6 Must Have Guitar Accessories
Once you have purchased your guitar it is time to look at guitar accessories that will help you to maintain it and also help playing it . Here are six basic yet essential accessories, that, in my opininon, every guitar player should have.
Guitar strings are the number 1 guitar accesory. Strings play an important part in guitars sound and playability, so they must be chosen carefully.
When choosing guitar strings you must look at these 3 parameters:
- Gauge - Gauge is strings diameter. Heavier gauge strings ( with bigger diameter) requires more tension to be applied and are harder to press against fretboard. I personally use a standard 10 - 46 set, where the gauge are - 1st string - 10, 2nd string - 13, 3rd string - 17, 4th - string - 26, 5th string - 36 and 6th string - 46.
- Wounding - Strings can be wound in differend ways. Most common are roundwound strings, but there are also flatwound strings (flatter string surface) and halfwound strings (a mix between roundwound and flatwound strings).
- Material - For different guitars there are different strings materials. Classical guitars uses nylon strings. Steel stringed acoustic guitars have more options like bronze wound which is the most common string type, phospor bronze strings and silk & steel strings, that uses a combination of steel and nylon filaments to achieve classical guitar sound. Most common electric guitar string material are nickel plated steel strings, there is also pure nickel, solid steel and chrome strings. Many guitar players also uses strings with polymer coating that extends string life. I personally don't like them, bu that is just my opinion.
REMEMBER! Never go to a gig without a spare string set.
Guitar pick a small accesory yet its impact on your playing, sound and feel is huge. They are made from a wide variety of materials and come in many sizes and shapes.
When looking for guitar picks you should consider these things:
- Material - As I said, guitar picks are made from a wide variety of materials. Plastic, rubber, wood, metal, stone, amber, ivot, you name it. The most popular materials for picks are various types of plastic like cellulose, nylon, delrin and tortex.
- Shape - Picks comes in various shapes. The most common shape is a rounded triangle shape, but you can also have completely round picks, shark fin shaped picks, almost square picks and so on.
- Thickness - Lighter picks like 0.60 mm to 1 mm are used for acoustic guitars and rhythm playing while heavier picks are for soloing, but it can vary from one guitarist to another. Some like lighter picks for soloing and heavier for rhythm. My weapon of choice right now is Dunlop tortex wedge 1 mm pick as it is great for both rhythm and solo playing.
Out of tune guitar is one of the worst things that can happen during live performances so you should always have a tuner with you to ensure your guitar is tuned and ready to go.
There are various types of guitar tuners - tuner pedals, clip on tuners which have become quite popular recently, tuners built into guitars, smartphone tuner apps, online tuners. I would recommend getting a tuner pedal as it is most convenient way to get your guitar tuned fast and accurate in live situations. If you don't gig yet, you can use tuner apps or online tuners to tune your guitars.
Capo is a tool that allows you to change the pitch of the guitar without retuning it. All you got to do is put the capo on the fret of your choice.
Let me explain how it works. Lets say that you have song with three chords - C,F and G, but you can't sing that low. As it turns out chords Eb, Ab and Bb are perforct for your vocal range, but these chords are harder to play than C,F and G. Now if you put capo on the 3rd fret, Eb can now be played as C chord shape , Ab can be played as F chord shape and Bb can be played as G chord shape. Capo becomes like a nut and 4th fret becomes 1st fret and you can use open chord positions for these othervise complicated chords.
There are several capo types - strap on capo uses strap and rubber bar to apply pressure to fretboard, trigger style capo uses spring to apply pressure to fretboard and capos with screw that is used to apply the pressure to the fretboard. Trigger style capos seems to be most popular of these threey as the offer the fastest and easiest way to apply it to fretboard.
Kyser, Schubb, Planet Waves and Dunlop are the most popular brands for guitar capos.
Guitar strap is an important accesory for those guitar players who plays standing up. It must be chosen carefully as your comfort and feel on stage or at rehearsal greatly depends on it.
When looking for a guitar strap you should consider these things:
- Length - Some like their guitars hanging really low like in hip area or even lower and some like higher action. It really depends on player preferences and where the guitar feels more comfortable. Most of the straps can be adjustable, you just have to find the perfect length for you.
- Width - Again, some like their straps really wide and some like them super thin. It's all about feel and comfort.
- Material - Most popular strap materials are leather, nylon and polyester. Leather straps seems to be more expensive and also needs some time to get use to, but they are more durable than nylon and polyester straps. Nylon and polyester straps are cheaper and also feels great right from the start, but their lifetime seems to be shorter.
Levy's, Perri's, Planet Waves are the most popular brands for guitar straps.
P.S. When buying a strap you should also consider buying straplocks.
Cables are the ones reponsible from getting your sounds from your guitar to you amp or PA. there is nothing much to be said about cables, they are usually mono and they have 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) connectors.
When choosing guitar cables you should pay attention to these things:
- Length - standard cable length is 20 foot (6m). When playing live you should take into consideration how big the stage is and will your cables are long enough.
- Connectors - Do you want straight or angled connectors. I usually choose hybrid cable with one straight and one angled connector. Angled connector goes into guitar and straight one goes into amp or pedal.
Monster Cable, Planet Waves and Vox are amongst popular cable manufacturers.
REMEMBER! Always take one or two spare cables to the gig in case the main cables break.
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© 2013 Chris Whiter
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