Guide to Essential Guitar Gear & Accessories

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Guitar Gear and Accessories

Whether you’re getting started playing guitar or have been at it for a while, it’s nice to recheck an essentials list. There’s a lot that goes into playing, especially if you enjoy performing, mixing, or branching out. If all you want is an acoustic sound beside the fire during the summers, then stick with just the guitar. However, if you’re looking to do more, check out this list of guitar gear and accessories.

The Essentials

1. Capo

This is the easiest way to change keys while playing multiple songs without having to retune the guitar, and one of the cheapest guitar gear essentials you can get. Plus, you can play around with partial capos that only apply pressure to specific strings.
G7th Performance by Thalia
: Very sleek design and incredibly easy to handle
SpiderCapo
: Applies pressure only to specific strings, creating a unique sound

2. Tuner

You’ll be needing this to make sure your playing in tune, whether that’s testing every note and string or just one. There are some great ones out there that you can simply place on your guitar or plug into your board.
Snark SN-5 G Tuner: This is a good clip-on tuner
Boss TU3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal

3. Slide

Some may argue about how “essential” this is for your guitar gear, but it certainly makes things more fun. It allows you to slide through notes as opposed to picking.
JetSlide Guitar Slide
: This cool tool means you can switch back and forth from fingerpicking to sliding faster than ever.

4. Multi-Tool

This small helpful tool helps you in many ways, including winding strings, removing pegs on acoustic guitars, cutting any extra string length, adjusting your truss rod, and the list goes on.
JP Guitar Tool
: Your basic multi-tool that is well built and won’t fall apart on you.

5. Metronome

This will help you keep time as you practice, and while it may not be necessary for making music, it’s incredibly helpful to build up speed and precision.
Seiko Clip-On Metronome
: A classic metronome, not too fancy.

6. Picks

A good pick with the right thickness will be invaluable. They will also be frustrating as you will lose these constantly. But don’t worry, you’ll find them in unexpected and unexplainable places in the future.

7. Strap and Strap Locks

Unless you want to sit the entire time you’re playing, you’re going to need a strap. And if you’re going to need a strap, I highly recommend strap locks. Nothing can compare to that slowing of time and sinking feeling in your chest as your strap gives way and you feel the guitar falling. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest insurances you can take.

Schaller Guitar Strap Locks and Buttons

8. Extra Strings

You never know when your passionate playing might result in a broken string, so having a few back-ups on hand is the wise musicians way of keeping the music going.

Amps

1. Combo

A combo includes the amplifier (or the “head”) as well as the speaker system in one.

2. Standalone

The “header”, or “head amp”, is it’s own stand-alone amplifier and can be plugged into a speaker system (cabinet). Often if a header is combined with a single cabinet it is referred to as a half-stack where-as if there are two cabinets it is a full stack.

Types of Amps

1. Tube (or Valve)

These amps use vacuum tubes for amplifying the sound. The major advantage of a tube amp is that they are regarded as having a warmer and more organic sound. The disadvantage is that they are heavier, more expensive, and eventually need replacement. However, most high-end professionals will still swear by the exceptional sound. If money is not an issue and you want that old school sound for playing stages or recording in a studio, go for the tubes.

2. Solid State (or transistor/semiconductors)

Rather than vacuum tubes, solid state amps use a semiconductor to amplify the sound. The advantage is that they are lighter, easier to maintain, and much cheaper than the tubes. Many say that the sound has less warmth, but it also delivers a clean and consistently bright sound. If you’re looking for a small practice amp or a sturdy amp when traveling, start by checking out a solid state.

3. Modeling (digital)

Modeling amps use microprocessors to emulate different sounds through the amplifier. For example, I can deliver a fat tube sound or the bright solid state tone. The amp output is usually programmed by first plugging into a computer and setting the equalizer and tones. With technological advantages, the modeling amp is making a strong case for delivering the best of both worlds. Many purists may argue, however, that it’s just not the same as a real tube.

