Learning to play guitar can be a fun, rewarding experience. Of course, you’ll need more than just a guitar to get started. This checklist assumes you already have an acoustic or electric guitar. Read on to see our full list of beginner guitar essentials.
What do I need to start learning guitar?
Beside the guitar itself, there are several other items you’ll want if you’re just getting started on guitar.
Regardless of whether you’re learning on an acoustic or electric, most of the gear you need applies to both. Naturally, we made sure to call out any exceptions.
- Extra Strings
- Hard Case / Gig Bag
- Instrument Cables
- Learning Resources
Guitar tuners are a necessity. Your guitar needs to be tuned if you want it to sound right. Learning on an out-of-tune guitar can hinder developing an ear for playing. Likewise, a poorly tuned guitar will sound sloppy and make songs harder to learn.
If you have a smartphone, you can find plenty of free guitar tuner apps. However, many musicians prefer the ease and reliability of a dedicated tuner. Tuners come in a variety of types and styles, though the most common are electronic tuners and tuning pedals.
For an easy-to-use, affordable option, go with an electronic tuner.
Guitar picks are important for both acoustic and electric players. While you can also play guitar using your fingers (aka, “fingerstyle”), many popular guitarists use picks to get their sound.
Picks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Fortunately, they’re inexpensive, making it easy to experiment with different types of picks.
If you want a popular option, celluloid picks with a medium thickness tend to be the most common.
3. Extra Strings
Guitar strings wear out with normal use and occasionally break. With that in mind, it's good to have a few extra packs handy. Replacing guitar strings is something you can do yourself and, with a little practice, doesn’t take long at all.
Note that strings come in a variety of types and gauges. To start, grab a few extra packs of the strings that came with your guitar. If you don’t know which strings came with your guitar, go with medium strings.
Once you have more experience, you’ll have an easier time experimenting with other brands and gauges. This includes thicker, thinner, and hybrid string options.
4. Hard Case / Gig Bag
If you plan to go anywhere with your instrument, a gig bag (i.e., soft case) or hard case is essential. Guitar cases protect your guitar from damage and the elements when it’s not in use.
While many guitars come with cases, not all will. In these situations, you’ll want to buy one separately. Just make sure to choose one that fits your model.
A guitar stand is an awesome accessory that will allow you to safely display your guitar when it’s not in use.
Guitar stands can even encourage you to practice more. Keep your guitar on a stand in an area where you spend a lot of time. You may find yourself more likely to pick it up to play.
Whether you prefer to play sitting or standing, a guitar strap is always worthwhile. Guitars don’t like to be dropped, and a strap can help keep that from happening.
If you’re learning on an electric guitar, a good practice amp is key. While you don’t need to break the bank, an electric guitar amplifier will allow you to better hear your instrument. Many amps also have built-in effects – including gain and distortion – that allow you to experiment with different tones and sounds.
While an amp isn’t necessary for an acoustic guitar, some acoustics can still connect to one without needing alterations. If you have an acoustic that can connect to an amplifier and you want to play around with distortion, pick up a practice amp.
8. Instrument Cables
If you’re using a guitar amp, you’ll also need cables. Guitars typically use 1/4” TS Male to TS Male instrument cables.
Guitar cables come in a variety of lengths from an abundance of brands. Better cables have higher quality connectors, greater durability, and reduced interference.
For beginners, cable length will be a greater concern than cable quality. A cable anywhere from 6-feet to 10-feet long is an ideal starting length for someone looking to practice guitar at home. When in doubt, go with the longer option.
9. Learning Resources
Consider how you’ll learn to play guitar. There’s a bounty of resources that make learning the instrument more accessible than ever.
A few options include:
- Guitar Books
- Music Lessons
- Tablature Websites
- Online Videos
If you or your child are just picking up guitar, you’ll find a slew of resources available on the web. Remarkably, the biggest challenges beginner guitarists face when learning online are universal:
- Learning guitar is all about repetition. Fledgling guitarists start slowly to develop the “muscle memory” to play songs at a faster tempo without making mistakes.
- Most online resources, including videos and eBooks, require the player to take their hands off their instrument to control the content. This includes playing, pausing, rewinding, fast forwarding, slowing down, and turning pages in online media.
- This results in added frustration and wasted time, which can lead beginners to feel discouraged with the hobby.
Beginner guitar players should get a video looper pedal such as the original Vidami or a 3-in-1 video looper and page turner pedal like the Vidami Blue. These devices connect to a computer and allow the player to control media using their feet.
With Vidami, you never have to take your hands from their guitar, enabling you to maintain focus on learning to play.
Which Vidami control pedal should beginner guitar players buy?
While both Vidami pedals are perfect for beginner guitarists, there are reasons to consider one over the other.
Choose Vidami Blue if you want the capabilities of the original Vidami with other powerful features. Vidami Blue has modes for controlling video, turning pages, and scrolling tabs. It’s the perfect learning tool for guitarists using tab sites, digital sheet music sites, and other compatible learning resources.
Plus, Vidami Blue is wireless. It can connect to your computer, iPhone, or iPad over Bluetooth.
Is this really everything you need to learn guitar?
There’s a lot more to guitar than just the gear. There’s also a lot more to gear than what’s covered in this article. If you’re seeking even more ways to expand your playing, look into guitar effects pedals and a guitar capo.
We hope our list of guitar essentials for beginners helps you cover those needs and start an incredible new hobby on the right foot.