When we get into something, most of us want to make sure we have everything we need, and playing the guitar is no different. But besides a guitar, strap, picks, and a cable or two and an amp, if you’re playing electrically, what do you need? Well, there are certainly a bunch of “must have guitar accessories”, and we’re gonna take a good look at what you need.
I’ve been a musician for almost 40 years, and so have quite a few of my friends. Accessories have always been an important element, and after picking up the guitar for the first time I’ve never really stopped playing, and diving into all the “side products” has been a never ending story ever since.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated all kinds of gear, gadgets, and gizmos, and while a lot of them ended up being useless or garbage or both, there are things every player needs. The problem is that many guitarists use these accessories so often that we don’t even think about them as being separate from the whole guitar experience. It doesn’t occur to us to say, “Hey, remember that you need this, too.”
Let’s take a look at some guitar accessories that every guitar player should have in their possession. Can you play guitar without these things? Sure. But can these accessories make your playing a better experience? Absolutely. Since there are about 16 million guitar players in the United States alone, and many of them use most of these, you should follow their examples.
Unless you’re only ever going to play in your living room, you need to be able to take your instrument places and keep it safe while it’s in transit. You need a case, for sure. Since there are so many kinds of cases out there, here are a few of the good ones.
You can’t go wrong with a hard case like the Gator Deluxe ABS Molded Case for Electric Guitar. This particular case is for Strat and Tele bodies, but it’s available for others as well, including basses and even semi-hollow guitars. This is a durable case that will take something of a beating while protecting your ax. Throw this in with the rest of your gear, and rest assured that your guitar will be just fine when you get to the gig.
You can still have a hard case for acoustics, and this Thomann Acoustic Guitar Case Jumbo is as good as any of them. Like the Gator case above, this one comes in a few sizes for different acoustic guitar styles. I feel like my acoustics are a bit more fragile than my electrics, so I like having a hard case for them whenever I take one out to play with a friend.
Gig bags are a bit ubiquitous, though I personally would rather have a hard case in all instances. But I do have this Ibanez Powerpad Acoustic Guitar Gig Bag because sometimes, being able to sling your ax over your back is more convenient. It’s nice to have the storage pockets for sheet music, a laptop, and whatnot, too.
If you get hit by a bus while carrying this one, your guitar probably won’t fare all that well, but then you probably won’t be too worried about that if you got hit by a bus.
My musician father prefers to tune his guitar by ear, and while that’s a great skill to have, it’s not always possible in a loud venue or in between songs. A clip-on tuner is an excellent tool for electric or acoustic playing, and the Snark Super Snark 2 Clip-On Tuner is perfect for the task. I can’t even remember how long I’ve been using this one.
There are others out there, and I’m sure they all work great, but I’m something of a brand loyalist. Clip this on your headstock, and the tuner senses the vibration of your strings to ascertain the pitch. Tune your ax without hearing a bit of it. Neat trick!
Capos can make life so much easier. You might be able to read Nashville notation, but if your piano player can’t and can only play “Tiny Dancer” in E-flat, for God knows why, a capo means you can play in his wrong key with no problems.
I prefer this Santos Rosewood Capo from Thalia Capos for the excellent quality, and it works for acoustic and electric guitars. And it looks totally awesome! You’ll need a different model for your mandolin or banjo, but this is about guitar toys, so don’t worry about that. One-handed operation means you can move it with ease mid-song if that’s your (or your piano player’s) jam, and it exerts a solid hold on the strings, so no fret buzz.
For the more budget minded players I would recommend Dunlop Trigger Classical Guitar Capo
It’s not a glory piece of equipment, but how will you ever learn to play in the pocket without practicing tempi? Also, woodshedding challenging parts very slowly (my college piano professor drummed into me: “If you can’t play it slow, you can’t play it fast”) is prime metronome territory.
You can’t go wrong with the Wittner Wooden Metronome, and this one sits on my piano in my living room. It’s pricey, but I got my Wittner when my grandmother died, and there’s no telling how long she had it. Admittedly, I have a sentimental attachment to this one, but it’s a great piece of machinery. But it’s not something you take to your band’s rehearsal space.
For that, you want something like the Korg TM-60. Throw this in your case, and don’t worry about having to baby it because it’s sturdy. It’s got a loud tick, and it’s got a line-out feature so you can make sure the whole band can hear it even when your bass player is playing too loud. Because that’s what they do.
Boss makes the TU-30 Metronome and Tuner Combo that a lot of guys I know love because they don’t have to keep up with two pieces of equipment. No one ever accused Boss of making shoddy equipment, and this is no exception.
I hate putting my guitar away in its case after I practice for the same reason I loathe making my bed—I’m just going to sleep in it again in a few hours, so why bother? There are a million configurations of guitar stands, but the Ultimate Support JS-TG101 Guitar Stand gets the job done, and I can see four of them sitting here in my room right now. You just need something to support the guitar safely, and this does that.
Guitar Headphone Amplifier
Electric players need the VOX AP2AC amPlug 2 AC30 Guitar/Bass Headphone Amplifier, and they need it now. Plug this into your amp, plug headphones into the Vox, and rock your little brains out without bothering your neighbor in the apartment upstairs.
When my kids were little, they used to go crazy listening to me woodshed a run over and over, so being able to plug this in kept them happy while I still got to play. Seriously, this ought to be included with every amp sold everywhere.
This is strictly for the classical players out there, although acoustic and electric players could use one if they wanted to.
The K&M Guitar Footrest is solid and offers several angles and heights to choose from. And it’s solidly built. It’s hard to go wrong with this one.
Fender Strap Locks are another accessory that should be pre-packaged. Slinging your guitar around on stage is just asking for trouble without these. They mount easily and hold like the strap was built-in. No one wants to drop their instrument in front of people, or ever, really. Strap locks are a great defense.
Restringing is a drudgery that’s just a part of our lives. String winders just make it a little easier, and why wouldn’t you want that? Rock Steady RSSWBK Standard String Winder comes in a few different colors and gets the job done. D’Addario took it up a notch with their Planet Waves Pro-Winder String Winder/Cutter, building in a tool to snip off that extra string we all hate dealing with. Having this beats making a trip to your toolbox or appropriating the nail clippers.
Sometimes you need a different voicing of a chord, and sometimes you need help finding it. A good chord dictionary is the kind of thing you might not need very often, but when you do need it, it can be invaluable. Basic ones like the Hal Leonard Pocket Guitar Chord Dictionary are great for newer players. This one has almost 3,000 chords in it, so you’ll probably find what you need.
For more complex chords, look no farther than the Berklee Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary, because sometimes you can’t remember how to play a G-flat 13 with a flat 11. It’s in here, though, so you can look it up quickly.
Having the right tool for the job makes everything better. As I’ve said before, these things can all enhance your playing experience, and most items on this list will be the kinds of things that make you ask how you got this far in life without them.
All the products linked here go to Amazon.com, GuitarCenter.com, or ThomannMusic.com, so you can be sure and get what you need. These must have guitar accessories are easy to find and just might be what you’re looking for to enhance your playing experience. And if you’re looking for ways to enhance that experience further, just head over to our guide on Best Free Online Guitar Lessons.
We’re all waiting on another Jimi. Why shouldn’t it be you?