April 09, 2015
Beyond the Guitar: Strings, Cases, & Other Guitar Accessories
So, you just bought a guitar. Now what? Even if you can’t imagine spending any more money at this point in time, purchasing the proper guitar accessories will make the guitar easier to learn, more fun to play, and less complicated to maintain. The truth is, you don’t need every single toy or expensive accessory available on the market, but you will need to invest in a select few guitar accessories. In fact, when it comes to guitar accessories, there are really only a handful you’ll need- the rest you can purchase as your heart desires. The following is a list of “must-have” guitar accessories for every new guitar player.
What good is a guitar if it’s always out of tune? Many new guitar players try to get away with not purchasing a tuner, but a guitar tuner is one of the most important guitar accessories you’ll need- especially if you plan on playing with other people. As a guitar player, it’s crucial to tune-up before every practice, recital, or performance, and the easiest way to do so is with a chromatic digital tuner. Once you purchase a tuner, tuning should become second nature, as it improves the overall sound of your guitar and helps you develop a good ear over time. Fortunately, guitar tuners don’t have to be expensive- some cost only a little more than a new set of strings.
Many musicians try to avoid purchasing a metronome at all costs, but developing a good internal clock is almost as important as developing a good ear. In fact, did you know that most professionals you see on stage are using a metronome via their in-ear monitors? If professionals use them. then why wouldn’t an amateur? Although there are plenty of metronomes available as free downloads online, you’ll probably want to purchase a metronome you can throw into your gig bag and carry with you. Today’s electronic models have largely replaced the larger,wind-up models, and are available in a variety of sizes and colors.
For beginning guitarists, nothing inhibits their practice more than a broken or missing string. In most cases, it’s a hassle to get in the car, head to a music store, purchase a new set of strings, and change the strings on their guitar. In these cases, it can be days, or even weeks, until the strings are changed and the player is back in the habit of practicing. To avoid this, always have a spare set of guitar strings available. Inevitably, your strings will break at an inconvenient time — before a performance or in the middle of a group practice session — so having a spare set of strings can help prevent embarrassment. Note: keep three Gs, Bs, and high Bs handy at all times, as these tend to break more frequently than the lower strings.
Looking for more info on guitar strings? Check out these guides!
Chances are, you’ll need to store and transport your guitar safely, especially if you’re part of a marching band or touring band. If you consider a guitar an investment — and you should — than a quality guitar case is a must. While hard cases are strongly recommended, a soft case is better than no case at all. If your guitar already comes with a gig bag, consider upgrading to a hardshell case. Not only does a hard case protect your guitar while traveling and in storage, but many come with enough space to safely store many of the guitar accessories on this list. Additionally, if you live in an extremely dry or wet climate, a case can help protect your guitar from the swelling or cracking that often accompanies changes in humidity.
Especially important for acoustic guitar players, guitar case humidifiers can help protect your guitar from the effects that low humidity can have on a guitar- including shrinking and cracking. If you live in a dry climate, or in an area where it gets cold enough in the winter for you to heat your home, it’s a good idea to invest in a humidifier, just in case. Operating a guitar humidifier is quite simple- simply inject water into the absorptive sponge and place the humidifier directly into the case. Just be careful not to add too much water- wood can absorb water in high-humidity situations, which can result in warpage.
You’re in the middle of practicing and the doorbell rings…where do you place your guitar? Those without reliable guitar stands may place them against a sofa or coffee table, which is an accident waiting to happen. Instead of risking guitar damage, invest in a quality guitar stand- it’ll ensure your guitar is held safely and comfortably until you’re ready to use it again. While you’re browsing online for a guitar stand, add a music stand to your cart. Sure, you’ll eventually memorize your favorite pieces, but in the meantime you’ll need a music stand. With a music stand, your sheet music will remain at eye level which will make practice time easier and more enjoyable.
Unless you play fingerstyle exclusively, guitar picks are a must-have guitar accessory. In addition to the standard triangular-shaped picks, you can find a variety of other picks, including finger picks and thumb picks, at mostly low prices. If you’re new to playing the guitar, you likely aren’t sure which pick thickness you should choose. If you fall into this category, purchase a variety of picks to try out until you decide on a thickness that best suits you and your playing style. And, as your pick collection gradually grows, you may eventually want to invest in some type of pick holder as well.
Unless you’re a classical guitarist who plans on always playing from a seated position, you’ll need to purchase a guitar strap. Similar to picks, guitar straps are available in a wide variety of colors and designs. Whether you’re looking for a strap that’s purely functional in nature, or prefer one that will add a bit of style to your guitar, there are plenty of straps available for you to choose from. If you spend a bit more for this guitar accessory, you’ll gain access to function, comfort, ease of adjustment, and security. Note: if you plan on playing mostly from a seated position, consider purchasing a footrest instead of a guitar strap.
Last, but not least, any guitarists should keep a cleaning or polishing cloth on hand at all times. While some guitarists use old t-shirts or rags, a microfiber cloth will keep your guitar clean and free from lint. Once you purchase a cleaning or polishing cloth, be sure to wipe your strings down after you’ve finished playing- this can help the strings last longer and remain fresh-sounding longer. Consider keeping two cloths around- one for wiping down the strings, and another for cleaning and polishing the body of your guitar. Although cleaning cloths aren’t a crucial guitar accessory, they’ll help get rid of finger oils which can cause string corrosion.