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The essential list showcasing the best guitar accessories every guitarist should have on hand – either when gigging, in the studio or at home.

MAKE LIFE CLICK
Best Guitar Accessories
2020

After over 20 years of playing privately and professionally, in studios, stadiums and small practice rooms there are definitely some guitarist essentials I recommend for all guitarists to have in their gear list.

Not every guitar accessory I recommend is expensive. You don’t have to spend a fortune on accessories although I always recommend spending good money on a tuner most of all (and your guitar of course!).

Some of these guitar accessories I’ve discovered in my personal guitar experience and some I have added over the years as I’ve continued to play live and in studios.

For a period of time, I was also a live event guitar roadie so I had a small workbench of tools and accessories that I worked with for live events where I would have up to 10 guitars in a rack that needed fast guitar string changes, tuning and general maintenance.

While a lot of those guitar accessories might not be essentials I might add a few in different sections for those of you who want to level up to the best gear for your guitar rig.

Read also: Best in-ear monitors for guitarists

So let’s take a look at all the things I think you’ll want to include in your guitar accessories list that the best at what they do, whether you’re a beginner or professional.

Best guitar accessories listed

Guitar Accessory TypeCostPriority (1 low – 5 high )
1: Guitar Tuner$$$5
2: Guitar Strings$5
3: Guitar String Winder$1
4: Guitar String Wire cutters$2
5: Guitar Strap and Strap Locks $$3
6: Guitar Picks$3 (Personal preference)
7: Guitar Capo$2
8: Guitar Stand$3
9: Guitar Slide$2
10: Guitar Cables$$3
11: Guitar Case$$$5
Best guitar accessories list

1: Guitar Tuner

You might think you have a good ear, own a piano or have an app on your phone that helps you tune. The later in that list is actually not a bad way to tune these days with many apps being an acceptable way to have a quick tune.

If your guitar isn’t in tune, all the accessories in the world can’t save you.

In the early days, I owned guitar tuning forks to tune with but that still required a good ear. You could hit the tuning fork, hold it on your bridge or guitar wood and get your E string sorted but then you would have to tune from ear from there.

Sadly, I learned that many many guitarists can’t tune by ear. That’s OK – it is actually something that comes with a lot of practice.

From there I moved to the standard guitar tuner of the day which was the Boss TU-12. This is still a solid option for open-air tuning including acoustic guitar. You can put it on your lap or rest it on the top of the guitar and tune your strings openly using the VU meter which is easy to work with.

My recommendation for electric (or Acoustic with a built-in pick up) if possible is to always use a chromatic tuning pedal.

If you are using an acoustic guitar that doesn’t have a pick-up then the clip-on selection below is a solid tuning choice for acoustic guitars.

Electric Guitar Tuner (or Acoustic Guitars with pickups) – Boss TU-3 or Boss TU-3s

Boss TU-3 Guitar Tuner

The best chromatic based guitar tuner pedal is currently the Boss TU-3. The TU-2 has always been a solid performer in my collection and the TU-3 is another improvement on top.

For those of us that have guitar pedal boards, Boss did a good thing, a smart thing and created the TU-3s which is a smaller tuning unit that you can mount on your pedalboard, take up less space but always have it inline so you can constantly tune.

If I was buying new at the moment I would lean towards the TU-3 as someone who changes between their electric and acoustic guitar, I like to be able to take the pedal off my pedalboard and take it to gigs where I might only take my acoustic guitar, tuner and volume pedal, as an example.

See the Boss TU-3 Guitar Tuner on Amazon and also check out the Boss TU-3s Guitar Tuner as a pedalboard alternative.

Acoustic Guitar Tuner

If you have an acoustic guitar that doesn’t have a pickup, or you have a pickup but still want an open tuner then the D’Addario NS Micro Clip-On Tuner is a great choice.

Boss TU-3 Guitar Tuner

I chose this tuner for a few reasons:

  • It’s D’Addario which is a brand that has been producing guitar strings and accessories for longer than most readers have been playing.
  • It’s a really nice low profile tuner. It doesn’t have to hang off the end of your guitar so it just looks a lot nice.
  • There are a few different mounting options. When you purchase choose the one that suits you.
  • You can reverse mount it on the back of your headstock so you can casually look down the neck to tune without looking awkward.

