The guitar world is chock-full of gizmos, doodads, and whatchamacallits that solve myriad problems. Some are bogus—or at least seem that way to experienced players. I mean, do you really need finger weights, pick hats, $1,000 cables, pick punchers, or guitar string bracelets? How about $5 picks or $40 slides?
But even if you’re skeptical, there’s no shortage of serious products that make life easier. Tools exist to tighten an impossible output jack from the inside, extend a guitar cable up to 300 feet without signal loss, restring a Bigsby sans frustration, and even to remember your settings without marking up vintage pedals.
But what you don’t know, you don’t know.
Believe it or not, a small army of techs, geeks, tinkerers, and tone fiends have spent years researching, developing, testing, and perfecting new devices, fixes, and workarounds to solve common problems that hamper performance and cause frustration. They’ve invested thousands, turned their basements into laboratories, skipped meals, slept on the floor, and drank enough coffee to give an elephant a buzz. And in some cases, these gear pioneers have stumbled upon genius.
In this roundup, we highlight a handful of these ingenious-yet-little-known innovations. Many of these products will make you say, “Duh, I should’ve thought of that.” They will save you headaches, time, money, and help you focus on the important stuff—like guitar playing.
Pedal-Setting SaversPedal Labels offer a simple, cheap way to mark settings on your stompboxes without ruining them with gooey adhesives or scribbling on their faces. They come in sheets of pre-printed stickers featuring large white circles and a sticky back: mark your settings and stick them to your pedals.
The stickers come in standard configurations—like the most popular Boss, MXR, and Ibanez models—as well as individual knobs to match to whatever one-of-a-kind boutique devices you use.
$7.95 street (six 9”x4” sheets of assorted configurations) or $2.95 (for two)
Guitar Output TightenerFew things are more frustrating than a loose output jack that you can’t retighten. Worse, the loose piece inside the electronics cavity spins around as you attempt to fix it—and that yanks loose solder joints and wires. It’s a simple problem that shouldn’t require taking your guitar apart or a trip to the shop, but sometimes you have no choice.
Enter the Bullet Guitar Jack Tightener. It grabs the jack from the inside and enables you to tighten or loosen it without having to use other tools or remove the jack plate. It fits U.S.-sized half-inch nuts for quarter-inch jacks, is an all-in-one contraption, and is made from a hard plastic (as opposed to metal, like most tools) that won’t ruin your finish.
Bigsby Re-Stringing BuddyIf you own a Bigsby, you probably hate restringing it. Making a kink in the ball end, putting it under the roller, and connecting it to the string peg while somehow keeping it tight and from popping out … yikes. The Vibramate String Spoiler is a godsend. It’s a bracket that slips over the string pins on the Bigsby’s central roller. You install the first string and, once that’s set, you just drop the other five in place and you’re done. This handy contraption is made of high-grade stainless steel, fits all Bigsby models, and is available in silver, black, or gold.
$35 street in silver (additional $20 for black or gold)