When you think of “guitar” or “guitarist” and “gift” together in the same sentence, you’re probably also thinking about the prospect of spending hundreds of dollars for a guitar or amp or some other gift that’s bound to make a huge crater (as opposed to a dent or a divot) in your gift budget. But that’s because you’re equating “guitar” and “gift.” And if you take a moment to look beyond the ‘big gear” any guitarist wants (namely, another guitar!), you might find yourself surprised at how many easily affordable gift ideas there are with which to surprise and delight the guitarist, or guitarists, in your life.
Guitar players are actually the best people to have on your holiday gift list. The brother-in-law you don’t know all that well? The guy from your office whose name you pulled in the “Secret Santa” drawing? If they’re guitarists, they always need things, and most of those things that they need they would rarely think about getting themselves (as they are, like you were, more concerned about “big gear” purchases) and also are within the gift budget of most folks. And even if you don’t know all that much about guitar, your gifts will be enthusiastically appreciated.
And if you don’t know all that much about guitar, it does help to know a little something about the guitarist you are buying for. Does he own more than one guitar? Acoustic? Electric? Classical? Does she perform a lot or is she more likely to be found at home writing and recording music? If you’ve got a performer, you must have seen a show or two. Does he stand or sit while playing? Don’t be afraid to chat up your guitarist about his or her likes and dislikes when it comes to guitar gear. Guitar players often enjoy talking shop and explaining the little details that go into playing and performing. They’ll often give you more gift ideas than you could possibly fufill for them.
That’s because there are a lot of things that guitarists always need, but rarely purchase, usually because they are obsessing over their next “big” buy (usually a guitar or amplifier). Guitar players go through stuff that needs to be replaced fairly often. And most guitarists have a wonderful sense of curiosity. So don’t worry about getting the “wrong” thing. There are no wrong things! But there are plenty of great little things you can surprise them with.
Gifts for Guitarists – around $10
Some guitar gifts make can’t-go-wrong stocking stuffers. For less than $10, you can buy something every guitarist always needs – strings! Almost any single set of strings costs less than $10. And you can usually get two full sets of just about any manufacturer’s strings for between $10 and $12. If you do a bit of shopping around, either at stores or online, you can even find deals on three sets for between $10 and $15, especially around the holidays. It’s a good idea to check beforehand if your guitarist has a favorite brand of string or a preferred thickness of pick, but most players appreciate having lots of spares of both.
Guitarists also always need guitar picks, which can cost anywhere from a quarter to a couple of dollars apiece depending on how exotic they might be.
And if you’re looking for something a little unusual, you can get a “gig drink holder,” which conveniently attaches to most microphone stands, allowing your performer to always have some water or other favorite beverage at hand when playing.
Of course, being in the digital / hi-tech age also has its advantages when it comes to gifts. If your guitar player owns a tablet and /or a fancy phone there are all sorts of apps you can him or her. Searching for “guitar” in Apple’s App Store turns up all sorts of free apps. Most of these free apps offer paid upgrades for less than $10. As an example, the Songsterr App, which shows tabs from their extensive library, can be upgraded for $4.99. The upgraded version removes all ads, includes a playback feature and even lets you slow down the playback. Regular users of the free app might appreciate the upgrade.
Whether you’re purchasing something with your iOS device or in the iTunes Store, there is always an option to “Gift This App.” You just need the other person’s email address and name and you’ll get the bill. For users of Android devices there is no option to buy apps for someone else from the Market yet. But I’m sure there will be very soon! Maybe even in time for the holidays!
Gifts for Guitarists – under $30
A good guitar tuner will last a guitarist a lifetime, provided he doesn’t lose it! And you can get a tuner, plus a spare battery or two for less than $25.
If your guitarist uses a capo (a kind of clamp that goes on the neck of the guitar to raise the pitch of the strings), then think about getting him a spare. Capos do wear out and guitar players rarely even think about replacing them.
Most guitar straps and guitar stands range from $12 to $28, as do guitar cables that hook up a guitar to a PA or amplifier (and if your guitarist uses a lot of effects boxes, he can’t have enough cables!).
A music stand also makes a great gift.
A slide, whether of glass, metal, or other material, would be a great surprise for your guitarist, especially if he likes to experiment with playing in different styles.
And don’t forget you find get a lot of instructional book, CDs and DVDs, as well as sheet music and books of songs written out in guitar tablature. Your guitarist will have no excuse to not play your favorite song! By the way, you can find many places online where you can buy tablature for single individual songs. Depending on the song and the arrangement these are usually less than $6.
And if you do decide to buy sheet music or guitar tabs online, please remember that Guitar Noise has teamed up with Sheet Music Plus (link) and Amazon.com (link) to bring you the largest possible selection. Over the years we’ve sold thousands of books as an affiliate of these sites. Between the two, plus our new affiliation with Alfred music (link), you should be able to find authentic transcriptions for just about any song your guitarist wants to play. Buying through our affiliates does help us here at Guitar Noise so you’ll actually be giving two gifts at once. And if you take into account how many people learn guitar through Guitar Noise, you can think of yourself as helping thousands of people become musicians!
Regardless of what you may or may not buy the guitarist in your life, remember that above all most guitarists need an audience. And positive, encouraging (and honest) feedback. Best of all, it costs nothing to take part in the sharing of the music created by someone who means something to you. If you can do nothing else, find a chance to make time to put his or her music in your life. That will be a huge gift for the two of you that you can share forever.