The Must-Have Guitar Accessories: A Reference Guide for Guitarists

Let’s set the scene. Like many complete beginners, you have just purchased a new electric guitar and an amplifier, with nothing else… Now what?

Some electric guitars come as part of a guitar starter pack, which bundle together a lot of different accessories to provide great convenience and value. However, some of the accessories that come with these kits are a little… well, they suck. That’s not to say that they aren’t useful for their intended purpose, just that they are usually best used as a stopgap while you accrue some upgrades.

In this article we are going to highlight the must-have guitar accessories you need to buy to get the most out of your guitar – whether an electric, acoustic, bass or classical. Some of them you will need from the moment you buy your guitar, others you can acquire over time. But all of them are important considerations if you are serious about becoming an advanced guitarist.

Note that we aren’t looking at amplifiers, strings or effects pedals in this article. While these are obviously important, they aren’t really considered an accessory – amplifiers and strings are fundamental to guitar, while pedals are in a completely separate category. However you can check out our buying guide for guitar amplifiers, our guide to guitar strings and our guide to guitar pedals for more on these crucial items.

With this in mind, let’s get started on our list of must-have guitar accessories!

Cable

ImageGuitar Cable / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Mogami Gold Instrument Cable Mogami Gold Instrument Cable

Total of 4.83/5  

A pro-grade guitar cable for the tone purist.

+ - Planet Waves American Stage Guitar Cable Planet Waves American Stage Guitar Cable

Total of 4.73/5  

A stylish mid-range cable offering a natural tone.

+ - Pig Hog Vintage Series PCH10CCR Cable Pig Hog Vintage Series PCH10CCR Cable

Total of 4.83/5  

Well-made cable series that looks awesome on stage.

We begin with quite possibly the most essential accessory for any electric or bass guitarist who wants to plug into an amplifier – a cable. Unless you are planning to play an acoustic or classical guitar with no amplification, then you’ll need a guitar cable to connect the guitar with the amp, otherwise you’ll have no way to hear yourself!

An electric guitar will rarely come with its own cable, unless you are buying a bundle. Even then, the cables that tend to come with these bundles can be a bit flimsy and unreliable, so even if you already have one, you may want to consider upgrading soon. You’d be surprised at how much a decent cable can improve your tone.

Buying a separate cable is usually a way to guarantee you end up with something more durable, which in turn means it is likely to be more reliable. We have a full buyer’s guide on what to look out for in a cable, as well as some recommendations in our article on the best guitar cables.

Strap

ImageGuitar Strap / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - KLIQ AirCell Guitar Strap KLIQ AirCell Guitar Strap

Total of 4.77/5  

Optimum comfort for the serious stage performer.

+ - Cavalry Straps Ultimate Leather Strap Cavalry Straps Ultimate Leather Strap

Total of 4.80/5  

A comfortable leather strap with a great sense of style.

+ - Planet Waves Planet Lock Guitar Strap Planet Waves Planet Lock Guitar Strap

Total of 4.77/5  

Stylish strap with innovative locking ends for ultimate security.

Next on our list is a guitar strap – another essential you should have from the first day you purchase your guitar. This one is particularly relevant for acoustic, electric and bass guitarists (classical guitarists traditionally don’t use a strap, although some have been known to). Straps are essential for playing while standing up (honestly – try standing without one…), while they also provide more comfort and security while you sit and play.

If you purchased a guitar starter pack, you may have noticed that the strap isn’t up to much. These are usually acceptable to start with, but they are often cheap, thin and feature synthetic ends, which can be prone to splitting – if you’re standing up when this happens, prepare yourself to hear your beloved guitar crash to the floor!

You will be surprised at world of straps out there, all varying in material, length, design, width and price. If you’re looking for a strap, be sure to check out our complete guide and recommendations to the best guitar straps on the market.

Tuner

ImageGuitar Tuners / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Boss TU3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal Boss TU3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal

Total of 4.88/5  

A professional-grade stompbox tuner from Boss.

+ - TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Tuner Pedal TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Tuner Pedal

Total of 4.80/5  

A solid pedal tuner that rivals anything on the market.

+ - Donner DT-1 Chromatic Tuner Pedal Donner DT-1 Chromatic Tuner Pedal

Total of 4.72/5  

A surprisingly good pedal tuner for an affordable price!

Unless your guitar has the ability to automatically tune itself (this technology does exist by the way and is becoming more popular), you will need a tuning device. Sure, you can tune a guitar ‘by ear’ or ‘to itself’, but to ensure you are in tune with the rest of the world, a tuner is essential.

