Although I can’t speak for everyone, I would say that most musicians would agree that the best gifts are the kind that we will actually end up using. And with the winter holidays in full swing, there's no better time than now to find that perfect gift! That said, the best gifts are what people actually need as much as those that they actually want. A big challenge when it comes to finding items for guitarists specifically is that music gear – especially for the highest quality gear – tends to be in the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. But again, in order for it to be a great gift, it doesn’t have to break the bank. I should say right now – strings are not on this list! Sure, every guitarist uses them but they each use a very specific gauge, maybe even brand, and like their favorite drink or pair of shoes, a guitarist’s choice of strings depends on many things; most importantly, what gauge their guitar’s neck is set for (installing incorrect string gauges on a guitar can quickly offset the neck). So unless you do happen to know exactly what kind of strings to buy, I suggest you stay away from them as a gift choice. And if you already happen to know their favorite brand and gauge of strings – you probably don’t need any help in finding a present for a guitarist! So, for all those people out there who knows Johnny loves to rock but not much more, here are a few of what we feel are the best gifts for guitarists. And no – a piano tie is definitely not on the list!
Although most tuner pedals essentially do the same job, the Poly Tune 2 does it more efficiently -- and with style! Not to mention in a very gig friendly way. The original Poly Tune pedal quickly became the go-to tuner pedal for musicians of all shapes and sizes -- for good reason -- and with the 2, it builds on that success in every way imaginable including increased precision and a brighter display. While most pedal tuners only give you the option of tuning one string at a time, the Poly Tune 2 lets you ring all 6 in order to quickly and seamlessly find the flat or sharp strings without skipping a beat. At $99.99, it might be the most expensive item on this list by far but trust me, it would make a very useful gift – just make sure they don’t own one already! Also consider the Poly Tune Mini 2 for tuner just a precise but in a smaller form factor.
Some of the best gifts I’ve ever received were the ones that I knew I needed but just never felt like buying – or at the very least, never felt like splurging much cash on. Instrument cables fall under this category for most guitarists as most just make do with any run of the mill variety. They know they need them, but why spend over $30 on a cable when you can buy a cheap one for $10? Because a superb quality cable will last much longer, and – depending on its intended purpose – might actually make their entire setup sound a little better. A 20 foot instrument cable is a good length to go for and don’t be alarmed if they already own a few – cables are always a good thing to have spares of. Monster cables are a great choice as they come with a lifetime warranty, but there are also plenty of other top-notch brands to choose from in the $20-30 range.
If there’s one thing that guitarists can never have enough of, its guitar picks! And its not that we absolutely love them or anything – they just keep getting lost! I remember buying a pack of 100 picks thinking that my days of having to play with a driver license were over! Well, less than a year later, I was proven wrong. Picks might seem like a simple gift and yes, while that might be true, it doesn’t change the fact that every guitarist will eventually lose or break theirs and need a new pack. And at around $5 for bag of 12, they make great tiny stocking stuffers once the holidays come around!
First and foremost, it’s an essential tool for all guitarists. A capo (short for capotasto, Italian for "head of fretboard”) is a device used on the neck of a stringed (typically fretted, like a guitar) instrument to shorten the playable length of the strings, thereby raising its pitch and – especially when used with alternate tunings – opens up a whole new world of possible sounds and chordings. There are simply too many songs to name that employ the capo. The G7th and "The Shubb" are two of the most reliable capos around but even a decent one will get the job done.
Alright, this one might not seem like a popular choice and certainly falls under the “don’t really want to splurge on” category but believe me, once a guitar player experiences the benefits of keeping those strings gunk free and that guitar shining like new at every gig, they won’t want to go back without them! I actually received my first string cleaning kit as a gift. Anyways, I pretty much had the intention of tossing the kit in a drawer and forgetting it ever existed but then one slow day I actually tried it out. Not only does cleaning the strings make them feel new and smooth, it prolongs their lifespan as well. The oils and dirt on our fingers build up on the strings more than we think, and after a few months, this gunk (especially the oil) deteriorates their integrity, causing them to break much faster than normal. As far as guitar polish goes, think of it as wax for a car; a guitarist who cares about his baby will definitely want to keep her looking like new – they just probably don’t want to spring for the polish themselves!