Understand effects with the best guitar pedals for beginners
If you've been inspired to start learning the electric or acoustic guitar lately, there are a few gear essentials and guitar accessories you should consider investing in if you help your guitar development and ensure enjoyment of the instrument in the years ahead.
Of course, the first thing you'll need to decide on is the guitar itself. Choosing the right one for your ability, playing style and budget can be difficult unless you know what you’re looking for. It’s also important to find guitar gear that feels comfortable to play and delivers a sound that keeps you excited to play.
To get you up and running quicker, we’ve compiled a list of the best guitar gear for beginners, whether you’re in the market for a great beginner acoustic guitar to get you started, or an accessible beginner electric guitar.
If you're not sure if the acoustic or electric guitar is for you, our feature Acoustic vs electric guitar: which is better for beginner guitarists? should come in handy.
With your guitar sorted, it's worth exploring a few accessories, too. This guide covers everything you'll need to keep your guitar in shape, in tune and geared up for every riff, lick and solo you can throw at it.
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Many beginner guitarists opt to start with an acoustic guitar, and it’s definitely a cheap way to get into playing – you don't need a separate amp, and you can start your playing journey straight away. When choosing your first acoustic guitar it’s worth asking yourself three questions: how does it sound, how does it look and how much does it cost?
Both Yamaha's FG800 and Fender CD-60S are ideal beginner acoustic guitars – they look the business, sound ace and won't cost very much.
- Check out the best beginner acoustic guitars
Electric guitars are great for beginner guitarists as they tend to have smaller necks than acoustic guitars. This makes them ideal for kids and players with small hands, too. They’re also more versatile instruments, particularly if you want to play metal or rock music.
There are a number of factors to consider when buying a beginner electric guitar: mostly it’s about finding the best guitar for the money you've budgeted, and choosing one that’s easy to play and progress on. These days, even at the budget end of the scale, the quality of electric guitars is fantastic. We can certainly vouch for Squier's Affinity Stratocaster or Epiphone's Slash-approved 'AFD' Les Pail Special-II.
- Check out the best beginner electric guitars
There has never been more choice when it comes to great budget guitar amps for beginner guitarists. Of course a low price is one thing, but it also needs to perform well, sound great and offer functionality and enough features that you can grow into as you progress.
If your playing will mostly be bedroom-based, the tiny Blackstar Fly 3 is a great starting point. If your sights are set on gigging, the Boss Katana-100 comes highly recommended and will perform from the bedroom to the stage.
- Explore the best guitar amplifiers under $500
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A great beginner electric guitar and amp is useless unless you have a quality cable connecting the two. Usually, a cheap guitar cable is a false economy, needing swift replacement or driving you mad with unwanted noise in your signal. Beginner guitarists should look for a blend of durability and performance from their cable. For us, that job is ably performed by the D’Addario Planet Waves American Stage Cable.
- Head this way for more of the best guitar cables
A fresh set of electric of acoustic guitar strings can transform a guitar. They're dirt cheap and easy to fit, too. To begin with you'll want a string set that sounds great and lasts a while, leaving you free to focus on learning the ropes. Ernie Ball’s popular Super Slinky strings are the perfect choice for electric players, while D'Addario's EJ16 Phosphor Bronzes are an ideal addition to your new acoustic guitar.
- Need more choice? These are the best electric guitar strings right now
- ...and the best acoustic guitar strings
Guitar picks (also known as plectrums) remain one of the most important but often-overlooked accessories in a guitarist’s arsenal, making a dramatic difference to your playing style and tone. When choosing picks, it's worth considering the pick shape, thickness and the material as all will have an impact on your playing comfort and tone. Dunlop has huge options within its Tortex range. We'd suggest starting there.
- Up your plectrum game with the best guitar picks
Not only does a guitar tuner help you tune your own instrument and keep it sounding great, it also helps you stay in tune with your jam buddies or the rest of your band. The minimalist Korg Pitchclip 2 attaches to your guitar’s headstock and enables quick tuning thanks to a crisp LED display. If you're serious about the guitar, a tuner should be one of your first purchases.
- Explore more of the best guitar tuners
A quality guitar strap can mean the difference between your cherished guitar staying put and losing a chunk from the body after it hits the cold, hard floor. Your new guitar will be in safe hands with the Ernie Ball Polypro. It's available in a range of colors, and features a 2-inch wide Polypropylene webbing, stitched to black leather ends for extra support.
- Want something more exotic? These are the best guitar straps around
While nothing will beat the feeling of ringing out chords on a guitar amp for the world to hear, it's not always possible to practice or play out loud. That's where a quality set of headphones for guitar amps comes in. You can get away with using standard headphones designed for music-listening, but for the best audio experience we'd always suggest a pair tuned specifically for instrument or studio use. The Boss Waza-Air is an amp and headphones rolled into one, while the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT cans offer studio quality sound and even feature Bluetooth for wireless listening.
- Practice in peace with the best headphones for guitar amps
If you want your new guitar to last, it's important to use adequate protection for when you start taking your guitar to lessons, jams or band practice. To begin with there's no need to spend loads of cash on a plush hard case; all you need is a quality gig bag in which you can stash your guitar plus other essential guitar accessories. When budget is tight, we're big fans of the Gator Economy Gigbag, which is available for both electric and acoustic guitar.
If you want to keep your new acoustic or electric guitar in good shape you'll need to invest in a quality guitar stand or guitar hanger. The former provides a secure resting spot for your guitar, but can be moved to whichever room – or venue – you're playing in. A guitar hanger attached to a wall or desktop and acts as a safe place to suspend your guitar by its neck. Hercules is a respected brand and we can recommend both their GSP39WBPlus guitar stand and the super secure Hercules GS414B hanger.
- The best guitar stands and guitar hangers for every budget
The guitar capo is a super affordable piece of gear that can dramatically change your sound with huge potential for songwriters and guitarists who play covers. In use, capos act as a moveable nut that you can move up to any fret on the guitar, changing the guitar's pitch as it goes. At such low prices, they're well worth experimenting with.
- Try our pick of the best guitar capos
All of this essential guitar gear is only one part of the puzzle. The next step is to start learning. Looking for lessons online is an obvious place to start, but it can be difficult to separate the good from bad. We like Fender Play because it’s a well structured, app/PC/Mac-based tool that arms guitarists with the most important techniques courtesy of step-by-step learning and progress tracking. It's loaded with great songs to learn, too.
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