Rob James gives his tips on buying essential tools for beginner guitarists...
One of the most important stages in beginning to learn the guitar is deciding which tools to buy. Those thinking of learning the guitar need to consider how important it is to have a full kit of different tools, from a range of picks and strings through to high quality leads, amplifiers and other accessories, as well as the right kind of learning resources and packs. These tools won’t always be cheap, but can provide long term value for the player as they move through different learning stages. Keeping certain tools in good condition consequently pays off as you become more familiar with the guitar.
1 - Picks and Strings
The cheapness of picks means that you can pick up multiple sizes and widths from music shops. Thinner picks are better for adjusting to different playing speeds, while heavier picks are better for steel string guitars and electrics. Play around and experiment with what feels right, you should choose a pick that allows you to play from the wrist, and channel the energy into your strings.
Owning a few sets of extra guitar strings can also be an invaluable way to save time and get to grips with the instrument. Strings tend to snap when you’re not used to playing, particularly if you’ve invested in a budget guitar, and your strumming technique might be a little on the heavy side at first.
You may also want to test out a number of different strings to see which ones suit your playing best. It's best to stick with 9 gauge or 10 gauge strings as a beginner, but play around with different brands and coatings.
Having these strings also makes it possible to experiment with restringing and tuning, a chore that guitarists will need to become familiar with if they want to be serious about understanding the make up of the instrument.
2 - Guitar Leads and Amps
They may seem expensive, but investing in high quality guitar leads at a beginners stage means that you’ll have much longer lasting value. You need leads that can handle feedback, and won’t fray over time. The same high standards are required in practice and more professional amplifiers. Speak to your guitar tutor or a local music shop to find out which options are best for your budget.
3 - Tuners and Metronomes
An electronic guitar tuner is a useful tool to have when you first start playing. While you should also try and learn to tune by ear, it does represent a good way to work out manual tuning. A metronome is similarly essential if you want to develop a strong sense of timing. Easy to pick up from music shops or online, metronomes are an excellent way to get into a practice routine.
4 - CDs and Learning Resources
CDs and books are going to be one of the most important parts of your tuition, even if you have an excellent teacher. Books and CDs are likely to be something you play over and over again, and can be matched up with online videos. In terms of the latter, many companies will offer online tutorials or video guitar lessons that break down everything from finger positioning to chords and full songs.
Rob James is a bass guitarist in a band. He can be found blogging about guitar lessons, local gigs, and pretty much anything music related.
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