With the holiday season approaching quicker than most of us would like, I asked my husband what he would like for Christmas. He is a musician, so shopping for him can be a task.
We got together and came up with a list of the top 5 things he thought would make for great holiday or birthday gifts for the guitar or bassist in your life.
1. GUITAR CARE / LUTHIER TOOLS
The first is not flashy and exciting but a ‘must have’ for a guitar or bass player.
Having your instrument properly set up with action and intonation will not only make playing more comfortable but will make your tuning stability/tone more pleasing.
You can buy smaller kits you could easily slip in a gig bag to fix small issues at a show or enough tools to fill a workbench and start a small side hustle setting up and repainting instruments for people.
Many kits also contain conditioners and polishes that are perfect for your guitar and bass.
If you search ‘guitar tool kit’ on Amazon, you can find many different options and choose what you like.
Or, if you want to jump in headfirst and the cost is no issue, Stewmac.com has a very nice selection.
2. TAB & MUSIC BOOKS
I know that everything is going digital, but sometimes having the physical item in front of you is just so much more rewarding. When it comes to learning songs, some people have no problem scrolling through Guitar Pro, where some need a physical copy to look at it at their own pace.
In either case, Sheet Happens has the nicest quality tab books I have ever seen. You can get printed versions as well as digital with guitar pro files.
The band list they have might be small, but it is always growing. The quality of their books is top of the line and can handle some wear and tear.
They also have many other gift ideas, such as band clothing, vinyl records, art prints, and more. They even have a Protest The Hero coloring book if that’s your kind of thing! (My husband already has one!)
3. GUITAR/BASS AMP SIMS
A few years ago, the idea of suggesting software guitar/bass amp simulators would have been instantly laughed out of the room. The advancement simulators have made in a short time is impressive and now provides an inexpensive tool you can use for inspiration, recording, testing amp sounds before purchasing the real thing, or even gigging (although you would need extra equipment for live applications).
Amp simulators all have different interfaces and features. Some have full-featured pedalboards, and some are free with additional models for purchase, while some can profile current tube amps you own and create presets.
Take a look at any of the companies mentioned below, and remember that Google is a great friend when searching for preset and sound sharing!
4. GUITAR KITS
As far as I’m concerned, a great gift is something that can keep you busy and teach you something new.
Build your own guitar and bass kits are everywhere now! You can purchase kits for a ton of famous guitar models, and all you have to do is assemble and finish them.
From all the research my husband has done, you will more than likely experience issues throughout the build, including fret dressing, set up, etc. But with a little bit of reading and patience, you can create yourself a really nice custom guitar that you can call your own.
He suggests replacing the pickups/electronics and tuners as soon as possible because kits are usually low quality. So if you want the best out of the kit, keep that extra cost in mind.
Bad Cat Instruments is a great place to look that also has a Facebook community that you can join for more support.
5. GUITAR CAB KITS
The final and top choice of the list is a product my husband purchased a while back and really loved the experience. He bought a 2×12 cabinet kit from Implicit Audio, a newer small business based out of Toronto, Canada.
The cabinets consist of the precursor and channeled wood, jack plate, jacks, speaker grill frame, mounting hardware, amp feet, and handle.
The wood grain on the Baltic birch ply is so nice, my husband decided to do a traditional hand-rubbed stain vs. covering it with tolex, but the best part with this kit is you get to do what you want! You can make it match your living room, let your kids paint it with you, do some wood-burning or a resin pour. The possibilities are endless for creating a really nice artistic look to it! Or you can just as easily cover it with tolex to create your custom take on the rock and roll staple.
The kit is so easy to put together that he used wood glue and a few clamps in our kitchen, which is a very small area. You could easily put one of these together with ease in a small apartment or condo.
My husband also liked that not only could you visually customize it but also customize the sound based on what speakers/speaker combinations you load into the cabinet. Once assembled, the cabinet sounds great and looks great!
I think this is an amazing project for someone wanting to learn basic woodworking and letting their imagination go wild.
Over the years, we have seen so many different guitar/bass finishes and bursts and stains, but cabinets have stayed mainly the same appearance-wise. Now you have a chance to change that with a cabinet kit from Implicit Audio.
(Please note that custom orders may take a while to ship because they are a small company. But they are super nice people, who are very dedicated to their customers and great at answering customer questions!)
OUR TOP PICK
If you were to ask which item on the list you should get the musician on your list, I would have to choose the cabinet from Implicit Audio.
From studio to stage, it offers a ton of value. I love to ability to wire it how you like. 2 different sounding speakers in a cab working together? No problem! Want to run each speaker separately and through 2 different amps? Again, no problem.
With that said, you also have the accomplished feeling of looking at something you built and finished. It was a fun project to watch my husband put together, and he is beyond thrilled with the result.
But it’s all about what makes you – or the musician in your life – happy. Any of these options above will surely do the trick!
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.