What guitar accessories do you need?
There are some guitar accessories that you are definitely going to need quite soon, and some optional things that simply make your life a little easier. In this lesson, I want to give you a little bit of advice regarding all these things. It is recommended that you sort these out at some point but you don't need to get them all before you start—all you really need is a guitar and some picks to get going.
There are some things that are pretty much essential that you want to get before you think about starting out on the course, whether you're playing electric or acoustic.
You will need to buy a few picks. To start with you will need a few very thin picks (get as thin as you can find). These thin picks will help you learn to strum well. It is also worth getting a couple of Medium thickness too - these are better for playing notes individually (like when you play scales) and you'll need these later in the course. Buy a few because the sock monster plays guitar and will steal them regularly!
It is essential to get your guitar in tune! You should learn to tune up yourself, without needing a tuner, but when you are starting out, it is better to be in tune - and having your guitar sound nice - than trying to learn how to tune, messing it up, and having your guitar sound horrible. Have mercy on those that will listen to you learning and buy yourself a tuner right away!
Justin Recommends: D'Addario NS Micro Clip-On Tuner
I love these little clip-ons and have a bunch permanently attached to a few guitars. They're not as accurate as the Polytune, but cost way less and are small and have a great battery life and perfectly fine for a beginner.
Justin Recommends: TC Electronic Polytune Clip
This is the tuner I now use nearly all the time. Clip-ons are super convenient and this one is super accurate (as good as the Peterson I used to use) but lasts longer and is a much better, stronger design. Just a great tuner and you'll often see it clipped on the end of my guitars in my lessons!
3. Spare strings
Don't make the mistake of not having spare strings. Order some next time you buy some other stuff, and have at least two spare sets at home. There are a few vids on String Changing if you need to learn to change them.
What gauge strings I hear you ask? Most beginners play 009 gauge for electric and 010 gauge for acoustics. The thicker the strings the more they hurt your fingers, but they sound better. Although "treated" Extra Life strings are a little more expensive, they don't rust and are better for people who don't change their strings very often; they keep sounding better for longer and are less likely to break!
I recently moved to D'Addario Strings because I really liked the NYXL electric and they are much more fun to work with and really get what I'm doing and want to support the site. I've played many brands over the years and you might like to try a few brands out but D'Addario are a good place to start, and they're good people which means something to me too!
Justin Recommends: (ELECTRIC) D'Addario EXP110 Electric Guitar Strings 10-46
These are coated strings, so a little more expensive than regular ones but they last WAY longer. The coating slows down the corrosion so if you're not going to change often these are the best value even if they seem expensive to start. "10 gauage" is good for beginners on electric without being too light but you could try "9's" which are thinner, but I'd not recommend getting any thicker!
Justin Recommends: (ACOUSTIC) D'Addario EXP26 Acoustic Guitar Strings 11-52
These are coated strings, so a little more expensive than regular ones but they last WAY longer. The coating slows down the corrosion so if you're not going to change often these are the best value even if they seem expensive to start. "11 gauage" is good for acoustic beginners without being too light but you could try thicker or thinner if you like!
Justin Recommends: (CLASSICAL) D'Addario Pro Arte Classical Guitar EJ45 Strings
These are solid and reliable nylon strings, with a long life and are very popular all rounder classic strings. If you do have a classical guitar, please don't attempt to put steel strings on it as you will most likely damage you guitar and possibly hurt yourself when the bridge pulls off and hits you in the face!
Getting a strap is a very good idea. It helps keep the guitar stable and trains you up for when you want to go unleash your skills on the world. Don't worry too much about what type to get - just one that you like. If you bought a heavy guitar (like a Gibson Les Paul) you might want to get a padded strap so you don't hurt your shoulder!
Justin Recommends: Any Strap!
