Accessories are the little "extras" that every guitar player needs to buy at some point.
Guitar accessories can range from essential to your ability to play the guitar, to making it easier to take care of your instrument, to giving you different ways to make sound with your guitar.
Below is a list of accessories that I recommend to my students when they ask about strings, picks, or other accessories. Take a look, and use this guide as a starting point for your own guitar accessories.
7 Different Accessories
I've broken guitar accessories down into 7 different types for you to look at. I'm not going to be talking about guitars, amps, or effect pedals in this guide.
We’re going to cover 7 different accessories that guitar players generally need to have:
We'll talk about different options for each accessory, and include links to some options for buying online.
I really like the D'Addario/Planet Waves brands, so that's primarily what I'm recommending in this guide. I find the quality to be very consistent, and the packaging is environmentally friendly.
Besides your guitar, guitar strings are the single most important thing for you to buy.
At some point, you are going to need new guitar strings. Strings wear out over time, and eventually they need to be replaced.
Sometimes strings break, and sometimes they just stop sounding good. In either case, you're going to need some new guitar strings.
Online or at a music store, you're going to find a wide variety of guitar strings available. There are different strings for acoustic and electric guitars, classical guitars, and specialty strings for getting a jazz guitar sound.
Strings also come in different gauges - some strings are heavier and harder to press down, and some strings are lighter and easier to press down.
In general lighter strings are going to give you a brighter sound and be easier to press down, while heavier strings are going to give you a warmer sound and be more difficult to press down.
Check out the examples below.
Acoustic Guitar Strings
Acoustic guitar strings are made from bronze, and designed specifically for acoustic instruments. Acoustic guitars in general have heavier strings, and higher string-tension.
D'Addario Acoustic Guitar Strings - Extra Light .09-,45mm
D'Addario Acoustic Guitar Strings - Light .12-.53mm
D'Addario Acoustic Guitar Strings - Medium .13-.56mm
Electric Guitar Strings
Electric guitar strings are made from nickel, and designed to work well with the magnetic pickups of electric guitars. Electric guitars in general have lighter strings, and lower string-tension than acoustic guitars.
D'Addario Electric Guitar Strings - Regular Light .10-.46mm
D'Addario Electric Guitar Strings - Medium .11-.49mm (My go-to strings)
D'Addario Electric Guitar Strings - Medium/Heavy .11-.52mm
Jazz Guitar Strings
Most guitar strings are "round wound" strings. That means that a round wire is wrapped around the core of the wound strings.
Traditional jazz guitar strings are "flat wound" strings. This means a flattened ribbon of metal is wrapped around the core of the wound strings.
Flatwound strings give a more mellow sound, and eliminate noise from sliding the fingers along the strings.
Many jazz guitarists today use normal electric guitar strings, but these flat wound strings are a good thing to try out if you're interested in playing jazz.
D'Addario Chromes, Jazz Light .11-.50mm (My go-to jazz guitar string)
D'Addario Chromes, Medium .13-.56mm
Classical Guitar Strings
Classical guitar strings are made of nylon, and are the only kind of strings that should be put on a classical style guitar.
Regular acoustic guitars have bridge pins that hold the strings in place on the body of the guitar. Classical guitars don't have bridge pins, but rely on the guitar player tying the string to the bridge of the guitar to hold them in place.
D'Addario Classical Guitar Strings - Normal Tension (My go-to classical string)
D'Addario Classical Guitar Strings - Hard Tension
Ukulele strings are made of nylon, much like classical guitar strings. The most standard Ukulele size is soprano, while people with bigger fingers sometimes prefer baritone ukuleles.
D'addario Soprano Ukulele Strings
D'Addario Baritone Ukulele Strings
Unless you are learning classical or fingerstyle guitar, you're going to want to have some picks. New to strings, a pick is one of the most commonly used accessories.
Guitar picks are easy to lose, so it's a good idea to buy several of them and replace your picks over time.
Picks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, so there is a lot you can experiment with. My main recommendation is that you use a thicker (or heavier) pick. I tell my students to use picks that are between 1.0mm and 1.5mm thick.
A thicker pick will help you develop more control, and get a better sound out of your guitar.
Check out the examples below to get started.
Standard Pick Shape
The standard guitar pick shape is a favorite with guitarists across different styles of music. These picks are versatile and easy to find. You can also find them with artwork on them or as souvenirs from concerts, bands, etc.
D'Addario Pearloid Guitar Picks - Heavy
D'Addario Pearloid Guitar Picks - Extra Heavy
Planet Waves Beatles Signature Guitar Picks - Tin of 15
Planet Waves Joe Satriani Guitar Picks - 10 Pack
"Jazz" Pick Shape
Smaller, pointed picks have been known as jazz picks. You don't need one of these to play jazz, and you don't have to play jazz if you use this king of pick.
