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Musicians are notably picky about their gear. Legends like Eddie Van Halen and Chuck Berry were apparently fans of .009 (read: light) strings, so why should the music folks in your life be any different? But if your guitarist already has a go-to gauge, or your resident rhythm-keeper swears by a classic 5A, shopping for them can be as challenging as defining their “it’s kinda post-punk-meets-acid jazz” musical style.
That’s why we’ve rounded up the best gifts for musicians of all types and skill levels. Whether their instrument of choice is their voice or a 12-string, or they’re seeking a new pandemic pastime, check out our top picks for your most musical loved ones. Of course, if all else fails, you can always fall back on a gift card.
1. Korg OLED Clip-On Tuner
There’s truly an app for everything, and chances are your musically-inclined pal’s smartphone is a Swiss Army knife-like toolkit for tuning and playing. This clip-on tuner by Korg ensures that your favorite guitarist or bassist will have one less thing to drain their phone battery (because they’ll need some juice to take that call from the label, right?)
This calibration device uses just one AAA battery and also features chord and tempo finders, memory backup, and an auto-off function. Its OLED display screen promises fun tuning animations, and the adjustable clip is designed to stay put no matter how much your shredder rocks and rolls.
Korg OLED Clip-On Tuner, $50, available at Guitar Center
2. MasterClass Subscription
If your giftee can’t say “I’m with the band,” at least they can get a virtual crash course from their favorite musicians with an All-Access Pass to MasterClass. The online learning platform has classes for songwriting, music production, singing, guitar, violin, drumming, and more with the crème de la crème of the industry: think Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent), Deadmau5, Reba McEntire, Alicia Keys, Danny Elfman, Sheila E., and many, many others. Plus, there’s still time to cop Masterclass’ two-for-one subscription deal (why not treat yourself to the gift of knowledge, too?)
MasterClass All-Access Pass, $180 per year, available at MasterClass
3. Zildjian Ringo Starr Artist Series Drumsticks
If you’ve heard your favorite drummer sing the praises of their heroes behind the kit, chances are they’ll be fans of their icon’s signature drumsticks. Zildjian’s Artist Series bears the names of Ringo Starr, Travis Barker, Dave Grohl, and more; other options available.
Zildjian Ringo Starr Artist Series Drumsticks, $12, available at Guitar Center
4. Hercules Five-Instrument Guitar Rack
Why choose between a Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Strat when you can play ’em all? If that’s the case with your beloved string plucker, get them this five-instrument rack.
Hercules Five-Instrument Guitar Rack, $75, available at Musician’s Friend
5. Piano Key Cufflinks
Ivory ticklers can literally wear their profession or pasttime on their sleeves with these cool piano key cufflinks. They’re hand-carved in Rhode Island from holly and ebony, will surely hit the right note with your favorite pianist.
Piano Key Cufflinks, $72, available at Uncommon Goods
6. Audio Technica ATX M50x Professional Monitor Headphones
Crystal-clear audio is a must for audio engineers and audiophiles alike, and these pro cans by Audio Technica will be music to the ears of whoever unwraps them. The ATX M50x headphones feature a closed-back dynamic design, 45 milimeter drivers, Neodymium magnets, and copper-wrapped aluminum wire voice coils, resulting in “superior clarity throughout an extended frequency range, with deep, accurate bass response,” says the brand. (No wonder it’s a go-to among professionals and reviewers). It comes in a set that includes a K&M stand and Goby Labs headphone cleaner.
Audio Technica ATX M50x Professional Monitor Headphones, $164, available at Sam Ash
7. Fender Fifties Vintage Leather Strap
Vintage aficionados will dig this buffalo leather guitar strap by Fender. It features the brand’s retro logo, and it’s available in multiple colors if cherry red doesn’t vibe with their style.
Fender Fifties Vintage Leather Strap, $27, available at Fender
8. Populele Smart Ukelele
Half the battle of picking up a new instrument is knowing how to start. Aspiring uke players can get the best of both the analog and digital worlds with PopuMusic’s Bluetooth-enabled ukelele, which has a light-up fretboard that makes it easy to pick up and play in minutes. The Populele’s accompanying iOS and Android app uses video game-like lessons to teach new players, and it’s also loaded with a tuner, chord finder, and a library of nearly 100 songs.
Smart Ukelele, $150, available at Uncommon Goods
9. Soundbrenner Pulse Metronome
Whether your giftee is a drummer or a shredder, they won’t miss a beat with this wearable metronome by Soundbrenner Pulse. The watch-like device connects to the company’s iOS or Android app, which allows wearers to create custom rhythms that can be organized into setlists, and select vibrations and LED colors for their creations.
The Bluetooth-enabled unit plays well with digital audio workstations (think Mac’s GarageBand and Ableton Live, to name a few) and can receive input via MIDI. Other features include the ability to customize time signatures, link up to devices simultaneously, and listen through speakers or headphones.
Soundbrenner Pulse Metronome, $75, available at Guitar Center
10. The Fret Wire DIY Electric Guitar Kit
If you’ve got a DIY-loving guitarist on your hands, why not let them build their own six-string? The Fret Wire offers a range of buildable electric and acoustic guitar kits, ranging from hollow bodies and double necks to lefty options. Most of them come in unfinished woods, so your hands-on recipient can create a truly custom instrument. See all options; bass kits also available.
DIY Electric Guitar Kit, $155, available at The Fret Wire
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