5. Strap Locks
If you plan to stand up and use a strap on your guitar, then please buy some strap locks. These can range from plastic discs that cost very little, to big metal catches that you fix to your strap, which cost more. I have seen too many beginners without strap locks and seen guitars drop to the floor. I have actually seen three guitars snap necks because the strap fell off. The cheap ones work, so there is no excuse not to have these. You can also use the red rubber ring that is on the top of bottles of Grolsch Beer (the imported one with the 'pop top'). Put it on the strap pin after you put the strap on. It's not quite as good as a proper strap lock, but has the added bonus of beer!
Justin Recommends: Schaller Strap Locks (around £20/$35) or Jim Dunlop Lok Strap (about £3/$5)
This one is important. You will use your metronome a lot. Any metronome will do, but I recommend getting an electric one, not one of the old 'tick-tock' ones.
These days I use my own Justinguitar Time Trainer Metronome which is an app for iOS and Android. It's cheap as chips and is not only a sample accurate metronome but it's got some awesome training tools to help develop your own 'internal metronome'!! Go check it out, gets great reviews and really will be a big help on your journey.
A capo is a really cool device that you place on the guitar neck, and it changes the pitch of the open strings. They are used to change the key of a song, and will enable you to play along with songs that are otherwise very hard. If you sing, they are also useful to change the key of a song quickly to help you find the right key for your singing voice. A very useful (though not 100% necessary) accessory.
* CLASSICAL - please not that if you are using a classical (nylon string) guitar you will need a different capo to the ones shown below, it needs to be flat and not curved.
Justin Recommends: D'Addario Tri-Action Capo, Black
I really like the adjustability of this capo, if you use light strings sometimes the pressure of the Kyser can press the strings out of tune, the spring here means you can adjust the pressure of the capo. Very well made too.
8. Music Stand
A music stand can save your back. If you have any posture problems, get a stand now! Many people sit on the bed or the sofa with sheet music next to them and twist around to see it, craning their neck to look at their fingers. This puts you on a sure-fire track to expensive chiropractic bill. Get a stand - they are not expensive and will make your practice time more comfortable.
I use one called a RAT stand, and it looks super awesome, but they are pretty expensive. If you are a pro or have the money and wanna look cool, then these are the bomb!
Justin Recommends: Some kinda wire music stand!
9. Display Folder (or folder on your computer!)
It really helps you learn fast if you keep your notes organised. I recommend buying a clear display folder or a ring binder to keep all your notes in and keep them organised. It really will help; it somehow keeps your head tidy if your notes are tidy. They are not expensive, so give it a go.
Justin Recommends: Any Display Folder
10. Jam Buddy or looper
One of the best things you can have when you are learning is a jam buddy that learns with you, a friend about the same level that you can practice and learn with. It is also a massive advantage when it comes to learning to improvise because one person can play chords while the other learns to take a solo, and then swap. If you don't have this option I recommend getting a small recorder, so you can record yourself playing and then jam along with that. It is also a very good thing to hear yourself back, so a recorder is a great thing to have even if you have a jam buddy.
A great alternative is my Beginner Song Course app (more on that below) which has hundreds of songs to play along with.
Another alternative is to buy a looper pedal, but they're likely to be very hard for a complete beginner to use, you need to be confident with your rhythm and foot tapping first. I've been using the TC Electronic looper called the Ditto (and it's brothers the X2 and X4) which as well as being tiny it's very reasonably priced, sounds great and is dead easy to use and is what I'd recommend for a beginner looking to explore using a looper as a practice tool!
The JustinGuitar Beginner Song Course App
In 2016 I teamed up with the Musopia crew to make a Beginner Song Course App, which as the name suggests is a guitar course for beginners that is based around songs! The lesson content is not as comprehensive as you'll find here on the site - BUT - it's got hundreds of beginner songs that you can play along with karaoke style with backing tracks which are awesome fun for beginners! So well worth a look at that as a compliment to your study on this course :) it's free to try out but then it's a paid subscription (we have to do it that way to pay the royalties due on the song rights!) but I think it's great value and we update it with new songs every month and are always looking to improve it with new features!