The NS Micro Clip-on has a piezo transducer in it which is similar in function to piezo pickups which pick up the vibration from the guitar and this provides the tuning resonance. The accuracy is really excellent on acoustic guitars.

The efficacy of this D’Addario tuner combined with its nice form factor keeps you looking good and sounding better making it a great choice in your guitar accessories gig bag.

See the D’Addario NS Micro Clip-On Guitar Tuner tuner on Amazon

2: Guitar Strings

I know this seems really obvious but you need at least one pack in reserve if you have a gig and I’d certainly recommend having at least two if you can. If you are short on cash then there are quite a few guitar and music shops that will sell you single strings.

So, if you’re like me you’ll know you most often break a B string, or similar so it doesn’t hurt to have a couple single strings spare so if you need a quick change mid-gig you can use a single rather than pull out a full packet and break it up.

It gets a little annoying in time if you pull out singles for quick fixes and end up with packs of incomplete strings.

I used to play with a couple of professional players who changed their strings before every live gig. Personally, I’ve always been a little lazy so I’d risk a couple of nights before a change.

Part of that reason is that changing guitar strings can be a hassle. That’s why I also acted as roadie for a while to support other guitarists who really didn’t want to fuss with changes.

Everything I used in my guitar roadie changing station will make this list. I’ll also try to find a photo if I can.

Personally I’ve always learnt towards Ernie Ball Slinky’s (10-46 gauge as I don’t have Dave Gilmour finger strength) for my electric work and a nice Martin Phosphor Bronze for my acoustic work. Both my Maton acoustic and my Martin & Co OM-28 seem to resonate well with them.

Gauge is definitely your choice.

Electric Guitar Strings – Ernie Ball Slinky

Ernie Ball Slinky Electric Guitar Strings

Acoustic Guitar Strings – Martin & Co.

Martin & Co Guitar Strings - Best Guitar Accessories
Martin Acoustic Strings (Phosphor Bronze) – The new packaging is nicer than this. Source: Make Life Click

3: Guitar String Winder

Immediately a few people in the room judged me for including this in the list. Let me tell you why that is.

The first reason is that string winders are like using Garage Band to make guitar tracks (sub-par analogy I’ll admit). You lose all feel for tension and tuning when you use a string winder. It’s true but my defence is that in the right hands, in experienced hands, you can save a great deal of time with a string winder.

It’s a little like trying to put Ikea furniture together with the Allen key and not using an electric screwdriver or electric drill.

The second reason is that you don’t need much wind at all when fitting new strings. While that is true, if you have to do this a lot then it can be really nice to put a winder on the tuning peg, give it a quick wind, and then you just need to fine tune it.

As a bonus freebie I’ve included a video below from Martin. Around the 11 second mark you can see how they reverse pull the string so it self-locks on the tuning peg. Some people get a bit carried away and think they need to wind it around 5 times before it’s right.

You actually need very little string with this technique and so a string winder doesn’t need to do a lot.

By reversing the guitar string on itself, it self locks.

Even with this it’s nice to have a string winder in you guitar accessories and they are cheap so why not throw one in.

The other thing most of them have, like the one recommended below, is a bridge peg tool to safely lift the guitar peg out of the bridge without hurting yourself, or your guitar (you can also use a teaspoon for this with the round side on the bridge and lever it up gently).

A good guitar string winder would be the following:

Guitar String Winder on Amazon

MusicNomad Guitar String Peg Winder

Something to add here is that really cheap winders can be annoying as there is no balance in the way the handle winds against the peg so it just feels wrong.

4: Wire cutters for guitar strings

So, these don’t exactly have to be specifically for guitar strings but you have a couple of options here which I’ll include below.

This are also super important for a clean finish on your strings. There are some obvious reasons:

  1. Your headstock doesn’t look ridiculous with dancing reggae strings or wound up circular wires
  2. Your less likely to poke someone in the eye with a rogue string
  3. Get your strings out of the way of your tuning pegs
  4. Less likely to damage your guitar finish

Ideally a tough set of small cutting pliers are best but D’Addario have made a very cool multi-tool for your guitar accessory kit which is both a string winder, peg popper and string cutter.

