You might be a newb who just bought their first guitar, or you may be an intermediate or long-time player looking to branch away from the norm to experiment with new gear to change up your playing style.
Whoever you are, are you up with the accessories that could improve your sound? Are you aware of all the available guitar gear that could change the way you play?
If not, don’t fret. We have a comprehensive list of different types of electric guitar accessories that can blow your world wide open. They’re categorized into must-have guitar accessories, some we strongly recommend you have, and other guitar accessories that can be added to your wish-list.
It’s time to get accessorized!
4 Must-Have Electric Guitar Accessories
This gear is mandatory to get playing right away. If you’re missing something, it’s likely you won’t get hooked up to hear that sweet, magical sound of your own music. Think of this as an investment into your newfound hobby or path to rock star immortality.
It’s obvious that cables are a must-have guitar accessory. If you can’t jack your guitar up to an amp, you won’t be heard. If you bought a beginner’s electric guitar pack that included a cable, you might find that it doesn’t fit right and/or it may produce a lot of feedback. It’s time to switch it out.
While it may be tempting to replace a crappy cable with another $10 crappy cable, it may be worth it to spend more if you’re going to be recording or playing gigs. Length, materials, conductor design, and of course, quality will all play their part in the final cost.
But, must you pay out 100 bucks for a cable? Unless you’re playing professionally, no. Here are some suggestions of cables you may want to consider depending on your needs.
- Best Budget Guitar Cables: GLS Audio Pro Cord 20’, Hosa GTR-215
- Best Mid-Range Guitar Cables: SRADIO 20’ Cable, Mogami Gold Straight, Mogami Gold Angled
- Best Premium Guitar Cables: Mogami Gold Silent, Mogami Platinum Silent
Practice amps have their place in the market, and it’s what you must expect when you buy an electric guitar starter package. However, the amps are often low quality, produce unwanted feedback, and in general, they suck. Even if you have the best guitar with the best guitar accessories, a cheap amp won’t help you reach your sound potential.
Spend more on a quality amp as it’s what you expect to produce great sound and your ability to tweak your tone. There are solid state amps that are cheaper than tube amps, and then you also have combo amps and stacks, and even cabinet and digital modeling amps. Where to start? Well, it really depends on your needs if you’re practicing at home, playing live gigs, or you’re recording professionally.
- Best for Practice: Vox Pathfinder Combo, Orange Amps Crush 12, Fender Champion 20 W
- Best for Performing: Marshall MG, VOX AC4C1 Classic, Monoprice Tube Amp
- Best for Recording: Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb, VOX AC15C2, Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee
Even if you have everything you need to get plugged in, you’ll need to be able to tune your guitar. It’ll need to be done before you start playing, before you gig, and after you’ve changed some strings or dive bombed like Van Halen. It takes skill to get in tune by ear and pitch pipes are old school. What to do? Get up to date with a modern tuner.
There are standalone tuners that are very precise and have a built-in microphone that can help you tune your guitar. But, they are susceptible to background noise if you’re playing with others or trying to tune up with band members doing the same thing. Then, there are clip-on tuners that pick up the vibrations of the strings that help you get in tune, and they usually have multiple features built in. Plus, they’re cheap.
- Best Clip-on Tuners: Snark SN1X
- Best Standalone Tuners: Korg GA1
- Best Pedal Tuners: Boss TU-3
- Best Polyphonic Tuners: TC Electronic Polytune 2, TC Electronic Polytune 3
Power & Batteries
Do you have active pickups? Do your pedals need batteries? Are you opting to plug-in your pedal train versus running them on batteries?
9-volt batteries are usually the battery of choice for most electronic needs and a DC output power supply may be needed to run your daisy chain. Something like the Donner DP-1 or the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus may be worth investing in.
3 Essential Electric Guitar Accessories
This is the sine qua non category that every guitarist must consider buying. You can do without them to get plugged-in today, but they’re essentials that you must consider crossing off your list as soon as possible.
If you’re sitting down all the time, you could probably get away without needing a strap. But, with an electric guitar on your lap, you can’t deny that there will be times you’ll want to get up and swing that ax in the heat of the moment.
But, a strap is only as good as the strap buttons. If the buttons aren’t secure, you can bet your guitar will go rollin’ to the floor in style. Upgrade your strap buttons or relocate them if needed. Quality material, adjustable length, and comfort are features to look for in a strap.
- Best Cheap Guitar Shoulder Straps: Ernie Ball PolyPro, ProTec Nylon Strap
- Best Midrange Guitar Shoulder Straps: Legato 3” Leather Strap, Perris Leathers Sheep Skin Strap
- Best Premium Guitar Shoulder Straps: Anthology Gear The Reticient Leather Strap
Spare Electric Guitar Strings
This is a no-brainer. You don’t want to be caught empty-handed for when a string breaks, and it’s my opinion that every serious guitar player must know how to restring their guitar. This should be a skill learned from the very beginning. It’s easy to take it in and have it serviced or even have a friend replace it for you, but you don’t belong on-stage gigging if you can’t restring your own guitar. A little harsh? Nah.
