By Martina Fasano
Thanksgiving. Black Friday. The Macy’s Parade. All indicators that the holiday gift-giving season is upon us once again. Musicians have the reputation of being “quirky” individuals that non-musicians have difficulty buying for. I have no idea why this is the case, since I don’t know any guitar or bass players that would ever reject the gift of a new bass/guitar – even a cheap $100 entry-level instrument can be hot-rodded and used for the cottage, work, or travel! But, perhaps your Gear Acquisition Syndrome suffering musician of choice doesn’t really need a new guitar/bass, or the fiddle you want to buy them is out of your price range. That being said, you don’t want to be the friend or relative that buys them another piano-themed mug or a pair of glitter encrusted teardrop treble clef earrings. If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered! Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, here is the 2016 Holiday Gift Guide from the folks here at Seymour Duncan!
A lessons with a favourite guitarist or bassist
I had the fortune of studying with a great teacher, but in the digital age, many people have moved to an online instruction method. But how cool would it be to learn some licks from Jennifer Batten, Robben Ford, or Guthrie Trapp? You can! All of the artists mentioned, and many more, offer online guitar lessons through a web-based instructional portal (some where they record answers to your questions and you get feedback from them) or Skype/GoToMeeting. The prices vary, but they range anywhere from $20 for one month of access to $120 per lesson. Imagine learning from a favourite rock star? It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Gruv Gear Fretwrap/dampers
Once you’ve got the shredding skills under your belt, you may want to invest in some string dampers to mute any unwanted noise during tapping-type licks. Not everyone is a fan of such contraptions, and there are critics that will argue for or against their use, but if you know someone who has been eying such a product, this is a great stocking stuffer, and it will look way cooler than that 90’s scrunchie or the old sock they’ve been using.
I can still hear the distinct “clak clak clak” of my metronome just by saying or reading the word. As a classically trained musician, the metronome was a required tool in my musicianship journey, but many self-taught or beginning musicians will not have this kind of abuse, er…discipline, imposed on them. Ask any accomplished musician how they increased their speed, bettered their rhythm playing or learned how to keep time when learning a complicated new song, and their answer will be a metronome. Yes, there are free apps that do such things, but for many people their phone is a distraction while practicing. You can buy some neat little units for about $20, or you can go all out with loop functions, memory, and recording capabilities for prices up to about $130. May the metronome force be with you!
We always need strings! They’re the underwear of the guitar and bass playing world! Imagine a Jelly of the Month club for guitar strings, and you’ll understand the concept of a string subscriptions. Gear Supply, Stringjoy, and others all offer a monthly shipment of strings in your specified (and often customized gauge) to your favourite guitar/bass playing friend, and they often throw in some stickers or cool swag as well. They’ll be thinking of you every time they change their strings, and believe me, your friends who play Floyd Rose-equipped guitars would most likely want to think about you instead of the various things that can go wrong when setting up such a beast. Prices range from $10-$50 a month, depending on how many sets you include and what swag you choose to go along with it.
Seymour Duncan pickups and pedals
There isn’t one guitar or bass player out there who wouldn’t be absolutely thrilled to receive a brand new set of pickups for their instrument or a new stompbox for their pedalboard. The options are endless, but we’ve got some new pickups and pedals they may not have yet, such as the Jimi Hendrix loaded pickguard, Saturday Night Special humbucker set, High Voltage humbucker set from our Custom Shop, the Killing Floor pedal, Palladium Gain Stage, the Forza, or the USA made Catalina Chorus.
Massage gift certificate
A while back, I wrote an article for Guitar Player Magazine about taking good care of your hands, geared specifically for musicians. As guitar and bass players, we often get built up tension in our arms, neck, back, and shoulders from practicing along with our metronomes for too long (see what I did there?). A proper massage given by a registered massage therapist will go a long way in ensuring that the musician in your life will be able to continue playing well into their old age, and hopefully most of that will be pain free. They’ll thank you and you might even enjoy the residual effects of a less tense, cranky guitar player. Win-win.
Guitar Shop Tees subscription
I was in Nashville not too long ago and had a chance to visit some famous guitar shops, namely Gruhn’s and Fanny’s House of Music. Guitar Shop Tees is a company that sends out an exclusive guitar shop t-shirt every month to anyone who has subscribed to the service. Yes, it’s a Jelly of the Month Club for t-shirt lovers, who also happen to love guitar shops. You can sign up for one month, three months, 6 months, or a year, and prices start at $22 a month.
Artist-made art, jewellery or clothing
If your guitar/bass loving friend is into jewellery, the holidays does not have to mean cheesy music-inspired charms. In fact, what about some jewellery made by an actual guitarist or a favourite artist? Kimberly Freeman of One-Eyed Doll has her own jewellery website where she sells necklaces, charms, skulls, and perfume, all hand made by the metal rocker herself! Kimberly’s Magical Charms allows you to purchase and personalize various items which are sure to delight pretty much any rocker on your list. Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale has a Scissor Happy apparel and accessories label where she sells creations that she has designed. David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Nikki Stringfield, as well as many others have also created visual art that has been available for fans to purchase. The best way to find out what your favourite artist is also creating in addition to music is to check their websites/social media pages.
Cables, power supplies, and interfaces, Oh My!
Remember how I called guitar strings the underwear of the musician gift
-giving world? If strings are the underwear, then cables, power supplies, and interfaces are the socks of the holiday gifts that a guitar/bass player can receive. It’s not very glamorous to go out and buy cables, or very sexy to purchase a power supply instead of a new stompbox, but without these items, anyone who plugs into an amplifier won’t be making too much music. Quality, durable, effective cables and a noise-free, reliable source of power for pedals are essential not only for home practice, but also for gigging musicians. We may not smother you with hugs and loving Facebook posts if you buy us cables, but I guarantee that you will have made us happy because now that gift card that our best friend purchased for us can be used to purchase pedals, guitars, and other “cool” things. And that makes you as the person who gave a cable as a stocking stuffer, very awesome.
A Gift Certificate for DIY CD production/studio time
Perhaps your sister/spouse finally has enough songs to record an EP. Perhaps they’ve even paid for studio time and recorded it and now they want to actually go ahead and release that 5-song ode to their guinea pig into the music universe. What better way to help them out than to give them a gift certificate to get their CDs produced and ready to sell at their next gig? Production and distribution companies such as CD Baby offer such packages (as well as mastering, design, DVD production, etc, etc.) and for prices starting at $263, you can have 100 CDs in jewel cases and poly wrap ready to hand out in just a few days. One day when their album goes platinum, you may be the reason it all started, and they will be eternally grateful.