6. What Accessories Do I Need?
Make sure you don’t leave the store without a gig-bag, a tuner and some spare strings
There are literally thousands of accessories, gadgets and gizmos that you can get to go with guitar. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them are quite useless. When buying your first guitar, there are really only a few things that are absolute necessities: A case or gig-bag of some sort, a tuner, some picks, spare strings and MAYBE a humidifier. Let’s take a look at each one.
Case or Gig-Bag
You’re going to need to get that guitar home somehow! And are you going to be taking it anywhere with you, like maybe the cottage, a friend’s house or to your lessons? A case of some type is an absolute necessity, but you probably don’t need as much case as you think.
For the vast majority of people, a simple gig bag will suffice for carrying your guitar around. There are many different styles available at a wide variety of prices, but you don’t need to spend a bunch of money on a fancy case to protect your new guitar. At KAOS we sell two different types of gig bags: a basic one that retails for about $30 and a deluxe version that retails for $50. For most people the basic bag is sufficient, but if you want a little bit more protection for your baby and some extra pockets for things like books and accessories, it may be worth it to splurge for the deluxe bag.
A lot of times if a guitar is valuable enough to warrant being carried around in a hard case (say over $500) the manufacturer will include one with the guitar. Martin guitars provide a case with all of their American-made models, while all Taylor guitars come with either a gig bag, hard bag or hard case.
The only other accessory that is an absolute necessity for a beginner is a tuner. Some teachers may recommend that it’s best to learn to tune the guitar by ear, but how will you know how to tune the guitar if you don’t know what in tune sounds like? Get yourself a simple tuner and use it every time that you play your new guitar.
There are lots of great tuners out there, including apps for your smartphone, but the one that we recommend to beginners is the Snark clip-on chromatic tuner. The Snark clips onto the headstock of your guitar and picks up the vibration of the strings and then displays the pitch on a bright LED display. It’s super easy to use, comes in a variety of colours and sells for under $20!
Also, if you are buying an electric guitar, make sure to grab yourself a cable so you can plug the guitar into your amplifier. Something around 10 feet should do the trick.
Strings & Picks
A spare set of strings is not an absolute necessity, but it is always good to have a spare set handy, just in case you break one. And while you’re at it, make sure to get a string winder as well. That cheap little piece of plastic will save you all kinds of time and frustration when changing strings. Often you can get the salesperson to throw in a pack of strings and a winder with your guitar.
Beginners should also grab a few picks to get started with. Even if you are someone who wants to get into playing fingerstyle at some point, it’s not a bad idea to have some picks around so you can give strumming the guitar a try. Most beginners like to use more flexible picks (somewhere in the .50-.73mm range) but it is wise to grab a few picks of different thicknesses and sizes so you can experiment. We have found that many people who start out with thin picks end up switching to a stiffer pick at some point.
Once again, a humidifier for your guitar is not an absolute necessity, but you’re spending decent money on an acoustic guitar and it would be a shame to see it become damaged from being too dry. Depending on the climate you live in, you may or may not need one. Here in Toronto where we have cold, dry winters and hot, humid summers a humidifier is a must have in the winter, but not necessary in the summer.
The two types of humidifiers that we recommend are both designed to be left in the case. The Planet Waves Two-Way Humidification System is the most complete and long-lasting system (they claim it will last from 2-6 months depending on the environment) but at $27.99 for the system and $19.99 for a three-pack of refills it can get a little pricey. A more cost effective solution is the Oasis Humidifier, which retails for $19.99. The Oasis is another in-case solution, but instead of costly refill packs you just fill it with distilled water. It works great and only needs to be filled once every week or two.
Also make sure to ask the salesperson if their store offers any sort of incentives or extras. For example, at KAOS Music we offer two free setups a year for life with the purchase of a guitar. This includes a full cleaning, restring and any necessary adjustments and all you have to pay for is the strings.