With World Guitar Day 2019 upon us, perhaps you’ve been inspired to start learning the guitar, or return to the instrument after a long break? If so, there are a few guitar gear essentials to consider that will help make your playing journey an even more enjoyable experience.
Naturally the main piece of kit you'll need is a guitar. Choosing the right one for your playing style, ability and budget can be a headache unless you know what you’re looking for. It’s also important to find gear that feels comfortable to play and delivers a sound that keeps you coming back for more.
Rather than waste valuable playing time trawling the web for the right gear, we’ve compiled a list of the best gear for new guitarists, whether you’re in the market for an acoustic guitar for beginners or an electric guitar and amp suitable for younger players.
You’ll need some accessories, too. And our list covers everything you'll need to protect your gear, keep it in tune and sounding great. The best news is that it won’t cost much to kickstart you guitar playing. Your guitar playing adventures start here...
Many beginner guitarists opt to start with an acoustic guitar, and it’s certainly the cheapest option - there’s no need to buy a separate guitar amp, and you can get started right away. When choosing your first acoustic guitar it’s worth asking yourself three questions: how does it sound, how does it look and how much does it cost?
Electric guitars tend to have smaller necks than acoustic guitars, which is good for beginners, and they make the best guitars for kids and small hands, too - particularly ‘short-scale’ models, where the frets are closer together, making it easier to play chords. They’re also more versatile, particularly if you want to play rock or metal music
If you’ve decided to go down the beginner electric guitar route, there are a number of factors to consider: mostly it’s about finding the best guitar for your budget, and tracking one down that’s easy to play and progress on. The quality of instruments, even at the real budget end, has never been better. For the money, you can’t go far wrong with the Squier Affinity Stratocaster or Epiphone Slash ‘AFD’ Les Paul Special-II, both offer classic shapes and decent enough tones to get you rocking.
From tiny desktop amps to do-it-all modelling machines and tasteful vintage-aping tube combos, there has never been a better choice of cheap guitar amps available. A low price point is nothing without a strong tonal performance, but there are some great options for beginner guitarists in terms of sound, features and overall functionality.
If your playing will mostly be taking place in your bedroom to begin with, the micro Blackstar Fly 3 is a great little amp. It even features a built-in delay effect! If you have your sights set on gigging, the Boss Katana-100 is a top choice that will take you from the bedroom to the stage no problem.
Nothing sounds better and is more energising than a fresh set of guitar strings. What’s more, as components go, guitar strings are dirt cheap and can be fitted by any guitarist in minutes. At the very start of your playing journey you’ll want strings that sound great and will last a while before they need changing. For that, we’d recommend Ernie Ball’s venerable Super Slinky for electric guitarists, or the D'Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze for acoustic players.
- Need more choice? These are the best electric guitar strings right now
- ...And the best acoustic guitar strings
There’s no point having a great beginner electric guitar and amp if you don’t have a cable to connect the two, let alone a poor quality cable that will last all of five minutes. More often than not, a cheap guitar cable is a false economy. Within no time you’ll be looking to replace it, or driven to distraction by unwanted noise. As a beginner guitarist, if you want durability and performance from a reliable brand at a reasonable price, the D’Addario Planet Waves American Stage Cable is a favourite of beginner and developing guitarists alike.
Capos act as a moveable nut that you can move up to any fret on the guitar – the higher you go on the guitar neck, the higher the pitch. The capo is one of the most affordable pieces of gear you can buy to dramatically change your guitar sound and they have huge potential for songwriters and guitarists who play covers. They cost peanuts, too. Give this one a whirl...
Guitar case/gig bag
It goes without saying (but we’re going to say it anyway) that once you’ve invested in a new guitar you’re going to want to protect your pride and joy. It’s easy to spend a lot of money on a plush new gig bag or premium fur-lined hard case, but to begin with, all you need is a budget gig bag with a pocket for your cable, spare strings and picks, plus sturdy handles to carry it around. For that purpose, we like the Gator Economy Gigbag, which is available for both electric and acoustic guitar.
The humble guitar tuner remains one of the most essential tools for electric, acoustic and bass guitar players - not only does it help you tune up your own instrument, it ensures you're in tune with the rest of the band, too. The tiny Korg Pitchclip2 clips onto your guitar’s headstock and enables you to tune up quickly and easily via the clear LED display. If you want to be taken seriously as a guitarist, don’t leave home without your tuner.
Guitar picks (or plectrums) remain one of the most important but often-overlooked accessories in a guitarist’s arsenal. They can make a surprising difference to your playing style and the tone you produce. When choosing picks, consider the pick shape, thickness and the material. All will have an impact on playing comfort and tone; for example, larger, thicker picks are better suited to rhythm players, while nylon and celluloid picks produce a warmer tone. For sheer range, Dunlop’s Tortex picks are a great place to start.
Whether you play stood up or sat down, a good quality guitar strap is the difference between your prize axe staying snugly in place or hitting the deck. It’s definitely an essential bit of kit. Your guitar will be in safe hands with the Ernie Ball Polypro. It comes in a range of colours, and features a 2-inch wide Polypropylene webbing, which is machine stitched to black leather ends for extra support of your treasured axe.
Of course, buying all this guitar gear is pointless unless you’re prepared to put in the time to practice and improve. There’s a lot of guitar tuition available online, however not all is created equal. We like Fender Play because it’s a well structured, app/PC/Mac-based tool aimed at guiding guitarists through the most important techniques with step-by-step learning and progress tracking, plus a raft of popular guitar songs to learn.