For most people, Christmas and birthday gifts often amount to sock drawer reboots and passive aggressive attacks on personal hygiene via toiletry sets. As our following guide to the best gifts for guitar players proves, guitarists are way easier to buy for.
There's the long-term pleasure promised by a pack of three. That's strings we're talking about. Why, what did you think we meant? What's more, you can open a whole new world of sonic possibilities for your designated guitar geek with sheet music, a tone bending stomp box, even the humble capo. If this Christmas is all about saving the planet, we've even included a snazzy vegan guitar strap.
The good news? Being thoughtful doesn't have to leave your piggy bank with PTSD. When it comes to guitarists, useful trumps expensive every time...
The best gifts for guitar players
1. G7th Capo Performance 3 (18K Gold)
The ultimate cure for a pressing engagement
All you need to know about capos is you can't play The Beatles' Here Comes The Sun the way George Harrison intended, without one. That goes for Johnny Marr stuff too. Until recently, you had to pick one of these useful gadgets to fit either an acoustic or electric guitar. The clever little G7th Performance 3 handles both. If you really want to push the boat out, this 18k plated edition is good as gold.
2. Boss Katana MKII 50 Amplifier
When one amp just isn't enough...
What if we said you could buy the guitarist in your life a whopping ten amplifiers and 65 effects? And all for less than the price of a games console. The Boss Katana II 50 watt combo uses clever internal gubbins to replicate the sound of the aforementioned mountain of gear. Plus, it can be run at gig, rehearsal and bedroom volume. Yes, there is a headphone socket.
3. CruzTools GrooveTech Guitar Tech Kit
Help 'em be their own guitar tech
Every guitarist needs a good tool kit. CruzTools are the masters of putting the right tool in a guitarist's palm. This set contains a string cutter and winder, a ruler and a six-one screwdriver. The Allen keys are supplied in metric and Imperial to cover all guitar brands. There's an easy guide to setting up the action (string height) and intonation. If your guitar friend is a Fender freak get the Custom Shop version.
4. Perris vegan velvet guitar strap
The best gift for guitar players who don't eat meat...
Yeah, get them a great strap without being an accessory to animal cruelty. Don't scoff. Vegan guitar straps are every bit as good looking and strong as those formed from forcibly deceased beasts. There are a load of designs available so if anyone needs to hang a guitar inches from their crotch there's no need to be hell bent for leather.
5. Fast Fret String Cleaner
Clean strings. Happy guitarist...
This little tin of slippery greatness has been a favourite of guitarists for years. The idea is to rub its sticky bit up and down the strings of a guitar. It not only lubricates the strings but protects them from the hideous secretions that seep from your fingertips. Strings live longer and the guitar just feels nicer to play.
6. Tone City Summer Orange Phaser pedal
Inspiration in a little box...
This entry represents the wealth of stocking filler pedals available out there. The Summer Orange emits a cool phaser sound that's as popular with ‘60s throwbacks, ska and reggae skankers, and metalheads. It's small enough to actually fit in a stocking. You'll find equally affordable small but perfectly formed fuzz boxes, compressors, echo machines, you name it. Need more inspiration? Check out our guide to the best mini pedals.
7. Yamaha JR1 3/4 size acoustic guitar
Size ain't everything. Except in the case of overhead baggage...
If you think the best thing about a holiday is putting considerable distance between your loved one and their guitar, you can sit this one out. For the rest of you, consider buying your travelling companion a travel guitar. The 3/4 size JR1 is just the thing for campsite sing-alongs and impromptu busking, if that's their thing.
8. Multi pack strings
The ultimate guitar perishable, replenished
Guitar players always need fresh strings. These days you can buy multi-packs to keep your musical other half on the road. The only big fat fly doing the backstroke in the ointment? We've suggested a popular choice but you need to do your homework and wheedle out what brand and gauge your friend/partner/significant other likes. You could just ask them, or you could check out our guide to the best electric guitar strings. More of an acoustic player? We’ve got a guide for that too...
9. Fender Custom Shop DLX Guitar Care Kit
The ultimate gift for guitar players who want a clean tone
There are two types of guitarist. Those that keep their gear clean... and those filthy beasts that need to get their act together. Keeping a guitar clean and polished protects the finish and hardware, and actually adds to the lifespan of guitar strings. This Fender set comes with a cleaner, polish, quick clean and a fingerboard revitaliser.
10. Guitar magazine subscription
Your classic gift that keeps on giving
Yeah, you just knew we were going to go there. Every guitarist needs a print or digital sub to a Future Publishing title. Guitarist Magazine, Total Guitar and Guitar Techniques bring you the latest and greatest in six-string shenanigans every month. There's no better way to banish a fret-botherers' FOMO.
Buy here: www.myfavouritemagazines.com
11. Schaller strap locks
Everything in its place. Especially a guitar...
There's nothing more distressing for a guitarist than the moment their pride and joys slips off its strap and hits the deck. If Sir Isaac Newton were around today, and riffing and that, he would be using strap locks. These are available in various finishes - black, gold, nickel, chrome - to suit the rest of the hardware on a guitar. So, do your homework...
12. Big Bends Nut Sauce
Slippery when wet
Yeah, go on, get it out of your system. Guitar culture's best double entendre since the Big Muff Pi fuzz box, you squirt Nut Sauce lubricant into the slots on the guitar's top nut to help tuning stability. Some people use the graphite in the humble pencil instead. 2B or not 2B? We'd stick with the Nut Sauce.
13. Blues Guitar Play-Along Tab book
Give the gift of tricky licks and riffs
Sadly, all guitarists fall into a rut at some point. Help them sort their bloody lives out with a good old fashioned song book. Accurate TAB books will break new ground for those that don't read musical notation... which is most of us. Get them a collection in a genre they love - like our blues collection - or surprise them with a stylistic intervention.
14. Star Slinger Slides Blue Lagoon Ceramic Guitar Slide
Put a thing on their finger
There's no sweeter sound than George Harrison playing slide guitar. That's fact. A slide is essentially a glass, ceramic or metal tube dragged along the strings to emulate the sound of a wailing human voice. In the wrong hands it can sound like a feral cat squabbling with bagpipes but this pretty Blue Lagoon model is a fantastic gift for any guitarist looking to expand their repertoire.
15. Mathmos Lava Lamp
A great gift for guitar players who prefer vintage
Yeah, we're serious. Lava lamps add a cool ‘60s vibe to any rehearsal space. You can get cheap versions of these things but any hippy worth their ying/yang medallion will set you straight on the righteousness of Mathmos. Lava lamps are available in a range of colours. There's one to suit every mood, daddio...
16. A Guitar Mastery Course
Help the guitarist in your life improve faster
If you've seen Claus Levin's video tutorials for MusicRadar already, you'll know he's a great teacher and approaches guitar in a fresh and inspiring way. His Guitar Mastery courses delve much deeper into subjects ranging from chords to the wonders of lydian fusion. With beginner, intermediate and advanced, there's something for all players.
Buy here: Guitar Mastery