Something that’s important for guitarists (and all musicians of course, but this post is designed with guitarists in mind) is to be equipped with all the basic, essential tools of the trade. This doesn’t mean lavish, sparkling pedals and the latest gadgets (although we like that stuff too of course)! This means the essential bits of kit you need to be able to be a solid, reliable guitarist.
It should go without saying that these essential bits of kit should be in good working order, ready to use, and if possible, you should have spares too! If you play in a band, perform live, study music, teach music or are a professional musician, all of this becomes even more important as you then have other musicians, teachers or students depending on you too.
What you need changes slightly depending on whether you’re primarily an acoustic guitarist, electric guitarist or classical guitarist, so I’ve broken this down below. Good luck, and if you can, get kitted out!
You need certain things regardless of your playing style and primary focus. These are:
- Tuner: It doesn’t matter if it’s a clip-on tuner, a stompbox tuner or a smartphone app. What matters is that it works every time.
- Strap (and strap locks): All guitarists need a strap to hand. Some electric guitarists may always play standing and therefore always need it. For classical guitarists this is much less frequent. For acoustic guitarists, it’s somewhere in between. But always be prepared! And don’t forget your strap locks to keep the strap on tight!
- Capo: This is an essential tool for the instant transposing of songs. It’s good to have a couple, as they have a habit of disappearing!
- Music Stand: This one is hugely underrated in terms of importance. It’s one of the keys to good practice. You need your music visible and in front of you, not half-crumpled beside you on your sofa or bed, so you’re twisting your neck and back just to see the notes!
- Metronome: All guitarists need a metronome for good practice and development of a strong sense of rhythm and timing. Again, whether it’s digital, analogue, or an app on your phone is largely irrelevant. The main thing is having the diligence to practice with it regularly.
If you’re primarily an acoustic guitarist, to be fully equipped for all circumstances, you’ll need:
- Picks: You’ll need to have to hand some plectrums, or picks, of various thicknesses, and maybe a thumb pick too. Again, these have a habit of disappearing, so you need plenty of them around!
- Other: Depending on your playing style, you may also need some gadgets, from the more common (like the ‘bottleneck’ slide for slide guitar playing) to the less common (like the E-Bow). Also, if your acoustic guitar is an electro-acoustic, you may therefore need a 9v battery to activate the in-built pickup, and a ¼” jack cable to plug it in.
If electric guitar is your thing, you’re going to need:
- Picks: Again, picks and maybe a thumb pick depending on your stylistic tastes.
- Cables: Unless you want to play unplugged, a ¼” jack cable (and at least one spare) is needed to plug in to the amplifier.
- Amplifier: An amp of some sort is required, to plug your electric guitar into to amplify the sound.
- Other: Again, depending on your playing style, you may need some other tools (e.g. Bottleneck slide, E-Bow, etc.) and quite possibly some effects pedals too. Whilst they are not essential, some of the more common, basic-functional ones (distortion, delay) are described as such for a reason. They’re needed quite early on in an electric guitarist’s sound-sculpting career to provide dynamic and textural changes in songs.
If you’re a classical guitarist, there’s one main thing you’ll need, that acoustic and electric guitarists don’t tend to use:
- Footstool: A guitar footstool is essential to developing good classical guitar playing posture, from the very beginning.
Overall, remember that the most important thing is that these tools are in working order, that you know where they are, and that you have spares too!