Acoustic Guitar Accessories List
Accessories and Gear for the Acoustic Guitar
Whether you are a beginning acoustic guitar player or veteran musician you probably realize there is a list of accessories you need to go along with your instrument. Some of these are must-have items that you can’t do without such as strings. Others are tools, polishes and other pieces of gear that make your life easier as a guitar player.
In this article you’ll read about ten of the top accessories for the acoustic guitarist. Some players use everything on this list, where others pick and choose what works best for them. I can tell you that in three decades of playing I’ve found every one of these items useful over the years. However, let your own needs and style be your guide in choosing which accessories you keep on-hand.
You don’t need to worry about finding everything you need all at once, either. Typically, guitar players build up their gear stash over years and decades of playing. So, hopefully this article can serve not only as a reference for finding the right accessories and tools for right now in your playing career, but also as a guide for what to look for as you progress in your musical journey.
And, by the way, acoustic guitar accessories like these make great gifts for other guitar players!
On to the gear!
Hopefully if you play acoustic guitar you intend to keep the thing in tune. Really, this is something you should eventually be able to do by ear, with the help of a reference note from an external source. Some players use a piano to get the low-E string in tune, and then tune the rest of their guitar to that reference note.
However, pianos are tough to carry around in your case or gig bag. It’s better to have a reliable tuner. These little gadgets will help you tune the strings of your guitar to perfect concert pitch, or even help you straighten out those odd tunings some players like to use. You should still learn to do most of your tuning by ear, but electronic tuners are a handy thing to have around.
The Snark SN-1 is one of the most popular tuners out there. It clips right on the headstock of your guitar and even has a metronome.
Another Look at Snark Tuners
Even if you don’t use one all the time, you probably have a few guitar picks in your case or gig bag. But did you ever stop to think about why you use a particular pick? Flat picks are made for strumming and picking individual notes, and this is the basic pick most players first encounter.
When it comes to flat picks, it’s tough to beat something like the Fender 351. But if you are a fingerstyle player it is worth your time to look into picks that fit your individual fingers and can help your tone and attack tremendously. There are lots of options out there, so find the right pick for your own playing style!
There is an urban legend that says all guitar strings come from the same manufacturing plant and are just packaged and sold by different brand names. Actually, that idea isn’t as crazy as it may initially sound, but once you’ve been playing for a while nobody is going to convince you that one brand isn’t better than all the others.
You always need extra guitars string around, especially if you play in a band. You can experiment with different brand names and gauges, but be aware that changing gauge too drastically will require some adjustments to your guitar.
If you aren’t sure what gauge you have on your instrument right now, check with the manufacturer’s specs for your particular guitar. For more advice on how to choose the right guitar strings check out the article below:
When you first start learning to work on your own guitar it only takes a few moments of rummaging around in your garage before you realize you need a set of tools dedicated specifically to your guitar. These should include, at a minimum:
- Wire snips: For cutting strings. Some players leave the extra string sticking out of their guitar’s headstock, but this is messy, potentially dangerous, and, frankly, looks ridiculous. Snip and discard those extra lengths of string.
- Screwdrivers: You’ll need a good medium-sized and small-sized Phillips-head screwdriver and it is a good idea to have a couple of flat-heads too. These are useful for things like battery covers and tuning machines, and strap buttons on some acoustic guitars.
- Allen wrenches: Many guitar truss rods require a 1/8th –inch Allen wrench to adjust. You want an Allen wrench that fits your truss rod, but it doesn’t hurt to have a set of them, especially if you’ll be working on electric guitars too.
- Pliers: For pulling bridge pins and other assorted tasks. You may want a needle-nose type and another sturdier pair.
- String winder: This is possibly the single greatest invention in the history of the guitar, or at least you’ll think so while you are changing your strings.
All of these items have a place on your acoustic guitar accessories list. There are guitar tool sets available that have most everything you need, or you can buy the pieces one by one. You may want to purchase something like a toolbox, tackle box or art bin to store all of your guitar tools and paraphernalia.
Start your guitar toolkit with some simple but useful pieces. It makes caring for your guitar much easier.
You probably know that things like temperature and humidity can greatly impact the wood of any guitar. This is especially true for acoustic guitars, as their fragile tonewoods can become warped and cracked under very poor conditions.
