This part of the guide explains all of the fundamental accessories you’ll need to get started on your guitar playing journey. We explain the different options there are for string sizes and plectrums along with the different kind of guitar tuners and metronomes available to todays guitarist. We also provide some information about guitar leads, capo’s, stands and cases.


Guitar strings are measured in fractions of an inch. The two most common string gauges for electric guitars are 9’s which are considered ‘light’ and 10’s which are ‘medium’. These numbers refer to the high E string (thinnest string) so if you hear someone say they use 9’s or 10’s this is what they are referring too. A set of 9’s start at 0.009 inches from the high E string to 0.042 inches to the low E string. Size 10’s are 0.010 for the high E to 0.046 for the low E "There are pro’s and cons for the different string sizes. The thinner the string the less stable they are for tuning and intonation so size 8’s would be easy to play but not so good for keeping in tune. A good thing to remember is thicker gauge strings produce a more powerful tone but are harder to play compared to lighter strings. The heaviest size strings guitarists use for electric guitars can even be as high as 13’s. The great blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan famously used 13’s but you won’t find many players using such a heavy gauge as this on electric guitars. A fairly new development is coated strings. Strings wear out due to sweat and dirt built up over time. Coated strings are designed to prolong there lifespan. Hybrid strings are another option available to guitar players. These can consist of heavier gauge strings for the bass strings and lighter strings for the top strings but there are various custom sizes available."

Acoustic Guitar Strings

The standard guitar strings on an acoustic guitar are 12’s. Acoustic guitars need heavier strings as they have to generate more volume than electric guitars due to the absence of pickups (unless you’re playing an electro acoustic) Acoustic guitars can fall into two main categories – Steel strung and nylon strung. Steel strung acoustics obviously have steel strings. Nylon strung guitars which are also know as classical or Spanish guitars use nylon for the treble strings – G B E (the 3 thinnest strings). The Low E A and D (3 thickest strings) have a threaded nylon core and with bronze or silver plated copper wire wound around them.

Tuning The Guitar

Playing in tune is obviously vital. Luckily there are multiple options to ensure you’re always in tune.

Pitch Pipe

The old fashioned way is to use pitch pipes. These work by blowing into the appropriate pipe for each string. You then use your ear to tune your guitar until the pitch matches the one produced by the tuning pipe. One advantage is that it improves your ability to hear pitches accurately. The disadvantage is that it may initially take longer to tune than other methods.

Guitar Tuner

Another method is to use a guitar tuner. There are various versions of these. The picture below shows a standard guitar tuner. These work by plugging your guitar lead into the input. The needle on the screen moves from left to right when the string is plucked. If the needle is to the left the string is too low (flat) and needs to be raised in pitch. If the needle is to the right the string is too high (sharp). Once the needle is in the middle the string is in tune

Clip On Tuner

These tuners clip on to the headstock of the guitar. They work via a sensor sensing the vibrations of the string rather than using a microphone. The big advantage of this tuner is the ability to tune in a noisy environment

Foot Pedal Tuner

Foot pedals are used by guitarists to create different sounds. A foot pedal tuner can be placed alongside other pedals in a guitarists pedal board. These tuners also have a mute function meaning a player can tune in silence between songs. For more information about pedals see the FX guide


Plectrums or picks are used to pluck or strum the guitar strings and can come in all sorts of shapes although they are usually triangular. The most common sizes shown in millimetres are:

Light picks have a softer sound so the heavier the pick the more volume is generated. Picks can be made of metal or wood but most commonly plastic. These different materials all produce a different sound so like many aspects of the guitar personal preference will dictate which pick is best for you. Some of the picks shown here also have grips helping the guitarist keep hold of it whilst playing.

Guitar Leads

The guitar lead plays an important role of a guitarists setup as it joins two key elements together – the guitar and amplifier. Many guitar and amp manufacturers provide free guitar leads with their equipment. These usually aren’t the best quality so we recommend buying the best cable you can afford.


A metronome is a practice tool for musicians. It produces a click or sometimes bleep, depending on the type of metronome. The tempo or beats per minutes (BPM) can be adjusted to increase or decrease. More modern or advanced metronomes can also select various time signatures. Metronomes are great for helping guitarists to learn to play in time and can help chart a players technical progress.

Mechanical Metronome

This kind of metronome originates from the 1800’s. It works by using a pendulum with an adjustable weight which slides up and down to increase or decrease the tempo.

Electronic Metronome

Electronic metronomes use quartz crystals In the same manner as wrist watches do to keep accurate time. These kinds of tuners can produce bleeps or clicks for the pulse of the beat. Some of them can also have controls for volume and can produce tuning reference notes and place emphasis on different beats.

Metronome App

As with tuners there are various metronome apps for phones and tablets. The metronome shown here is the free app from our website. Notice the options for time signatures, BPM and volume.


A capo is used to raise the pitches of the notes played on the guitar. They are often used by guitarists who want to play a song in a different key but use the same chord shapes as the original song. They can be also used to create interesting chords that otherwise would be impossible to play. Capo’s can be made of metal or plastic and can be strapped or screwed to the neck. The capo below is a spring clamp capo, otherwise known as a trigger capo.

Guitar Stands

A guitarist has a few options for keeping their guitar safe when not in use. A traditional stand like the one shown here is a good choice. Some players prefer to keep their guitars on display by hanging them on wall hangers. Portable stands are a good idea, handy when rehearsing or when playing live.


Slides are cylinders that are usually made of metal, glass or ceramic. that are placed over the finger of a guitarist and allows the guitarist to create smooth glissando (slide) effects. Slide guitar which is also referred


The guitar strap you choose should be based on your personal taste but also comfort. As some guitars can weigh up to 4 kilos its also important your strap can support the weight of your guitar. Straps can be made of various materials. Cheaper straps are usually nylon with the most common straps being made of leather. Some straps can also

Guitar Cases

A good case is a must to protect your guitar. A hard case provides very good protection although is heavy to carry around. Soft cases can come with padding with the obvious advantage of being lighter than hard cases but provide less protection.