Not your grandpa’s holiday gift guide!
Let’s face it, most musicians aren’t figuratively rolling in the proverbial dough. So when it comes to buying gear, we normally buy the essentials. We make a “wants vs needs” list, check it twice (see what I did there), and sadly file away the “wants” portion with a tear in our eye.
When the holidays finally roll around, some musicians will not so subtly hand said list off to family, spouses, and friends. But others, not wanting to go through the heartbreak of re-visiting the list of gear they’ll never be able to have, just quietly sulk in the corner. Drinking eggnog all by themselves. Cold and alone.
Don’t let that special guitarist in your life drink eggnog by themselves, cold and alone! Since they won’t come out with the list, use this useful gift guide (AKA, the Christmas list I'm sending to my wife).
(if you’re a guitarist, send this to your gift giving friends and family with your notes ;)
Anytime someone says “ear buds just don’t work in my ears”, it’s clear they mean Air Pods or those $20 jobbers with those weird rubber tips. The benefit of having custom in ear monitors is that they’re molded specifically to your ears. Those also come with a hefty price tag.
So the next best thing, and what I personally use, is the Shure SE series IEMs. They’re made for gigging musicians. The audio is clear, they wrap over your ears to stay in place, and they’re sound isolating (30+ dB of outide noise reduction). The cable is detachable and replaceable.
And best of all, they come with several moldable foam tips. So they’ll stay comfortably in everyone’s ears.
(if this is a little out of budget, check out the SE215. This is still an excellent option)
If you’ve been around here before, you probably know I'm a huge fan of the Focusrite Scarlett series. These are super affordable, USB powered (on the smaller format options), and sound really good. There are several sizes with varying ins and outs, but the 2i2 is a great place to start (and what I personally use).
This falls into the category of “I would love to have one of those! But I would only use it to dink around so I probably shouldn’t buy it”. Which is why it’s a perfect gift. Every guitarist in the world wants one of these (unverified but probably true), but they don’t know what to do with it. Receiving one as a gift is a great no-guilt way to finally be able to use one.
Most guitarists live in a place where they can’t crank their tube amps. Either because they’re in an apartment, have roommates, or really grouchy neighbors. Tube amps really need to be cranked to get the best tone though.
The Bugera PS-1 solves this. It safely takes the electrical load from your cranked amp, and lets you control the volume of said cranked amp. Without changing your amp settings.
I’ve never heard a guitar player say, “You know what, I do have enough delay pedals after all!”.
Joyo is one of those made in China budget brands with a cult following. The pedals wont blow you away, but they’re actually really cool. And for a third, fourth, or even fifth delay pedal (no jest), they’re perfect.
Here’s a good starter pair of powered studio monitors. The 3” speakers put out a lot more low end then you’d think from the size, while still maintaining a balanced EQ without coloring the mix. I wouldn’t normally even consider monitors at this price point, but PreSonus has a lock on this part of the market. Just like the Scarlett interfaces, these are seriously legit and worth way more than the sticker price.
This is an inexpensive pedalboard designed after the Pedal Train boards. You can cleanly and securely mount your pedals and power supply, and pack it all in an easy-to-carry case.
Having a good pair of headphones is important for any studio. Whether you’re trying to play quietly, or want to check your mix. Cheaper headphones tend to lack bass response, so I like step up models like this. The snug fit will provide sound isolation so you can hear your music clearly.
If you use a tablet for any reason, even just for rehearsals, you need a tablet mount. This clips securely on any mic stand or stage hardware, and makes it easy to see what you’re doing. The low profile magnet mounts discretely to your table. The two hinge points make it so you can find that perfect position.
If you use a laptop, tablet, or smartphone for shows or rehearsals, you should check this out. STOMP is a hands-free, Bluetooth page turner and app controller pedal. That means you don’t have to take your hands off your instrument to change charts or sheet music, start/stop click tracks, or trigger backing tracks.
Basically, you can control anything you use your laptop, tablet, or smartphone for in your set.
Stocking Stuffer Ideas For Guitarists
If you’re just looking for inexpensive stocking stuffers, pass on the strings and picks unless you know what they use. Guitarists are very particular about these things. Here are a few better options:
One of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time. Just look at it! It’s not licensed by Orange so you don’t get the logo, but we all know what it is.
If they’re a Fender type of person, they also have one for them.
I never play a gig without a tool kit. You never know when you’ll need to fix something on the fly. This kit gives you everything you need to change strings and make minor adjustments. The expansive hex wrench set works on all truss rods (with a female slot) and electric guitar bridges. You’ll also get a few extra tools like a screwdriver, ruler, clippers, and string winder.
Cleaning your guitar and conditioning your fretboard every time you change your strings is ideal. The polish keeps the finish looking good, and removed oils/acids/sweat/dirt that can actually damage it. The fretboard conditioner keeps your fretboard clean (same reasons as the polish) and conditions the wood so it doesn’t dry out. You cant have enough of this stuff around.
On a dark stage in the middle of your set, it can be hard to see your pedals. This micro pedal has a small footprint, comes with a 17” USB powered light, and has a second USB output to charge your phone or tablet.
While you can power most pedals with a 9v battery, it’s much less risky to use a power supply. You’ll never need to worry about a battery running low or cutting your signal during a set. This works with any Boss style stomp box.