Some people use a piano or a basic pitch pipe (often found supplied in a budget bundle), although the best method of tuning is to use a digital tuner. These battery-powered devices detect and display the note you are playing, and will tell you whether that note is sharp or flat, allowing you to tune up or down to the right pitch.

These digital devices – which come as handheld, clip-on or pedals – are very accurate and surprisingly cheap. You can read more on finding the right tuner for you and our recommendations in the complete guide to the best guitar tuners.

Case

ImageGuitar Cases / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Levy’s Leathers LM18-BLK Deluxe Electric Gig Bag Levy’s Leathers LM18-BLK Deluxe Electric Gig Bag

Total of 4.70/5  

The height of luxury in a soft leather gig bag!

+ - Fender Deluxe Molded ABS Strat-Tele Cas Fender Deluxe Molded ABS Strat-Tele Cas

Total of 4.82/5  

The best way to protect and transport any Strat or Tele.

+ - Gator Cases Molded Acoustic Flight Case Gator Cases Molded Acoustic Flight Case

Total of 4.85/5  

This hardshell TSA-approved case offers ultimate acoustic protection.

Next up is something in which to store your new pride and joy – a case! As well as proving a great way to keep your guitar protected and dust-free when not in use, a good case or gig bag is also essential when transporting your guitar. You may just be taking it to school, a rehearsal or a local gig, or you may need something more substantial for carting your guitar on an around the world tour!

If you have a case that arrived with your guitar as part of a bundle, chances are it is very thin, with no padding and a bit flimsy. This is quite standard and why most people upgrade a case almost instantly. When doing so, there are several considerations you should make – the first being whether it is for an acoustic or electric guitar, as they are very different sizes.

You will also want to consider whether to go for a soft or hardshell case, the materials, the shape of your guitar (a Flying V usually requires a particular kind of case compared to a standard Superstrat!), how much to spend and whether you need additional storage pockets for other accessories. Our complete guide to guitar cases has more on all kinds of cases and gig bags, as well as some product recommendations.

Stand

ImageGuitar Stand / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Zither Wooden Guitar Stand Zither Wooden Guitar Stand

Total of 4.85/5  

A one-of-a-kind stand fit for any high-end axe.

+ - Hercules GS523B Three-Instrument Guitar Rack Hercules GS523B Three-Instrument Guitar Rack

Total of 4.80/5  

The sensible choice for the player with multiple guitars.

+ - D&A Guitar Gear Hydra Triple Guitar Stand D&A Guitar Gear Hydra Triple Guitar Stand

Total of 4.75/5  

A solid triple-guitar stand that won’t tip over.

You have just finished your practice session. Now, where are you leaving your guitar? Of course, you could just prop it up against the wall or rest it on the floor and hope nobody accidentally kicks it over or steps on it. Or – like most sensible guitarists – you could invest in a good guitar stand.

You don’t need to spend much to end up with a decent stand, as many A-Frame stands come in at around ten bucks, offering you an affordable way to secure and present your guitar when not in use. You can also find a stand to suit your specific location. If you are a guitarist with five guitars and plenty of room, a multi-rack stand is an awesome way to show off your beauties. Live in a one-bedroom apartment? A space-saving wall-stand may be more to your liking.

We have outlined the different kinds of stands and other considerations, as well as some recommendations, in our complete guide to guitar stands – be sure to check it out!

Capo

ImageGuitar Capo / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - GUITARX X3 Original Guitar Capo 2.0 GUITARX X3 Original Guitar Capo 2.0

Total of 4.83/5  

This original clamp capo remains the one to beat.

+ - Kyser Quick-Change Capo Kyser Quick-Change Capo

Total of 4.83/5  

American-made lightweight aluminum capo with a cool design.

+ - Nordic Essentials Guitar Capo Deluxe Nordic Essentials Guitar Capo Deluxe

Total of 4.83/5  

The sophisticated choice with a brushed metal finish.

Unlike stands, straps and cables, a capo is not an essential purchase for all guitarists – in fact, some will never use one. However, for other guitarists, it is one of the most useful devices they can own. While they come in handful of different varieties, a capo is ultimately a small bar-like device that sits across the strings of your guitar, shortening the playable length of the instrument and changing the instrument’s open pitch.

