Christmas is approaching, and if you have guitarists in your midst here are some great gift tips. Most of them require you know the reciever and some of his/her gear preferences (but don’t all great gifts build on knowledge of the person?).
1. Guitar Strap
To be able to stand up and play, you need a strap on your guitar. Straps often falls well within the budget of gifts and are available in uncountable styles and variations. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also get straplocks (a system for securing the strap so it won’t accidentally come loose from the guitar).
For the guitarist who: has guitars without straps
Not for the guitarist who: only plays at home sitting down
2. Books, DVDs or Magazine Subscriptions
Everyone needs inspiration and learning new things. Get a book, a learning DVD (why not classics like John Petrucci’s Rock Discipline or Paul Gilbert’s Intense Rock) or a subscription to a guitar magazine like Total Guitar or Guitar World. A subscription is especially nice, as it’s a gift that lasts through the whole year.
For the guitarist who: wants to develop his or her playing
Not for the guitarist who: can’t read.
3. A DIY Pedal Kit
Building your own pedal can be very rewarding, and a great way of getting into understanding your gear and starting down the dark path that is modding. The actual assembly of a pedal kit can also be a great holiday project. If you want to go completely overboard, there are also valve amplifier DIY kits.
For the guitarist who: likes to tinker and solder
Not for the guitarist who: just wants to play
All guitarists need new strings, nothing will give the guitar a fresh feeling as easily as a new set of strings. Easy to find and don’t have to be very expensive, you can usually get a lot better prices buying at least 10 sets from an online store. Note that strings come in a lot of different variations (brands, materials, coatings, gauges), and you have to get at least the gauge right.
For the guitarist who: plays alot
Not for the guitarist who: you don’t know the favorite string gauge of
5. Mobile Practice Kit
There are numerous ways of practicing with just an electric guitar, headphones a minimum of gear. One way is getting a self-contained headphone amp like AmPlug, or one of the smaller digital modelers like Line 6 Pocket POD. My favorite is the Apogee Jam guitar interface for iPhone and an app like AmpKit.
For the guitarist who: has to practice on the road, or without disturbing sleeping children (much like myself)
Not for the guitarist who: hates digital amp modelers
6. Maintenance Kit
All guitars need love, everything from changing strings through fretboard cleaning to truss rod adjustments and intonation. There are numerous cleaning and maintenance kits for guitars, as well as specialized tool kits and multitools.
For the guitarist who: likes to take care of his instruments
Not for the guitarist who: is too rock and roll to care (i.e. idiot) or who has his own guitar tech (i.e. superstar)
7. Band Merch
You can’t play rock or metal and go to practice wearing a suit – even the mostly closeted guitarist needs some appropriate apparel, and what’s easier than t-shirts or hoodies from his or her favorite band? Most bands have their own online merchandise stores.
For the guitarist who: you know favorite bands and shirt size of
Not for the guitarist who: is actually a real closet metal fan who wouldn’t be caught dead in band merch
A good tuner pedal can be a lifesaver at a gig and really handy at practice. One of the most famous tuner pedals is TC electronics’s Polytune. With it, you can tune all six strings at once – a fast way of getting the guitar back in tune. It also has single-string modes that also work well for guitars with more than six strings.
For the guitarist who: doesn’t own a tuner pedal
Not for the guitarist who: only plays through a POD or modeling amp with built-in tuner.
All good guitar technique is built up from a slow tempo, gradually increasing speed until you reach the goal tempo while still playing clean. There are a lot digital alternatives – sites with online metronomes, iPhone apps etc. But there’s something special about an old-fashioned mechanical metronome, and it’s one piece of equipment that will look great as an interior decoration detail in almost any home.
For the guitarist who: likes pretty vintage things
Not for the guitarist who: hates practicing with a metronome
10. Gift Certificate
When all other ideas fail, there’s always the gift certificate. You can get it from a local music shop or one of the large online web shops. A special case is if you know the guitarist is using AmpKit or Amplitube on iPhone or iPad. Then an Itunes gift certificate can be a good alternative, €10 or €20 buys a lot of extra virtual amp models or stomp boxes.
For the guitarist who: has very particular tastes (not uncommon)
Not for the guitarist who: has very particular tastes in stores
Missing something from the list? Add it in the comments?