If you look toward your mantle this holiday season and notice that your stocking overfloweth, you can thank me next year for maybe half the items you’ll find in it.
It took me some time to compile a list of gear that I believe will delight many guitarists but that also includes essential tools they’ll need or could use the most.
I’ve done all the heavy lifting. All you have to do is just hand this list over to your girlfriend or boyfriend (maybe your parents), and it’ll be the best stocking you’ve ever had!
10. Gamma Go The Shredder Cheese Grater, amazon.com; $9
It’s a Flying V-shaped cheese grater. Give that cheeseball guitarist in your life a chore in the kitchen that’s more useful than just grating on your nerves.
09. IK Multimedia iRig HD, ikmultimedia.com; $99.99
The IK Multimedia iRig HD is a 24-bit high-quality audio interface that connects directly into your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Mac so you can plug in your guitar and launch IK’s Amplitube FREE app to rock anywhere, anytime.
There are additional Amplitube apps (Slash, Hendrix and Fender) that include more amp models and features for recording or jamming along.
The iRig HD has a gain control to dial in a proper signal level and is powered from your Apple device. You can use iRig HD for various other guitar-related apps.
08. Ernie Ball Power Peg Pro, ernieball.com; $54.99
I use this to quickly change strings before every gig.
The Power Peg Pro is the latest version with an ion-rechargeable battery. It will work with just about every guitar and bass tuner.
Just be mindful when whirling up the high E because you’ll snap that string if you’re not paying close enough attention.
07. Planet Waves NS Micro Tuner, planetwaves.com; $32.99
The Planet Waves NS Micro Tuner clamps stealthily behind the guitar headstock or in front of it to provide spot-on tuning accuracy for those times when you are too far away from your tuning pedal.
The multi-color display is easy to read, and the unit has a built-in metronome in case you need to warm up before hitting the stage.
The micro tuner also works well for tuning other instruments like banjo, mandolin and ukulele.
06. MXR Super Bad Ass Distortion, jimdunlop.com; $169.99
The MXR Super Bad Ass Distortion is a Marshall-in-a-box and everything in between.
The controls for output, distortion, bass, mid and treble allow you to dial in everything from AC/DC- to Pantera-type gain, and it works incredibly well as a boost. It’s the best affordable distortion pedal out there, and I’m not trying to be biased; it’s just a fact.
Try it out. You’ll thank me later.
05. Orange Micro Terror, orangeamps.com; $199
Can you fit an amplifier in a stocking? Yes, you can. And the Orange Micro Terror is the one to pick.
Why? It’s terrifyingly loud at 20 watts, can drive a 4x12 speaker cabinet and sounds outrageously crunchy.
Pick up the matching PPC108 cabinet ($139) if you can get over the steep price for both.
04. Guitar strings, various.
Wanna try something fun and educational? Try out five different guitar string sets.
I’m not kidding. Just wrap these five unique string sets together in a bow, stuff it in the stocking and let the guitarist you’re gifting to become a convert to a new brand:
Ernie Ball Phosphor Bronze Everlast Coated Acoustic Guitar Strings (Medium-Light). These coated strings repel moisture and oils from your fingers and offer longer string life with warm tone. Ernie Balls have a tendency to feel slinky, and if you bend a lot on your acoustic, these are ideal.
D’Addario EHR310 Half-Rounds Electric set (10-46). These stainless steel strings have a flatter feel than typical strings, bend easily and sound twangy. It’s a nice in-between sound if you don’t want to commit to using flatwound strings.
DR Strings K3 Neon Hi-Def White electric guitar strings. DR Strings Neon Hi-Def White strings glow under UV and stage lighting and just look cool on your favorite axe. They feature DR’s proprietary K3 coating that makes them last four times longer than an uncoated string.
Cleartone Nickel-Plated Electric set with “No Feel Coating.” These are for players who have yet to warm up to coated electric guitar strings. Cleartone’s coated string feels transparent (it’s the lightest coating in the industry) and lasts three to five times longer. But the key here is the strings sound louder.
Dunlop Heavy Core Nickel Plated Steel. Dunlop Heavy Core is designed for guys tuning lower than standard and is also great for slide guitar. The increased tension and stability from its thicker core provides a stiffer feel without having to modify the nut of your guitar for a thicker gauge.
03. GrooveTech Guitar/Bass Multi-Tool; cruztools.com; $19.95
If you can’t swing the Cruz Tools Tech kit I mentioned in my previous blog, this all-in-one pocket tool is a must-have to chuck in your gig bag when you need to make some quick adjustments.
It features four metric and three fractional hex keys, two Phillips screwdrivers, a 2.5mm slotted screwdriver and many more necessary tools that unfold with ease.
I never leave home without it.
02. TC Electronic HOF Mini Reverb, tcelectronic.com; $109.99
Everyone needs a splash or dollop of reverb, and this mini pedal does the trick by keeping it simple with a single knob and a small footprint.
It’s TonePrint enabled using TC’s proprietary technology that allows you to download your favorite reverbs from TC Electronic’s extensive TonePrint library of artist and user sounds or create your own by using their TonePrint editor appliction.
You can even check out my very own TonePrint I created for the HOF here.
01. Dunlop Ultex Jazz III and Ultex Jazz III 2.0 pick, jimdunlop.com; 6-pack, $4.38
I’ve been preaching the virtues of this pick for years. It’s the fastest and most tone-filled plectrum out there.
Don’t believe me? Match it up against another pick unplugged and you’ll find the notes just jump out at you. It’s louder and brighter, and you can shred your face off with its precision sharp tip.
The newer all-black 2.0 has a slightly more oval feel when gripped but is just as crisp in attack as the original.
I try very hard to remain under the radar despite being on camera as gear editor, but in this age of social media it was only a matter of time before it had to come to this. So with that, I will make my blog painless and a quick and easy read so you can get on to more important things like sweep picking, or if you’re like me, obsessing how to race the Tour De France and trying to be Kristen Stewart’s next mistake. I will use this blog to inform you of things I find cool; like new gear I’m playing through and what I’m watching, reading or listening to at any given moment. So feel free to ask me anything that’s gear related—or if you have a problem with your girlfriend, you know, life lesson stuff, I’m pretty good at that too—and I’ll do my best to answer or address it here.