Every guitarist has their own gadgets and gizmos that help them out – whether it is to sound unique, play easier, change their strings quickly, or just perform better. However, there are hundreds of accessories for guitarists out there made by all different companies – how do you know what accessories you should have as a guitarist? Well, I’m here to hopefully clear that up and tell you what guitar accessories I use and have been using for many years with much success.
**Note: I included links to each of the guitar accessories on Amazon for the accessories I recommend or use myself (you can read my Disclosure Policy regarding Amazon affiliate links).
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List of Must-have Guitar Accessories:
1. Guitar Strings
First of all, a guitar has to have strings! There are just a couple things you want to consider when looking at strings: what material they’re made out of and the gauge of the strings (how thick they are).
When it comes to acoustic guitar strings, you’re going to have to choose between strings that are wound with 80/20 bronze or strings that are wound with phosphor bronze. What’s the difference you might ask? 80/20 bronze strings are going to start out brighter sounding. Phosphor bronze strings are more warm and mellow. However, it really is just a personal preference and won’t make a huge difference especially to an amateur guitarist. You’ll see below that I prefer phosphor bronze acoustic guitar strings over 80/20 bronze strings.
For acoustic guitars, I would absolutely recommend Elixir Acoustic Phosphor Bronze NANOWEB Guitar Strings (Light Gauge). Elixir strings for acoustic guitars are the best strings on the market and the best strings I’ve ever used. Period. They sound incredible and last about 3 times longer than other less expensive strings I’ve used in the past. This is because they use a special coating on the strings that prevents dirt and other junk from getting into the individual winds on the strings, so the great sound lasts much longer.
However, if you don’t want to shell out about $15 for a set of acoustic guitar strings (even though it’s definitely worth it), my next suggestion would be to get the D’Addario EJ16-3D Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings (Light Gauge) – 3 Sets. These will still run you around $15, but you get 3 sets sent to you for that price. You can also get these in a single pack or a pack of 10 which is an option you can choose between on Amazon. These strings also sound very good especially when new. However, the good, bright sound will fade more quickly because they aren’t coated with anything like the Elixir strings. So, you’ll find yourself changing your strings more often than if you went with Elixir strings.
What I Use:
Electric guitar strings are a little easier to choose from. Most electric guitar strings out there are very similar. They’re most likely going to be nickel wound, which means it’s just a matter of deciding what gauge you like to play with (the thickness of the strings). For starters, I would recommend a light gauge like I did for the acoustic guitar strings. They are easier on the fingers, and are also easier to bend. I would recommend the Ernie Ball 2221 Regular Slinky Nickel Wound Set, .010-.046. Ernie Ball strings are some of the most popular out there, and have excellent ratings. At around $5 a pack for these, you can’t go wrong.
If you really want to impress your friends and only spend a few dollars more, you could always pick up a set of these: DR String NMCE-10 NEON Electric Strings, Multi-Color. Each string itself is coated and is a different color. They’re very bright during the day, and the strings glow under black UV lighting. You’ll be envied by everyone!
What I Use:
2. Guitar String Cutter/String Winder
In order to change the strings on your guitar, you’re going to want the right tools to make it go as quickly as possible. Introducing the string cutter and the string winder. These are pretty self-explanatory. Guitar strings are longer than they need to be so that they can wrap plenty of times around your tuning pegs. So once you’re done changing your strings, you’re going to have quite a bit of excess string hanging out of your tuning pegs which is why you’ll want to buy a string cutter to snip off the extra.
Also, while changing the strings, they make simple little tools which will help you wind your strings way quicker than turning the tuning pegs by hand. They also allow you to get under your bridge pins (which hold the strings into your bridge) and pop them out easily. String winders run around $2-5, and string cutters run around $10-15. Both are must-have guitar accessories. You will be very happy you bought them when you realize how much time they’ll save you.
There are tools out there that combine both a string cutter and string winder in one, but I personally prefer to keep these two tools separate.
What I Use:
Okay, so you have brand new strings on your guitar (or maybe you already had good strings on your guitar). The most crucial part before you begin playing… being in tune! When I began playing guitar in 2005, I was using a guitar pitch pipe in order to tune my guitar (talk about old school!).
Then, I began using an electronic tuner (Korg GA1 Guitar and Bass Tuner) which I would still recommend because it has a few more features than the current type of tuner I use. The nice thing about the Korg GA1 Tuner is that it is very precise, it has a mode where it sends out the tones of each string of the guitar so you can tune by ear if you wish, and you can also plug into the tuner directly with an instrument cable if background noise is hurting your accuracy. The downfall is exactly what I just mentioned… if you aren’t plugged in directly and there is a lot of background noise, it will pick up that noise and throw the needle off which can be frustrating at times.
The best kind of tuner (in my opinion) is a clip-on tuner. Clip-on tuners will clip on to the head of your guitar, and they will tell you what frequency you are playing based on the vibrations of the neck which is amazing. What’s the biggest advantage of this? Well, whatever environment you’re in (noisy house, around friends, at a gig, etc.) it doesn’t matter what background noise there is because it is picking up the vibrations of the neck to tell you what note is currently being played. I have been using a clip-on tuner for the past several years now, and am glad I am. They are extremely affordable (around $10) and the batteries in them last a long time. I would absolutely suggest the Snark SN-5 Tuner for Guitar, Bass and Violin. Snarks are wonderful – they’re inexpensive, good quality, and accurate. What more can you ask for?
What I Use:
You’re all strung up and in tune – now it’s time to play! Say you are a beginner guitar player and only know a few chords like G, Em, C, and D, but the song you’re wanting to learn has the chords A, F#m, D, and E. What is this F#m junk? I don’t know barre chords yet! In comes the capo. For those that don’t know, a capo can be placed on any fret of the guitar to help you easily transpose a song which makes it easier to play many songs while still using the chord shapes you’re used to.
