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I’m a big fan of small guitars. I’m about 5′ 4″ and I have fairly small hands. (Check out my post Guitar Studio 5’4″ for more awesome small gear.) I’ve also had a few surgeries on my hands over the years, and now I only play instruments that fit me best. I own all of the guitars and the bass I list here, and I wrote an article on Small Guitars for Women.
GUITAR CASES AND GIG BAGS
I’ve had a couple of close calls where I’ve almost lost my guitar because of a poorly designed case, so I choose my cases and bags very carefully these days. I really like the Mono company, and I own the electric case and tick bag below. I personally dig protective soft cases more than hard cases because they are lighter and easier to carry.
If you are a musician, you need a good, solid stand. If you don’t get a good stand now, you’ll end up hating the cheap stand you buy, and you’ll have to replace it. I’ve used Manhasset stands since I began playing music (well, after my parents bought a few cheap stands that broke after a few months). When I travel, I use the K&M stand listed below. It’s as sturdy as a compact folding stand can be, because the K&M company makes very durable, well designed products.
I prefer this Ultimate guitar stand for my guitars because they fold up easily, you can’t nick your guitar on them when you’re putting them away, they’re very sturdy, and I’ve heard that hanging guitars is good for guitar necks.
STRINGS, PICKS, STRAPS, AND CABLES
I’ve tried lots of strings over the past 20+ years, but I always come back to D’Addario strings. They are a great value and they are consistently good strings. I’ve listed the two most common string packages they make.
If you don’t already have a pick that you like, try the variety pack below. I dig small picks, and I use these, but most guitarists use some variation of the ones in the sample pack. Heavy picks offer the best control, but lighter picks can sound great for strumming chords. I have a big jar of different picks, but I mostly use the ones I mentioned above.
I like simple guitar straps. I actually play my guitar quite high so it’s usually necessary for me to have my straps altered. My neighborhood shoe repair shop alters and mends all my straps, cases, and zippers when they break.
You can spend a lot of money on cables, but I don’t. I like the one below because it doesn’t tend to get all twisted up; it somehow stays pretty straight, which is nice. Planet Waves makes a lot of great cables, and I think they all have a lifetime warranty. I can’t remember the last time I bought a cable, I just return them when they break and they give me a new one.
- D’Addario’s most popular acoustic guitar string set
- Also available in the EXP Coated series, offering 3-5x the lifespan
- Preferred for its warm, bright, and well balanced acoustic tone
- Made in the U.S.A. for the highest quality and performance
- String Gauges: Plain Steel .012, .016, Phosphor Bronze Wound .024, .032, .042, .053
- Buy 3 sets and save with this corrosion resistant 3-pack
- D’Addario’s best selling electric guitar set
- Round wound with nickelplated steel for distinctive bright tone
- String Gauges: Plain Steel .010, .013, .017, Nickel Wound .026, .036, .046
- Made in the U.S.A. for the highest quality and performance
- A sample of our most popular picks for a variety of sizes and textures
- 12 picks per package
- Made in USA
- Black Cotton design
- Adjustable from 35″ to 59.5″ long
- Provides maximum comfort for standing situations
- Strong and secure leather ends
- Highly Durable
- 10ft guitar cable with straight 1/4-inch ends
- Premium oxygen-free copper guarantees pure tone and accurate signal transfer
- Over molded plugs offer protection and strain relief
- Spiral shielding provides noise rejection and interference for quiet operation
- Limited lifetime warranty
I like to joke that some women like shoes, but I like gadgets. (Actually, I do like shoes, but my Seattle apartment is small and I use my oven to cook, unlike Carrie Bradshaw.)
Every guitarists needs a good metronome and there are a million to choose from. I recommend this one because I like the sound of the click (there are various sound you can choose from), it has a volume control, and the batteries last a long time. Sure, it’s got some fancy features, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to use. It’s a simple, durable, good-sounding, necessary gadget.
The tuner below is inexpensive and easy to use. I use this kind in all my studios because while students are tuning up, we can discuss their assignments. Other electronic tuners demand silence, which is annoying.
The guitar trainer, iRig, and studio headphones are all things I have in my practice space. I recommend them for intermediate and advanced players who are recording, using apps on their iPhone/iPad with their guitar, and learning how to transcribe solos.
- Dynamic metronome with 30-252 tempo range, 19 beat patterns, 3 PCM sounds, and Tap Tempo control
- Korg’s original cylindrical resonator provides powerful sound and improved tone; Headphone output
- Top-mounted Start/Stop switch doubles as visual indicator; red & green LEDs mark beats and downbeats
- Provides reference tuning pitch (C4-B4); A4 Calibration from 410 to 480 Hz.
