9 Best Guitar Accessories to Make You A Better Player
There are all kinds of techniques and tricks now that will help you become a better guitar player. One thing that has helped me immensely as a player has been listening to interviews of my guitar idols and finding out how they learned to play. Stevie Ray Vaughan was said to have relentlessly studied Clapton, learning every lick and phrase of every song he could find. Before Hendrix ever even had a guitar to play on he practiced rhythms on a broom at home.
These are things that we all can do. But, there are also some tools that will help make your journey to guitar legend a little bit easier.
Let’s start with something simple and cheap – the tuner. First of all, playing with your guitar in perfect tune is really essential to learning the relationship between the six strings. After a while, you begin to know the pitch of every fret of every string, so making sure these are consistently in key will speed up the process.
A tuner will also make it easier for you try out alternate tunings. Within a few seconds you can go from standard tuning to flat tuning to open G, open D, DADGAD and so many more. Experimenting with other others tunings will open up a whole new world of creativity on the guitar.
TC Electronic Polytune 2 Mini Polyphonic Pedal Tuner – This is a great tuner if you prefer to add one to your pedal board – Lowest price online: Amazon.com – $95
Like a tuner, a metronome is a simple little tool for making sure you keep yourself in time. Phrasing and syncopation is so important when playing with a band and making sure your skills can played at the proper speed. Practicing with a metronome will not only increase your skills independently, but also will make the transition to a full band easier.
3. Loop Pedal and Drum Machine
The loop pedal is one of the coolest accessories whether you’re practicing at home, jamming by yourself, or performing live and needing some overlays.
A loop station allows you to record an instrumental snippet from your guitar and then plays it on repeat or in a certain format of your choice through your amp or direct input. It basically allows you to setup a rhythm section or riffs and then allows you to play over top of it. It’s a great way to learn how to play with a variety of creative licks and songs. The sky is the limit.
BOSS RC-30 Phrase Looper Pedal – This is the ultimate loop/drum machine. Boss is well renowned for these pedals and this thing gives you so many options and versatility – albeit with a handsome price tag.
Lowest price online: Amazon.com – $299
BOSS RC-3 Loop Station Stereo Recorder Pedal Bundle – Middle of road in the Boss line. Provides 3 hours of stereo recording capacity and 99 memory presets. Plus a few extra goodies!
Lowest price online: Amazon.com – $189
Boss RC-1 Loop Station Guitar Effect Pedal – Baby version of the Boss RC-30 and also a third of the cost – but many less features.
Lowest price online: Amazon.com – $99
If you practice within earshot of other people, you need a tool that will let you remain fairly quiet but still deliver some of the tone you want. If you have a solid state practice amp, you can probably dial the volume back enough to not bother other people while you play smoke on the water for 6,902,938 time.
Still, when I was in college and lived with another person in a 165 square foot room, even the amp at low volume was annoying to him (and most other people in my dorm). Headphones were a lifesaver. Get a decent pair of headphones and plug them into your headphone jack and you can be the most annoying guitar player in the world and no one will care one bit.
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones – Great headphones for both practicing guitar and listening to music or recording projects. Lot’s of options in the headphone department. Lowest price online: Amazon.com – $49
An attenuator is neat little device that dampens your amp signal output without sacrificing tone quality. That means if you have a 100-watt tube amp, you can run it through one of these and play in your hotel room all night without security being called. The best part is that at low volume, you can still drive the tubes to achieve peak tone.
WARNING – These don’t come cheap!
Rivera Mini RockRec Loadbox w/Built in Cab Simulator – Powerful attenuator with all the basic necessities.
Lowest price online: Amazon.com – $399
Capos are a quick little tool that can help you get creative or propel you out of a rut. These make it incredibly easy to change the key of your guitar just by slapping it across the neck – no transposing needed. Now, you can play and sing in a key that is more comfortable for you.
G7th Performance 3 Steel String Capo – No, not all capos are born equal! If you’re going to buy a capo, buy a quality one that will last forever. It will make a serious difference in your tone and sound quality.
Lowest price online: Amazon.com – $55
7. Instructional Books
Instructional books may seem antiquated, but they can be some of the best learning tools for guitarists of all levels. A book can pack years of experience and knowledge into just a few pages. Every author has a different perspective and each book is a look into that author’s experience and persona. Each book is designed to help a specific kind of guitar player and help define specific types of skills. Understand what you want to learn and be selective about the books you choose.
It all depends what you want to play. Browse through some instructional books and try a few out.
8. Fretboard Note Stickers
These are exactly what they sound like – little strips that stick to your fretboard that “label” each note on the fretboard. If you want to become a really great guitarist or musician in general, understanding the notes of the fretboard are absolutely vital. Notes don’t exist in a vacuum, they all relate to each other and that relationship is what makes music. So how can you understand how to build notes together if you don’t know what note you’re playing? After you feel good about knowing every fret, you can strip these little stickers right off and commit it to memory.
9. YouTube Speed Setting
This is one of the coolest features that exists – not just on YouTube, but anywhere. The speed setting allows you to slow down a video to 75%, 50%, or 25% of the original speed – but it doesn’t modify the pitch as most modifications would. So if you see a guitarist playing a riff you like, you can slow the video down and hear each individual note much more easily.
It also has the option to speed up videos – 1.25%, 1.50%, 1.75% and double speed. Again, the pitch is not modified so vocals don’t sound like someone sucking helium from a balloon and guitar riffs take on their normal pitches. Slowing down a video obviously makes it easier to follow along, but listening at high speed can also give you a different perspective to help you learn.
This might sound like a cop out, but your fingers are one of the best tools you can learn to unlock for playing guitar. Not only do they give you a completely different tone than picks do, but they also give you the ability to play very different and complex styles. Lot’s of great guitarists use only their fingers and some styles can only be played using fingers. Guitarists like Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, John Mayer, Derek Trucks, Jeff Beck and many others constantly play with their fingers. Practice all the techniques you can find – thumb picking, index, PIM, even flamenco style if you’re brave enough. If you’ve learned to play with a pick, with a little bit of discipline you can get pretty skilled at finger picking.
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