Guitar accessories are a must have. You have your guitar and your amplifier, but it simply doesn't end there. Whether you're a beginner, learning for the first time, or a professional musician playing regular gigs, your accessories are arguably just as important as your instrument of choice!
Guitar starter kits are a great place to start for budding guitarists, as they tend to contain many of the essential accessories that you'll need. But if you're an intermediate or advanced player, you'll no doubt be aware of the huge range of accessories within your reach. Have a read through our guide on the many guitar accessory options available on the market, and how they'll benefit you!
Guitar Gig Bags
If you have a guitar or two then you most likely already have a gig bag. Using a gig bag is a very efficient way to get your guitar from location to location without leaving them open to the elements. Most modern gig bags feature shoulder straps so that you can wear your guitar like a backpack, and also have ergonomic storage pockets to store strings and other accessories.
While a hardcase will protect the guitar a lot more (and a flight case even more so), gig bags are great if you need to travel light. If you regularly commute then storing your instrument in a gig bag is far more efficient as you can carry it around far easier.
Not all gig bags are the same though, and they can differ in price depending on their quality. While some are protective to the point of nearly being as strong as hardcases, such as the high-quality Mono gig bags, budget bags that will still offer great protection for your guitar start as low as £20. If you really want to make sure that your guitar is safe, we recommend spending the little bit extra on a robust gig bag.
Gig bags are great for most situations, but sometimes you need something tougher. For example, if you are gigging from venue to venue in a van or are doing regular fly gigs, you will almost certainly want to grab yourself a hard case or flight case to transport your guitar in. When other people are responsible for your gear, make sure you wrap them up the best you can!
Cases are not as easy to travel with as gig bags, but the extra level of protection they offer makes them essential for higher value guitars or when you really need to keep something in good condition.
Like gig bags, hard cases are not all the same and in fact the quality of a hard case can really determine how you treat your guitar. More expensive hard cases will usually have a much stronger outer material, with softer internals along to cushion the instrument. They will also probably have stronger and more substantial locks, ensuring that no one can get their paws on your pride and joy without permission. Cheaper cases can still protect your guitar well, but if you are flying with your guitar then we would recommend going for a stronger case.
The most important part of guitar maintenance is keeping your instrument in tune. If you are not in tune not only will whatever you play sound atrocious, but you will never fit in with a band. It’s Rule #1 as far as we are concerned! There are a bunch of different tuning tools and products out there that can help you out.
Headstock or “clip-om” tuners are one of the most common options out there, as they work with pretty much any stringed instrument (including acoustic and electric guitars, as well as ukuleles and even basses). These are usually fairly inexpensive and are easy to store away in your gig bag or hard case due to their small size. Most of these tuners work by identifying the pitch being resonated through the instrument, but the only downside is that a majority of these tuners lack the accuracy of a floor or rack tuner and they are prone to interference from external sounds or vibrations.
Like most products, these also vary in price. We stock lots of these tuners, so find the perfect one for you here.
One of the other most common options is a floor tuner. A pedal-sized unit can plug can be placed first in your pedalboard chain and will mute the signal to your amp as you tune. This is amazingly useful for live situations where you need a large easy-to-see display on dark stages.
Other kinds of tuners that you will see less often are card tuners, which are commonly used by guitar techs. There are also rack-mounted tuners, which are commonly found on professional touring rigs attached to wireless systems.
In general, it is great practice to have a good quality tuner with you whenever you have your guitar with you. You never know when inspiration might strike, or when your guitar will be out of tune for that matter!
This is often overlooked, but making sure you have some cleaning products for your guitar is very important. No one wants to see your guitar with greasy fingerprint marks all over it, and keeping your guitar clean will prolong it’s life. However, you can’t just use any old household cleaning materials…
Absolutely not. Guitars need special care due to the types of lacquer and paint that manufacturers use, so make sure you know what finish your guitar has before you clean it. Companies like Dunlop produce a range of different products that will not only clear up the finish on your guitar, but will also protect it from future damage.
What you really want to have on hand at all times is a good quality soft cloth. A lot of different cleaning packs will come with a cloth, but any microfiber cloth will do the trick. The extra sprays etc. are great, but they can be a bit of a pain to travel with all of the time.
A final important point on cleaning is that you will need to use different cleaning products on the fretboard. This is because the fretboard is generally not lacquered, meaning that it is porous. If you have a maple fretboard it is best just wipe it down with a dry cloth, but for rosewood or ebony boards we recommend something like Fast Fret or other dedicated fretboard cleaners.
While most guitarists will be able to get by with string clippers and a cloth, if you want to set up your guitar at home you will need some additional tools. This includes but is not limited too:
- Hex Keys (Allen Keys)
- Various Screwdrivers – We recommend the Cruz Tools Groove Tech Guitar & Bass Multi-tool, with all the essential appendages for guitar maintenance.
- String Cutter
- String Winder – The Planet Waves Guitar Pro Winder w/ String Clipper kills two birds with one stone, making string changes effortless!
These are the basic tools you will need to do a setup on your guitar quickly and easily. There are of course others tools that are handy to have, but they will only be needed in very rare circumstances.
Not sure where to start from when looking for tools? Well companies like Cruz Tools create full packs of tools for Bass, Acoustic and Electric guitar, which give you everything you need for most repairs and setups.
Now this is quite a simple one. You need guitar stands to hold your guitar, if you are at home or on stage. They protect your instrument from falling and getting damaged, but the question is – how do you want to keep it safe?
For some, using small and portable floor stands is preferred as it lets you use the same stands at home and on stage. Others will prefer the larger and taller stands, which are harder to move around but offer an extra level of security by cradling the neck and offering more support for your guitar.