Personally, I like having separate tools for each. You can lay them out on your work station and use each as needed but if you want something portable, or just want one guitar tool then the D’Addario is a good choice.

Guitar string cutters

As I say – just a solid pair of wire cutters like the ones below is all you need. You can get these at your local hardware or online like these ones at Walmart.

Wire cutters for guitar strings on white background
Great wire cutter for guitar strings

D’Addario string cutters – guitar accessory multi-tool

See the D'Addario all-in-1 Guitar tool accessory on Amazon

D'Addario all-in-1 Guitar tool accessory

You could also look at the Jim Dunlop string cutters.

Just to add here. When you combine the string winding tactic illustrated in the video above it allows you to clip (or cut) the guitar string very close to the peg as you have less chance of string slipping.

5: Guitar Strap and Strap Locks

While guitar strap are a dime a dozen there are a few things worth thinking about when adding one to your accessories list.

Design is entirely your choice but other things to consider are width, materials and connectors.

All my guitars use strap locks and here is a short story why…

Once, when playing a gig at an indoor event as a younger man, I was standing casually with my Yamaha electric guitar strung around my neck. It was a bit of an Ibanez copy and had an angled headstock. As I stood there casually with my arms on my hips the front strap connector just dropped off and the guitar dropped on the concrete floor on to the headstock. It survived but had a nasty scrape on it. Lesson learned.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve dropped a guitar since then, but only when I didn’t have strap locks on. I’ve also witnessed so many band mates drop their guitars without them.

My personal favourite are Schaller strap locks but there are others out there. For me, Schaller, have never failed me. On my Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul, Maton and Martin & Co. OM-28. Acoustic and electrics.

I have one favourite strap but all my straps have Schaller’s on them. Then all my guitars have the same strap locks on them so any of my straps work with any of my guitars.

Another benefit is that with Schaller’s on you can still use a normal strap too.

There are many other companies that sell strap locks. Ernie Ball, Fender, Dunlop and LOXX to name a few. You can also buy straps that have a strap lock built into them like the Planet Waves. This is preferable for a lot of people who don’t want to change their hardware on their guitars specifically for strap locks.

It doesn’t really matter what you go for, just go for something that makes you feel confident in your strap.

So, back to the guitar strap itself. It’s fine to buy a cheap straight cut strap made from plastic/vinyl but these can get uncomfortable quite quickly. You’re better off investing in the same style of strap but something with a touch of padding like a leather or leather copy will reward you.

A wide strap is also nice but few people like the style. It’s also nice to have a strap that folds up compact and tight and fits in your guitar case.

So definitely take some time to choose something you like. Get down to your local music store and try a few out if you can.

I’ve linked to my favourite below and included a link to a couple of strap lock options. This is a strap I’ve owned for over a decade and still love it. These two things should always be in your guitar accessory collection.

Guitar Strap

See the Fender Guitar Strap on Amazon

Fender guitar strap accessory

Guitar Strap Locks

6: Guitar Picks

There is a reason love players gaff tape a collection of guitar picks to their stands, people drop, lose and throw out a lot of them.

Personally, I never found myself dropping picks when playing live so I might have a spare in my pocket and that was about all I needed. Yet somehow, I went through a lot of guitar picks. You lend them to people, leave them lying around, send them through the washing machine etc etc.

The thing with guitar picks, even more than guitar strings, is that they are very personal. My pick of choice is a Dunlop Tortex 1mm (the powered finish type), but that’s me. You probably already know what guitar pick gauge you like to use.

So make the investment in a bag of these things and you can be sure they’ll last you a long time. I’ve been sitting on a bag I bought years ago and there are plenty still in there.

When you have so many of them you seem to find them after losing them over time so you rarely need to go back in for replacements once you have about 10 picks in circulation between your car, guitar case, side table, jeans pockets, wallet etc.

