These are all tools, utilities and gadgets that I have and love and use all the time, or are on my wishlist for imminent acquisition. I’ve chosen to stick to the more casual side of guitar maintenance - and have thus excluded things such as fret-rockers and the like. If you want to do full setup, intonation and nuanced maintenance of your guitar you will need some more serious tools than these - these are really just for everyday maintenance, string changes, quick restore, buff and polish etc - along with some additional guitar playback accessories.
There are several here I consider must-haves for me, if you don’t have one already - then treat yourself to a Roadie 2 Automated Tuner and Ibanez Multi-Tool. Some of these might be gravy, and I guess some iterations could be construed such - these are all essentials for me though. I even thought to include a really cool Braun travel clock which I use as a looping reference point - i.e. highly visible sweeping second hand!
I’ve really tried to include a little of everything here, and generally these are not generics - there may be a couple here, but I’m usually quite specific about exactly which one I acquire as there can be a huge variety in price and quality. On the question of price - you need to know that this is all over the place and fluctuates wildly all the time. Generally with guitar gear - if you wait long enough you will be able to get everything at a reasonable price. That is unless you miss the opportunity and prices start to ebb upwards again. I always have to double-check things on my Amazon wishlist - and I often make notes on the price - as Amazon will tell you when the price drops, but not when it’s been raised. From one day to the next the variance can be as much as 50% so please exercise due caution. Note also that I’m doing this exercise during the weekend of Black Friday - so their may still be discounts active - so please bear than in mind when you shop around.
I would generally encourage you to shop around in any case there is usually someone who has it slightly cheaper than the others!
Items are listed / pictured alphabetically left-to right in rows by brand:
Really smart Chinese-made rechargeable power supply which provides enough juice to power 10 pedals from 9v to 18V as follows
Obviously depending on which pedals you deploy you get anything from around a couple of hours to around 6 or 7 hours or more. The power supply comes with every cable you need, including USB adapters - allowing you to power USB devices too. Beware that there seem to be several versions of this doing the rounds - and make sure you get the one with the individual socket values printed on the front. Also it seems that some of the earlier models had quality control issues where power was not being evenly distributed between outlets - so look out for that too.
A final proviso being that these are not as well made as Cioks, Friedman, Strymon and Voodoo Labs power supplies for instance - which have high tolerances for being driven hard, but none of those yet offer a competing product to this. You should though really not overload this system with high-power-consumption devices, as I'm not sure it will take a pounding on all sockets simultaneously - for it's price though and overall concept it's great!
These are my favourite cleaner and restorer - with a pleasant natural smelling citrus fragrance, and free from the toxins that are included in most of the competitors (meaning you really don't need to wear protective gloves) - they combine together to clean, shine and protect most parts of your guitar's body-work in a most excellent fashion - in particular the fretboard. In fact I have found pretty much all of Crimson Guitars' tools and supplies to be of the very highest quality and consistency. (although logistics have been patchy at times!)
The fretboard, strings and frets of your guitar get tarnished and dirty with time and need cleaning and polishing every now and again - and your frets will need special attention. Some may be insufficiently smooth to the touch too - so these Crimson Guitars Fret Rubbers in 4 degrees of abrasiveness - Coarse, Medium, Fine and Super-Fine will help you get everything looking and feeling like new again.
Even though TC Electronic now has a version of this with some neat features of its own - the Aeon, and a lower price tag of £59 - I still feel that the more compact and elegant form factor of the original makes it the first choice for this sort of cello-like or synthy resonating strings effect. You need to shop around for a good price on these as they can go for over £100, but are also out there for considerably less.
Of course if you have the twice as expensive Roadie 2 Automated Tuner - that also has a winder function built-in, but if you prefer to tune by other means, then this is a really decent alternative battery-powered winder tool - also available in even lower-cost standard version.
I have a number of slim-ish wrenches too for tightening and undoing the various bolts you find on a guitar - strap anchors / strap-locks etc. This spanner has a really slim set of grippers that are perfect for the tight clearances you find on a guitar - a really handy and well-made tool - it's also incredibly compact and ergonomic to use.
I've actually pictured my Elagon equivalent which came with a full Guitar Tool Kit I bought on Amazon - but there are lots of similar 2-ended pencil-type format cleaners like this - with sliding rubber protrusions for cleaning and lubricating your strings. They vary in price around £5 to £7 typically.
If you play high-gain guitar, then these 'string mutes' are pretty much essential to stop the other strings ringing out while you strum or pick away. Gruv Gear has 3 types of these - ranging from top-to-bottom - FretWedge, this sits behind / above the nut and under the strings. The FretWrap wraps around the neck and strings as close to the nut as you can get it whilst still being able to hit those lower notes. Finally the 'Fump' clips onto the strings just after your bridge - for instant palm-muting style impact.
There are lots of different Guitar Multi Tools - I have the 4 leading ones including this one, Chess Tools, Cruz Tools, and the JP Guitar Tool. I consider the Ibanez to be the best all-rounder with a handy mix of Allen keys, screwdrivers and truss rod wrench - it comes in various colours which can bizarrely vary in price - red is currently the most common.
