In this article, I will give you my personal list of 10 essential tools every guitarist needs to be professional or simply enjoying the guitar playing journey!
As guitar players, we need few essential tools not only to make our life easier, but also to improve our live and studio performances.
Having everything in order will definitely help us with concentrating only on making great Music, will earn the trust of our bandmates and audience, and will give us the necessary peace of mind to play guitar and having fun.
Whether it is about guitar strings, a cable, a guitar stand, we need these tools as we need fresh air, water and food to survive and be happy.
So, today I made a full list of 10 essential tools that every guitarist needs in the arsenal.
1. Guitar Tuners
A tuner is an essential object in your guitar toolkit, not only because well... you need to stay in tune if you don't want to make your audience run away, but also because you need to "feel" every note properly. You need to have the absolute certainty that your instrument is under your total control, and you can express yourself freely with no restrictions.
For sure, guitar tuning is something that can be somewhat hard to keep up, as it is influenced by the quality of your instrument, by the ambient conditions (hot, cold, humid etc), by how "old" your strings are and several other factors.
You definitely need for something that can help you to adjust your tuning ongoing while performing or studying: you fix it in real-time, and you are ready to go.
There are three types of tuners:
1) Tuning apps on your phone.
These can be very useful at home, for example, especially if you are playing an acoustic guitar.
Keep in mind that these apps mostly use the mic of your phone to establish the tuning, and that can be influenced by the ambient noise. Therefore, the result will be not that perfect in a crowded room, so you need to have silence around you.
2) Clip tuner
A clip tuner can be a valid and cheap alternative. You simply fix it in the headstock of your guitar, and you can directly control the tuning while playing. It is a very fast and practical solution, and it is cheap. It is perfect for acoustic players and more in general to beginners.
The only downsides are that sometimes the tuning can be not so precise, and some models will change the look of your instrument.
3) Pedal tuner
A pedal tuner is most of the time the best solution for a working musician. You can choose if you want to tune your strings silently and everything is at your feet, not on the instrument.
Also, the tuning is definitely more precise and the response to the touch is faster.
With tuners like the TC Electronic poly tune, you can tune all your six strings at one time... Super practical! This is the tuner I use, in the mini version!
2. Guitar Cables
A guitar cable is a must for any electric guitarist, but also acoustic guitar players that gig around need a good set of good quality cables in their arsenal.
Having good cables can make the difference in your sound as much as in the quality of your performance while playing live or rehearsing with your band. The quality of the cable has a huge impact on your sound dynamics and transparency of the signal in general. Also, your touch can be affected by the response of the signal.
Cables often get lost during live or studio gigs, so it is wise to have spares. Not to mention that if you own a pedalboard you need very good set of patch leads cable connectors to make your pedals sound transparent by avoiding undesired noises.
Keep also in mind that the longer the cable, the more you will tend to lose signal.
Angled cables can also be a good option to avoid cable ruptures while playing live, as you will avoid breaking them by walking on them with your feet.
I personally recommend Dimarzio cables, but also Tourtech and Fender cables can be a good option.
3. Guitar Strings
Guitar strings are indeed one of the most important part of our sound. Good strings can have a positive influence on your overall playing and sound. Plus they tend to break quite often if you don't change them for longtime, so you of course will need spares.
I tend to change my guitar strings on monthly base on the guitars that I play every day, but I can go up to two or three months on the guitars that I use less.
The more strings are exposed to air and humidity, the more they tend to become rusty and old, so stick with the one-month range lifespan.
The industry standard for electric guitars is 0.10 on the high E string, while 0.11 or 0.12 is more indicated for acoustic guitars. On semi acoustic guitars, jazz players can go up to 0.13 on the high E string (I am one of them) to have a deeper and huge sound.
Thinner strings like 009 definitely have a better response to bass frequencies in my opinion, they sound more equilibrated and less stress to play, which translated in less efforts for your hands in the long run.
