7 Essential Guitar Accessories I Can’t Live Without

Essential Guitar Accessories

As a working musician, there are many items I can’t live without. Some are essential guitar accessories, and others are just nice to have. It’s taken me years to narrow down what I need to carry on gigs or studio sessions and not look like a walking, talking guitar shop!


I could write a much longer list of essential guitar accessories. However, after much consideration, I’ve picked 7 items I must have to do my job effectively. These are in no particular order.



Item #1: A Good Solid Tuner


If you do a lot of gigs as I do, you’ll understand why I put this first. For those who don’t, imagine this: Listening to an hour of voice and guitar. Not so bad? Right!


It’s made worse by the guitar being slightly out of tune. It’s like nails on a chalkboard! Especially to us guitarists! So one of the top items on my essential guitar accessories list is a tuner.


My favorite is a BOSS TU-2 pedal tuner (I have 3 of them). Sadly, it’s discontinued. The Boss TU-3 replaced it and is far more accurate. I’ve also used a Korg Pitchblack and the Korg GA-40. Both are superb.


I’d go as far as saying any tuner from BOSS or Korg is worthy of the money it costs. Plus, both companies build their gear like TANKS!


I’m a massive fan of tuners pedals like the TU3 and the Pitch Black, which have a mute function and so can be run inline. They allow you to tune silently while the singer talks to the crowd at the start of the set and then in-between each song.



Item #2: Guitar Picks


Ok, maybe I can live without guitar plectrums as I fingerpick most things! But I do like to carry a range.


I mainly use two types of guitar picks. I like the Dunlop 1.5mm Purple picks for electric guitars and then Dunlop Nylon 1mm for acoustic guitars.  Don’t ask me why but they just work!


I prefer the thinner pick for acoustics as I can get a better strum sound and the overall attract is softer. With all that said, I can, however, get away with using any 1mm pick for everything if I have to!


For sessions, I’ve got a box with loads of different picks, from really thin to fat. They’re helpful if I’m asked for a really small strummy part for the second verse. I’ll grab the thinnest pick I have and play big open chords. The result sounds like an orchestra of guitars.


Whereas if I’m trying to frame the chords (i.e. just playing on the chord changes and letting them ring), I’m more likely to use a thicker pick. It will give me more control over what I’m playing.



Item #3: Spare strings


Time for an embarrassing story. I once played a swanky gig at a posh private members’ club. What I should have done is changed the strings the day before. It would have given me time to break them in. Instead, I believed I could fly!


I believe I wouldn’t need to take spares as the ones I had would last. Boy was I wrong! I ended up playing some of the gig with 5 strings. Luckily the artist sore the funny side (as did the manager! thank goodness!), and I kept the job!


I have more string-related stories, but they’ll have to wait for another day!


Since this happened, I’ve always carried spares strings. Plus, I’ve committed to restringing more often.


I use Rotosound 10s on electric guitars and Martin 12 on acoustic guitars. No one finds it funny if you break a string and can’t replace it instantly. It could lose you the gig. So carry spares!



Item #4: Spare Cables


Sounds simple, but a lot of people miss this. Carrying spare instrument cables is a way to look like a hero when it goes wrong. It could be someone who has a faulty cable or forgets to bring enough.


You’ll be the savior when someone wants to “sit in”, but doesn’t have any gear with them. You’ll likely have a few guitars with you, but you might not have enough cables for them to join.


The other thing is that they’re actually quite cheap to buy, or in my case – make. Plus, jack-to-jack cables don’t take up much space. As far as essential guitar accessories, spare cables are a must.


A tip is to either pick a bright color cable or get some bright PVC tape to mark it. Most gear goes missing not because you lend it but because you don’t tick the gear off a mental list before leaving the venue.



Item #5: Notepad and Pen


At the tender age of 10, my first music teacher informed me that a good musician carries a pencil (or pen). So true. I’d go further and say you should also have a notepad. And, no, your phone doesn’t count.


A notepad can help you reclaim some of the time you lose during sound checks. It’s also great for collecting ideas, goals, and anything else you might need to capture.


In a gig setting, you can write out set lists, chord charts, and use the backstage area to write songs before you go on stage. You can write out charts for upcoming gigs. The list is endless!



Item #6: One pedal to rule them all!


As this is a bit subjective, I don’t mind you skipping this one. There are very few pedals I can live without, one being a tuner.


I can live without a volume pedal as there’s a volume knob a few inches from where my hand is.


One pedal that I love, and can’t really do without is a Route 66 by Visual Sound.


So why do I like it? It has two channels, one side is a compressor and the other is an overdrive. Of course, you can use it as a compressor and overdrive pedal. But it’s way more versatile than that!


You can dial down the compression knob and use that side as a clean boost with added EQ. Using the compressor side as so, you can push the overdrive sides into fuller sounding distortion.


With a small amp, you can use the boost stage to get the amp sound crunchy. Next, you can use the overdrive (by itself) for some gain. For a lead tone, simply engage both sides.


I’ve done gigs with a BOSS TU-2, Visual Sound Route 66, Volume pedal, and an AKAI Headrush. Great guitar tones!



Item #7: Metronome


I love my metronome; it helps me check and improve my timing, making me a better guitar player.


I like using my trusty Korg MA-30 almost every time I come to practice. There are a lot of practical posts on this blog that helps you learn how to use a metronome better.



Essential Guitar Accessories

So there are just a few essential guitar accessories that every musician should always carry with them. If you’re missing a few, don’t worry. You know what you should have and can buy whatever is missing.


What essential guitar accessories can’t you live without?

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