These types of picks have been favorites of high level players in all styles of music. It's worth giving them a try - the picks below are ones that I use myself frequently.
D'Addario Nylpro Guitar Picks - 1.4mm (Blue)
D'Addario Nylpro Guitar Picks - 1.4mm (Green)
D'Addario Acrylux Nitra - 1.5mm
D'Addario Acrylux Reso - 1.5mm
Picks for ukulele are made out of felt. They will give you a warmer sound than if you used a guitar pick on your ukulele.
D'Addario Ukulele Picks
Straps and Footstools
Good playing posture is an important part of improving your guitar playing. Having the right posture will help make it easier to play, and avoid wrist injuries from incorrect technique.
The key is to elevate the guitar so it is not sitting down on your lap. Some players like to do this with a guitar strap, and some (like classical guitarists) will put a foot on a stool to raise the guitar while it's still resting on your leg.
Either approach is good - but unless you're studying classical guitar, I'd recommend getting a good guitar strap. A strap will give you the option of playing standing up if you prefer.
Use the examples below to get started.
Guitar straps come in a variety of materials, colors, and patterns. The important thing is that it holds up your guitar so you don't have to.
Planet Waves Cotton Guitar Strap (This one is the one I use the most)
Planet Waves Woven Guitar Strap
Planet WavesClassic Leather Strap
Sometimes an acoustic guitar will only have one strap button. In that case, you need something to be able to attach the strap to the headstock of the guitar in order to use it.
Planet Waves Acoustic Guitar Quick-Release System
Guitar Foot Stool
Footstools are a standard piece of equipment for classical guitarists. If you're learning to play classical guitar, these are an important everyday accessory.
On Stage Foot Rest
Some classical guitarists prefer not to have their foot on a stool. In this case, try one of the guitar supports below. They lift the guitar to a classical position without using a footstool.
Tenor TPGS: Professional Ergonomic Guitar Rest
Creat.J Acoustic Guitar Suport
Any of these would be a good option if you want to keep a good guitar playing posture without using a guitar strap.
Keeping your guitar or ukulele in tune is very important. If you're going to sound your best, you are going to need a tuner.
I prefer tuners that clip onto the headstock of a guitar or ukulele, but there are other types of tuners available as well.
Clip On Tuners
Clip on tuners are my favorite type of tuner. Since they read vibrations in the wood, you can still tune your instrument in a loud room if you need to.
Planet Waves Eclipse Headstock Tuner
D'addario NS Micro Clip On Tuner
A pedal tuner is a good option if you are playing an electric guitar. You can plug straight in to the pedal, and it is easy to fit onto your pedalboard.
D'Addario Chromatic Pedal Tuner
It's important to be able to take care of your guitar. Wiping it down after playing, changing strings, and an occasional deeper clean of your instrument are all things you can do yourself to keep your guitar in good shape.
These are the "must have" guitar care accessories. You can build up your own kit of these things as time goes on.
Planet Waves Microfiber Cloth
Planet Waves Pro Winder String Winder
Planet Waves Express Guitar Polish Packs
While the care kits cost a little more up front, they give you a little bit of everything you could ever need for your guitar care.
It's also nice to have one place for all of your guitar care accessories to be.
Planet Waves Instrument Care Kit
If you play an electric guitar, you need a good quality cable to connect your guitar to an amplifier.
In general, you want the shortest cable you can get for what you need to get the best signal from the guitar to the amplifier.
Classic Series Cables
Custom Series Cables
Slides And Capos
Guitar slides and capos aren't necessarily essentials for every guitar player to have, but the can be a lot of fun to play with. You might even find out that you really like playing with a slide or capo and integrate it into your own playing style.
Guitar slides were commonly used in blues music, and are usually made out of glass or brass today. There are many blues players todays that specialize in slide guitar playing.
Planet Waves Glass Slide
Planet Waves Glass Bottle Slide
Planet Waves Chrome-Plated Brass Slide
Guitar slides are inexpensive, and can be a lot of fun to play around with.
Capos let you change the key you are playing in while still using open chords you are familiar with. They are good for keeping the sound of open chords while playing in keys where open chords aren't usually possible.
Planet Waves NS Guitar Capo (My preferred capo)
Planet Waves NS Artist Capo
Planet Waves NS Artist Classical Guitar Capo (For nylon string classical guitars)
Things To Think About
Whether you’re looking at accessories that are essential to your guitar playing or just looking for something new to play around with, this post is a good place to start your search.
Essential accessories like picks, strings, straps or footstools, tuners, and guitar cables (if you play electric guitar) will always be something you need to buy.
It’s always a good idea to have some of the guitar care accessories on hand to keep your guitar clean and in good shape. The specialty accessories can be fun to play around with, and are essential to players in certain styles of music.
Keep experimenting with different accessories over time, and you'll find what works best for you and your guitar playing.