4. Hybrid

A hybrid amp will use both tubes and semiconductors. Most hybrids now are built with the tubes in the pre-amp to provide that full organic sound and semiconductors for the power.

Output Levels

When you practice, you’ll probably be between 10-30 Watts with smaller speakers (usually 8-10”). More often than not, this will be with solid state combo amps, although there are some small tube combos that will work as well.

Rehearsal or small Venue amps are around 50 Watts in power. This is where you’ll find a lot of good modeling or tube combos. Large venue amps usually have a 100+ wattage and are where the half stack or full stack tube amps really shine, although you can finds some good combos as well.

Construction

While construction variances may be subtle differences, if you’ve been following along in our series you’ll have noticed a pattern that subtle differences have an effect. When inspecting the materials your amp is made of, make sure the wood is able to withstand the rumble of your amp (or the hardship or traveling). If you’re looking at an amp over 50 watt output you’ll want at least ½” thick material to keep it from shaking to pieces, which may sound cool but is not actually as fun as it sounds. You’ll also want to check between a closed back vs. an open back. An open back will give you a cleaner sound while the closed back will resonate a little more bass. For example, if you’re looking for a heavy rock or nearly metal sound, a closed back might be what you want.

Recommendations

1. Marshall DSL40C 40 Watt All Tube 2-Channel 1x12″ Combo Amp w/ Footswitch

2. Fender Champion 40 – 40-Watt Electric Guitar Amplifier

3. Peavey Vypyr VIP II Modeling Amp 40 Watts

4. Fender Mustang I (V.2) 20-Watt Electric Guitar Amplifier

5. Orange Micro Terror Stack MT20 & PPC108

6. Blackstar HT Club HT-50 50W Head and HTV-412 4x12 Cab Half Stack

Cables

Here are some of our favorite guitar cables

1.Kirlin Woven 10’ cable

2. Hosa 6 inch Connector Cables

Pedals

Here is where a lot of the fun happens. Having the right pedals is what’s really going to help you find the sound of your favorite musicians, like Dave Grohl, Jack White, Jimmy Page, or Dimebag Darrell. Find a pedal or stompbox that fits your personalized style.

  • Wah – Also known as a “cry baby”, the Wah is a classic volume/frequency effect that has a potentiometer to simulate the crying tone by changing the peak tone of a note.
    • Dunlop The Original Cry Baby® Wah Wah
      – This is one of the original Wah pedals used by musicians like Slash, Joe Bonamassa, and Buddy Guy, just to name a few.
    • Morley MARK 1 Mark Tremonti Wah
      – This pedal features a switchless design that means when you disengage it’ll be right where you left it when you come back. Anyone who has returned from a break having to reset everything knows how convenient this is.
  • Reverb – The reverb is a time delay effect that creates an echoing or reverberating effect of the guitar.
  • Phaser – The phaser will take the sound from the guitar and split it. It then takes the second sound and shifts it in and out of “phase” with the original, giving a dynamic echoing.
  • Chorus – A chorus layers the sounds and moves them slightly out of time with each other to make the sound more full.
  • Distortion/Overdrive – The effects here simulate the sound of the amplifier being pushed to it’s limits, which compresses and creates a grainy tone.
  • Looper – A looper is an awesome tool for layering and creating the sound of multiple guitars. You can use it to set a simple rhythm on repeat and play scales and solos.
    • BOSS RC-20 Phase Recorder Loop Station
      – The RC-20 definitely is on the higher end of the price spectrum, however it’s cheaper than the RC-30 and it’s entirely worth the money. Used by many professionals including Ed Sheeran and Yannis Philippakis.
    • Nux Loop Core Guitar Effect Pedal Looper
      – This little guy delivers a lot for not a lot of money. With 99 memory slots plus 45 drum patterns, it really has incredible value.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our ultimate guitar buying guide here!

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