So you’ve got a guitar, now what? Well, there are actually quite a few things that you can buy to make your life as a musician easier. From tuners to capos, there is an absolutely mind boggling amount of guitar accessories available.
So if you’ve always wondered what you should keep in your guitar player’s tool kit, you’ve come to the right place. This article will serve as a great guide to the accessories that every musician should have.
- What Do I Need?
- What’s Right For Me?
- A Quick Tip Before We Start
- Finger Picks and Thumb Picks
- Odds and Ends
What Do I Need?
Ok, before I answer this question I’d like you to think about who you are as a musician. Some guitar players are perfectly happy to use nothing more than a pick, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However I, like a ton of other musicians, am obsessed with trying new things. I’m constantly looking into new genres, new sounds, and finding any way I can to change up my tone.
Odds are if you’re a moderately accomplished musician, you fall somewhere in the middle. Generally, I would recommend that every guitar player keeps a headstock tuner on hand, as well as a capo. Aside from that, you’re only limited by your bank account.
A Quick Tip Before We Start
So this isn’t really a piece of gear that would work on this list, but I think it’s something every musician should have. Whether it’s a duffel bag or an old suitcase, every musician should have a container to keep all of their smaller pieces of gear.
I call mine my “gig case”, and it’s made my life as a musician a lot easier. I keep everything from my guitar picks to my capos in there. So if a friend calls me up wanting to jam, I can just grab a guitar and my gig case and get heading out the door. No more sifting through the couch cushions for picks, and no more turning over the house trying to find a capo.
So if you’re a gigging musician, you probably have a pedal tuner already. However, having a headstock tuner is really convenient, if not an outright necessity.
Speaking from my own experience, my headstock tuner is probably the smartest purchase I’ve ever made in regards to music gear. I can clip it on my electric when I’m working on that, and then move it to my acoustic with no fuss. I’ve also never had a problem with getting a headstock tuner to read on everything from a lap steel to a banjo.
Also, clip on tuners are great for when you want to check out a guitar in a pawn shop or a smaller instrument retailer. I actually keep one in each of my guitar cases, my glove box, and my gig case.
As far as tuners go, you definitely can’t go wrong with the TC Electronic PolyTune Clip. It’s got a great display, it’s built very solidly, and it’s accurate to within 0.5 cents (the method used to measure the pitch of notes). Also, the PolyTune allows you to tune all six string simultaneously due to its unique “Poly Tune” technology.
Whatever genre you play, you should really invest in a capo. Never underestimate the ability to easily change the key of any song on the fly. Singer having a rough night vocally? Tune your guitar down, capo it for the easier songs, and then un-capo it for the harder ones. He’s happy because he/she will have an easier time hitting all the notes in the song, and you’ll be happy because you won’t have to put up his/her nonsense.
And if you’re an acoustic player, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t already have a capo. If not, just get a capo already. You will eventually run into a situation where having one will be handy.
Loved and trusted by musicians the world over for more than 35 years, the distinctive Shubb S1 capo has a huge amount of utility for the average musician. Featuring a “set it and forget it” adjustable pressure, locking design, and a stainless steel design, there’s a reason that the Shubb S1 has garnered the widespread praise it’s enjoyed for decades.
So if you want to impress anybody, grab a slide and start wailing some old school delta blues. Just don’t be that guy who gets into the blues and then refuses to play anything else. I was that guy for awhile in high school, and I quickly learned that nobody likes that guy.
When looking for a slide, just get whatever looks cool to you. Brass slides sound a bit warmer, and glass slides are a bit crisper, but there’s not a really substantial difference. Old blues guys used to use everything from big sockets to knife blades, and they all sounded great doing it.
Though the company is known more for their strings than their slides, the Ernie Ball 4228 Glass Slide is a great value for any musician. The walls of the slide are approximately 8mm thick, giving the slide enough raw mass to deliver a suitable tone. The length of the slide is also very appropriate for the average musician in that it’s long enough to cover the majority of your guitar’s strings at once, without being so long it’s unwieldy.
As far as guitar slides go, the Dunlop 222 Brass Guitar Slide is probably one of the most widely used. It really benefits from being both very easy to play with and being incredibly affordable. The brass wall of the slide is thick enough to give a warm and resonant tone, while remaining thin enough that the slide is still easy to maneuver.
Finger Picks and Thumb Picks
If you’re an electric player, get a set of finger picks and a thumb pick. Will you use them live a lot? Probably not. However, you’d be surprised at the effect a drastic change in your playing style will have on what kind of riffs and lead lines you’ll come up with. And though they feel weird at first, they’re kind of fun to mess around with once you get used to them.
And as far as acoustic players are concerned, you should do everything in your power to get good at finger style guitar with and without finger picks. Being able to finger-pick vastly increases your utility as a musician, and having the ability to play with and without fingerpicks allows you to have a pretty substantial array of different tones at your finger tips.
National has a long standing reputation for delivering great products. No exception to this trend, the National Finger and Thumb Pick are sturdily made, have a great tone, and will be more than capable of performing well with several different instruments across multiple genres.
Odds and Ends
So this section is going to be a bit different than the ones that preceded it. Instead of covering a single topic, this part of the article is going to focus on a few smaller things that will add some extra utility to your rig.
Have you always loved the haunting tone of a well played square necked resonator guitar, but don’t have the cash to purchase one of your own? If so, you may want to check out the Golden Gate F-3303 Extension Nut.
The Extension Nut fits simply over your guitar’s nut, allowing you to easily raise the strings to facilitate slide playing. The solid brass construction also ensures that the nut will give you enjoyment for years to come.
I don’t know about you, but changing my guitar’s strings is a bit of a time consuming process. Between hunting for my wire cutters and getting the strings up to tune, swapping strings can easily take me thirty minutes.
But with the Planet Waves Pro Winder String Winder and Cutter, I can easily cut my string changing time in half. And with the included wire cutter, I don’t have to worry about tracking down any other tools.
Have you ever been apart from your guitar for long periods of time, only to lack the finger strength you had when you left? If so, the D’Addario Varigrip Adjustable Hand Exerciser might be the product for you. The Varigrip allows you to maintain your hand’s musculature, as well as allowing you to maintain your calluses through the simulated strings hidden under the reversible molded rubber grips.
If you have an acoustic guitar that only has one strap button (the piece of metal you hook your guitar strap over) you need something to attach the end of your strap to. So if that shoe lace or twine isn’t cutting it anymore, why not invest in a high quality alternative?
The C.F. Martin & Co. Leather Head Stock strap is made from top quality top grain cowhide, and you can be sure that it won’t let you down when you need it most.
As musicians, we’re always looking for the next toy that we can use to experiment with our sound and increase our musical vocabulary. So while this list didn’t cover every interesting accessory, hopefully it was comprehensive enough to give you a look at some products that will be of use to you.