Tools that every Guitarist should have
Tools that every guitarist should have
must have gear that won't break the bank
You can never have too much guitar gear, but sometimes your wallet (or financial controller) just won’t let you have that 12th guitar (“but baby, this one sounds way different to my others”). Luckily though, like any other industry, guitarists have available to them a veritable plethora of accessories that won’t send them broke. The trick is wading through the opportunistic items to the items that really matter.
So have a look at what we think are the top accessory items that no guitarist should ever go to the gig without.
Coated Guitar Strings
The reason the coated strings category has exploded in recent times is because they actually work. Whereas regular strings have a tendency to oxidise and lose the brightness to their tone relatively quickly, coated strings are covered with a polymer coating that inhibits oxidation (without significantly impacting tone) and stops your strings from sounding dull. Usually about twice the price of regular strings, but their lifespan is 3-5 times longer. If you’ve never tried coated strings, they are definitely worth a go!
If you are any sort of performing musician out on the road with a $20 guitar cable, then shame on you. Cheap cables are cheap for a reason - they are not robust (they will break easily) and can have a negative impact on your tone (sometimes a very negative impact). An investment in a quality cable is an investment in your sanity, knowing it’s not going to cut out at the gig the second someone trips over it. A worthwhile purchase or present for any guitarist who plugs in.
When it does come time to change your strings, there is no handier tool than a string winder and cutter. Unwinding or winding the tuning peg with a string winder is 5 or 6 times faster than using your fingers and the added bonus of an in-built string cutter means you don’t have to deal with your string ends flapping around and poking people in the eye. Bonus!
LOCKING STRAP/STRAP LOCKS
For such a fundamental invention, it is amazing that ALL guitars don’t come with locking straps. The omnipresent method of attaching a guitar strap onto a strap button is crude and highly prone to failure. Most guitarists have experienced the horrible sound of their prized instrument clanging to the floor after slipping off a strap. Locking strap systems eliminate this problem and provide security for you and your instrument. There are a number of different systems out there, but our favourite by far is the virtually failsafe system employed by DiMarzio Clip Lock straps.
A very useful tool indeed, particularly for singer/guitarists. If you ever fall into that trap of playing a song and finding that it sits well outside your singing range, just strap on a capo and try it again in a different key. Voilà! It is also very handy for trying to learn classic songs from listening to them. (Hint: “Wonderwall” is Capo 2nd fret. “Free Falling” is Capo 3rd. “Romeo and Juliet” is Capo 3 with open G tuning. You’re welcome).
There is, quite simply, nothing worse than listening to an out-of-tune guitarist. Headstock tuners are one of the most important musical inventions of the last 10 years and should be at the top of everybody’s want list. These tuners “listen” to your tuning by picking up the vibrations of your entire instrument. They are easy to use in dark environments, make it easy to “tweak” tuning in the middle of a set and because they can stay on your headstock, you’ll never lose it.