Although most of the guitar gear on this page can be considered as “optional”, I would strongly encourage you to consider many of the items on this page as essential purchases either to help your playing skills or to prolong the life of your guitar.
- Tuner and Metronome – An electronic guitar tuner is a very useful piece of kit and a metronome is absolutely essential in order to improve your timing when learning to play guitar. The reason I mention these together is that you can often buy a guitar tuner and metronome combined (Korg and Boss are two companies that come to mind for guitar tuners and metronomes). You may, if you purchase online guitar courses, get access to software tuners and metronomes for no extra cost. You can even get a dainty little tuner that clips onto the headstock of your guitar. Check out this one sold via Amazon.co.uk:
- Amplifier – you’ll need to think about buying an amplifier (if your electric or semi-acoustic guitar doesn’t come with one). If this is your first purchase, you will probably only need a practice amp for now (30-100 pounds will get you a decent practice amp). Companies such as Fender, Orange and Vox have amps in this price range. Amps come in all shapes and sizes (actually not really all shapes – most are sort of box-shaped). They have different output setting (measured in watts or “w”) – practice amps are generally in the range of 10-15w (the higher the number the louder the amp can go.
- Vox Amplug – The Vox Amplug is an amazing piece of kit that plugs straight into the jack of your electric guitar and allows you to amplify your guitar through headphones, very handy indeed when you need to practice quitely and more importantly , practice portably. The amplug comes in three “flavours” which correspond to three different types of electric guitar sound… Metal (heavy on distortion effects), Classic Rock and AC-30 (modelled on the vintage Vox AC30 valve amp). There’s even a model for bass guitarists. Each Amplug has an input for your mp3 player so you can jam along with your favourite tracks.
- Leads – Loads of manufacturers produce guitar leads of various lengths. For the beginners, leads are used to connect your guitar to amps, either via effects pedals or directly. Your setup will govern the length your leads need to be and how many you’ll need.
- Straps – Your guitar strap is important if you want to play guitar while standing up which you will surely need to do if you want to play gigs one day. These come in many different designs, shapes, sizes and materials. The strap is attached to strap pegs on either end of the guitar body. If you have an acoustic guitar that lacks a strap peg on the neck-side of the guitar body, the strap will have to be tied to the headstock, just behind the nut, beneath the strings (see Guitar Anatomy section if these terms are unfamiliar). You can either buy in specific string designed for this purpose or a medium thickness shoelace will do just as well (it’s what I use).
- Guitar case – you should consider getting a decent hard guitar case rather than just a gig-bag to store your guitar in safely either when travelling or when it’s in storage.
- Guitar Stand – If you want to keep your guitar easily accessible around your house (and who could blame you – not me certainly), you might want to invest in a guitar stand. You can either buy a free standing (floor) stand (a universal stand will work for both electric and acoustic guitars). Alternatively, you can buy a special guitar hook which can be wall mounted. If you love your guitar it can have pride of place on your wall – just be sure to keep the wall mounting away from heat sources such as radiators as these can cause the wood of your guitar to warp.
- Music stand – chances are you’ll be learning from book or from music sheets at some stage or another. An inexpensive music stand (10-20 pounds) is invaluable as there’s nothing worse than having to stop every time the book closes when it’s sat next to you.
- Plectrums – if you plan to use fingerstyle, don’t worry about this but if you want to use a plectrum (or pick) you need to know a couple of things: picks come in different materials and thicknesses. flimsy picks which are better for strumming quietly will be about 0.6mm thich. I use 0.73mm thick plectrums for strumming acoustic guitar. The mega stiff plastic plectrums are 1mm of thicker and are the choice of those rock and metal guitarists. Picks are cheap so you should experiment a bit until you find what works best for you.
- Strings – Always keep a packet or two of spare strings lying around in your guitar drawer (if you have one). Strings come in different thicknesses or guages. Basically, the thicker the strings, the harder they are to press down so newbies should avoid the big thick strings favoured by many rock and metal guitarists, at least at first.
A capo is a piece of equipment that is attached to the guitar neck at your chosen position, pressing down on all of the strings simultaneously to create a new nut such that open strings have a higher pitch with a capo in place.
String Winders to make short work of the tedious business of winding the machine heads to fit and tighten new guitar strings and some clippers to cut your old strings prior to removing them or to remove the excess lengths of string when you put new ones on your guitar are also handy pieces of guitar equipment that no self-respecting guitarist should be without. Some string winders actually also have built-in clippers. such as this one as sold by Amazon.co.uk. This Planet Waves model is the all singing all dancing professional version which is, all in one handy wee guitar tool, a guitar string winder, string cutter, string stretcher, and bridge pin puller (for acoustic guitar strings) not to mention a guitar tuner!
And finally, I recommend that you clean the finger board every time you change your guitar strings and only specialist guitar polish (such as Ultimate Lemon Oil for fretboards) should be used for this task to prolong the life of your beloved axe.
Effects Pedals: Want to know about about how Jimi Hendrix Guitar Effects Pedals gave that wonderful wah-wah sound? Section coming soon
More to follow.