While you can technically use them on an electric guitar, they are mainly found in the toolkits of acoustic and classical guitarists, allowing them to completely change the sound of their playing – you would be surprised at how many of your favorite songs use a capo. Whether clamp, adjustable screw or yoke-style capo, we have several recommendations and a detailed buyer’s guide in our dedicated article on the best guitar capos.

Slide

ImageGuitar Slides / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Dunlop 210 Tempered Glass Slide Dunlop 210 Tempered Glass Slide

Total of 4.58/5  

A popular no-nonsense medium-fit glass slide.

+ - Dunlop DT01 Derek Trucks Signature Dunlop DT01 Derek Trucks Signature

Total of 4.73/5  

An all-glass slide based on Derek Trucks’ own model.

+ - Fender Steel Slide Fender Steel Slide

Total of 4.65/5  

Simple and affordable steel slide from Fender.

A slide sits in a similar category to a capo, in that it isn’t a must-have accessory for every guitarist, yet those who need one usually can’t live without one. Also known as a bottleneck, a slide is simple tubular device that slips over one of your fretting fingers (usually third or fourth) and allows you to slide between notes as well as create glissandos (think Hawaiian guitar).

Sides are very often used in blues and country styles of music, and are associated with lap steel guitars in particular, although they are also often used on electric and acoustic guitars too. Slides are usually made of metal or glass, although you will also find bone, ceramic and porcelain slides. There’s more on slides as well as some recommendations in our complete guide to guitar slides.

Humidifier

ImageGuitar Humidifier / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - TaoTronics Top Fill Humidifier TaoTronics Top Fill Humidifier

Total of 4.85/5  

Packed with features, this is an awesome room humidifier.

+ - Proaller Cool Mist Ultrasonic Room Humidifier Proaller Cool Mist Ultrasonic Room Humidifier

Total of 4.83/5  

Another excellent room humidifier with an auto-humidistat.

+ - Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

Total of 4.72/5  

An affordable humidifier that’s great for smaller rooms.

Unless you live in the Sahara Desert, electric guitarists can probably skip over this section. However, anybody with a solid or part-solid wood acoustic or classical guitar who lives in dry conditions will want to pay close attention. This is because slight changes to humidity can play havoc with wood, drastically changing the tone of your guitar as well as potentially causing permanent damage.

Humidifiers are simple devices that remedy this. They sit inside a guitar or guitar case to regulate the humidity in and around your guitar, ensuring optimum storage conditions. You can also use a room humidifier to keep one room (such as a practice area or studio) at a constantly perfect condition for your guitars. You can read everything about humidifiers, as well as some recommendations, on our complete guide to guitar humidifiers.

Metronome

ImageMetronome / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Wittner 813M Wittner 813M

Total of 4.65/5  

One of the best value for the money mechanical models currently available.

+ - Korg TMR­50 Korg TMR­50

Total of 4.63/5  

A great digital unit with versatile features packed in a portable format.

+ - Wittner WIT­864062 Wittner WIT­864062

Total of 4.55/5  

High quality digital quartz model which combines modern and old school solutions.

A metronome is a training device that produces a sound (often a bleep or a click) at regular intervals, offering you an accurate and consistent way to measure your tempo when playing guitar. This allows you to improve your timing and gradually increase your speed. Metronomes will allow you to adjust the speed from ultra-slow to ridiculously fast, while most will also offer the ability to change time signatures and other variables.

You can buy both traditional mechanical metronomes as well as digital metronomes, which both do the same thing, albeit with different advantages. One thing to consider is that some digital tuners already feature a built-in metronome. If you have one of these tuners, double-check it doesn’t already have a metronome feature before spending money on a separate one. As with the other accessories on this page, we have a dedicated guide to metronomes that is well worth checking out.

Strap Lock

ImageStrap Locks / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Schaller S Locks Schaller S Locks

Total of 4.85/5  

The premium option with a noiseless operation.

+ - Schaller Guitar Strap Locks Schaller Guitar Strap Locks

Total of 4.80/5  

Hard to fault this tried-and-tested set from Schaller.

+ - LOXX 13679 Strap Lock System LOXX 13679 Strap Lock System

Total of 4.83/5  

A highly-respected and dependable set from LOXX.

Earlier on this page we stressed the importance of a strap for your guitar – well, a strap lock’s job is to make that strap feel even more secure! These simple devices slip over the ends of your strap to firmly lock it in place, stopping the strap from accidentally slipping off the guitar (not something you want to happen when playing energetically on stage).

