking to write your heaviest riffs yet? Check out the all-new OMNYSS sonically disruptive gear collection.
For the uninitiated, guitar effects pedals usually take the form of smallish metal boxes that can be switched on and off using your feet. The technology within these boxes is designed to alter your guitar tone in a number of ways, from making it distorted and fuzzy to shimmery and downright psychedelic.
With Positive Grid’s new Spark Control footswitch, you’ll get all of the fun of physical pedals without the clutter. Seamlessly designed for the Spark amp and app and allowing you to harness Spark’s lineup of effects, Spark Control is a true plug-and-play, wireless experience. With an expanding library of innovative features and functions, such as the ability to switch presets and assign custom scenarios, Spark Control goes beyond traditional foot controllers. Plus, it’s compatible with our BIAS FX 2 guitar software. Find out more about Spark Control here.
One of the many great things about the guitar is how portable it is. But what’s the best way to carry one? For long, heavy-duty journeys, you’ll need a hardshell or flight case (we’ll talk about those later), but for rehearsals, local shows or playing in the park, nothing beats a light and reliable gig bag. They can retail anywhere from $40 to $200-plus depending on materials and padding. But whatever you get, make sure it has a couple of pockets for at least some of the best guitar accessories we’ve been talking about!
Great Guitar Accessories for Advanced and Pro Players
If you are an advanced or professional player, you’ll probably already know the best guitar accessories you need to get the job done. However, we thought it would be interesting and informative for the beginning and intermediate players to know what they may need in the future. Besides, who knows? You may see one of these things on eBay or Reverb for a good price and scoop it up for later use.
If you’re a professional musician, chances are you’re going to travel. And whether you’re flying in style on a private jet or riding in the back of a 2002 Ford van with your roadie “Smelly Pete,” you’ll need something pretty damn tough to carry your prized guitar. Luckily, Gator makes a line of TSA-approved hardshell cases for less than $200 that will take a beating and while protecting your prized possession.
Whether you want to bust moves like Prince or headbang like James Hetfield, everything is a little easier without having to worry about tripping over your guitar cable. Wireless systems have gotten much better (and less expensive) in recent years, so even if you aren’t playing stadiums, they can be a fun guitar accessory to have when you’re strutting your stuff at a smaller club.
Guitar Tool Kit
Some guitarists just love to do their own repairs. If that sounds like you, you’re going to want your own guitar tool kit. For a mere $26.95, the Ernie Ball Musician’s Tool Kit gives you most of what you need to do things like truss rod adjustments or fine tuning your bridge saddles.
Guitarists are often expected to run around the stage and entertain as much as the lead vocalist. The problem is, the more you move the more difficult it is to hear your stage monitors. In-ear monitors have become hugely popular in recent years for professionals that need a precise mix of what the band is playing at all times. Some musicians love ‘em and some hate ‘em for different reasons, but they can be a life saver for players on the move.
Acoustic Guitar Accessories
Right about now, I can hear a bunch of you say, “Hey man, what about acoustic guitar players? Are there any must have guitar accessories for us?” Don’t worry my wood-loving friend, in addition to picks, strings, tuners, straps and guitar stands, there are plenty of ways you can spend your money on accessories!
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they own an acoustic guitar is not storing their instrument properly. When a guitar loses its moisture, the wood begins to shrink, which can cause cracking and other damage. Using a guitar humidifier will keep your guitar looking and sounding beautiful.
Nice Gig Bag or Case
Acoustic instruments are more fragile than their electric brethren, and therefore need more protection. A good case is invaluable. We also know how tempting it is to want to display your amazing guitar on a wall or on a stand in your room, but unless you use a room humidifier for your guitar, it’s best to keep in the case. Not only does this help keep the guitar properly humidified, a case also naturally protects your guitar from accidental scratches and dings.
Acoustic Guitar Polish
When we play our guitars, we transfer sweat and oil from our skin to the wood on our guitar. If that sounds a little gross, sorry, but it is! Unfortunately, skin and sweat is really bad for our guitar as it will eventually destroy the protective lacquer and eventually work its way into the wood, breaking it down. It happens slowly, but it does happen. Cleaning and polishing your acoustic guitar is essential.
Like any great obsession, there are always more things to buy—pickups, headphones, string lubricant, the list goes on.
Brad Tolinski is perhaps best known for his work as the editor-in-chief of Guitar World Magazine for 25 years. He is also the author of Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page (Crown); and Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Style, Sound and Revolution of the Electric Guitar (Doubleday), which was the basis for a 2019 guitar-focused exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Most recently he edited the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Issue of CREEM magazine, and his latest book Eruption: Conversations with Eddie Van Halen (Hachette) will be coming out in October 2021.