Jim Dunlop Guitar Picks

I recommend these as they have a great feel, nice finish and don’t cost a lot.

You can see the full Tortex range here in bags of 36 units.

Jim Dunlop guitar pick accessory
Guitar Picks are a an accessory must have

That might be my choice but what ever you choose to go with, just make sure you have a few to hand in your accessory bag.

7: Guitar Capo

So, I’ve never really played with a capo a lot as I prefer to manage ‘playing the changes’ manually. With that said I do own a couple of capo’s and there is something really nice about the way it changes the voicing of your guitar when you play.

For a quick key change it can be a life saver if you don’t want to be transposing on-the-fly. For a different sound then it’s also a quick change of tone.

A few things to look for when choosing a capo for your guitar that suits you.

  • Do you want a spring-loaded capo or clamp on?
  • Do you need to change from a capo to non-capo very quickly? i.e changing between songs at live gigs
  • Do you want to attach it to your guitar while playing?

The two I recommend are old favourites and you’ll find a lot of people also speaking highly of them. To be honest there are a top of capo option from all sorts of major and unknown brands.

Quick change – One-handed Capo

My choice for a quick change one-handed capo – perfect for playing live – is the Kyser one-handed capo. The Kyser quick-change capo is easy to manage quickly between songs.

You can clip it on your headstock and grab it with one hand, get it positioned and release it ready for your next song with minimal effort. It has a good seal over the strings, assuming you get it accurately placed.

Since I purchased one a loooong time ago they have now made it available in a huge number of colors.

See the Kyser Capo for Guitar on Amazon

Kyser one handed guitar capo

Clamp-on guitar capo

My favourite capo is the Shubb capo. I’ve had one of these for about 15 years and it still performs like a champ. This is not a hard capo to manage but it’s not a quick change option like the Kyser capo.

The think I like about the Shubb is how confident I feel about it once it clips on. It’s just a solid connection with the special roller back clamp.

It feels nice, and gentle, on the neck and the connection with the strings over the fret board makes me feel like it’s secure every time I clip it on. It’s almost like its a personalise solution once you get it sized (which can only take a second).

The Shubb S1 is available in a 6 string steel strings guitar model, classical guitar model and a 12 string guitar option.

See the Shubb Capo for Guitar on Amazon

Shubb Guitar Capo
This is a photo of my own Shubb Capo I’ve had for years. Source: Make Life Click

What ever capo you choose it’s an important addition to your guitar accessories even if you don’t use it that frequently.

Update: (I forgot to mention thalia – they do nice capos also)

8: Guitar Stand

Totally optional in terms of accessories but it’s so much nicer putting your guitar down on a stand rather than trying to rest it against a wall, piano or similar.

When I was running roadie duty I had a multi-rack stand like the Pyle PGST43

To make this accessory as flexible as possible you ideally want to have a guitar stand that works for both electric and acoustic. You also want something that is relatively portable and yet stands up in a way that gives you confidence.

It’s not often I recommend the cheapest but the AmazonBasics stand is really great value for money, does that it needs to and can take both Electric and Acoustic guitars.

It’s also quite portable.

See the AmazonBasics A-Frame Guitar Stand for Acoustic and Electric on Amazon

9: Guitar Slide

Don’t play slide guitar? Neither do I. I recently listened back to an older recording we did at a live gig and my slide guitar pitching was terrible. Really awful. That reminds me I need to message the artist and apologise for that mess – just as well he is a friend.

Even if you don’t play slide guitar I still highly recommend having a slide in your guitar accessories because when it does make sense you’ll be glad it’s there.

In my personal experience I’ve probably lent my slide to other people more than I’ve used it but even that makes you a team band player.

You don’t need to spend a fortune but I also think you want something that is styled correctly. Just a straight pipe doesn’t work so well – it is nice to have a finger indent.

The guys at The Rock Slide have a good range to check out.

10: Guitar Cables (Electric & Acoustic)

Electric and Acoustic Guitar Cables - One with two plugs and one with XLR plug
My personal Guitar Cables for Electric or Acoustic Guitar | Source: Make Life Click

While you might not always travel with cables in your accessory bag you will always want a few cables.