They are usually cheap devices, although – as with the other must-have accessories on this page – there is no one-size-fits all strap lock, as they vary in price, design, function and materials. You can also find guitar straps with locking ends already built in, for extra convenience. You can read more about these devices, as well as some of our recommendations, in our complete guide to strap locks.

Wireless System

ImageGuitar Amplifier / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Line 6 Relay G50 Line 6 Relay G50

Total of 5.00/5  

Clear, loud and proud.

+ - AKG WMS 40 Mini AKG WMS 40 Mini

Total of 4.67/5  

Highly versatile package with a top-notch price tag.

+ - Joyo JW-01 Joyo JW-01

Total of 4.47/5  

Lowest priced item on the entire list here, yet it still offers a solid performance.

This may not be a must-have accessory (especially for beginners and intermediate players), but while a cable is an essential tool for any electric guitarist or bassist, the next step is a wireless system. As the name suggests, these advanced systems allow you to connect your guitar, effects pedals and amplifier through wireless technology. The benefit here should be obvious – no cables means no restrictions on stage.

These sophisticated systems aren’t there to improve your tone (although they do help it come across clearer) – they are simply there to give you a wire-free way of playing when on stage. Of course, you can read more about wireless systems, the considerations, and some of our recommended picks in our full guide to wireless systems.

…and finally,

Plectrums

Classical guitarists, as well as some bass and acoustic players, will have no desire to play with a plectrum (also known as a pick). However, for certain styles of music – and pretty much all electric guitar playing – a plectrum is a must-have accessory.

Despite their simplicity, plectrum choice can actually be quite complicated with so many shapes, sizes, gauges and materials to choose from. The pick that’s best for you will be down to trial and error. As plectrums are so cheap, our advice is to go into any guitar store and pick up a handful – metal, synthetic and wood picks, in a couple of different gauges – then try them out with your guitar at home. You’ll soon find the pick that delivers the attack, tone and feel that suits your playing.

What Accessories Do You Need?

Now you’ve seen the list of accessories we deem essential, you may be wondering how critical they actually are. We deliberately put the above list into a rough order of importance. Now, we can’t tell you that a cable is more important than a tuner, or a case is more useful than a stand, because the truth is that you’ll need to buy most of the accessories on this list if you want the most from your guitar.

For example, it’s pointless having a great tuner only for your well-tuned guitar to fall over and break because it wasn’t in a good stand… and having a really nice capo won’t be much good if your guitar is damaged because you live in Nevada and you didn’t buy a humidifier!

To help, if you are just starting out and have an electric guitar and an amp, we suggest buying a minimum of:

  • A strap
  • A cable
  • A stand
  • A case
  • A tuner
  • Plectrums

Providing you have these, you can pretty much go through the rest of your guitar life without having to buy another accessory in theory (although where would be the fun in that?). If you are an unplugged acoustic or classical guitarist, you can substitute the cable for a capo, which will be of much more use in the long run.

Then it’s up to you how you progress. If you live in a dry climate or conditions, then a humidifier will be worth looking at quite soon. If you are determined to build your shredding speed, a metronome will be very useful. Getting into blues or country? Buying a slide can be a great investment!

Are there Any More Accessories?

In 2019, there are thousands of guitar accessories – too many to list in this article. We have covered the essentials, but there are loads more you may wish to consider. For example, guitar care packs can come in handy to keep your prized possession in top-notch condition, while a string cleaner can also be useful for prolonging the life of your strings. On that note, a string winder too is always a welcome device when it comes to changing your strings!

If you are an electric guitarist, you may wish to buy something like a plectrum holder which you can actually stick onto your guitar. For classical guitarists, a foot stool can also be a useful addition for playing in the correct position. For all guitarists, tools like a hand exerciser can be incredibly useful for building strength and dexterity in your fretting hand.

Ultimately, if you wanted to, you could spend hundreds of dollars every year on accessories. Do you need them all? Probably not. However, some things are very useful and will benefit your playing or, at the very least, make your life easier when it comes to caring for your guitar.

The Final Word

As we’ve established, there is no one-size-fits-all list of must-have accessories for every guitarist – a capo may be pointless for you, but your acoustic guitar playing pal may not be able to live without one.

Providing you end up with the items in our bullet-point list above, you should be sorted for the near future. Of course, don’t forget to check out our individual article for our recommendations and buyer’s guide for each of the items we have listed above. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!


Reader Interactions

Speak Your Mind

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *