Straplocks, a string winder or two, a chromatic tuner or an extra if you only have one, a couple of tuning forks, a metronome, earplugs (there! I said it!), and maybe a footstool. These are some things that should be on your shopping list for the next time you are at your local music store. Let me give you some thoughts on each item.
Straplocks: $15 – $25. This could very well be like cheap insurance for your guitar. These simple gizmos could save your precious axe from taking a bad fall and becoming seriously damaged. I like Schaller straplocks and use them on all of my electric guitars.
String winder: $.99 – $6. Who wouldn’t want to spend a buck to save time and wrist cramps when changing strings? Also most string winders have a notched edge, which is needed for the string pegs on acoustic guitars.
Chromatic tuner: $10 – 100. I have one in my rig at home, one in my acoustic guitar case and one in my gig bag that has all of my small stuff. As far a small, trustworthy chromatic tuner goes, I like the Korg CA – 30 for about $20. They are accurate and the interface is easy to use.
Tuning fork: $5 – $7. You can find them in all sorts of sizes to fit your budget. It’s good to be able to tune with a tuning fork. It develops your ears and they never lie!
Metronome: $10 – $100. Anything more than the Korg MA – 30 for $30 is too much in my opinion. I’ve never used any of the fancy features that some metronomes offer. Just get something that is easy to listen to. A drummer I worked with had one that was the size of a credit card. I thought, “Wow, cool!” until I heard it. It chirped like a smoke detector on a low battery. It was awful. I could never use it. Keep it simple and it should last you decades. I just bought a new MA – 30 to replace the Quick Time dial operated metronome that I’ve had since 1983!
Ear plugs: $1 – $20. I don’t really have to get into this do I? You can get some “foamies” for around a buck a pair or even less, or get the ones with the special filter for around $20. Foamies will block noise and protect your hearing. I use them at the Indy car races or when I want to sleep on an airplane. They are great for softening loud noises. I also carry the ones with the specialized filter on my key ring. That way I will never be without them. I use those at concerts and band rehearsals. They have the effect of lowering the volume while protecting your ears. Sound is clearer with these as opposed to the foamies, which makes listening to music sound like you have a pillow over your head. Please, protect your ears. You can’t buy new ears anywhere, so protect the ones that you have.
Footstool: $7 – $10. This is a nice idea to help make you comfortable when playing for long hours. I’m not suggesting that you sit like a classical guitar player. If you want to, then do it. If not, at least try using a footstool to help with your posture. Raising the foot that your guitar rests on will tuck the instrument into your body and help to stabilize it. Give it a shot.
Hopefully these ideas will help. I’ve found them to be great investments. For a small price, you can protect your guitar from dropping out of your hands, save time and energy when changing strings, stay in tune, keep better time, and save your hearing and your back! Rock on!