You don’t want to be a penny pincher when replacing them as there’s a difference in tone between cheap and high-quality strings. Factors that go into string quality include gauge, string core, winding method, metals, and coatings.
The most common reference we look to when buying electric guitar strings is the gauge – the diameter of the string. Every manufacturer has their own size requirements that fits universal string terms. On top of this, there may be hybrid gauges with a variation of light and medium strings. However, generally, it looks like this:
- Extra Light: .009/.011/.016/.024/.032/.042
- Light: .010/.013/.017/.026/.036/.046
- Medium: .011/.015/.018/.026/.036/.050
Lighter gauge strings are good for beginners, solos, blues guitars, and fingerpicking. Heavier gauges are best suited for heavy-handed strummers, drop-tuning, and jazz. Electric guitars typically use Stainless Steel, Nickel-Plated Steel, or Pure Nickel strings.
- Best Extra Light Guitar Strings: D’Addario EXL120-3D Nickel Super Light 3pk, Ernie Ball Super Slinky 3pk
- Best Light Guitar Strings: Elixir Light w/Nanoweb, GHS David Gilmore Signature Series
- Best Medium Guitar Strings: GHS Guitar Boomers, Elixir Medium w/Nanoweb
- Best Heavy Guitar Strings: D’Addario Extra Heavy, D’Addario Extra Heavy w/Carbon Steel Alloy
It’s highly likely a gig bag was provided when you bought your first guitar. If you bought a high-end guitar, it may be a brand thing as to whether a hardshell case is included. Either way, a hardshell case is the best way to go to protect your guitar while it’s not in use and for travel.
How do you choose an electric guitar case? It really depends on your budget. If you’re the casual, at-home, practice in private kind of player, then a gig bag will do the job. You don’t need to spend more than $80 tops. If you hit the road a lot, you may want to check out travel electric guitars that often come with their own specially-designed case. But, for the utmost protection for musicians that are performing live and/or traveling, a high-quality hardshell case is a must-have. A minimum of $100 is the starting price for you.
Another point to consider is size. Most guitar cases are made for a specific shape and size of the guitar. However, while many brands tend to have Strat and Tele or Les Paul style guitars, there will be many different guitar cases out there that should fit your model. If your guitar is something like a Flying V or a signature guitar with a unique shape, look for the case best suited for it. Other considerations? Water-resistance, lock, storage/pockets/sleeves, neck cradle, and shoulder/backpack straps.
- Best Electric Guitar Gig Bags: Gator Transit Series, ChromaCast Gig Bag, Gator ProGo Ultimate Double
- Best Electric Guitar Hardshell Cases: ChromaCast, Yamaha, Ibanez, Fender Deluxe Molder Strat/Tele, Gator Molded Strat/Tele w/TSA-Approved Lock
11 Optional Electric Guitar Accessories
Some of the items here are life savers for hardcore musicians and casual players alike. However, you don’t need these tools and guitar accessories to get playing today. Since they’re convenient, can improve your playing style, or further protect your guitar, they should at the very least be on your ‘maybe later’ list if it’s not already at the top of your wish-list.
Many players use picks, some don’t. How do you play? If you’re strumming it up, a thinner pick will make it easier. For solos and single-note picking, a thicker pick will hold up to strike that string. There are many different types of materials used to make picks, so feel free to buy a few and experiment with which you like best.
Because picks are too easy to misplace, you may want to consider a bundle pack. You can also get a pack with various sizes. Additionally, a pick holder may be a nifty gadget to throw in the cart as well.
- Best Electric Guitar Picks: Fender Premium Sampler, Dunlop Variety Assorted, D’Addario Pearl Celluloid Assorted
- Best Pick Holders: Donner Mini Sticky Holder, Dunlop 3pk
If you’re new to playing the guitar, you mightn’t know any barre chords yet, let alone what barre means. You may know some basic chords, but there are a bunch of songs you want to play that may seem too difficult. Enter here, the capo. The capo can be placed on any fret and allows you to use the same chords you know but played in a different key.
Quality matters since cheap capos won’t apply even pressure and it can cause a lot of buzzing. Spend around $10-$15 and you’ll be glad you did.
I shouldn’t have to say too much about this tool. It keeps you in time with the beat, and if you lack rhythm, this is a must-have for you. However, when you’re checking out tuners, you might want to see if it includes a built-in metronome feature. If not, check out my recommendations.
You may have some cutters in the garage that could do the job, but you don’t want a filthy, greasy pair next to your guitar! Just get a dedicated cutter to snip off the excess length when replacing strings. To make winding those strings faster and easier than doing it by hand, a string winder tool will get it done in a jiffy.