  • One for plugging straight in to an amp, DI or similar – 1/4 inch to 1/4 inch plug.
  • One to connect the first one via a tuner or guitar pedal or similar (e.g. Guitar to tuner, then tuner to Amp/DI box/PA etc.) This would also be a 1/4″ to 1/4″ plug
  • One for an XLR connection. So a 1/4″ jack plug for your guitar and a female XLR plug to straight in a wall socket, snake cable or missing desk. This is a real back up plan.

You could also consider having a couple of patch cables (short cables) to connect smaller pedals to each other. These can be a life-saver in a pinch and don’t take up a lot of room. They are usually only about 6″ long.

A consideration with your cables if whether you need a straight plug or a 90 degree angled plug. For acoustic work I like a 90 degree plug one end in to the guitar and a 90 degree in to my tuner or Ernie Ball volume pedal.

For acoustic work I like a straight plug for my guitar (Stratocaster mostly) and 90 degree plug to go in to my pedal board.

Straight plug guitar cable

This example has a straight jack at one end and a straight plug on the other end. You’ll also want some type of cable sleeve protection where the plug meet the cable. These things get a working out in the studio or on stage so you don’t want them failing at that connection point.

I’ve chosen this 20-foot GLS guitar cable as if you’re playing on stage then 20 foot is a good length to let you move around. Anything shorter would be ideal for in-studio or at home for practice.

20 Foot GLS Guitar Cable - Straight and Right-Angled

The GLS has long been a favorite with fans – affordable and good company.

90 Degree jack plug guitar cable

Here is a good option for a straight plug option at both ends. The Fender Custom Shop cable comes in different lengths and different jack plug options.

Fender Custom Shop instrument & guitar cable

The benefit of the Fender cable is brand prestige, brand experience and you have a lot of plug and length options.

11: Guitar Case

If you purchased any of your guitars from a shop then it’s likely you got a hard case by default. It’s not actually hard cases that most of us are looking for. It’s more often that we all need a good semi-hard or soft case for slinging over our shoulders and getting to gigs with.

Here is what I’d look for in a great soft case for electric or acoustic guitars:

  • Backpack straps – this need to be solid and well sewn in. I’ve had a few that torn after a time
  • Hand carry straps also on the side so it’s easy to pick up and carry
  • Good padding all around the guitar – especially the bottom and around the zips
  • A pocket on the front that is large enough to carry all your accessories – strap, picks, a cable, tuner, music sheets, slide and possibly even a stand
  • Firm rubber/plastic feet are nice to have when you put it down to help keep the case of the dirty floor and create some padding so the guitar isn’t literally sitting on the floor.

Don’t cheap out on the case you buy as poor zips, weak sewing and machinery will always fall apart and you’ll end up going back for another one.

Acoustic Guitar Case

Gator have been making cases for a long time. I’ve used their cases for instruments and road/flight cases. I’ve never been disappointed in their build quality. You can get cheaper but this is a brand I recommend often

See the Gator Cases 4G Series Gig Bag - Acoustic Guitars on Amazon

These are most often a one size fits all but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check the sizing first, especially if you have a 3/4 sized guitar or an OM/OOO style.

Electric Guitar Case

An electric guitar case has similar basic needs as an acoustic case. I have a couple but my tweed case is my favorite so I’m going to recommend that here. Another great choice is the Fender FE620 Electric Guitar case – lots of smart padding and a nice neck bracket.

Fender Guitar case - best guitar accessories list
Fender FET-610 Electric Guitar Case

A guitar case also makes the perfect case for carrying all your guitar accessories with you.

Summary

I love talking gear with other guitarists so if there is an accessory you think I’ve missed on this list, just let me know your thoughts.

Maybe you think the EBow should be on this list, or an onboard MIDI controller? Perhaps spare acoustic bridge pins are in your list or an acoustic guitar soundhole feedback buster? Whatever you’re in to, I’m keen to discuss.

This list is certainly the staple guitar accessories I recommend having on hand where every you and your guitars go.

Comment below

Read also: #1 in-ear monitors guide for musicians

This post was last updated on 2020-09-29 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.

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