5 Essential Guitar Accessories For Beginners

Best Guitar Accessories

Do I need a guitar strap? What about this guitar fretboard cleaning oil? There are tons of devices and products vendors claim you absolutely need. But do you really need them or is this just yet another marketing trick? Let’s cut right to the chase and focus on what I believe are the 5 Essential Guitar Accessories for Beginners. Three of which are absolute necessities and two are good to have, but not necessarily needed to get started. We will then also cover a few other items that you may want to get a later point, things like a sheet music stand, special guitar cleaning products and more.

Here is an overview of the topics we will be discussing today. To make your life easier, I structured this article in sub-sections that you can easily access via the hyperlinks listed below to get straight to the topic of interest.

1. Useful vs. Unnecessary Guitar Accessories
2. Video Discussion: Essential Guitar Accessories for Beginners
3. 3 Essential Accessories You Need
4. Additional Guitar Products That Come In Handy
5. What You Don’t Need
6. Summary and Shopping List

1. Useful vs. Unnecessary Guitar Accessories

You don’t need all the things advertisers tell you to. There are some useful accessories for guitar players, without a doubt – then there are some nice-to-haves and a whole slew of products or services that you do not need. We will talk about that in more detail in a little bit. But my point is, don’t waste your money on all these shiny objects and ‘revolutionary’ knick-knacks. If you were to listen to what the marketers tell you, you would need really deep pockets. The fact is there are only a  few selected acoustic guitar accessories and electric guitar accessories that you actually need. Meaning, those items are essential for all guitar beginners. I will give you concrete suggestions for these things with specific product recommendations. Before we do that, let’s first watch a quick video on guitar accessories in general.

2. Video Discussion: Essential Guitar Accessories for Beginners

Okay, in this short video, I will show you a few cheap guitar accessories that are perfectly okay for guitar beginners. To be clear, I’m using the term ‘cheap’ here in the sense of ‘inexpensive’ and not mediocre quality. Also, I will briefly touch upon devices and products that are not necessarily needed for the guitar beginner, but are still useful at a later point.

3. 3 Essential Accessories You Need

Guitar Tuners

Learning guitar means you need to learn how to tune your instrument. And that, to a guitar beginner, can be a massive challenge. I do remember when I started playing and I had a lot of trouble with the whole tuning thing. Back then, clip on tuners weren’t available yet, but I got myself an electric tuner after I was very unsuccessful in trying to use a pitch pipe.

good guitar accessoriesEven the more sophisticated guitar tuners don’t cost much anymore. I would recommend that you either get yourself a solid clip-on guitar tuner. These little gizmos work accurately and are very handy because of their size – and, well, obviously because of the fact that you can just clip them onto your instrument and you’re good to go.

Now, alternatively, for electric guitar players, you may want to consider getting yourself a tuner pedal such as the Boss TU3 pedal guitar tuner. Actually, this is the next item on my personal wish list. I like clip-on tuners such as the Snark models of which I have several, however, a pedal tuner would definitely make my life easier and it would make for a nice addition to my pedal board.

Spare Strings

No doubt, you must have spare strings. Strings can break. That’s especially true for guitar starters as they tend to over-tune their strings during the tuning process – and especially the high E-String and B-String are the typical candidates for breaking easily because of the fact that those are the thinnest.

But obviously strings can also break for a number of other reasons. Or, after a while, it’s simply time to replace them to freshen things up. To be clear, I’m not a string expert/fanatic. Some people are extremely particular about strings, they only play certain brands and the strings must meet a number of criteria to be considered. Personally, I never paid too much attention to these things. To me, it’s about making sure I got the right kind of string, the appropriate string gauge and that they are comfortable to play  – the last point is obviously highly subjective and ultimately just a matter of personal preference.

best guitar accessories for beginnersNow, stating the obvious, you need to make sure that you have the right strings for your guitar. As a general matter, you can’t put nylon strings on an electric guitar and you certainly must not put steel strings on a classical guitar. So, dependent on the type of your instrument, you want to make sure that your spare strings are the right kind for your guitar. For Western/Folk Acoustic Guitars, you need acoustic guitar steel strings such as the Elexir 3-Pack you see below. Likewise, you need nylon strings for your acoustic guitar and I’ve been doing very well with the D’Addario brand. The same is true regarding the steel strings for electric guitars – D’Addario has been working well for me for many years but I ultimately settled for Ernie Ball. You will find both listed below in the comparison table.

As for the string gauge, I recommend you ‘stick to the middle’. So, I would probably go with a 10-Gauge string in the beginning and then, after you had a chance to play for a while, you will will very likely develop a good feel for what that’s right for you or if you prefer thicker or thinner gauges.

Guitar Picks

Dava Grip PicksAs will practically all guitar accessories, some players turn the topic of “using the right guitar picks” into some sort of science. And I don’t want to deny that there is certainly more to guitar picks that just the look and feel. But for the guitar beginner, I think it’s irrelevant. Instead, what’s probably more of interested is the size and flexibility grade of the pick. When I started learning to use a guitar pick, I used slightly over sized plectrums of the ‘light’ category. Shortly after that, I switched to regular sized picks. As for the flexibility grades, I flip-flopped many times over the years between ‘medium’ and ‘heavy’, ultimately settling on ‘medium’ because they offer the right balance in my opinion. However, it’s merely a matter of personal preference – whatever works best for you is fine. Below are a bunch of different alternatives relative to guitar picks. As you can see, it’s really not much of an investment to get yourself a pack of picks. Having a few of them at your disposal makes sense, as these little plastic pieces like to disappear without warning!

