Buying gifts for musicians can seem like an artform in itself. We musos are a paradoxical bunch: both indulging in the fantasy that we’re escaping the corporate world, while simultaneously getting very excited about shiny new things.
Similarly, the best musicians are masters of communication, however, ask us what we want for our next birthday or Christmas present and the responding jargon can sound like an alien language, especially once you get past the first instrument stage of the process. And even if you can handle the tech talk, the gear is often prohibitively expensive.
Essentially, we get it: we’re awkward. Let us extend an olive branch then, as we offer up some gift ideas that should have real appeal to the music-maker in your life.
In this guide to the best gifts for musicians we've covered everything from guitar gifts, ideas for DJs, gifts for drummers and loads more.
The best gifts for musicians: ideas for every budget
Got a laptop? Got an instrument? This is what you need to get recording
Widely agreed to be one of the best entry-level audio interfaces (for non-musos: the thing that connects your instrument/microphone to your computer to record), the iD4 benefits from Audient’s excellent mic preamp and offers remarkable value for money. There are two inputs, meaning that it’s easy to simultaneously record vocals and guitar. This is a great way to get started in the recording world.
2. Boss Katana Mini
The mini amp that punches above its weight
The mini amp market has grown incredibly competitive in recent years, but Boss’ Katana Mini still holds its own and would make the ideal gift for the guitarist in your life. It’s battery-powered, offers three channels (clean, brown and crunch) and a three-band EQ. Most importantly, it’s portable, affordable and sounds way better than any amp should at this price.
3. Audio Technica AT2020USB+
The go-to entry-level recording microphone
Since it’s launch in 2006, the Audio Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone has become a firm fixture in home studios all over the world. At a time when home recording has been booming, few others have been able to rival its balance of sound, rock-solid construction and low price point. The latest model - AT2020USB+ - is a great option for quick and easy digital recording.
4. SE Electronics Metal Pro Pop Shield
The indispensable tool for any vocalist
A pop shield? Yeah, it’s not the most glamorous piece of equipment, but when it comes to gifts for musician's, this is utterly essential if you want to produce decent vocal recordings (spoken or sung). It's lightweight, flexible and built to last. What’s more, even the most tooled-up musician will rarely begrudge having a spare to hand.
5. Akai MPK Mini MKII 25 Key Mini Keyboard
A bells and whistles controller keyboard
The Akai MPK Mini MKII packs a wealth of control options into a portable package, ideal for desktop producers on-the-go. There are 25 velocity-sensitive keys, eight backlit pads and eight assignable knobs, plus it comes with SONiVOX Wobble and Hybrid 3 synths – making it a great companion if you need to quickly whip-up a backing track.
6. Sony MDR-7506 headphones
The best kept secret in studio recording
Headphones are big business now. It seems we’ll happily drop hundreds on the big, branded and Bluetooth, yet the chances are that those making the music you listen to on them did so wearing Sony’s MDR-7506s. They sound superb, are built to take a beating and they have a cool curly cable…
An affordable way to add samples to your playing
The SamplePad 4 is a great gift for drummers looking to expand their setup, or any performer that wants any easy way to add percussive sounds, trigger samples or use backing tracks in their performances. There are 25 useful sounds preloaded, but an SD card slot allows you to load your own, massively expanding its utility.
8. Hercules Stands GSP38WB Guitar Wall Hanger
Keeps guitars safe and rooms tidy
This handy wall mount will help the guitarist or bassist in your life to stow their instrument safely and securely, without sacrificing floor space. The clever AGS system closes over as you place the guitar on the hanger, meaning it can't fall forward, even if knocked. And when you're ready to play, just grab it and away you go.
9. Apple iPad Air
One of the best gifts for musicians out there
This lightweight Apple tablet hits a real sweet spot, offering a great balance between price and performance. Plus, it doesn't matter what kind of musician you are, the iPad is a great tool for everything from writing setlists and noting down lyric ideas, to recording guitar, laying down beats and editing your next vlog. In terms of spec, the 10.5-inch Retina display features Apple’s True Tone technology and an antireflective coating, while the dramatically named A12 Bionic processor should give you plenty of grunt, whatever you're using it for.
10. Ibanez Tube Screamer TS Mini
A micro classic guitar effects pedal
The Tube Screamer is one of the most iconic and enduring guitar effects pedals ever produced. The TS Mini packs that tone into a tiny package at a friendly price point. Most players using an amp will happily find a home for a Tube Screamer.
11. Fender Venice Soprano Ukulele
The thing everyone owns but pretends not to
We’ll level with you, owning a ukulele in 2019 is unlikely to land you a gig. However, they remain a highly satisfying and inspiring little addition to the 'cupboard of cables and random noise-makers’ that every self-respecting musician keeps. The tiny frets can also aid technique development, as a guitar neck feels positively luxurious in comparison.
12. Ernie Ball Braided Instrument Cable
Eye-catching cable that won’t get lost at gigs
How excited does anyone get about cables, you ask? Well, ‘surprisingly so’, is the answer when you’re talking about musicians. We love these 1/4” instrument cables from Ernie Ball. They won’t tangle, are really sturdily constructed and they come in both straight or angled options. They look great, too, with 12 eye-catching colour options.
13. Washburn Rover Travel Guitar
Know a guitarist who travels a lot? Here’s a guitar that can go with them
Yeah, this guitar’s build has - quite literally - gone pear-shaped. However, the Washburn Rover is a fantastic option for the traveling guitar player who wants a quieter instrument, but doesn’t want to risk cramping-up on a smaller neck. Getting a mahogany back and sides and a spruce top on a guitar at this price is a real boon, too.