There are some guitar accessories that you are definitely going to need quite soon, and some optional things that simply make your life a little easier. In this lesson I want to give you a little bit of advice regarding all these things. It is recommended that you sort these out at some point but you don’t need to get them all before you start—all you really need is a guitar and some picks.
There’s more about picks in lesson BC-107.
Essential Shopping List
There are some things that are pretty much essential that you want to get before you think about starting out on the course, whether you’re playing electric or acoustic.
You will need to buy a few picks. To start with you will need a few very thin picks (get as thin as you can find). These thin picks will help you learn to strum well. It is also worth getting a couple of Medium thickness too - these are better for playing notes individually (like when you play scales).
Justin Recommends: Very thin Dunlop Nylon, white or light grey (I use these when I'm strumming acoustic)
It is essential to get your guitar in tune! You should learn to tune up yourself, without needing a tuner, but when you are starting out, it is better to be in tune - and having your guitar sound nice - than trying to learn how to tune, messing it up, and having your guitar sound horrible. Have mercy on those that will listen to you learning and buy yourself a tuner right away!
As well as these physical options below, I have to admit that more and more I am using the Peterson iPhone app called iStrobosoft, I've always got it with me, the display is better than any other tuner I have seen and it's super cheap, so if you use an iPhone or iPod touch, I'd go with that!
Justin Recommends: Peterson Stroboclip
This is not a cheap tuner, but it is really good. If you don't fancy shelling out this much for a tuner, check out the options below! Peterson make great tuners generally and for the last 10 years have used their stuff.
Justin Recommends: Korg AW2G
Only about a third of the price of the Peterson, but very good clip on tuner. I used this clip on before Peterson bought one out and it worked fine. Not quite as well made but at this price it's awesome!
Justin Recommends: Korg GA-30 (I use Peterson Tuners, which are great but too expensive for beginners!)
Don't make the mistake of not having spare strings. Order some next time you buy some other stuff, and have at least two spare sets at home. There are vids on String Changing if you need to learn to change them.
What gauge strings I hear you ask? Most beginners play 009 gauge for electric and 010 gauge for acoustics. The thicker the strings the more they hurt your fingers, but they sound better. Although "treated" Extra Life strings are a little more expensive, they don't rust and are better for people who don't change their strings very often; they keep sounding better for longer and are less likely to break!
You can use whatever strings you like. I like DR strings, but have played many brands over the years and there is not a whole lot in it. Many of my students like Elixir strings which last a long time.
Justin Recommends: DR Extra-life Strings (I endorse DR, because I think they are awesome)
Getting a strap is a very good idea. It helps keep the guitar stable and trains you up for when you want to go unleash your skills on the world. Don't worry too much about what type to get - just one that you like. If you bought a heavy guitar (like a Gibson Les Paul) you might want to get a padded strap so you don't hurt your shoulder!
Justin Recommends: Any Strap!
If you plan to stand up and use a strap on your guitar, then please buy some strap locks. These can range from plastic discs that cost very little, to big metal catches that you fix to your strap, which cost more. I have seen too many beginners without strap locks and seen guitars drop to the floor. I have actually seen three guitars snap necks because thestrap fell off. The cheap ones work, so there is no excuse not to have these. You can also use the red rubber ring that is on the top of bottles of Grolsch Beer (the imported one with the 'pop top'). Put it on the strap pin after you put the strap on. It's not quite as good as a proper strap lock, but has the added bonus of beer!
Justin Recommends: Schaller Strap Locks (around £20/$35) or Jim Dunlop Lok Strap (about £3/$5)
This one is important. You will use your metronome a lot. Any metronome will do, but I recommend getting an electric one, not one of the old 'tick-tock' ones. The one linked below has some additional features that will be useful later. Most of my students have this metronome, and it is well-made and durable.
You can also find online metronomes if your budget is tight. I use one on my iPhone which cost hardly anything and has gazillions of functions and is super-easy to use (Tempo by Frozen Ape).
Justin Recommends: Korg MA-30
I still use one of these almost every day and I've had the same one for many years! These are reliable, well made and easy to use and have a great feature set. Not the cheapest but often with stuff like this you buy cheap, you buy twice!!
A music stand can save your back. If you have any posture problems, get a stand now! Many people sit on the bed or the sofa with sheet music next to them and twist around to see it, craning their neck to look at their fingers. This puts you on a sure-fire track to expensive chiropractic bill. Get a stand - they are not expensive and will make your practice time more comfortable.
Justin Recommends: Some kinda wire music stand!
A capo is a really cool device that you place on the guitar neck, and it changes the pitch of the open strings. They are used to change the key of a song, and will enable you to play along with songs that are otherwise very hard. If you sing, they are also useful to change the key of a song quickly to help you find the right key for your singing voice. A very useful (though not 100% necessary) accessory.
Justin Recommends: Kyser (doubt you'll ever wear one out!).
Display Folder (or ring binder)
It really helps you learn fast if you keep your notes organised. I recommend buying a clear display folder or a ring binder to keep all your notes in and keep them organised. It really will help; it somehow keeps your head tidy if your notes are tidy. They are not expensive, so give it a go.
Justin Recommends: Snowpake Display Folder
Recorder or jam buddy or looper
One of the best things you can do when you are learning is have a jam buddy that learns with you, a friend about the same level that you can practice and learn with. It is also a massive advantage when it comes to learning to improvise because one person can play chords while the other learns to take a solo, and then swap. If you don't have this option I recommend getting a small recorder, so you can record yourself playing and then jam along with that. It is also a very good thing to hear yourself back, so a recorder is a great thing to have even if you have a jam buddy.
Another alternative is to buy a looper pedal, but for a beginner this would be a little over the top, and another thing to get your head around. I've been using the Boomerang III for a while now and love it, but they ain't cheap!
Justin Recommends: Find a friend :)
There is some more info on specific products from this range that I recommend at RE-020 • Recommended Products For Beginners.
If you need to ask a question about this lesson - there is a topic set up specifically to help you with this lesson. To help you find it easily you can click the following link and it will take you right the topic. You'll be able to see questions that other people had and ask your own questions! Hopefully one of the very helpful members of our community will be there to help you soon, I do go there and answer stuff too - but there are just too many questions for me to answer alone!
Justinguitar Beginner's Products
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