Okay, essentially, I could stop right here, because strings, picks and a tuner are the three items I would recommend to any guitar beginner. These are the things you need to get started, if you will the “must-haves” to get you going.

Now, there are other useful accessories that you may want to get sooner or later. Let’s have a closer look at those in the next chapter.

4. Additional Guitar Products That Come In Handy

In the following I listed a number of cool guitar accessories that you may not necessarily need to get you started, but which are still items that you may want to put on your radar screen.

Metronome

A metronome is a device that helps you practicing to keep a steady rhythm. Look at the picture here, this is my old Taktell Metronome, it’s a manual metronome, meaning it has a wind-up spring. This thing is now well over 25 years old. Nowadays, metronomes are much more advanced and fancy. While I think that having a metronome is more or less yet another essential guitar accessory for beginners, you may not necessarily need to buy one, because you could alternatively use and Online metronome or sometimes, depending on the model, your guitar tuner might have an integrated metronome.Snark SN5

Capo

A capo allows you to change the key of your guitar. For some reason, guitar starters don’t like using a capo, because they feel it’s confusing. In my experience, though, all it takes is a little bit of practice. But sometimes there is just no way around it and you have to use a capo in order to play some songs in their original key. There are all different kinds of capos, but I suggest a simple and straight-forward clip on version, such as the ones I listed below.

Guitar Cleaning Products

For the longest time I’ve been using no guitar cleaners at all. Instead, I used a damp cloth to clean the body and fretboard of my guitars and occasionally I used a little bit of Murphy’s Oil soap. As for the strings, regular household cleaners did the trick and still do it to this day. That’s not to say that there are some good guitar cleaning products out there, such as the Nomad Fretboard Oil or the Gibson Pump Polish. While I don’t think that these are must-have guitar accessories, these things come in handy especially when you have a bunch of guitars to look after. On that topic though, the advertisers will of course tell you that you need a cleaner for this and some liquid for that – total overkill in my opinion. Get yourself a good fretboard cleaner/conditioner and a universal cleaner for the rest of the guitar – again, both the Gibson Pump Polish and Music Nomad fretboard oil work perfectly, are cheap and will last for a long time.

There are a few other items that may be of interest to you, at least at a later point to put on your guitar accessories list for the future. For instance, a foot-stool is certainly not something a many guitar players think about, unless you’re into classical guitar. However, especially for longer practicing session when you put a lot of strain on your back and neck, a foot-stool can be one of the best investments you ever made. It took 30 years or so to get one, but now I’m glad that I have it.

A guitar strap is another accessory that you will likely sooner or later want to get. You can pay anywhere from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars on a custom made guitar strap. A listed a couple of my favorite ones below.

A sheet music stand is another item I should have gotten a long time ago. Well, I eventually did a couple of years ago and what a blessing it is, especially when you work with tabs or guitar books.

Are there other guitar accessories that are useful? Yes, probably. But I feel with the items we just discussed are the ones that add actual value to anyone who plays guitar. There are definitely other products out there which could be considered as nice to haves but for the purposes of this article, I think I’ll stop here.

5. What You Don’t Need

Anything that sounds too good to be true, well, chances are it is too good to be true. I’m not against technological advancements but every now and then someone developed a supposedly ‘revolutionary’ new device that cuts your practicing time in half or prevents your fingertips from experiencing the pain we all feel when playing guitar for a while. I’m sure you’ve seen these before, e. g. “Best Way To Learn Electric Guitar – Play Guitar By The End Of this Week!”. All I’m saying is that your should be careful before you spend money on these things. This is not about bad-mouthing the products of the music industry, but as with pretty much everything in life, there are always things that make sense and others that don’t. Unless you yourself feel you must have a certain item to make your life easier, such as a capo to change the key of your guitar, a footrest to deal with your back-pain or the obligatory tuner to get your instrument in sounding great, there is no need to get any of these knick-knacks.

6. Summary and Shopping List

Alright, let’s wrap this up before I share with you some specific recommendations around some of the best guitar accessories for beginners – ‘best’ in the sense of ‘most useful’.

electric guitar accessoriesClearly, the Top 3 are: Spare Strings, a tuner, and a bunch of picks. If you want to, you can expand that to a Top 5 list and add a metronome and a capo. That’s all you need, period. All other devices are either good to look into at a later point or you can simply cross them off your list forever because they don’t add any value at all.

Here is an overview of some of the products we discussed in this article, along with a few additional great guitar accessories.

Okay, that’s it. Oh, one last point: I’ve seen some of my students bedazzling their guitars with stickers and all kinds of things. I’m not trying to tell you not to decorate your guitar, if that’s what you want, however, just be mindful that whatever you do in that regard may affect your ability to play your instrument. Things like stick-on diamonds and jewels in and around your strumming area might not be the best idea – you probably get the point.

If you have any other questions around guitar accessories for beginners, or accessories for the guitar in general, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. By the way, I encourage you to check out my guitar gear review section where I reviewed dozens of guitar products, including some of the devices we discussed today.

Tuners:


Strings:


Picks:


 

Published date: July 9th, 2016 by Ulrich Peise

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