- Large LCD screen; efficient power for long battery life – 120 continuous hours at 120 BPM
- Full Color Display
- Display rotates 360 degrees for easy viewing
- Features frequency range tailored to guitar and bass
- Tuner can be used on front of back of headstock
- Portable CD guitar trainer (More compact than previous CD-GT1MKII)
- CD-DA/CD-R/CD-RW disc playback
- 10 second anti-shock memory
- Album title/Track title indication by CD-Text
- Key control: +/-6 semi-tone, in semi-tone steps with +/-50 cents fine tune
- 1/4″ instrument input for use with guitar, bass and other instruments
- 1/4″ amplifier and 1/8″ headphone outputs
- Selectable dual-mode switch: FX and THRU
- Input gain thumbwheel for easy signal control
- Compatible with iPhone, iPad, Samsung Note 4, Note Edge, Galaxy S5, other devices
- Neodymium magnets and 40mm drivers for powerful, detailed sound
- Closed-ear design provides comfort and outstanding reduction of external noises
- 9.8-foot cord ends in gold-plated plug; 1/4-inch adapter included
- Folds up for storage or travel in provided soft case
- Frequency Response: 10Hz – 20 kHz
- Industry leading noise reduction for travel, work and anywhere in between
- Best-in-class sound with lifelike performance for the music you love
- Lightweight around-ear fit you can wear all day long
- Control your music and calls with inline mic/remote
I don’t own a lot of effects pedals, but I do own all of the ones listed here. As you can tell, I am a big fan of the Loop Stations by Boss. I think I have owned every model since they first came out in the early 2000s. They are great for practicing and for teaching. Students I know who have bought other brands have often regretted not getting the Boss.
The wah is a fun pedal that I think every electric guitarist should own and play. It can give your solos more expression, which can be cool when played in moderation.
The Line Selector pedal allows me to plug two guitars into one amp, and control the volume separately for each guitar. It’s a great tool for my teaching studios.
- Record and store up to 16 minutes of mono audio
- Features a jam-along Rhythm Guide, Loop Quantize, and Undo/Redo
- Clean and friendly user interface with no hidden menus or commands
- Loop Quantize for perfect loop timing
- Realistic Guide-Tone drum patterns built-in
- Three hours of onboard recording time
- High-powered DSP from BOSS’ ESC2 chip
- True stereo I/ODual-phrase loop feature lets you create and sync two independent stereo loops
- 99 memory slotsLOOP FX provides realtime loop editing
- Mic input with phantom powerUSB 2.0 port for swapping/managing files with your computer
- Aux in jackOnboard rhythms including real audio drum loops
- Runs on batteries or optional AC power supply (PSA-120S – product# 155555)
- Three stereo tracks with dedicated footswitches and controls for each
- Dedicated fader per track
- Expression pedal for effects control in real time
- Up to three hours of internal recording and 99 onboard memories
- Half the size of a standard Cry Baby pedal
- Perfect for mini boards
- Three internally adjustable voicings: Low, Vintage, and GCB95 (modern)
- Full sweep range
- True bypass switching
- Compact line selection pedal for connecting and switching between multiple amplifiers and effects devices
- Provides two line loops with Level control and six looping modes
- Can supply power to several BOSS compact pedals when used with an AC adaptor
- The ideal power supply and master switching unit for multiple effects setups
- BOSS 5-year warranty
Like small guitars, I dig small amps, too. I don’t like arriving to a gig or rehearsal with tired hands from carrying a heavy amp. This amp is small, powerful, and sounds cool. I’ve used it on jazz and experimental gigs, and it’s been a blast. You can also purchase a battery pack for it if you want to play it outside, which should be helpful for those outdoor summer wedding gigs. I have the pedal cable kit, which allows me to use the amp as a power source for my pedals.
- Powers 9V pedals
- 12V Power option so you can take the Junior anywhere
- Wide range of useful features, amazing tone, and output
Of course, before checking out these songbooks, you should check out The Guitar Lesson Companion method book series. It’s used by teachers and students in over 10 countries, including faculty at Berklee College of Music. I use these songbooks with students who are working though The Guitar Lesson Companion books.
Play your favorite hits from The Beatles, Elton John, Elvis Presley, The Police, Nirvana and more! The 20 songs in this book are presented in order of difficulty: All My Loving * Can You Feel the Love Tonight * Dust in the Wind * Every Breath You Take * I Get Around * I Shot the Sheriff * I Walk the Line * Imagine * Let It Be * Love Me Tender * Maggie May * My Cherie Amour * My Girl * My Heart Will Go On * Nowhere Man * Smells like Teen Spirit * Stand by Me * Walk Don’t Run * We Will Rock You * Your Cheatin’ Heart.
This book uses real blues songs no corny arrangments of nursery rhymes here! (well, except “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” but this is NOT the version you learned in kindergarten!) to teach you the basics of rhythm and lead blues guitar in the style of B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, and many others. Lessons include: 12-bar blues; chords, scales and licks; vibrato and string bending; riffs, turnarounds, and boogie patterns; hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides; standard notation and tablature; and much more! Songs include: Boom Boom * Born Under a Bad Sign * Double Trouble * Killing Floor * Sweet Home Chicago * You Shook Me * and more. The CD includes over 70 tracks for demo and play-along.
