You may want to consider purchasing a few accessories to go with your guitar. Here are a few of the most important accessories to consider.

Cases

If you plan on bringing your guitar out of your house, you will probably want to purchase a gig bag or case for it. Gig bags are padded bags that can help protect your guitar from scuffs and scrapes. A decent quality gig bag will offer sufficient protection for a beginning instrument, but you may want to consider a hard shell case if you are investing in a high quality guitar. Many high-end guitars are sold with a case included. Make sure the gig bag or case that you purchase fits your guitar. Guitars come in many different shapes and sizes. Many bags and cases are guitar specific, fitting only the custom shape they were designed for. Other bags and cases try to accommodate a wider variety of shapes, but they will still not work for every guitar.

Tuners

I recommend that every beginning guitarist purchase a guitar tuner. Guitars tend to go out of tune very frequently. While high quality instruments may hold their tune fairly consistently, the majority of guitars need to be tuned each time they are played. Tuning a guitar by ear can be difficult to master. Decent guitar tuners start at around $20, and are well worth the money. Most of them have a built in microphone, as well as a guitar cord input, so they work well for both acoustic and electric guitars. Be sure to learn how to use your tuner properly. Some tuners have a bit of a learning curve. It is always a good idea to use your ear in conjunction with your tuner for the best results.

Strings

It's not a bad idea to pick up an extra pack of strings for your guitar. It is not uncommon to break a string on your guitar. Like guitars, strings also come in many variations. There are strings made out of steel, nylon, nickel, bronze, and special alloys. Some strings even have special coatings intended to improve tone and durability. Strings also come in different guages, ranging from extra light to heavy. It is a good idea to stick with something close to what is currently on your guitar. Changing the guage of strings on your guitar can effect the overall guitar set up, and may require some other adjustments that are best made by a professional. If you are still not sure what type of strings to get for your guitar, your local music shop should be able to point you in the right direction. Many shops will even string your guitar for you with a purchase.

Amplifiers and Cables

Guitar Amplifier

Guitar amplifier

Electric guitars will require a few additional accessories. At the very least, you will want to purchase an amplifier and a 1/4 inch instrument cable to go with your electric guitar. The amplifier that you choose can play a big role in the quality of your overall sound. Practice amps will work well for most beginners, but you will want to consider something a little more powerful if you plan on playing in a band. Many amplifiers have built-in effects. Digital modeling amps are a popular choice because they offer a wide variety of tones and effects, but tone purists often prefer tube amps, which tend to be significantly more expensive than solid state amplifiers. There are an endless number of effects pedals, boards, and racks that can also be added to your guitar arsenal, but a good basic amp with a distortion or lead channel is enough to get started.

Effects

Guitar effects can be purchased individually, usually as pedals, or as racks or boards that often combine a wide variety of different effects into one unit. The simplicity of individual pedals is sometimes nice, especially for live applications. Multi-effects units usually have a variety of great sounds, but expect to put some time into overcoming the learning curve. Here is a description of some of the most common guitar effects.

Distortion
This effect adds a "dirtier" sound to the guitar, as well as more drive and sustain. It is common in hard rock, punk, and heavy metal music.
Overdrive
Overdrive is similar to distortion, but no quite as "dirty" sounding. It is common in blues and rock music.
Reverb
Reverb is the result of the reflection of sound within a room. Effects are used to simulate all types of reverb. Reverb is one of the most common effects and often comes built in to guitar amplifiers.
Chorus
The chorus effect simulates a sound coming from multiple sources.
Wah-Wah
A wah-wah effect alters the amount of resonance in notes in order to make them more expressive.
Phaser
Phasers create a sweeping effect by creating peaks and troughs in a frequency spectrum.
Delay
The delay effect records the sound that is input and plays it back after some time has elapsed, sometimes multiple times.

Other Accessories

You will probably also want to pick up a strap for your guitar, as well as a few guitar picks. Acoustic guitars do not always have strap buttons, especially classical guitars, so check to see if your guitar will work with a strap. If you are a beginner, you may want to pick up an instructional book or dvd to get started.

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