You do have to pay attention to the quality of the capo you are buying. When I first bought a capo, I went the cheap route ($3-4) and am very sorry I did. The capo did not apply equal pressure across all strings, and I heard nothing but buzzing when I was using one. So, I ended up having to buy a new capo anyway. Fortunately, for only a small amount more you can get a high quality capo that will last for years ($12-15). I would suggest the Kyser KG6B 6 String Capo. I’ve been using the same Kyser capo for 3 years now and it still works good as new.
What I Use:
5. Guitar Picks/Pick Holder
One of the most essential guitar accessories out there – the pick! That is, if you plan on doing any strumming or picking which I’m guessing you will. I shouldn’t have to explain a whole lot about picks and pick holders other than the fact that picks can be made out of a number of different materials and are different thicknesses. What material you prefer or how thick the pick you play with is up to you. However, if you plan on doing a lot of strumming only, you’ll want to go with a thinner pick (it flexes more and makes strumming easier). If you plan on doing more single note picking for solo stuff, you’ll probably want a slightly thicker pick because they are more stiff and make it easier to pick each individual string.
For anyone that is unsure which picks to get, you can’t go wrong with the Dunlop Standard Tortex Picks .73mm (12 Pack). These have a nice matte surface so they are easy to grip and the .73mm is the thickness which is middle of the line – perfect for someone that wants to do strumming and some individual string picking.
Say you have a bunch of picks lying around… where are you going to put them? I can’t tell you how many picks I’ve lost in my couch cushions or ones that have vanished into thin air. This is why you should have a pick holder! Pick holders are very inexpensive ($2-5) and will probably pay for themselves by keeping track of your picks so you don’t need to always go out and buy new ones. The most basic and best pick holder I’ve used for years is the Dunlop 5005 Pick Holder. The pick holder will hold probably around 5-10 picks depending on how thick the picks are. The nice thing about the Dunlop pick holders is they have a little piece of adhesive on the backside of them so that you could stick the pick holder right onto your guitar and grab picks whenever you need as you’re playing. Pretty fancy!
6. Guitar Humidifier
What is a guitar humidifier you might ask? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like… a mini humidifier, for your guitar! I would say you should add a guitar humidifier to your list of must-have acoustic guitar accessories. If you play electric guitar, you probably don’t have to worry about a guitar humidifier unless you live in very dry conditions. However, for acoustic guitar, a humidifier for your guitar is always a good idea. Why? Because acoustic guitars are made out of wood – much of which are very thin pieces of wood. In dry conditions, wood can warp and begin cracking, and trust me, you don’t want to have to deal with fixing your guitar because it cracked due to lack of humidity.
As far as which humidifier I would recommend, it would be the Kyser Humidifier for Acoustic Guitars (pictured above) or the D’Addario Acoustic Guitar Humidifier. Both do the same thing, they are just slightly different styles. In the end, the concept is the same. You take a small sponge out and dampen it with water, place it back into the enclosure, and then place the humidifier either in your sound hole (for the Kyser one pictured above) or place the humidifier in between your strings like the D’Addario one. Then, the water from the sponge slowly evaporates into the main body of your guitar which helps keep the wood from getting too dry and cracking. Pretty cool, huh?
7. Guitar Stand
Every person who owns a guitar needs some place to put it! Now, if you have a case, you may very well just put your guitar in your case and set it up against a wall or tuck it under the bed. However, if you play your guitar every day, it can be a hassle to put it in and take it out of your case every time. Also, if you play on stage ever, you’re going to want a guitar stand to hold your guitar for easy access to it. Guitar stands are a great accessory for your guitar and can help prevent your guitar from falling over and getting damaged if you’re used to just setting your guitar against a wall with nothing to hold it upright (never a good idea!).
If you’re looking for a good, inexpensive guitar stand I would suggest the On Stage XCG4 Black Tripod Guitar Stand. These are very simple to use and do the trick. Also, it’s nice because they come with a security strap that holds the neck in place so that you don’t have to worry about your guitar tipping forward and smashing against the floor if it gets bumped the wrong way.
8. Guitar Strap
If you plan on standing up while playing your guitar ever, then add a guitar strap to your list of must-have guitar accessories. A strap will be able to hold your guitar up while you play and they are also adjustable so you can have your guitar hang at whatever height you prefer.
If you just want a cheap, good strap that will do the job, then I would recommend the Ernie Ball Black Guitar Strap. Otherwise, if you want a guitar strap that is more heavy duty and higher quality, you could also go with a leather guitar strap.
9. Guitar Cables
Guitar cables are necessary if you have a guitar with a pickup that needs to be plugged into an amplifier. All electric guitars have pickups, and some acoustic guitars have pickups built in so that they are able to be amplified. If you have a guitar with a pickup, grab a guitar cable so that you have connection to your amplifier. Two things you’ll have to pay attention to for guitar cables are the end pieces (the ends where the cable plugs in) and the length of the cable. There are generally 3 configurations for end pieces – both straight, one straight and one 90-degree angle, and both 90-degree angle. Go with whatever configuration of end pieces fits your need best. Also, determine the length of the cable you’ll need to connect to your amp while still having freedom to move around some. I generally prefer a 10-foot cable.
As far as guitar cables go, I would suggest the KIRLIN 10-Feet Premium Plus Instrument Cable. This one has one straight end, and one 90-degree end. It is very high quality, is 10 feet long, and only costs around $11. Otherwise, that page has the option for a 20-foot cable if you need a longer cable.
So there you have it! The full list of must-have guitar accessories. Add these accessories to your list of things to get if you don’t have them already – you’ll be glad you did!