If neither of those sound right, you could get some guitar wall hangers. These (as the name suggests) let you hang your guitar on the wall, keeping your floor space-free. It can also look really cool exhibiting your guitars on the wall – think of them as “musical art pieces”.
Now this one is really important. To connect your guitar to your amplifier you will need some kind of ¼” jack instrument cable to produce sound. You will most likely have received a cable when you purchased one of your guitars. This cable is generally quite bad quality and probably won’t last very long. Not only can this cause an unfortunate signal outage when on stage, but it can also seriously affect your tone in a bad way.
So with that in mind, we think it is always worth investing in some decent, strong cables. Planet Waves/D’addario, Whirlwind, Fender and Gibson all make really high-quality cables at different price points and lengths to fit what you need.
Getting a decent well-looked-after cable will improve the quality of your signal chain, with great longevity. While cables do eventually fail, if you look after your higher-end cables you can easily get years of use out of them.
Don’t want to rely on the manufacturers fixed cable lengths? Want to make your pedalboard really tidy? You may be interested in pedalboard cable kits. These sets contain a long loom of cable as well as multiple jack heads that you can use to build your own custom cables. This is really handy for getting your pedalboard into tip top shape with custom lengths to fit around each pedal.
Plectrums are another really important part of your sound. The benefit you have here though is that it is entirely subjective. While there are general rules, there are also plenty of people who break them and get a stunning sound. It is all about the feel in your hands and what is comfortable for you when playing guitar. Yes, it does make a tonal difference, but what should be more important is the comfort of your hand.
For example, it is commonly thought that thin picks are bad for modern metal as you don’t get the same tight attack. This is mostly true, but for some the slapping effect you get with a thinner pick makes up for that attack loss.
To be honest, the only way you will find the right pick for you is to head out to your nearest store and get your hands on as many as possible. While your idol may love something like a nylon Dunlop Jazz III, you might find yourself preferring other options like Gravity, Timber Tone, Hawk or Stoneworks.
You also might find yourself liking completely different shapes and thicknesses than what is normally used in the style you play. So go out and get experimenting – it is only then that you will know exactly what you are looking for.
If you are looking to play standing up, you will require some kind of strap. Just like with plectrums, this is an entirely subjective choice. Some people really like small straps that stay out of their way and give them the best movement, and others prefer big, padded options for more support against back and neck pain. But size is not all you have to think about. You also have access to a load of different material and finish options as well. The finish is entirely down to you but there are a couple of real differences when comparing things like leather and nylon straps.
Nylon straps are very strong while remaining quite thin and generally use a buckle system to determine the length, while larger leather straps normally use a loop system which is harder to change on the fly.
All you need to know about straps really is that you should find the one that is the most comfortable for you and how you play. Again, like plectrums you just need to try on as many as possible to find what fits you the best.
This is one of the most forgotten pieces of gear, but it could potentially save you a lot of money down the line.
You are on stage playing and all of a sudden your strap falls off of your guitar. After all, it is just looped around it and not overly secure. If you are quick you may be able to catch your guitar, or, it may fall to the ground and end up in a couple of pieces.
This can be easily avoided though by using strap locks. They come in many shapes and forms, and some are more secure than others. For example, you can get the standard Dunlop plastic strap locks for very little money and they will secure your strap better than without.
Want something a little bit slicker and more secure though? Then check out some of the strap lock systems which work by replacing the strap pins on your guitars – such as those made by Schaller. They use a whole bunch of different connections which allow for quick release and swapping of straps while still providing a much better hold.
A capo is a useful little tool that allows you to change the notes played when in an open position. By putting a capo somewhere like the third fret, you change your open notes from EADGBE in standard to GCFA#DG. Why would you want to do this? For example, if you are playing a track in a key other than E this can make it much easier to play using open chords.
This may not sound like a big thing, but trust us, it can make performances a lot easier and it also opens you up to the idea of things like the CAGED chord system as well as other tuning options. We recommend that every guitarist has a capo lying around somewhere, as you never know when using one will drastically improve the sound of your track.
But what capo should I get? Well there are a lot of options that all work through different clamping systems. Some are designed for adjust ability like the Clamp, which does take some time to set up but it means you can get it perfectly set up every time.
Other capos include straps that are very small and lightweight but if set up incorrectly can either mute or detune the strings. This is a great option as an intro into the world of capos, but does take some getting used to.
The other main type of capo is the spring style or trigger-style capo. These use a small release mechanism that locks down on the back and front of the guitar neck. Unfortunately due to their shape they can be quite inconsistent in how they barre the strings, with some sounding more fretted than others.
Ultimately they all do the same job and all do it very well. It just comes down to if speed or precision are more what you are after. Generally, we would recommend a trigger-style capo for live use where you need to change quickly, and either a strap-style or clamp capo for use in the studio, where you may need to dial in the tension perfectly.
Slides are commonly used in blues and bluegrass music as a different way of altering the pitch of the guitar without fretting. It creates a very bright and glassy tone that can be tough to nail, but once you get the technique you will never go anywhere without the tools you need.
But what slide do you buy? There are so many different materials and shapes, so which one do you buy to fit your sound? Well here is a quick breakdown of the different types and what they suit:
Glass: Glass is the warmest and smoothest non-metal option. Very popular due to the similarity it shares with traditional bottleneck slides used in blues.
Steel: Steel is probably the most popular option available today as it has a very bright and barky tone. Not only is it perfect for blues but it can also be easily used for rock and jazz.
Brass: Brass is not quite as harsh as steel, giving you a smoother effect better for jazz styles. The downside of brass is just how heavy the slide is.
Honestly, what slide is best for you is determined by what style you want to play. If you want to play bluegrass then glass may be the best option, but if you are looking to play jazz or blues we would recommend a metal slide. These are a bit harsher in tone and really suit use on electric guitar.