15 Great Gifts for the Quarantined Guitar Player
Acoustics, electrics, amps, effect pedals and much more
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Visit InsideHook’s Holiday 2020 gifting hub to find gift ideas for every person on your list this year. Also, who are we kidding? Find lots of ideas for yourself there, too.
COVID-19 has decimated countless industries, from restaurants and bars to airlines and casinos. But there are others that have been thriving during the pandemic. Take the guitar industry, for example. When quarantine started back in March and everyone found themselves with more time on their hands than they knew what to do with, many people took the opportunity to pick up a guitar for the first time, or to rekindle an old love affair with the hobby.
As a result, guitars, amps and all sorts of adjacent accessories soon became scarce, which was then compounded by the fact that so many of the manufacturers also had to shut down operations. Even eight months later, there are still shortages, but stocks are beginning to be replenished.
Below, 15 items worth considering for the person in your life who’s trying to make the most of all this. And maybe make some music in the process.
Epiphone EL-00 Pro
Since you’re not really going anywhere, and thus not in need of a big, booming dreadnaught with enough bass to reach the back of the room at your local open mic night, we recommend you forego the larger acoustic guitars for now and instead get something like the Epiphone EL-00 Pro, a parlor-style guitar like those used by bluesmen in the ’30s. It’s got a smaller body and a nice woody tone — perfect for playing on the couch, even while your partner is trying to watch TV.
Guild OM-120 Acoustic Guitar
Similar to the Epiphone above in that the body is on the smaller side, the Guild OM-120 is one of the best values in the world of acoustic guitars. Its top, sides and back are all mahogany, giving it a super warm sound that will appeal to soft strummers and fingerpickers alike. It’s also very similar to the one Nick Drake’s playing on the cover of Bryer Layer, which obviously makes it awesome.
Squier Classic Vibe 60s Jazzmaster
Enough with the acoustic stuff, let’s make some noise, yes? If the person you’re buying for tends to identify with alt- or indie-leaning music, we’re guessing he or she’d be quite pleased with a Jazzmaster. Made famous by players like J.Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., Nels Cline of Wilco, Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, and Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, the Jazzmaster is a hugely versatile guitar that’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t just want the same old Strat as anyone else. This version from Fender’s little brother, Squier, gets extra points for its vintage-correct details, much appreciated at such a low price point.
Fender American Professional II Telecaster
The American Professional II is Fender’s most recent iteration of their flagship series — it used to be the American Standard, then just the American Professional — and it features a few minor upgrades and some nice new finishes. But for the most part, it’s the same old same-old, which is to say these guitars remains among the most important in all of popular music. We’ll always be partial to the Telecaster for its workmanlike appearance and relative lack of features, which belie its magical qualities. Don’t believe us? Ask the Boss, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, George Harrison, and pretty much anyone else who’s ever mattered.
Vox AC10 Amplifier
The sub-$500 amp category is a crowded one, but we’re fond of the Vox AC10 for its relatively small footprint and light weight. It does clean jangly stuff as well as its older siblings, the AC15 and AC30, and it gets along famously with pedals, as well. (More on those later.) Want to sit around playing Tom Petty songs all day? So do we. This is the amp for that.
Stymon Iridium Amp/Cab Simulator
The thing about tube amps like the Vox above is that at super low volumes, they don’t sound that good, and if you turn them up loud enough to start really singing, everyone you live with or near will hate you and possibly call the cops. Enter an amp simulator like the Stymon Iridium, which can be used in a million different ways — for live performances, plugged directly into an audio interface for easy home recording, etc. For the budding guitarist, though, its most useful trick is that you can plug headphones into it and dial in some miraculously accurate classic amp sounds for quiet practicing without sacrificing tone.
Snark S-12 Clip-On Tuner
It’s not the sexiest gift ever, but being in tune is important, and this clip-on tuner lives right on the guitar’s headstock, making it unlikely to be lost.
Baja Rosarito Mexican Blanket Strap
Just because you probably won’t be appearing on stage in front of a room full of adoring fans any time soon doesn’t mean you don’t need a guitar strap. If you want to wander around your house serenading various unsuspecting family members, or even if you just want to play in front of the mirror when no one else is home, it’s an absolute necessity. We’ve been eyeing this one from Couch Guitar Straps for six months. Think about how nice it would look on that Guild OM-120 we told you about earlier.
“How to Write One Song” by Jeff Tweedy
The second book from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy is a veritable masterclass in unlocking the creativity that lives within each of us. It’s a quick, fun read that will teach you to respect the process of making something even more so than the thing itself.
Focusrite 2i2 Audio Interface
So here’s where things start to get kinda crazy. You got a guitar, you read a book that’s convinced you to try your hand at songwriting, and now you want to find a way to record those songs and play them back, either for your own enjoyment or, eventually, someone else’s. Fortunately for you, computer-based recording has come a long way in recent years, and it’s possible to make some very decent sounding recordings without a whole lot of expertise or money. The Focusrite 2i2 plugs into your computer via USB, comes with all the software you need, and allows you to record two tracks at once — like, say, acoustic guitar and vocals.
Audio Technica 2035 Condenser Mic
Er, but you’re gonna need a mic for that. The Audio Technica 2035 is a hugely popular option that can handle both acoustic guitar and vocals brilliantly.
String Swing Floor Guitar Rack
For some people, it’s possible to buy a single guitar and get a lifetime of enjoyment out of it. For other people, the act of buying a guitar immediately compels them to buy another guitar. Those people need a guitar rack that gives them a little room to grow their collection. This one from String Swing looks nice enough that it can be passed off as furniture. Kind of.
G7th Performance 3 Capo
Because you can’t play “Here Comes the Sun” without one. Yes, there are cheaper options out there, but this one works really well and is extremely durable.
JHS “Transparent Overdrive” Buzzword T-Shirt
Anyone who’s spent any amount of time on the internet researching effect pedals has heard certain overdrive pedals — most notably the outrageously rare and expensive Klon Centaur — referred to as “transparent,” meaning it allows the natural tone of your guitar to shine through, rather than altering the EQ, like how a Tube Screamer provides a big boost to the midrange. Make no mistake about it, this is some truly dorky shit, and it is perfect.
JHS 3 Series Pedals
Speaking of pedals, and speaking JHS, the brand recently released its 3 Series, a new line of affordable pedals perfect for beginners. There are seven different effects — overdrive, distortion, fuzz, reverb, delay, chorus, compression — and each pedal has three knobs and one toggle switch, keeping things relatively simple. They also all come in the same white enclosure, so if you happen to invest in more than one, they’ll look great on your board. You do have a board, right?
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