The new standard in jazz fake books since 1988. Endorsed by McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Dave Liebman, and many more. Evenly divided between standards, jazz classics and pop-fusion hits, this is the all-purpose book for jazz gigs, weddings, jam sessions, etc. Like all Sher Music fake books, it features composer-approved transcriptions, easy-to-read calligraphy, and many extras (sample bass lines, chord voicings, drum appendix, etc.) not found in conventional fake books.
Classical Studies for Pick-Style Guitar – Volume 1: Develop Technical Proficiency with Innovative Solos and Duets
This Berklee Workshop, featuring over 20 solos and duets by Bach, Carcassi, Paganini, Sor and other renowned composers, is designed to acquaint intermediate to advanced pick-style guitarists with some of the excellent classical music that is adaptable to pick-style guitar. With study and practice, this workshop will increase a player’s knowledge and proficiency on this formidable instrument.
Jimi Hendrix, Guitar Signature Licks: A Step-by-Step Breakdown of His Guitar Styles and Techniques (Book & CD)
This book/CD pack offers a unique and thorough examination of twelve of Hendrix’s greatest compositions. Each song segment is presented with all of the guitar parts fully transcribed, plus accompanying audio on CD, as performed by a full band. All solos, as well as complex rhythm parts, are also performed slowly for easier consumption and understanding. Performance notes, outlining chord voicings, scale use, and unusual techniques are included for each song. Songs include: Foxey Lady * Hey Joe * Little Wing * Purple Haze * and more.
OTHER BOOKS I DIG
Free Play is directed toward people in any field who want to contact, honor, and strengthen their own creative powers. It integrates material from a wide variety of sources among the arts, sciences, and spiritual traditions of humanity. Filled with unusual quotes, amusing and illuminating anecdotes, and original metaphors, it reveals how inspiration arises within us, how that inspiration may be blocked, derailed or obscured by certain unavoidable facts of life, and how finally it can be liberated – how we can be liberated – to speak or sing, write or paint, dance or play, with our own authentic voice.
The whole enterprise of improvisation in life and art, of recovering free play and awakening creativity, is about being true to ourselves and our visions. It brings us into direct, active contact with boundless creative energies that we may not even know we had.
Just about every human being knows how to listen to music, but what does it take to make music? Is musicality something we are born with? Or a skill that anyone can develop at any time? If you don’t start piano at the age of six, is there any hope? Is skill learning best left to children or can anyone reinvent him-or herself at any time?
For anyone who has ever set out to play a musical instrument—or wished that they could—Guitar Zero is an inspiring and fascinating look at the pursuit of music, the mechanics of the mind, and the surprising rewards that come from following one’s dreams. Gary Marcus, whom Steven Pinker describes as “one of the deepest thinkers in cognitive science,” debunks the popular theory that there is an innate musical instinct while challenging the idea that talent is only a myth. From deliberate and efficient practicing techniques to finding the right music teacher, Marcus translates his own experience—as well as reflections from world-renowned musicians—into practical advice for anyone hoping to become musical or learn any new skill.
Drawing on cutting-edge neurology and firsthand research gathered on journeys to nine of the world’s talent hotbeds—from the baseball fields of the Caribbean to a classical-music academy in upstate New York—Coyle identifies the three key elements that will allow you to develop your gifts and optimize your performance in sports, art, music, math, or just about anything.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.
OTHER COOL HELPFUL GEAR I DIG
I used this drum machine to create the drum and bass tracks for my first book’s accompanying CD. This is the best drum machine around, and my students who own it tend to develop cool guitar grooves pretty quickly and have a lot of fun practice sessions.
I wrote and article that shows how guitarists can use the Roland Drum coach to Improve Your Time and Rhythmic Accuracy. All you have to do is plug your guitar into the coach and you can get immediate feedback on your time and accuracy.
Innovative EZ Compose feature for quick, hassle-free programming 440 world-class drum and percussion sounds 40 bass sounds with COSM bass-amp models Guitar/bass input Multi-effects COSM amp models 3 independent insert effects (EQ and compression), TSC (Total Sound Control) featuring 3-band EQ and high-quality ambiance 1,000 patterns (500 preset, 500 user) Easily add fills, ghost notes, chord progressions, and more 20 velocity-sensitive pads 4 assignable footswitch and expression-pedal inputs
Roland RMP-5 -inch Practice Pad with PCM Sound Engine, 54 Sounds Onboard, Mix input for Playing CD Players and Audio Devices
- PCM sound engine with 54 sounds onboard with Mix input for playing along with CD players or other audio devices
- External dual trigger input for adding an optional kick and cymbal pad
- Variety of metronome sounds and patterns (samba, jazz, etc.)
- Patented mesh head technology for a great acoustic feel
- Advanced Rhythm Coach exercises, featuring Stroke Balance and Time Check