As guitarists we all love a good accessory. Today, I’ll share with you my best guitar accessories which you can pick up for under $20 (£16) and those that will actually help you improve your guitar playing.
Guitar accessories come in all sorts of weird shapes and sizes.
Whether that be rather lavish ones such as a looper pedal, interesting ones such as hand exercisers or downright bizarre ones such as this baby, it doesn’t matter- accessories are all part of the fun of playing guitar.
Picking up a new little accessory off Amazon or getting one as a gift is great for all of us guitarists.
Over the years I have tried and experimented with many and I have to say there aren’t really many that you need to help you learn to play guitar better. In fact, most just get in the way of valuable practice.
Don’t be too disappointed but in this list I won’t be talking about callus builders, hand exercisers or some weird string cleaner made from the finest lemon’s pressed by the feet of the mountain people of the Okinawa tribe (or something like that).
Below are my six best guitar accessories for under $20 (£16) and ones that all guitarists (especially those who are regular readers) should have.
My six best guitar accessories for under $20
1) Foot Stool
Essential if you’re a lazy ‘so and so’ like me or if you teach a lot (that’s my excuse for sitting down anyway).
A good foot stool will ensure your seated posture and positioning is much better than it otherwise would be. Seriously, if you sit down a lot when playing, this is the one thing you need.
It doesn’t have to be in any way fancy, it must just be adjustable in terms of height.
The actual size of the stool in terms of surface area won’t matter too much unless you have enormous feet like Bobo the clown.
You should have a guitar strap even if you are sitting with the guitar as it stops the guitar from sliding off your lap and stops you from having to hold the neck of the guitar with the fretting hand to prevent it moving about.
Get the strap and adjust it so the guitar is nice and snug (don’t be afraid to get nice and snuggled up with your guitar). Doing this allows you to concentrate on the actual playing of the guitar and not pointless things like keeping it balanced.
This gives you the freedom to move your hands about and mentally frees you up to play in a more relaxed state – and to even try doing the Pete Townshend windmill if you are wild enough (don’t try it indoors!)
You don’t need to get anything super fancy or expensive. Just something that is comfortable, well made, and adjustable. Also, if you like your guitar, then get a couple of strap locks with it as you don’t want to experience the comedy situation of your guitar slipping out of the strap hole and the guitar hitting the floor mid-gig. Oooops!
3) A Nail File
Like me, most of you play fingerstyle as well as strum. Therefore you will find it essential to shape and curve your picking hand nails to allow you to get the absolute best tone. This is a really important subject and one if I’m honest I neglected for far too long.
Once I changed my habits and started to file my nails more than my girlfriend (yes, that is true but don’t tell her) my fingerpicking tone started to improve in many ways such as a better and smoother sound, more consistent tone, an ability to play with more dynamics and overall just sounding much better.
In the recent Q and A, Tomas Michaud shares his story about how his guitar instructor gave a whole lesson on just shaping his nails – yes, it is that important.
I cover this in my mini course Fingerpicking Essentials if you want to learn more about it.
4) High Quality Picks
I have spoken about this a lot in the past. Your choice of guitar picks makes a big difference to your playing in terms of comfort and tone.
If you play with a pick (as I do when playing strumming songs) then good picks will improve your tone drastically and bad picks will make it sound like you are strumming with a bag of rusty nails.
I hate (with a passion) those awful Tiger picks that seem to be the rage and get everywhere. I have (jokingly) pretended to cut some in half to a student before (and I wish I had as they showed up rather mysteriously in a later lesson).
Don’t even keep these around as backup picks – simply try out a lot and stick with the ones you love.
I love Dunlop nylon picks and they even come with maxi grip these days for the sweaty amongst you.
5) A Quality Capo
A quality guitar capo providing you don’t lose it is an awesome investment.
You can play so many songs with a capo and create so many interesting ideas with one that even the most grouchy old capo hater can find a reason to love them.
It’s best to invest in a decent capo unless money is tight.
Cheaper ones do the job but give you tuning issues. The one I use as my ‘workhorse’ capo is good on both price and tone and is by Planet Waves.
6) A Quality Tuner
Everyone should learn how to tune by ear but even so everyone should own a tuner. When recording, jamming with others or performing it is a good idea to use a real tuner and have your ear as a backup.
Owning a good tuner is especially important for beginners as often they don’t have a very good ‘ear’ and need to develop it. Playing an out of tune guitar will not only hamper this development but in fact can make their ‘ear’ worse.
Always play an in tune guitar. Check the tuning each time you pick it up.
I recommend the pretty cheap clip-on tuners that have a few adjustable settings (as these are useful for alternate tunings).
There you go.
Those are the six things that I have found super useful (and one of them isn’t guitar related) and the ones I ensure all my students have.
You don’t have to and shouldn’t spend a tonne of money on gear.
Just get what you need and what will actually make you play better, sound better and get more enjoyment from your playing.
Just to clear, none of the items above I am affiliated with in anyway or will I make any commission if you buy from the links I have suggested. I have merely chosen those links are they are the places I could easily find the products to show you. We all know there are dodgy folks on the internet who love to sell snake oil to the most trusting of folks!
The six accessories aren’t ordered in terms of importance as some will be more important than others depending on your situation – e.g. You might never play with a pick or you might never sit down and play.
The great thing is these items don’t all cost $20 each.
In fact, looking at the Amazon links for those products some are a fair bit less which is pretty good for what they will do for your playing.
Some guitar accessories you will have no doubt have realised by now are pointless rubbish and some are actually really useful in your quest to master this instrument.
Not all guitar accessories are good!
I was once bought a personalised pick maker – it was a great idea – except I never used it (don’t tell the missus!).
Well, because I am very picky (excuse the pun) about the material and thickness and shape and just about everything when it comes to picks.
The idea of me finding the perfect piece of nylon that Jim Dunlop uses with the ideal amount of texture for grip hurt my head so the thing stayed in its pack.
That sort of gift is the type that non-guitarists buy for us guitarists (yeah, we are all snobs deep down!) but the thought was there so I was grateful.
I’d love to know what is the best, worst or most weird guitar accessory you have ever bought or been bought.
Let us know in the comments below. Just hope no one got you this!