Need some holiday gift ideas? Check out the best gifts for guitar players in this guest post by Los Angeles, CA guitar teacher Nils B...
It’s the time of the year when most retailers offer some pretty decent discounts on a variety of gear. Assuming the basics (picks, tuner, strap, gig bag/case, cable, and amp) are already accounted for, these are some good suggestions, either to pick up for yourself or as a holiday gift. Most of these can be found in the $10-$50 range.
Apps & Software
• Tuner apps: These can be found for free or relatively little, and work great as a main tuner, or as a backup, since most people take their phone wherever they go.
• Metronome apps: A metronome is an absolutely essential practice aid, and these virtual versions often feature quite advanced options like polyrhythms and automated tempo changes.
• Multitrack recorder: Most phones and tablets offer a basic voice recorder, but you can open a whole new range of possibilities with a multitrack app specifically meant for audio recording and editing. It’s great for quickly saving ideas and even complete songs, or easily creating your own jam tracks.
• Modeling apps: These offer software emulations of amplifiers and effects, either as post-processing (as part of a multitrack recorder) or in real time, and usually work best in combination with interface cable.
• Interface cable: In case you’re not satisfied with your phone’s built-in microphone for accurately capturing your guitar’s sound, there are also a good number of audio interfaces/adapter cables available for phones and tablets, enabling you to connect your guitar (or any other instrument) directly to your device for a higher-quality signal. These work great in combination with most recorder or amp/effects modeling apps.
• Miscellaneous apps: In addition to the aforementioned apps, there is a whole range of ear training, fretboard trainer, and chord dictionary apps available, all of which are great tools to extend your musical knowledge.
• Strap locks: These prevent your guitar strap from slipping off the strap buttons, and have been an absolute lifesaver for me. I have them on all my guitars and all my straps, for ultimate interchangeability. There are various different models and designs available, which all pretty much do the same thing.
• Capo: This is a small clamp that clips onto any position on the fretboard, shifting the key of the open position. These are essential for guitarists who prefer open chord shapes instead of barre chords, or anyone who would like to be able to utilize more advanced open chord voicings in different positions/keys. There are lots of different models available, and it is important to make sure the capo is compatible with the guitar it is intended for.
• Slide: This is a cylinder that fits around one of the fingers on your fretting hand and substitutes the frets, allowing for smooth transitions in pitch and a very expressive vibrato. Different materials (glass/metal/ceramics) give different sounds and preference is really a matter of taste.
• Ebow: An EBow is a small, battery-powered device that replaces your pick and creates infinite sustain on whatever string you float it over. It takes a little while to get used to, but it turns the guitar into a whole new instrument. You can also combine it with a slide for even more interesting sounds.
• String winder/cutter: These make installing new strings a breeze; plus, they are cheap and fit in any gig bag!
• Multitool: These generally include a screwdriver and truss rod/bridge/saddle adjustment hex keys, essential for on-the-fly adjustments to your guitar’s setup, but they also come in handy for any odd job that requires a screwdriver.
• Cleaning kit: This generally includes a microfiber cloth, a cleaner, a fretboard conditioner, and occasionally a polish. Keeping your guitar clean does not only make it look better and play nicer, it also prevents damage to the wood and hardware.
• Single or multi-guitar stand: This is a great accessory to have if you use more than one guitar live, or if you want to keep your collection at home safely stored.
• Wall hanger: These make your guitars double as cool-looking wall decorations, plus it’s also a great way to save floor space.
Whether for a beginner or a more advanced guitarist, these are great additions to any player’s arsenal of tools and supplies, and there’s something here to fit everyone’s budget. They’ll make the perfect gift for the guitarist in your life, keeping him or her inspired and motivated, or in some cases they simply make life easier — which means more time can be spent playing instead!
Nils B. teaches guitar, ear training, and music theory in Los Angeles, CA. He attended various schools for his training, including the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood. Nils has been teaching students since 2002. Learn more about Nils here!
Photo by philwirks