For most people, buying gifts often amounts to sock drawer reboots, jumpers you never asked for and passive aggressive attacks on personal hygiene via toiletry sets. Thankfully, as this guide to the best gifts for guitar players proves, guitarists are actually way easier to buy for.
There's the long-term joy promised by a three-pack of strings or a guitar-specific tool set to make sure the guitarist in your life is never caught short. You could even open a whole new world of sonic possibilities for your designated guitar geek with a tone-bending stomp box, or a humble capo. If your giftee is all about saving the planet, we've even included a snazzy vegan guitar strap.
The good news? Being thoughtful doesn't have to mean draining your budget entirely. Whether it's for a birthday, Valentine's day or Christmas, when it comes to guitarists, useful trumps expensive every time...
Gifts for guitar players: Under $/£20
Guitarists will always need new strings. These days you can buy multi-packs to keep your musical other half on the road to ultimate stardom. The only catch is that 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.
This little tin of slippery greatness has been a favourite of guitarists for years. The idea is to rub its slippy 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.
- Are they more of an acoustic player? Check out the best acoustic strings
There's no sweeter sound than George Harrison playing slide guitar. That's a 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 dying cat being pulled through a hedge backwards, but this fancy brass number from Fender is a brilliant choice for a guitarist that wants to try something new.
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.
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...
Gifts for guitar players: $/£20-50
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.
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.
- Undecided? Here's more of the best guitar straps around
TC Electronic has been a pedal making super-power for a while now, and rightly so. Their ability to make great sounding, durable and affordable gear has made them very popular with us axe-wielding creatives. The June 60 Chorus accurately replicates that fantastically overwhelming chorus tone that was so prevalent in the 80’s, when all music was better (fact) and guitarists led the charge. It’s nice and simple, with only two modes. Mode 1 is basically ‘on’, and mode 2 is just ‘more’ - and they both sound pretty damn good. It doesn’t half look cool too.
- Don't forget to check out the best chorus pedals for guitar
Gifts for guitar players: From $/£51-100
CruzTools are the masters of putting the right tool in a guitarist's palm - and every guitarist needs a good tool kit. This set contains a string cutter and winder, a ruler and a six-in-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.
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.
- Discover even more choices in our guide to the best capos
Gifts for guitar players: $/£150+
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.
- Explore more of the best cheap acoustic guitars under £/$500
Want a one-way ticket into the good books? 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.
- Want more choice? Check out the best guitar amps for under $/£500
The Martin LX1 is the smallest and cheapest of the Little Martin series acoustics, but you absolutely don’t compromise on tone or quality as a result. The solid Sitka spruce top is of the same grade as some of Martin’s most desirable USA-made models, and paired with the durable HPL back and sides this little beauty provides a depth of tone that no other small bodied acoustic can get close to. It’s that typical Martin sound - but in a nice neat package. This LX1E has an internal pickup from Fishman, who are widely regarded as one of the best in the business. Plug this bad boy in and it’ll produce an arena-filling sound.