This is one reason many music stores have a separate, sealed room for their acoustic instruments, where they can maintain strict climate control. But what happens when you bring your guitar home? One way to keep the wood of your guitar in good condition after purchase is to use a guitar humidifier.
These are inexpensive little devices that fit right in your guitar case and work while your guitar is not being played. Guitar humidifiers are especially important in climates that get very dry during certain seasons of the year. A simple guitar humidifier can help protect your guitar from drying and cracking.
If you are a new guitarist, or even an experienced player, you may loathe barre chords. This is where your index finger serves as the "nut" of the guitar fretboard, and your other three fingers fret the rest of the notes of a chord. Barre chords can be frustrating, difficult and painful, and one way around them is to use a capo.
A capo holds down all the strings of your guitar at a certain fret, effectively moving the nut where you want it and freeing your fretting hand to form any chord you like. Like a barre chord, this is one way to move chords shapes around on the fretboard.
A capo should never be used as a substitute for learning to play barre chords correctly, but it can be a useful tool even for veteran guitarists, and it’s worth having one in your gig bag or case.
Dunlop capos are durable and rock-solid. A good capo is an inexpensive must-have accessory for acoustic guitar players, and can make fretting tough chords a lot easier.
Gig Bag or Guitar Case
Many musicians prefer to keep their guitars in a hardshell case for protection. It’s a smart idea, especially for acoustic guitars, but even if you store your guitar in a hard case you may wish to invest in a good gig bag.
Gig bags have lots of pockets for carrying some of the other things mentioned in this article, and they are easy to sling over your shoulder and carry just about anywhere. If you’re just headed to your buddy’s house to jam for the afternoon you may want to pack up a gig bag with your guitar and everything else you need instead of lugging the hard case around.
If your guitar is riding in the back seat of your car that’s fine, but of course it should go without saying that you never want to use a gig bag in a situation where more protection is needed.
So, which should you choose, a case or gig bag? This article can help you figure it out:
You’re not just going to set your beautiful guitar down any old place, are you? Here’s a simple rule of thumb you can live by that might save you from some heartache down the road.
Your guitar should always be in one of three places:
- Its case or gig bag.
- Your hands.
- Its stand.
Notice, leaning against the couch in the living room or under a pile of dirty clothes in the bedroom are not on the list. Serious players take care of their instruments, and investing in a decent guitar stand is well worth it. Some stands have locks that hold on to the neck of the guitar and keep it in place, while others are more minimalistic but still do the job just fine.
Find one that you like and use it.Investing in a good stand can prevent tragedy for your beloved guitar. Keep your instrument off the floor!
Guitar Strap / Strap Tie
If you’ve tried to put a strap on your new acoustic guitar you may have realized you’re missing something. Most acoustic guitars only have one strap button (actually, it's more likely an endpin) on the picking-hand side of the guitar body.
Why? Who knows? It goes back to the early days of guitar when people hooked their strap between the headstock and endpin of the guitar, which you can still do using a strap tie. Or, you can grab the drill and install a strap button on the heel of your pretty new guitar. (Yikes!)
It would be nice if guitar makers universally made acoustic guitars with two strap buttons (some do) but until that day comes, these are your choices. Or, you could just play sitting down, but where is the fun in that?
Polish and Cleaners
Guitar polish keeps your instrument looking pretty, but it does more than that. Good polish helps to condition the wood, especially fretboards, and used in moderation can keep your guitar in excellent shape for decades.
A few warnings, though: You never want to over-do the polish on your guitar, and you want to stay away from anything that isn’t specifically made or recommended for acoustic guitars. In other words, you can trust the major brands to give you a good product for your guitar, but don’t go looking in the cleaner aisle at the supermarket for what you need!
How Important are these Accessories?
Do you need all the stuff in this article? Well, need is probably a strong word, but you will certainly benefit from each item mentioned here.
As long as you understand why you are using each of the tools in this article they will help you be a better player, and help your guitar to stay healthy too. Most of the items are inexpensive, and it’s worth building a little collection of accessories to keep in your guitar case or practice space.
Of course, playing and practicing is more important than any piece of gear you can find. When it comes down to it, it is you that will make your guitar playing stand out. But it doesn’t hurt to have a little help along the way, and to be prepared for any situation that might come along.
Have fun in your playing, and building up your list of accessories for you acoustic guitar.
Besides strings, what do you think is the most important accessory for the acoustic guitar?
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