10 essential Christmas gifts for guitarists
Just a few weeks seem to have passed since we were compiling a gift guide for Christmas 2010, yet somehow it's December 2011 already, shopping days are at a premium and Winter NAMM 2012 looms large on the horizon.
If Santa Claus happens to be reading this, what we really want for Christmas is a Gretsch George Harrison Signature Duo Jet. However, in the interests of realism in this turbulent economic climate, what follows is a collection of stocking fillers for the guitar addict in your life, most of which are available for around £100 or less.
Click onwards to delve into our bulging sackful of guitar-centric Christmas gift ideas...
iTunes Apps Card (£15 or £25)
Anyone born before 1990 probably still finds it disconcerting that their mobile telephone can house their record collection, access the internet, record HD video and do plenty of other amazing things that would raise even Marty McFly's eyebrows.
That said, if your loved one owns an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch then they'll almost certainly have begun to investigate the numerous iOS apps available for guitar players. Everyone loves a gift voucher and an iTunes Apps Card makes a great Christmas present.
We'd recommend that they start with GarageBand and PolyTune (£2.99 each) and take it from there. Oh, and they'll also need some hardware to allow them to plug their guitar into their iOS device...
Korg Pandora Mini (£95)
Okay, okay. Not everyone has an iOS device, and there's definitely still a place for a standalone gadget loaded with great guitar sounds and play-along rhythms that's small enough to fit in your shirt pocket.
The Pandora Mini is exactly that gadget, and it also guarantees peace and quiet for you while your guitar-playing partner, sibling, son or daughter shreds away to their heart's content. Without ruining your enjoyment of the Queen's speech.
Be sure to stay tuned to MusicRadar throughout December for a special series of Pandora Mini giveaways. You don't have to tell them that you won their present in a competition...
Grolsch Premium Lager, 450ml swingtop bottle (£1.76 each)
It may seem tenuous, but aside from the obvious festive cheer provided by sinking a couple of bottles of Grolsch, there's a genuine reason why guitar players can benefit from the classic swingtop bottle more than most.
Before you take the empties out for recycling on 27 December, make sure you save the rubber gaskets. Aside from providing an airtight seal for the preservation of the glorious golden liquid within, they are also the finest straplocks known to man.
Those pink rubber rings have seen us through hundreds of shows, whereas much more expensive mechanical 'solutions' used to fail, causing embarrassing mid-song strap detachments. And nobody wants that.
Marshall Major Headphones (£90)
Whether they get their guitar practice kicks from the aforementioned iOS app store or via a killer piece of hardware like the Korg Pandora Mini, the guitarist in your life is going to need a high quality set of cans to get the most out of the experience.
Marshall's Majors include a microphone and mobile phone-compatible controls, and following some rigorous testing, our friends at Total Guitar awarded them a four star review rating, commenting: "They’re louder, and have a tighter bass response than our usual Sennheiser models, and work brilliantly for practising through an amp modeller."
Electro-Harmonix 44 Magnum (£109)
While this amp-in-a-pedal isn't going to be the most immediately useful present that your loved one unwraps on Christmas Day, it may well be the one that saves their arse somewhere down the line.
Few players can afford the luxury of being able to afford a spare guitar amplifier to take to gigs, and then there's the hassle of finding enough space in their vehicle to transport it. Happily, the 44 Magnum is a solution to both of these problems that can be stowed in the pocket of a gigbag. If their main amp goes down, this will save the day.
Planet Waves NS Mini Headstock Tuner (£20)
If you are the long-suffering partner of a guitar player, you'll doubtless have been subjected to years of noise pollution emanating from their general direction. It's obviously in your interests to make sure that their absent-minded noodling is in tune, so look no further for a discreet solution!
In the words of Guitarist magazine, the NS Mini Headstock Tuner is, "very neat, very inconspicuous, very small," which makes it perfect stocking filler fodder alongside the usual array of walnuts and tangerines. When used live, it's also virtually impossible for the audience to see it in situ.
String Stretcha (£12)
Okay so we're getting very nerdy and practical here, but this is the kind of gadget that most guitarists would never think to buy for themselves. However, they will thank you for it...
Stretching new strings is a vital part of the equation when it comes to keeping guitars in tune. Over to Total Guitar, who recently gave the String Stretcha a very healthy four stars, to explain how it works:
"It hooks around the string and then you slide it up the length of the scale. String Stretcha recommends two passes at each string (more will apparently overstretch it). We’ve tried it and only had to make a couple of minor retuning adjustments once we’d stretched the strings. After that, they were settled for good. Result."
Logjam Music Logarhythm Mk II (£59.95)
Anyone familiar with Seasick Steve's Mississippi drum machine will know that a simple, amplified footstomp can be a powerful tool for the solo guitarist.
You'll think you are buying the guitarist in your life a weird block of wood that's destined to become an expensive bookend, yet this might just kickstart the itinerant blues career after which they've always lusted. It even comes in four different woody flavours: sapele, maple, American walnut and cherry.
Yamaha THR (from £199)
To our eyes, guitar amplifiers are beautiful objects of desire, yet we'll bet that you wouldn't want one in the living room, would you? Well think again. Yamaha's THR amplifiers look like a cross between a boutique lunchbox amp head and a smart retro radio, and would be right at home on a bookcase or coffee table.
More than simply being great practice amps, the THR units might just consign your existing iPod dock and laptop speakers to the attic or eBay and they'll definitely make the lucky recipient play the guitar more. Both models are expensive in comparison to the other gifts in this list but they represent great value in broader terms.
A subscription to Guitarist, Guitar Techniques or Total Guitar
A magazine subscription is a killer present. Think about it, it lasts a whole year. Our sister titles are the best guitar magazines in the business so check out the great offers below...
Buy a Guitarist magazine subscription (from £11.59 per quarter)
Buy a Guitar Techniques magazine subscription (from £11.59 per quarter)
Buy a Total Guitar magazine subscription (from £10.79 per quarter)