I prefer 009 strings on my RG six and seven strings guitars, while I use 010 on Ibanez AZs and 011 or 012 on semi-acoustics and acoustic guitars.
I personally endorse IQS strings, a very, very good Italian brand, but also Daddario, Ernieball, and Fender strings can be a decent alternative.
If you want to go to more "boutique" type of strings, definitely you should try Tomastick. Incredible sound and playability.
4. Guitar Straps
If we play guitar standing up during a live or a studio session, we will definitely need a guitar strap. This essential accessory can save us during a live gig.
A good guitar strap not only has to be relatable and usable in the long-term, but has to be wide enough to distribute the weight of our instrument correctly on our shoulders.
A good guitar strap should be made with good, high-quality materials.
The classic ones are in black, but feel free to choose the one that fits your personality, purposes and type of guitar.
Here's my personal advises for guitar straps:
5. Guitar Hard Case
If you bring your guitar out of your house in tour, or you need to store your guitars in a room for longtime, hard cases can be a good opportunity to protect your instruments from accidental bashing, weather conditions, humidity and falls.
If you are a touring musician, hard cases are definitely more advised, but gig bags can be a good alternative too. Hard gig bags can also be locked, so this feature adds another layer of protection to your life on the road.
Here's a list of hard cases that I feel like suggesting you:
6. Guitar Gig Bags
Gig bags can be a good alternative to hard cases. While they don't offer the same level of protection for your instrument, they are definitely more portable and light-weighted compared to the hard cases.
Gig bags also let you host in their pockets other tools like cables, strings, pedals, straps and tuners.
If you travel by air, Gig Bags are definitely more "tolerated" by flight companies, and you won't risk having your instrument throw-off in the aircraft hold, with major risks of having it broke when you land (not considering the additional costs).
Here's my personal suggestions in therm of Gig Bags:
7. Guitar Capo
A guitar capo can be a very practical tool. It simply allows you to change the key of a tune in an instant. In some music styles like flat-picking acoustic guitar, it is a very important part of the game as it will allow you to play songs with open strings and first position chords anywhere on the neck. If you are a singer-songwriter, it will definitely make your life easier, as you can be more concentrated on your vocals, with a more relaxed approach to your performance in general.
A capo is definitely a tool you should every time keep in your arsenal!
Here's my personal choice of capo's, bear in mind that the tuning of your guitar has to be on point while having it on, so be sure to do not press too hard on the fret with it as it will heavily affect your intonation.
8. Guitar Picks
There's not so much more to say: guitar picks are an essential part of our sound.
Guitar picks have to be comfortable, and they will influence our performance more than anything else.
It seems to be strange to say, as picks are a relatively inexpensive and seem to be a little "toy" on your hands that have zero to none impact on our playing.
Let me only tell you that picks can change and affect your playing COMPLETELY. Take care of them as much as you take care of your guitars, your amps and your pedals.
I personally use very heavy picks like the Dunlop big stubby 3mm, but feel free to experiment with different picks to choose the best one for you.
I prefer thicker picks as they give me more control on every note and sound better, but lighter picks can be a better choice for strumming parts, for example. So the choice has to be tailored on different situations according to what the guitar parts required to be played properly.
9. Guitar Stands
Well, you don't want your guitar being left without a protection or worst, falling down while it is sitting at your side right?
So the answer is definitely a guitar stand! This simple tool will allow you to make your guitar staying on display. You can grab it in an instant and it also looks cool!
A guitar slide is not always a MUST accessory, but it can be useful in many situations to play guitar parts that need that specific sound. Compared to the E-bow that generates that particular sound electronically, the slide will allow you to play with that "bluesy" intentions, and it will add a touch of originality in your guitar parts. It is used a lot in Country music, but many guitar players used it also in Rock, Pop and even Metal. Sonny Landret is a Master of its use. It can be made with steel or glass depending on the sound you want to obtain.
It is all for today folks, don't forget to add a comment if you appreciated this article, and add me on social media to stay in touch with me!
Have a nice guitar journey!
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