Guitar Gear


unnamed-33Like many guitarists, I love gear and gadgets. I appreciate high quality, useful products and I like to buy gear from these cool Seattle guitar shops:

The Guitar Store (Greenlake)
Emerald City Guitars (Pioneer Square)
Dusty Strings (Fremont)

If your local shop cannot get these items for you, use the links here to purchase items. (I’m an Amazon Associate. I will use some of the income this post generates to fund scholarships for kids in my neighborhood who cannot afford guitar lessons.


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.

MONO M80 Vertigo Electric Guitar Case

MONO M80-TICK-V2-BLK Guitar Tools

MONO M80 Sleeve Electric Guitar Case


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.

Manhasset Sheet Music Stand

K&M Ultra Lightweight Music Stand

Ultimate Support GS-100 Genesis Series Guitar Stand


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 EJ16-3D Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

D’Addario EXL110-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, 10-46

Dunlop 12 Pick Variety Pack

Planet Waves Cotton Guitar Strap, Black

Planet Waves Classic Series Instrument Cable, 10 feet

MAKA Flat Patch Cables (to connect effect pedals)


Every guitarists needs a good metronome and there are a million to choose from. I recommend the one below 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 Snark tuner below is inexpensive and easy to use. I use these clip on types in my studio so my students and I can catch up while they are tuning. I’ve listed a couple more that I own and also love. The PolyTune is great because it checks the tunings of each string when you strum all of them together. The Peterson is extremely accurate, but can be a little hard to use for beginners.

The guitar trainer, iRig, and studio headphones are all things I have in my practice space. (I own the older versions of the iRig and the Tascam trainer.) 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. And while you’re recording or transcribing, you need a good set of headphones, and the ones below are excellent.

Korg KDM-2 True Tone Advanced Digital Metronome

Snark SN-5 Tuner for Guitar, Bass and Violin

TC Electronic PolyTune Clip

Peterson StroboClip HD Strobe Tuner

Tascam CDGT2 Guitar Trainer

IK Multimedia iRig HD2 Guitar Interface for Smartphones and Tablets

Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone

Bose QuietComfort 25 Headphones


I don’t own a lot of effects pedals, but as you can tell, I am a big fan of the Loop Stations by Boss. I have owned almost 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.

Want to learn more about effects and pedals? Check my article on Understanding Sound Processing

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.

Boss RC-3 Loop Station

Boss RC-30 Phrase Looper Pedal

Boss RC-300 Loop Station

Dunlop CBM95 Cry Baby Mini Wah Pedal

Boss LS-2 Line Selector


I like small guitars and I like small amps. I don’t like arriving to a gig with tired hands from carrying a heavy amp. The Lunchbox 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, and the gig bag/case.

If you’re looking for something with more power and several inputs, and still can operate with a batteries, the Roland Street Amps are fantastic.

ZT Lunchbox Junior Amplifier

Roland CUBE Street EX 4-Channel 50-Watt Battery Powered Amplifier


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.

Jay Turser 3/4 Size JT-30 Electric Guitar

Oscar Schmidt 3/4 Size Acoustic/Electric Guitar

Ibanez GSR Mikro Compact Electric Bass Guitar


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.

Easy Pop Melodies Book

Hal Leonard Guitar Method – Blues Guitar

The New Real Book

Classical Studies for Pick-Style Guitar

Jimi Hendrix, Guitar Signature Licks


Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art

Guitar Zero: The Science of Becoming Musical at Any Age


Make It Stick

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience


I used the Dr. Rhythm 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.

If you don’t know what the Artiphon is, click the link, and check my video. It is awesome!

If you’re looking for a device that will help you play more comfortably, check out the two supports below. I use the A-Frame as well as the Guitar Cushions to keep my guitar at the best playing position for me.

Boss DR-880 Dr. Rhythm Drum Machine

Roland RMP-5

Artiphon INSTRUMENT 1 Black | Adaptive Multi-Instrument MIDI Controller

A-Frame-MI Multi-Instrument Adjustable Support

Guitar Cushion, for Guitar Players

I’m a little different than other guitar teachers because I teach the fundamentals of music using a clear structure that I tailor to each student’s goals and learning style.

