If you’re really keen about playing guitar and that excitement never goes away (which is how it should be!), then over the years you’re going to collect a lot of guitar-related stuff. All kinds of musical gadgets, accessories and fun things to play with—and, of course, plenty of different guitars, too.
To start with, there are some things that will come in handy from the very beginning. Here’s our top five recommendations of extra guitar gear you need now.
1. A Sturdy Guitar Stand
It never fails to amaze me when I see top-notch players with seriously expensive guitars that cost thousands of dollars—and they don’t spend twenty bucks on a guitar stand.
Instead, they lean the guitar neck against the amplifier or prop it on a stool. This is the best recipe for your precious guitar to slide sideways and usually snap off a machine head—if not the neck itself—when it hits the floor. The same goes at home. Do you lean your guitar against the wall? Drop it on the floor where someone might step on it? Guitars of any kind are really badly designed to stand by themselves. Avoid the risk and invest in a solid guitar stand.
2. A Strong Guitar Case
Lots of beginners believe they don’t need a case, because it’s going to be ages before they need to take the guitar anywhere. It’s staying at home until at least you can jam barre chords, right?
But a guitar case serves a more important purpose than just protecting your instrument on the road. Guitars are made of wood—and wood is very susceptible to temperature and humidity changes. Plus, leaving your strings exposed to the open air will significantly reduce their life and turn them dull.
When you’re not playing your guitar, storing it in a good, solid case (rather than a soft bag style of cover) is like putting it into a snug, warm bed where the temperature doesn’t change, the strings are sealed in and the lid of the case puts an even pressure down the length of the neck keeping it straight. Another bonus is the pockets and compartments built into guitar cases for stashing your other accessories. Everything in the one place—brilliant.
3. A Quality Capo
Many new players make the mistake of regarding a capo as kind of cheating, like you’re avoiding learning how to play different chords in different keys by instead using familiar fingering and simply shifting a capo to suit. However, you will need to change the keys of many songs to find the right vocal pitch—and here’s the kicker.
Some tunes simply must be played with the original chords to maintain the unique sound of the song. The Eagles’ classic Hotel California is a great example. Try playing it in a different key, figuring out the alternative chords you’ll need (a good exercise, by the way), and the song will sound entirely different and wrong.
Some of the picking patterns just don’t work. This is where a quality capo is a must for changing pitch. “Quality” comes with a quick release, a firm pressure across the entire width of the fret board, and a slim design that won’t get in your way.
4. Genuine String Cleaning Product
It’s one of the hardest habits to get into, yet it takes so little effort. Even by just quickly cleaning your guitar strings after each and every time you play, you’ll extend the life of your strings a lot and keep them bright and slick under your fingers for much longer.
Considering that playing guitar should be a lifetime thing you’re going to do, cleaning strings will save you heaps of money, because you’ll replace them less frequently. Over, let’s say forty years, you’ll probably save about… oh, maybe four million dollars—okay, perhaps not that much. But you know what I mean. It all adds up.
Choose a proper cleaning fluid and a clean cloth that you use for nothing else, so it doesn’t become contaminated with chemicals that damage your strings.
5. A Comfortable Guitar Strap
Okay, this depends on making the decision whether or not you prefer to play sitting down or standing up.
If you want to play on stage, chances are you’ll be standing, which means you need a good guitar strap and you should do a lot of practise on your feet—because the guitar’s position against your body changes and affects the angle of your wrist and fingers.
A good strap should be wide, distributing the weight on your shoulder. Also, quality straps come with locking fasteners on your guitar—you might want to ask a guitar technician to fit these, if drilling holes into the wood scares you. There’s nothing worse than a cheap strap fastener slipping off the guitar and it falling to your feet with a crash—not to mention embarrassing and expensive.
It is difficult to pick a single guitar strap since they can be customised to your requirement, type of guitar, comfort and preference.
Some of you will be asking, “Why not a tuner?” A good tuner that you can plug in is very handy, if you are playing in noisy environments. Otherwise, you’ve got the Uberchord app with its excellent inbuilt tuner—and it’s free.