Any guitar owner will have to change strings regularly and you need a good pair of pliers / wire cutters for clipping off the excess and removing the incumbents. These are the sharpest neatest little high quality Japanese custom things I could find - and they work a treat!
I use both this one and the Planet Waves XLR8 String Lubricant / Cleaner - the XLR8 comes in a smaller / neater / cheaper package, while I prefer the shape, coverage and feel of the larger Music Nomad String Fuel - so it depends if you value compactness or ergonomics - both of these work great.
I feel every guitar owner should have this Nomad Tool which is perfectly shaped for brushing away dirt, dust, grime and debris from most of the parts of your guitar.
I currently have the also excellent Dunlop Formula 65 double-sided Neck Cradle (£33) while I've long intended to get this more compact foldable version also - at 1/3rd of the price!
These are probably on special offer right now at the above price (Black Friday / Cyber Monday), as they're usually quite a bit north of £100 - normally around £115-£130. Whichever price you pay really - these are so worth it, my favourite guitar tuner by some distance - I pretty much use this for everything now - to such an extent that I've removed the TCE PolyTune Mini Noir from my board. Of course those playing live may have different requirements, but for home players - this really is just the quickest way to tune your guitar to any scale tuning.
When you change strings on your guitar - it usually takes a while for your strings to get worn in at the start. What most players do therefore is tug randomly on the strings - to 'stretch' them out - so as to get better tuning stability from the start. Of course rather haphazardly tugging at your strings can lead to strings being stretched to differing degrees - so this handy tool smooths out and simplifies that process for you - giving you a nice and even initial stretch!
I actually have both this one and the above 'Nomad Tool' - the advantage of this one is that it cleans 3 surfaces simultaneously - the surface and under-side of your strings, and the fretboard. Mostly I just use the Nomad Tool - but you need to do a couple of sweeps on that versus one on this - and as this sort of locks onto your strings - you should get a more thorough clean with it.
There must be thousands of different headstock tuners - even though this has been out for a fair few years now, I still don't think it's been beaten - had I not my Roadie 2 automatic peg tuner, I would be using this more regularly - I have the earlier white version, but of course the latter black version is cooler!
I have a soft spot for beautifully engineered gadgets, and the Thalia Capos are still the best overall capos for me in terms of function, quality and look. They come in a huge variety of colours and materials with Swarovski embedded crystal versions being around 3 times more expensive than the typical ones. The one pictured is the Hawaiian Koa Celtic Knot Brushed Black version which retails for £66. I honestly don't deploy capos that often, but these would be my choice for when.
I also don't tend to use a Slide too often, but prefer this mini Thimble variety which still lets you fret normally with that finger. These come in several different sizes - and depending on how your fingers sweat and swell up, you might need to try a couple of these on for size. No UK supplier that I could find, but readily available from Thomann.
These are now available on Amazon, but I inadvertently bought mine from Sweetwater via Ebay back when they were first released. Far too many manufacturers don't publish their pedals current draw figures or milliAmp values - which gets more important the more pedals are in your pedal chain - and I have 40 now - all on isolated supply, so I need to know how many Amps / milliAmps each of those pedals is drawing. The device will also test your patch cables so it's a superb all-rounder. Remember also to record all 3 of your pedal current values - bypassed, on and active!
There are a hole bunch of these on Amazon now each for around £5 to £8 and of varying quality. Mine has the engraved pattern per the pictured one and is actually stamped with a 'Homeland' logo on the reverse, but I'm not sure those are still widely in circulation. In any case these are useful tools for prying and wrenching things apart - not as refined as the above spanner experience, but useful still for several tasks.
There are of course lots of digital and app-based alternatives to this - watches even. But as I grew up playing piano and violin to these traditional clockwork / wound-up metronomes, I again rather enjoy using them for guitar - for rhythm training. These are beautiful little objets d'art as well as being fantastically practical time keepers.
I must admit that over the years I have been significantly influenced by Phillip McKnight / Know Your Gear - and include his 'Restring Tool Kit Video' here for reference. We Brits though don't have the advantage of ready access to the same resources - like the fantastic StewMac - which his not always practical for us to use (pay import charges etc.). So I've developed alternative means of supply and hunted out my own favourite tools.
I recently acquired a smallish 2-tray art-supplies / tackle-box style tool box (Daler Rowney Caddy Box), but it feels a bit cramped already. I've done lots of research on the subject, and Phillip's choice - the Flambeau Classic 3-Tray is definitely the one to go for - alas not readily stocked this site of the pond - so will need to source via Ebay or similar.
Finally finally on the subject of available tool kits - there are lots of these - from Ernie Ball, Fender, Nomad, Planet Waves etc. - and I even bought a semi-decent Nomad one at the start of my journey - thing is, you're really better off buying the tools individually and stowing in a larger caddy style box - as the price to quality ratio of those made-up toolkits really isn't worth it and you find yourself replacing most of those with better alternatives!