Guitar Accessories Every Beginner Needs

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We're frequently asked what are our favorite guitar accessories to keep guitars looking and playing their best. This is our Top 10 essential guitar accessories every guitar lover will probably want to have.

Video Transcription

Aaron Smiley: A frequent question we get here at StewMac, especially by newer players, is, "What accessories do I need for my guitar?" We've come up with a list of 10 essential guitar accessories every beginner needs, not only for playing, but also for maintaining your guitar. Let's start with playing first.

1. Tuners

The most important thing you need is a tuner. You got to be in tune when you're playing. I personally like headstock tuners because they just fit right on the head of the instrument. They're really fast and pretty accurate. And since they're so small, you can just throw them right in your case whenever you're done. Headstock tuners usually go for about $20 or $30. There are also a lot of tuner apps for smartphones and some of them are actually even free. If you use pedals, you might also use a pedal tuner, which can go usually about $100 for some of the fancier ones, but you can find some used ones or lower end ones for as little as 30 or 40 bucks.

2. Picks

A lot of players will use picks or plectrums when they play, whether you're strumming cords or sounding individual notes. There are tons of different types of picks out there that can vary in shape or thickness or material and can be better suited or worse suited for different styles of music. For example, if you are playing a lot of strumming chords, you might want a thinner pick so you have less resistance, while a thicker pick would be better for a staccato picking or individual notes. But at the end of the day, it's all about personal preference. The best part, picks are pretty cheap. You can get a pack of 10 or 11 for 5 bucks. There's even variety packs that have all different shapes and sizes, so you can test out a couple of them and find out which one works best for you.

3. Capos

Capos will change the key that you're playing in, which can be especially helpful if your vocal range isn't quite fitting in that particular key. You can use the same chords as you would without a capo. You just attach the capo to a specific fret and slide it up and down the neck until you find the right key. Capos also come in all different shapes and sizes, but the most common ones are called trigger style capos. They're really easy to put on and take off, and they can sit on the headstock whenever you're done using them. This one usually goes for about 15 bucks. There are also adjustable tension capos, which can reduce the strain on your neck and strings and help you dial in just the right pressure that you need. This Shubb Deluxe goes for about 30 bucks.

4. Strap

Unless you're exclusively playing sitting down, a strap will definitely come in hand. Most guitars have strap buttons, which you can just slide your strap on or off. You might have to install a strap button, but that's a pretty easy mod to do if you have a hand drill and a little bit of time. Straps come in pretty much every color under the sun and can be made of a variety of different materials. You can get them as cheap as $5 and as expensive as a couple hundred. You may pay a little extra for cool features. For example, this strap that I have has a pad where the strap sits on my shoulder. It makes it nice and comfortable. Another upgrade you might consider is strap locks, which added a little bit of extra security for keeping your strap attached to your guitar. It's the first mod that I do anytime that I get a new guitar and it's worth it for the extra piece of mind.

5. Metronome

Staying on tempo when you play, not speeding up or slowing down, is very important, especially when you're playing with other people. You'd be surprised how much your tempo can change when you're playing by yourself, that is what a metronome is for. It makes a click on time that you can play along with, like a little electronic drummer. You can get metronomes that go around $20 or so, but much like tuners, there's a lot of apps for a smartphone. A lot of them are free and awesome. I know I wish that I had used one a little bit more when I was starting out.

Now, let's take a look at five accessories that are important for keeping your guitar well-maintained.

6. Case

Aside from the important task of keeping your guitar safe, a case is also a convenient place to keep all of these accessories that I'm mentioning. Strings, picks, tuner, capo, they all can fit right in the case. It's also a good idea to keep your guitar in the case whenever you're not playing it, rather than leaning it up against the wall somewhere. Gravity and guitars don't get along very well, trust me on that. Hard shell cases provide the most security for your guitar, but there's also soft cases or gig bags that do a pretty good job as well. I like the ones with the backpack straps so I can carry other things, like my amplifier or a pizza.

7. Adjustment tools

Much like a car, guitars require routine maintenance as well. You're going to have to make a few small adjustments every once in a while if you want your guitar to keep playing the way that you like it to. You may already have a few tools that came with your guitar, but it's always a good idea to keep a little tool bag or a collection of tools in your case. We sell a lot of the tools that you will need for adjustments, but I'd say that the three most common things you'll need are an Allen wrench or a socket wrench to adjust your truss rod, smaller Allen wrenches or screwdrivers to adjust your action and intonation, and a string winder and string cutter to change your strings on the fly.

8. Strings

Just as a heads-up, strings don't last forever. They're going to break at some point. Whether you're tuning it too tight by accident, or they've just been played for a long time, they're going to snap on you and you need to replace them. I recommend players of every skill level to keep an extra set of strings or two in their case for when that eventually happens. Strings are customized based on what type of instrument you're playing. For example, acoustic strings are different than electric strings, and they'll come in lots of different sizes and materials that change not only the way that they play, but the sound that you get out of them as well. Strings can go usually about 5 bucks or so, get a little bit more expensive as you start moving into different upgrades. If you haven't yet, experiment with different types of strings. You never know what you might like.

9. Cleaning supplies

Whenever you're done playing and you put the guitar down, there's probably going to be a lot of fingerprints all over the finish and your strings are going to be coated in sweat and oils from your hands. I usually keep a flannel rag in my case so I can wipe down my strings, get any oils or dirt off and keep my strings playing better longer, and I keep a bottle of guitar cleaner and polish so I can spruce the body up every once in a while. You want to avoid using household cleaners, like Windex or Pine-Sol. Guitars can be pretty finicky when it comes to cleaning, so we always recommend products that are dedicated specifically to guitar cleaning. For example, our ColorTone Clean + Shine or our Preservation Polish are great options, and they don't run more than $5 to $10.

10. Humidifier

A humidifier keeps a guitar's environment consistent, which can prevent damages if the air is too dry. This is especially important for acoustic guitars since the wood on the inside isn't usually finished. So, if there's too much moisture in the air, it can take that moisture on and swell up. And on the opposite side, if it's too dry, the guitar can shrink back, which can damage the finish. In most cases, if you're comfortable in a room, the guitar is going to be comfortable, too. That being said, it's always a good idea to play it safe and keep a humidifier in your case. Most of them keep the humidity at just the right level so that your guitar is always happy.

Whether you've been playing for a while or you're just starting out, these 10 accessories are definitely worth the extra funds to make sure your guitar keeps playing the way you like it. If you wanted to dive deeper into some of these categories, we have videos specifically geared towards strings, capos, cleaners, you name it. Just subscribe to the channel and check them out.



Aaron Smiley

StewMac Technical Advisor

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