Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Christmas Gift Guide for Guitarists

Inspired by my friend Judy over at So Very Slightly Mad here are some ideas for Christmas Gifts for the guitarist in your life.

NOTE - the recommendations here are made purely on my experience I'm not being paid or otherwise reimbursed by any shop or manufacturer neither does my endorsement imply an exhaustive set of tests alongside competitor products... it is just my recommendation based on my experience, unless otherwise stated.

Strings

Seriously any guitarist with any kind of collection goes through so many sets of strings.  Find out what they use - or what they'd like to try.  We're a conservative bunch.  I had never tried coated strings but kept reading players raving about them that I respected.  I went to a guitar show in London and got a free set as part of a goody bag.  I'm sold!  Once I get through the box of old ones I'm moving to them on all my acoustics.  Not convinced yet on electrics but on acoustics I am sold big style.  In the UK I use Strings Direct - fast good service never had an issue with them.

Plectra

Or Plectrums if you aren't bother by the grammar police commenting on your blog... ;-)  Again you can never have too many plectra.  There is some fundamental rule of Physics which states that any plectrum dropped will suddenly accelerated beyond the speed of light, become instantly so massive it creates a mini black hole about your knee area on the descent and before hitting the floor it disappears beyond the event horizon into another universe and the black hole disintegrates leaving you looking all about you for the little sod which is never ever seen again.  Somewhere in another universe is a planet where they build lavish multicoloured temples out of these plastic triangle things that materialise out of nowhere almost continually. Inside they house weird mechanical contraptions trying to recreate an off Cadd9 kind of chord sound which they hear a mere snippet of as each little triangle appears.

By the way if you're not a guitarist one plectrum is not as good as another - we all like this shape, not that shape, this material not that material and this thickness not that thickness... ;-)  Jim Dunlop though is where to start - they must have something that'll suit pretty much anyone.

Cables

Like plectra there is another rule of physics that says the hour before your big gig one of the cables in your rig will start to splutter and squawk.  Again you can never have too many cables!  I recommend Cleartone cables - built really really well and much better than more expensive leads I've bought in shops.  All made to order too so you can really get a series of sensible lengths that work for your exact situation.

Capo

If your pet guitarist doesn't have a capo - they should!  If they have one they'll be needing more.  For a laugh one thing I've yet to try but would like to are some great partial capos by Shubb which offer ultimate total confusion after the Christmas festivities.

Tuner 

Clip on ones, foot pedal ones, bog standard ones... the range and cost is almost limitless but a cheapy clip on one will always find a potential use on an acoustic instrument in the hubbub of the pub open mic night trust me!  Korg are well respected (I don't use their products to be honest) and have a great range to consider.

Books about guitars!

If we're not playing them, stringing them, tuning them, upgrading them or sniffing them... err... sorry TMI ... we love to read about them.  If you have the total guitar geek in mind then the latest book on Brian May's Red Special is just superb!  My son bought it for me for my birthday - pouring over the photos of that legendary 6 string being completely disassembled and then all the stories of how he and his Dad built it etc.  Just wonderful.

Metronome

Finally I still use an old little wind up one that I bought as a teenager and I'm surprised how many people don't even seem to own one.  I find it indispensable for practising keeping my stuff to time and even figuring out the best tempo to play stuff I've written and getting rigorous at playing it repeatedly at that tempo.  I've been thinking about a newer flashy electronic one but glad to see essentially the same model of the one I own is still available even if it is frighteningly costly compared to other options out there now including really great electronic ones.

3 comments:

  1. I've got most of those in a drawer somewhere - probably about 1970 vintage and in dire need of replacing!

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  2. I have to check out the Bran May book! I'm a huge Queen fan and got to watch him play when they toured with Paul Rodgers. It was an amazing experience.

    Plectra (or plectrums, lol) are great gifts. I found some neat stone and wood ones I gave to my friends who play guitar -- and kept some for myself too. Man, I really need to get back to playing. This list makes me miss it even more.

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    Replies
    1. saw that line up of Queen twice - one being the Hyde Park gig that was a week after the 7/7 bombs in London - they enlarged the gig to invite any emergency services folks for free - the atmosphere was like London/UK saying "You can't stop us" very poignant

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