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Essential Acoustic Guitar Accessories

The right accessories can help you get the most from your acoustic guitar


By Phil O'Keefe

Some people think that "a guitar's a guitar" and there's really not a lot of difference between electric and acoustic models, but players who have experience with both know that this simply isn't true. Not only are there differences in the sounds the two instruments can make, but there's also differences in how they're commonly used (both live and in the studio) as well as different techniques for playing them, so it shouldn't be a big surprise that there are different accessories available for each.

While some of these items may look familiar to those who have read my earlier Essential Electric Guitar Accessories article, read on and you'll see that there are some accessory items designed specifically for acoustic guitars - and might be just the ticket to enhance your acoustic guitar's protection and capabilities, as well as help maximize your enjoyment of it. Ready?


Case / Gig Bag - File these under "protecting your investment." A good acoustic guitar is a expensive and somewhat delicate investment that can be damaged easily - protect it by investing in the protection that a good gig bag or case provides. Are you unsure of which one you should get? Check out this article for some tips and suggestions.

Case Humidifiers - You can buy commercially made models or even make them easily and inexpensively yourself, but no matter how you get them, consider these to be more essentials than accessories for all your acoustic instruments. They're especially important for solid wood guitars, which are more sensitive to environmental damage than laminated wood guitars.

Room Humidifier - If you're the type of person who likes to leave your acoustic guitar sitting out on a stand so you can grab it and play at a moment's notice, you'll want to make sure you use a good room humidifier to keep the room's humidity level within the acceptable range. This is particularly important if you live in the desert, or in an area where you use a furnace for winter warmth since that will tend to create conditions that are too dry.

Hygrometer - This goes along with the humidifiers and tells you how much humidity is present in the air - either inside your acoustic guitar's case or inside the room where your guitar is sitting. Most acoustic guitar manufacturers say you should shoot for roughly 40-60% relative humidity, but without a hygrometer you won't know if you're hitting that target.

Picks - There are all kinds of different picks, including customized picks, different-sized picks, and picks made out of materials ranging from artificial tortoise-shell replacements to plastic, nylon, wood, metal and even stone. Pro Tip: One of the quickest and cheapest ways to get different sounds out of your guitar is to experiment with different picks.

Guitar Strap - There's a wide range of styles and types available, so feel free to express yourself with your choice - but don't forget to get one with a leather tie if your acoustic lacks a neck heel or side-of-body strap button. Consider adding a second button if your guitar lacks one, but always check with the manufacturer for the recommended location before drilling into your guitar, or leave the job to a qualified repair person.

Preamps and Effects Pedals - While not used on acoustic guitar as often as on electrics, don't overlook the expansive tonal and musical options that various effects pedals can provide. In addition to pedals designed for electric guitars, there are also products specifically intended to enhance the sound of acoustic guitars, such as various acoustic preamp / EQ pedals.

Capo - Great for beginners, a capo lets you transpose your guitar's key and sound while using the same basic chord fingering shapes. They also have a range of creative uses for savvy professionals, like capoing up a couple semitones, but playing chords transposed down two semitones, to give a different timbre. 

Add-on Transducers - While many acoustic guitars come with pickups installed (making them "acoustic-electric" guitars) many do not, and a wide variety of after-market pickup systems are available, including under the saddle piezo transducers, magnetic sound hole pickups, and even models with built-in microphones. Don't overlook traditional microphones for recording purposes, and mobile musicians should also check out the IK Multimedia iRig Acoustic.

Acoustic Amplifier and Stand - If you play out a lot, you'll wantan amplifier for your acoustic-electric guitar. Don't forget to get a stand for the amp too - this raises it off the floor for better projection.

Cables - Even if you don't need an amp, you still might want a guitar cable to plug into an electronic tuner - which many players still feel are more accurate and less susceptible to external noise interference than clip-on tuners, or using a tuner with a built-in microphone.

Guitar Stand - You can opt for the traditional folding stand, multi-stands that hold several instruments at once, or even a wall hanger to display your guitar proudly. But whenever you're not playing it, your acoustic should either be in its case, or at the minimum, sitting on a stand.

String Winder - One of the best little inventions ever created. Don't believe me? Try changing a set of strings with and then without one of these handy devices. After using one once, you'll never want to go back to the tedium of wrapping strings by hand with slow turn after slow manual turn on the machine head knobs. While electric driven "drill type" models are available, even the manual plastic type will save you loads of time and make the process of changing strings much easier.

Tablet Mounting Clip and Bluetooth Remote "Page Turning" Footswitch - Do you read music or tab? Need to be able to check the lyrics on stage, or switch chord charts from song to song? What if you need to switch pages on the sheet music in mid-song? Then you're definitely going to want to pick up one of each of these to go along with your tablet.

Electronic Tuner - Sure, you could go old-school and use a tuning fork or pitch pipe, but modern electronic tuners - whether in pedal, stand-alone or clip-on format, are generally more accurate and easier to use. Don't overlook smart phone tuner apps! With one installed on your phone, you'll always have a tuner with you.

Metronome - Nothing beats practicing with a metronome for honing your timing and rhythmic skills. A metronome (or smartphone metronome app) should be a regular practice partner for all musicians.

"Bottleneck" Slide - These come in a variety of materials such as glass, ceramic and various metals such as copper and chromed steel. These materials can sound different from one another, so try a few different types to see what you like the sound of best, but remember - glass and ceramic slides are less durable, and will require more care to prevent breaking them.

Nut Height Extender - For playing slide, these sit on the guitar's regular nut and extend it, making the strings higher off of the fretboard. You can even add and remove them fairly easily, and Dunlop makes a model that combines a height extender and capo!

Tronical Robotic Tuners - Open tunings can be a lot of fun on an acoustic guitar, and many famous acoustic players have used them in their compositions, but re-tuning your guitar every time you want to play a song in a different tuning can get old pretty fast. The Tronical Tuners are motorized and can store several alternate tunings for quick and easy recall that's much faster than manual tuning.

Cleaning Supplies - In addition to a good guitar polish, you'll also want a soft lint-free cloth (microfiber cloths work great) and maybe a fingerboard conditioner and string cleaner like Fast Fret or Finger Ease.

Guitar Footstool - With classical guitar, a footstool lets you maintain the correct traditional playing posture, an d support the guitar properly.

Armless Chair - Here's one of my pet peeves: studios that are full of chairs with arms that can't be removed. Any guitarist who wants to sit while playing needs a chair with no arms. While there are speciality "guitarist's chairs" designed specifically for guitarists, any stool or armless chair will be better than a chair with arms. Craig Anderton recently covered the Virtu Stealth Chair which features arms that slide down out of the way...specifically for playing guitar. 


While there are other useful accessories, these are the most common and necessary items to go along with your acoustic guitar - or are they? Do you disagree with any of the items on this list? Not everyone will find all of these items to be "essential" accessories. Do you have suggestions for other acoustic guitar accessories that make your life easier or help you get more out of your acoustic guitar? Then please stop by this thread in the Harmony Central Acoustic Guitar Forum and join in the discussion!


You can purchase acoustic guitar accessories from:


Musician's Friend    

B&H Photo Video    

Guitar Center    



Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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