- Best Guitar String Winders/Cutters: D’Addario Pro-Winder All-in-1, Music Nomad Drill Bit Peg Winder, Ernie Ball PowerPeg, 3-in-1 Multi Guitar Tool
Pedals & Pedalboards
Not everyone is a fan of running a daisy chain, but you can’t knock it until you try it. There are many different types of pedals from effects like gain, distortion, and overdrive. Then, there are frequency effects like wah-wahs, equalizers, and pitch shifters. You can also use modulation effects pedals, reverb and delay pedals, and loopers, and the list doesn’t end here.
But, where are all these pedals to go? It doesn’t look good just sitting in a mess on the floor, and if you want to run it through DC power versus a battery, or even take your pedals with you on the road or onstage, you’ll need a pedalboard.
- Most Popular Electric Guitar Pedals: Boss Super Overdrive, Zoom Multi-Effect, Boss Distortion, Vox Modeling Multi-Effects, Dunlop Cry Baby Wah
- Best Electric Guitar Pedalboards: ENO Ex Stompbox, Gator Large Aluminum, Mr.Power
Don’t wake the kids or the roommates and disturb passengers on a flight or in the car. Get a headphone amp that has a built-in amplifier. It allows you to plug right into the device with headphones and practice silently – well, to everyone else as you’ll still hear what’s going on. It’s a must-have for musicians on the go where even the weight of a mini amp is still too much. Keep the tunes to yourself with a headphone amplifier and plug into stacks when you want to be heard.
- Best Headphone Amp: Vox amPlug2 AC30
People are lax when it comes to protecting their electric guitar from drying out or even having it exposed to too much moisture in the air. While a solid body guitar may be completely finished and protected, Rosewood and Ebony fingerboards are vulnerable to damage. Solid wood top, semi-hollow & hollow body electric guitars may need protection against both extremes of humidity.
However, metal hardware like the pickups (and its circuitry) and bridge might not like the extra humidity. Rather than keeping a humidifier in the electric guitar case, consider keeping your guitars in a humidity-controlled room as the seasons change throughout the year. Evaluate the conditions where you live and consider if you may need to add a humidifier to your list. Because you can be the only judge to this, I’m not going to recommend any products.
For the casual player, these may be luxurious items purchased mainly for the aesthetic appeal of seeing your guitar on the wall or prominently displayed in the corner. For the gigging musician, it goes far beyond aesthetics. While on stage in between songs, you’ll need a guitar stand to keep your guitar from falling or being stepped on. Racks are great for players that have multiple guitars – they’re self-explanatory.
What’s a footrest for? I admit, it’s a luxurious item, but it really does help with proper posture and balancing when those practice sessions and gigs turn into hours. Adjustable is the best way to go as you can use it while sitting and even standing for extra support.
- Best Electric Guitar Wall Mount: String Swing Wall Mount
- Best Electric Guitar Stands: AmazonBasics Folding A-Frame, ChromaCast Folding A-Frame w/Lock
- Best Electric Guitar Rack: String Swing Walnut Rack, Hercules 5-pc Rack
- Best Electric Guitar Footrest: Neewer, Gleam
Guitar Cleaning Products
Honestly, there’s not a whole lot of fancy products that you must have to keep your guitar clean. Preventative measures like washing your hands, using a dry microfiber cloth to wipe down strings, and a slightly damp microfiber cloth to lightly wipe away grime will go a long way. Household items like vinegar, 0000 steel wool, and microfiber cloths are staples for cleaning a guitar.
But, there are a few things you may want to buy to make cleaning more convenient or if you want to oil or condition the fretboard. You should check out our tips and how-to’s on cleaning an electric guitar if you’re clueless on what’s safe to use and what isn’t.
- Best Electric Guitar Body Cleaner: Music Nomad All-In-One
- Best Electric Guitar Neck Cleaner: Naphtha (for cleaning the back of the neck)
- Best Electric Guitar Fretboard Cleaner: Music Nomad F-One Fretboard Oil Cleaner and Conditioner
- Best Electric Guitar String Cleaner: Music Nomad’s String Fuel Cleaner and Lubricant
Good Things Take Time
If you’re brand-new to the guitar world, you may be feeling overwhelmed with this comprehensive list. Take a breather and realize that you don’t need everything that’s listed here to set up an electric guitar. Start with the must-haves and get the essentials next. As you keep learning and playing, you’ll soon discover what you like, what you will need, and how your developing style will govern what additional guitar accessories will become must-haves.
For seasoned players, you’ll notice that my recommendations are nowhere near complete, but I hope there was an item or two that enlightened you. You might even have a favorite brand or product of your own. The important thing, with or without all the gear and accessories, is to keep on playing and making music magic.