Students develop a strong skill set to use in all kinds of musical situations, and many of my students perform all over the country, in various styles, earning their living from music.

I wrote The Guitar Lesson Companion method book series to help make teaching and learning the fundamentals of music easier and more effective, and today thousands of guitarists use these books! (Second Edition of Volume One: Published 2018!)

There are a few ways to study with me: I offer private guitar lessons, 4 week group classes, and “Pay What You Can” guitar classes at my Guitar Studio on Capitol Hill (Pike & Broadway), and I have a FREE 5 Year Online Guitar Course for students who want to work through these crucial skills using “The Guitar Lesson Companion” method books on their own, or with periodic lessons. Try it now! 

Contact Susan Palmer about lessons or the books:

Take Guitar Lessons with Susan Palmer

Joe Kirk: Guitar lessons with Susan helped to break down and organize my musical goals, creating an environment where I could advance to more complex playing styles while learning the musical building blocks that I largely ignored as a younger guitarist.

Mark: Over the years I’ve had a handful of guitar teachers and Susan Palmer is far and away the best I’ve had the pleasure to work with. It was immediately clear that Susan is completely committed to guitar instruction, her well thought out Lead Cat Press workbooks and ability to quickly tailor the lesson plans to my playing level and desired outcome enabled me to learn so much. Importantly, Susan held me to a high standard and pushed me to do the work that increased my understanding and enjoyment of the guitar, all with a pleasant and “chill” demeanor.

Rick Fortenberry, Sandpiper Guitar Studios: This ground-breaking book/CD is the one I wish I’d written for my students, but it’s also the one I wish I’d had when first seriously studying guitar. All the fundamentals and more are here. This is a good investment in a guitarist’s education.



THE FREE ONLINE GUITAR COURSE:  I based this FREE 5 Year Online Guitar Course off of my  two guitar method books and the syllabus I have used at Seattle University, where I have been an Adjunct Professor since 2006. Why? I want to make music education more accessible; all you need is the book, a guitar, and the internet to use this course! There are no short cuts but you will find a clear, effective, and modern approach to learning the fundamentals of music.

THE COURSE BOOKS YOU’LL NEED: “The Guitar Lesson Companion” is a two volume guitar method series that was designed to be used by students who are working with a good guitar teacher. Each book is 160 pages, spiral bound, and full of practical fundamental concepts and skills that will allow you to reach your full potential on guitar. Learn more about Volume One and Volume Two, or ORDER HERE for FREE SHIPPING.

Lesson Plan Overview: Don’t Be Scared!

Quickly find the lesson you need from “The Guitar Lesson Companion, Vol. 1”

Quickly find the lesson you need from “The Guitar Lesson Companion, Vol. 2”

Weekly Lesson Plan with Videos and Assignments for First Year Guitar Students

Weekly Lesson Plan with Videos and Assignments for Second Year Guitar Students

Weekly Lesson Plan with Videos and Assignments for Third Year Guitar Students

Weekly Lesson Plan with Videos and Assignments for Fourth Year Guitar Students

Weekly Lesson Plan with Videos and Assignments for Fifth Year Guitar Students

To get the most out of this Free Online Guitar Course, you’ll need to get the books so you can do the assignments. Start with Volume One, which takes about 2 years to complete. Order now or learn more.

Caution: No one follows this plan exactly, but everyone likes to see where they are and where they are headed.

Should you take guitar lessons while working through this material?

Guitar teachers who see you for weekly lessons will:

  • Answer your questions as they come up so you don’t feel stuck
  • Correct mistakes or issues you may not notice on your own, before they become bad habits
  • Pace your assignments appropriately, allowing you to make consistent progress
  • Hold you accountable to your assignments because you know you will be tested each week
  • Apply the concepts and skills you are learning to the music you enjoy that is at your level

Taking periodic guitar lessons allows you to:

  • Work at your own pace and within the limits of your busy schedule
  • Let your curiosity drive your learning, so you will have more questions at each lesson which may make you feel like you are getting a better value for each lesson
  • Feel more confident and prepared for each lesson that you do take, and even if you feel unprepared, you are ready for the guidance and structure to help you get back on track

Contact Susan Palmer about lessons or the books: