Being that it is mid-December, odds are that you, like most people, are in the throes of holiday shopping. If there is a musician on your list, picking the right gift from him or her does not have to be painful. As a musician and gear enthusiast, one of the complaints I hear so often from friends and family is that it is hard to find gifts for me. But in fact, musicians are not as hard to buy gifts for as you would imagine! There are always certain things we need and things we could use more of. So if you’re caught at an impasse on what to get the music lover in your life, let this guide be your … guide. I’ll be breaking down failsafe gifts by price-point, covering everything from stocking stuffers to huge gifts. And remember, shopping at locally-owned, independent stores stimulates your local economy and makes your community vibrant!
Stocking Stuffers / Gifts under $20
These are your fail-safes. Everything listed here are things that musicians (especially guitarists) need on a daily basis and could always use more of.
- Tuners. We’ve all got them, but we could always use more, especially if your gift recipient has multiple guitars. Although I have three of them, I feel like none of them are ever around when I need them, so the more the better with these. Price: $13.99 (Snark) to $19.99 (Korg).
- Capos. Similar to tuners, we’ve all got them, but can never find them when we need them. Always a welcomed gift. Price: $9.99 (D’Addario) to $19.95 (Kyser).
- Strings. Always, always, always a need for these. If you’re playing a guitar regularly, strings can sometimes deteriorate in a relatively short order, necessitating a change in strings. The hot new item this year in the string world was the release of Ernie Ball Paradigm strings, which actually come with a warranty against breakage. One word of advice when gifting strings would be to know which gauge your gift recipient plays before buying, as most guitarists have particular gauges that they stay loyal to for personal preference. Price: $4.99 (Ernie Ball Slinky) to $14.99 (Ernie Ball Paradigm). Bonus: $10.99 for a string winder, which makes life so much easier when changing strings.
- V-Picks. A low-cost, high-reward accessory that any guitars will appreciate. V-Picks are hand-crafted plectrums that really make your guitar sing. I can’t get enough of these, and with so many varieties to choose from, you can’t go wrong gifting one or two of these. Price: $4 to $8.
- Music Nomad instrument care products. Music Nomad makes everything from polishing clothes, lubricants, polish, and work station accessories, which all contribute to the health of your guitar and the sanity of your workstation. My particular favorite is the neck cradle, which is worth its weight in gold if you are working on a guitar with a fragile neck/headstock, such as virtually any Gibson guitar. Price: $3.49 (polishing cloth) to $19.99 (neck cradle).
- Fender Christmas tree ornaments. Sure, we would all love an original 1950’s Telecaster, but most of us don’t have a spare $20,000 laying around to drop on one. What’s the next best thing? A 6” replica to adorn your Christmas tree! Price: $19.99.
More Than a Stocking Stuffer / Gifts from $25 to $100
- Teenage Engineering Pocket Synths. These pocket-sized micro-synths and drum machines offer near-limitless musical possibilities and an unmatched tactile education all while having fun. Perfect for the tinkerer in your life, and fun for musicians of all instruments and disciplines. Price: $49 to $89.
- Guitar straps. Let’s face it: straps get sweaty and stinky and gross and stretched out sometimes. It happens to the best of them. Upgrades are always welcome. Straps are available across the price and material spectrum to fit all budgets. Price: $5.99 to $55.99.
- Truetone One-Spot. This handy power adapter can supply power for eight pedals using one wall outlet. I use these all the time for messing around with my pedals at home. It’s perfect for experimentation and just having easy access to power for your pedals without having to futz around with a ton of different adapters. Price: $39.95.
- Shure SM57 and SM58. Arguably the most popular and most widely-used microphones of all time and for good reason. They sound amazing, are damn near indestructible, and won’t break the bank. Use the 57 for guitar cabs and snare drums, and the 58 for vocals. Price: $99.99.
- Hal Leonard Ukulele Starter Pack. Ukuleles are compact and ridiculously fun. This kit includes a uke, method book, and a DVD. Everything you would need to get started on this pint-sized barrel of fun. Price: $79.99.
- Lessons! Does the musician in your life have all the gear they need to make music history but is in need of some technique or fine-tuning of their ability? Call us at 860.479.5188 for pricing on a 35, 45, or 60-minute session.
Bigger Gifts from $100 to $300
- Pedals. Yaaaaaaaaas. Now we’re talking. Pedals are among a musician’s favorite things in the world. There is a seemingly infinite amount of pedals out there to choose from, and an infinite amount of curiosity and desire for experimentation associated with them. From simple pedals such as overdrives and compressors to more complex and malleable effects like vibratos and delays, our in-stock pedals are mostly crafted by boutique brands, which are often associated with superior craftsmanship. These pedals maintain their value and collectability and will never outlive their usefulness. Price: Generally between $150 and $250.
- Voodoo Lab Dingbat Pedal Boards. An essential accessory for any guitarist using pedals, this Voodoo Lab pedalboard gives you a nice platform to secure your pedals, and even comes with a soft case for transport. Price: $129.99 - $169.99.
- Schecter C-6 electric guitar. It can be difficult to find a reliable electric guitar for under $300, but the Schecter C-6 has you covered. I’ve had a blast noodling around on these in the store. The string-thru body gives these guitars a very nice sustain. This would be a perfect gift for a beginner guitarist or even a seasoned player who is looking for another useful guitar to add to their arsenal. Price: $269.
Even Bigger Gifts from $300 to $700
- Vox AC4C1. The classic Vox tone in a compact enclosure that won’t break the bank or your back. Featured in a mouth-watering limited edition white bronco tolex, this combo amp packs a real tube circuit and a Celestion 12” speaker into a tiny package for big tone. Put a bow on this and you’ll make someone’s holiday very bright. Price: $379.99.
- Fishman Loudbox Artist Acoustic Amplifier. For the acoustic player in your life, this amp provides vast tonal options, and will let them be heard no matter what the playing conditions. Price: $574.95.
- Affordable acoustic guitars from Guild and Eastman. These guitars are so expertly crafted that they play and sound way beyond their price point. Make no mistake, these are seriously good guitars that will suit the professional as well as the beginner in your life. Price: $399.99 - $519.
- Strymon Big Sky reverb pedal. One of the most popular and in-demand pedals available today, the Strymon Big Sky’s capabilities are endless. This is a serious pedal for the serious guitarist who is into experimentation. Price: $479.99.
At the Top of the Nice List: Gifts from $700 to $1,500
- Gretsch Energy 5-pc. Drum kit with Zildjian cymbals. An affordable yet professional-sounding package that includes everything the budding drummer will need to get started. Price: $749.99.
- Eastman T386. If you’re unfamiliar with Eastman, they are manufacturing guitars that are of superb, hand-crafted quality, while relatively affordable, thanks to leveraging relationships overseas to keep their costs low. This semi-hollow body stacks up against some of the finest American boutique offerings at a fraction of the price. Price: $1,125.
- Bad Cat Player Series Cub III 15R. A USA-made 15w 1x12” combo amp that has a very versatile tonal palette for the studio and gigging guitarist. Price: $1,399.