Tis the season, everyone. Tis the season, indeed. Tis the season to wage war in search of the perfect gift, and wouldn’t you know it? Those damn, pesky guitarists and their specific tastes? What do you get them? What should you get them?
Hell, I’m not even going to try and cultivate the perfect introduction for this. By now you’ve probably already started scrolling through the list anyway. I mean, really. People don’t look at lists like this because they want a powerful monologue to put them in the mood. You just want ideas and the ideas are down below. Soo… Each of these suggestions can offer some utility to guitarists out there. Take them for what they’re worth, tailor them to your circumstances, and happy hunting.
Books are a funny thing to buy for guitarists… well… musicians in general really. The reality is there area oceans of music books out there. Picking good books that can really offer new perspectives to one’s musical palette versus incomplete compilations of recycled info that’s already floating around on the internet. Some people are nice enough to request specific titles, but that’s not a luxury every shopper can embrace. So with that here are a few suggestions.
The Music Lesson – This book kicks ass. Authored by godlike bassist Victor Wooten, this is not actually a lesson book with procedures, and exercise routines. It’s more biographical and it’s all about how music looks from a more philosophical side.
Fake books – Fake books are handy because they break melodies down to the core melody and give guitarists the elbow room to develop their own style around those, making them more of their own. I wouldn’t presume to recommend any specific fake book to anyone though. Books like these are designed to cater towards specific styles, so keep in mind whom you’re buying for and the kind of music he/she likes to play.
Melodic pattern books – This is kinda like the fake book suggestion, but a bit more in depth. There are a lot of books out there (like the Guitar Grimoire and the Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns) that offer an overflow of different shapes and patterns to get your fingers working in different ways. They’re invaluable.
Pretty much anything published by Musician’s Institute – Not to paint with broad strokes here, in my experiences the books published by Musician’s Institute have all been worth reading. They’re short, they’re affordable, they’re easy to comprehend, and they get to the point.
Treatise on Harmony – Why not? A lot of the observations in this book are a bit dated by today’s standards, but Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Treatise of 1722 was at least one of the first written compilations that helped cultivate modern music theory. Without this who knows where music theory would be?
This is Your Brain on Music – Ok, this may be better reserved for more nerdy musicians. This book is more of a look at how the brain processes music. How we perceive intervals, chords, scales. What makes us perceive one melody as happy and another as sad, or what makes one melody able to be perceived as happy or sad depending on what else is happening around it. It’s a very interesting read.
Two words. Stocking stuffer. The only concern you, as the gift giver, need concern yourself with is making sure you’re getting the right strings. You may want to do a bit of detective work… or you could just be like my family and get whatever the hell sounds good. Though some guitarists are a tad picky about their strings, so use your better judgment on that one.
Perhaps this is the older guy in me speaking up, but I can vividly remember the era of the internet before YouTube. Before everything we wanted to see was available on the internet we had to get these things called DVDs. Some people, like myself, still cling to the bronze age of the internet and enjoy watching concerts on the television, rummaging through bonus features, listening to audio commentaries more times than any sane person really should. Plus DVDs and Blu-Ray discs don’t suffer from crummy audio/video compression like a lot of videos on the internet do.
Hey… what guitarist doesn’t need to stay in tune? We’ve all been in that boat before. Spending 90% of the time tuning a guitar and the other 10% playing out of tune. As modern technology advances more and more guitarists have less and less of an excuse to be out of tune – unless some musical savant out there is trying to make some artistic point by demolishing anything remotely resembling “in tune”. We’ve actually covered tuners on a number of occasions and there are some very viable alternatives out there. It might not be as sexy as, say, a Pandora Stomp, but they are important.
To save you the trouble of digging around, here are our articles.
Gift cards are a bit of a cop out, sure. Nothing quite hits home like cash that can only be spent at one place. Sarcasm aside, gift cards are still fair game. Actually they might be downright ingenious. Let’s say guitarist X is in the market for a new seven-string guitar or maybe even a Sonic Port, but wouldn’t you know it? Those things come armed with quite the price tag. Guitarist X is going to be saving his/her lunch money for a long time.
And that doesn’t just go for guitars. Gear is a huge part of the guitarist culture, be it guitars, amps, pedals, or whatever else you can plug into. The only bullet point is that gear gets expensive. Gift cards are great donations that will expedite the acquisition of any pricier piece of gear. No one said you need to outright buy a whole new piece of gear entirely.