Gifts - guitar stuff
In another blatantly commercial hub here are some ideas for presents for guitar players - or potential guitar players.
- Travel guitar. This can be a great thing for people who are on the road a lot, but also ideal for kids, especially if they are having guitar lessons or general music lessons at school. My favourite would be the Baby Taylor or Big Baby Taylor acoustic, which are really easy to play and sound good. See the link below - but definitely shop around too. The Taylor GS Mini has got some great reviews in the press, and I'm impressed with mine, which is the koa version with pickup, very hard to beat for the money.
- Teenager electric: Fender Squier guitars are usually a good bet, especially the low budget Stratocaster model. Take care with the switches and sockets, as they are far from indestructible, other than that they are great value for money.The new Chinese made line seems to have some quality control issues, and you may actually find a better instrument on the secondhand market.
- More expensive, but really great value - the PRS SE range of electrics.
- Acoustic Guitar: generally I've been very impressed with the Yamaha F-310 as a good all-round beginners guitar that is easy to play and comfortable due to the slim neck size. All the Yamaha acoustics are pretty good, and can be easily found secondhand. You should expect to pay around 60% of the new price, maybe less.
- Ukelele: a great instrument that has regained a lot of popularity recently, and is ideal for kids. Try to find one with solid woods, the extra expense is really worth it. The Beatles all played uke (as seen on the Anthology DVD)
- Ukelele instruction book - you can find these on amazon.com, for next to nothing.
- Roland or Vox practice amps - the Micro Cube is good, also the DA-5.
- Apple mini jack to jack guitar cable - you can use this to connect Garageband, a Mac recording application that is highly recommended, to any electric or electro-acoustic guitar that has a standard 1/4" jack socket - that is, all of them! This is literally all you need to record guitar tracks on a Mac. Only caveat: newer Macs don't seem to have this connection
- Padded gig bag - a very useful case for guitars. If you're reasonably careful, this is much better than lugging around a very heavy hard case, and will offer enough protection for most trips.
- Capo - a very useful thing for all players. Shubb capos are very good, but there are many good designs.
- Slide - a glass bottleneck slide is really handy.
- Instruction books. You can find these in every style, often with a CD in the package.Mel Bay seem universally good. I also really rate the Joni Mitchell Complete So Far songbook, it's excellent.
- Music stand - The Rat stand is great. Plastic, but very durable - tested on many gigs!
- Music stand light - if your guitar playing amigo plays gigs, these are a must-have accessory! I'm using a Mighty Bright clip -on light. It's LED powered and is very useful - also, the battery seems to last forever. As it's hands-free, it could also be handy for the car on dark and stormy nights!
- iTunes voucher - OK, this isn't too exciting - but could be used to make a compilation CD of all the classic guitar tracks.
- Plectrums: try Jim Dunlop 73 mm or 88mm.
There are a number of guitar apps designed for the i-Phone, including amp simulations, tuners, and also the jazz real books. The Real books app works very well on the i-pad as there is a nice screen size to support it. iReal Pro includes backing tracks to play along with - app costs about £10.
Although mainly jazz standard orientated, the iReal B app does have some other styles such as pop, latin, rock. It will give you chord charts and backing tracks, you can also transpose and print. Almost the ultimate practice tool in my opinion.
Finally - if you want some advice, just use the comments box and I'll get back to you.