If you plan on getting the most out of your guitar playing journey, I highly recommend you get these 17 guitar accessories.
If you end up taking private instruction you will no doubt be asked to get most, if not all, of these accessories. Free versions of most items will work, if you are on a budget. You can always upgrade later.
1. Guitar Tuner
There are so many types of guitar tuner on the market these days. Whilst a phone app may suffice, in my opinion you are best to get a chromatic tuner that clips onto the guitar neck.
This type of tuner picks up the vibration of the note played on the guitar and displays it. This is ideal if you don’t know the names of the notes on the finger board yet making it a great learning tool for a beginner guitar player.
Another option for electric guitar players or electro-acoustic guitars is to have a chromatic floor tuner. You will need a lead to connect the guitar and tuner. It’s similar to the clip-on tuner though displaying the notes as you play them.
Another type of tuner is a poly-tuner. It allows you to play a chord and see whether all the strings are in tune at the same time. A multi coloured display makes it easy to identify notes that are sharp or flat.
I don’t think this type of tuner is essential for a beginner, but it’s definitely worth considering as you progress on your musical journey. An example of this type of tuner would be the ‘TC electronics poly tuner’.
A metronome is a device that makes an audible click or beat to help musicians to stay in time. Use a metronome as a reference to find out how accurately you play in time.
Make that your main purpose for using a metronome. By using it effectively you’ll soon master playing in time with the beat. It will increase your ability to focus. I would say that’s definitely a skill worth having!
I will cover other uses for a metronome in a future blog. You’ll be surprised how many ways a metronome can be used to help master the guitar.
Any good teacher will expect you to have a metronome. A free phone app will work just fine. Upgrading to a paid app will give you a few more advanced options, but for beginners a free, simple app will suffice.
If you don’t have a phone there are an array of metronomes available. I would go for a digital one because you can use it with headphones, which is useful in certain situations. If there’s a lot of background noise from another room, headphones will help you focus.
One advantage of having an old style, sprung metronome is you can see the arm go back and forth like a pendulum. This is a great visual aid for timing when you’re a beginner.
3. Music Stand
It’s much better to have a music stand for your music and journaling than not. It’s better for your posture to have a music stand at eye level. This avoids straining your neck looking at music on the floor or beside you on a couch. Sitting hunched over while playing guitar will lead to bad posture and could cause you injury. I would even consider standing up to practise.
You want a good digital timer. Most phones these days have good timers with a stopwatch and alarm. A metronome phone app will probably have a timer but it’s also essential to have a timer with an alarm so you split your practise time up effectively.
Reasons to use a timer:
- If you have a lot of things to practise then you’ll need to develop good time management skills. It will also give you better focus. Seeing a timer countdown will give you a sense of knowing how long you have and can help create more focus and determination.
- It will keep your concentration levels up. It’s a bit like the feeling you get when you see the finish line in a race. It gives you a sense of focus and intensity that you just won’t get by not using a timer. 5 minutes of proper, focused practise with no distractions is more valuable than any kind of unfocused practise.
- You will probably need to practise practising! Science has proved that our brain loves results. So creating a routine with timed practise, and keeping a journal of results you’ve achieved, is worth it’s weight in gold.
5. Recording Device
It’s so easy now to record ourselves by using a phone. You don’t need a top quality recording to analyse your playing so there’s really no need to go all out buying expensive equipment.
Do this in 2 ways:
- Firstly, video record yourself performing so you can see your techniques and posture.I remember when I started playing guitar solos I would raise my shoulders, tense up, and bite my bottom lip. A video recording of a live performance showed me all my bad habits and faults.
- Secondly, just audio record so you can just listen to your playing. You’ll notice things you probably didn’t realise you were doing.You might notice how good or bad your timing is if you record something to a click track or play along with a backing track. If you really want to be super-analytical then get some recording software for your computer. Garage band is good. You can actually see the sound waves and see how far out from the click track/metronome you might be. Plus, it’s good fun to learn how to record yourself and learn how to layer your music with chords and lead lines.
Other things to notice when listening to your guitar playing might be.
- Is your string bending in tune?
- Are you over-playing when you play guitar solos?
- Remember, the spaces in between notes are just as important as the notes themselves.
- You might be creating a lot of string noise between chords or when you play guitar solos.
One other thing about recording yourself is ‘Red Light Fever’! Something strange happens when we record ourselves. It’s an extra pressure to get things right. Perhaps similar to playing in front of an audience. It’s well worth doing just to experience that pressure.
Click Here for my Free helpful guide. 6 more Vital and Valuable Tips that I wish I’d learned when I first started playing guitar.
6. Guitar Strap
It might look cool to have your guitar hanging low down like Slash from ‘Guns and Roses’, but it can make it more difficult to play and put a lot of strain on your fretting hand and wrist.
Adjust your strap so that it’s the same length when you stand up or sit down. Or if you really do want to look like a rockstar, then have the guitar hanging low and practise that way 80% of time.
I just don’t recommend it. (Who doesn’t want to look cool?!… Just bear in mind that you can develop RSI or conditions caused by bad posture that could hamper your guitar playing later on down the road, plus you will look cooler being able to play guitar well, being yourself, than have it low, but mess up every chord) I think it will hinder your development early on.
7. Guitar Foot Rest
This is more of a classical guitar tool to use. It is worth having though. Sitting down to practise with your foot on the rest raises your leg so that the guitar neck is at eye level. The added benefit is it helps your posture.
8. Music To Jam To
You can use backing tracks to improvise over if you are learning lead guitar. Or use a backing track for a song you are learning. Backing tracks are available on the internet, on YouTube, Spotify and various websites. Paid for backing tracks are generally much better quality.
9. Guitar Pick
Plectrums or ‘picks’ as they are sometimes called, are really specific to each individual. My personal preference has always been a hard pick. I always felt I had more control over my technique and tone using a harder pick. Sometime a softer pick is good for rhythm and strumming, but I always felt I lost tone and attack when I used a soft plectrum.
10. A Chair To Sit On
Use the same chair if you can. Keep everything the same as much as possible for your practise. If you change seating heights and positions all the time or slouch on the couch you will change your posture and hand position. It’s better to be consistent when learning.
Helps you analyse and reflect on the things you think you are doing and will identify things you may not realise you are doing. Good for checking posture and how your hands are moving on the guitar. A good sized movable mirror would be good so you can analyse from the side as well as face on.
If you are playing electric guitar then get an amplifier as soon as possible. Learning to control the string noise on electric guitar is different from acoustic guitar. (It requires different right and left hand techniques).
13. Guitar Capo
A capo is used on the guitar neck to change the key and transpose a piece of music. It shortens the playable part of the fretboard which will raise the pitch of the guitar.
14. Extra Guitar Strings
It’s always worth having a couple of spare sets of guitar strings. It’s normal for them to break from time to time. It’s a good idea to change your strings every few weeks to maintain a good tone, especially if you play a lot. The oils from our hands and fingers leave residues on the strings causing them to corrode over time. They will sound dull and become harder to tune.
Make sure you get the correct strings for the type of guitar you have.
The last 3 things are simple and any good music tutor will recommend you have these to hand.
15. Blank Guitar Tab Book
Guitar Tab is an easier method used by guitarists to read and write music for guitar. It’s ideal for those that don’t read standard music notation.
16. Blank Music Notation Book
This is for standard music notation. The pages will have five horizontal lines called a staff. Music notes are written on or in between the lines.
17. Pencil and Note Book
Use a pencil rather than a pen so you can correct mistakes. A lined, A4 note book is best for journaling and using as your study workbook.