Buying for a guitarist this holiday season? Whether they’re an absolute beginner or a discerning collector, this handy guide will point you in the direction of some of the best guitar Christmas gifts around.
Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster
If you’re buying someone their first guitar for X’mas, and unless they want to jump straight to playing death metal, you can’t really go wrong with the classic look of a Telecaster. With a thin neck and out-of-the-box playability, this guitar is the best kind of starter guitar: one that lasts, and isn’t surpassed as soon as the first three notes of Smoke On The Water have been learnt.
Price: $349 / £339
Product page: fender.com.
Jackson Guitar JS12 Dinky
If they do want to jump straight to playing death metal, this might be a better starting point. With modern, high-output ceramic pickups, a speedy neck and an S-type design, the JS12 Dinky is a great giftable metal axe with a reasonable price-tag.
Price: $179.99 / £169
Product page: jacksonguitars.com.
This single-cut is a great introduction to the world of humbucking guitars that doesn’t scream “metal” as much as the Dinky does. Classic looks and EastCoast’s notable attention to detail make this a great beginner guitar.
Product page: eastcoastguitars.co.uk.
The worst thing about travelling for a guitarist is that often you have to leave your collection at home. You get back, and your calluses have disappeared, and you’ve forgotten half your repertoire. Not with the Martin Backpacker, which can be taken on the road easily, thanks to its unique body design and tiny weight. A great gift for the guitarist on the move.
Price $229 / £299
Product page: martinguitar.com.
Fender American Ultra Jazzmaster
Perhaps you’re looking to really treat someone. The American Ultra series is a culmination of 70 years of Fender design, and this premium Jazzmaster is a fine addition to any guitar nerd’s collection.
Price: $1,999 / £1,799
Product page: fender.com.
Harmony 8418 Tube Combo Reissue
The new Harmony 8418 Tube Combo is actually a reissue of the original that was released in the 50s. The small five-watt combo is designed using the same blueprint as the original and is completely hand-wired. The Harmony 8418 is a non-master volume amp with 6SJ7 tube driving the preamp and a single 6V6 in the power section. It also comes loaded with a six-inch alnico-voiced Jensen speaker.
Product page: harmony.co.
Dr Z Jetta
Driven by twin 12AX7 preamp tubes and a pair of 7591 power tubes, the Jetta’s 30W rating is surprising considering its slim silhouette. Dr Z has opted for a compact housing for this amp, which also carries a 12-inch Celestion H30 speaker. The Jetta is designed to colour your guitar’s original tone as little as possible, while offering plenty of headroom to accommodate pedalboard-based players.
Price: $1,399 / £1,499
Product page: drzamps.com.
Mesa/Boogie Mark Five: 25 1×10
Mesa/Boogie’s Mark Five series of amps are known for their versatility, and its latest member is no exception. The two-channel Mark Five: 25 1×10 utilises Mesa’s patented Multi-Watt channel assignable power amp and proprietary Dyna-Watt technology to allow users to operate the amp at either 10 watts or 25 watts, without sacrificing tone.
Price: $1,699 / £2,249
Product page: mesaboogie.com.
Positive Grid Spark
Smart amps have been making their way into the industry, and Positive Grid’s offering brings it all in a tabletop-amp form factor. The Spark contains 10,000 tone presets, along with various preamp and effects models. Its control panel can also be remotely tweaked via its companion smartphone app. With the app, users can have the Spark provide bass and drum accompaniment while it tracks their playing, and interface with streaming services like Spotify to display chord readouts.
Price: Starts at $179
Product page: positivegrid.com.
Boss Katana-100/212 MkII
The latest iteration of Boss’ Katana amps sports two 12-inch speakers, 60 effects and a 100-watt power rating. The Katana-100/212 MkII is the flagship offering of Boss’ Katana MkII series and aims to be just as tonally convincing as analogue tube amps. Using the Boss Tone Studio software, users will be able to load and edit a huge range of preset sounds and effects, creating a virtual pedalboard/rig of sorts. Hooking up a GA-FC footswitch – sold separately – will allow for on-the-fly toggling of presets and effects.
Price: $469 / £439
Product page: boss.info.
Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini
For the guitarist who’s just starting out, the TS Mini will get the ball rolling for their love of overdrives. This stocking-stuffer achieves that ubiquitous overdrive tone without breaking the bank, and can serve as a great jumping-off point for a larger rig.
Price $79.99 / £65
Product page: ibanez.com.
TC Electronic Spark Mini
A boost is another great first foray into the world of pedals. They’re pretty much essential for gigging – for all the talk of getting the perfect tone, that goes out the window if no one at the venue can hear you when it’s your turn to solo. The Spark Mini pushes a signal just enough to cut through, and leaves room on your board for the rest of your rig.
Price: $45 / £50
Product page: tcelectronic.com.
Classy. Straightforward. Boutique. Based on the legendary Klon overdrive, this simple pedal is a great gift for the pedal-obsessed, if only so they can say that they now own a Klon. But the hype whirlwind that spins around this legendary style of overdrive isn’t unwarranted: beautifully crisp and clear, this pedal will slot nicely into any rig.
Price: $199 / £199
Product page: mythospedals.com.
For the guitarist who just can’t play without reverb. This pedal offers a huge range of tones, and has enough tweakability to suit any gig situation. Stereo outputs double the potential for interesting ambience as well. For the price, the Polara packs in a lot of ‘verb.
Price: $169 / £104
Product page: digitech.com.
TC Electronic Ditto
A simple, yet fully-featured loop pedal is a great addition to any guitarist’s effects collection. Whether you’re buying this for a beginner or an expert, it comes in extremely handy as a tool for both practice and songwriting. A looper’s a great gift that focuses of the creative side of guitar playing, not just knob-tweaking and tone-chasing.
Price: $118 / £69
Product page: tcelectronic.com.
MusicNomad GRIP Pin Puller
Extracting a stubborn bridge pin from an acoustic guitar can be a nerve-wracking ordeal; the last thing we want is to end up taking a chunk out of that wooden bridge. Thankfully, GRIP’s metal-free construction means that players will no longer need to fear that grim possibility. MusicNomad’s innovative Pin Puller is designed for easy one-handed operation and allows users to safely lever out those tricky pins through a rocking motion.
Product page: musicnomadcare.com.
Göldo Music MagSlide
Playing slide guitar requires a certain presence of mind, so as to avoid having the slide resting too heavily on the strings and therefore stifling their sound. Göldo Music’s MagSlide utilises a magnesium construction as opposed to the regular glass and brass, which decreases its heft by a significant amount. The MagSlide also features divots on one end to keep it stable while in use.
Product page: goeldo.de.
Electro-Harmonix has thrown its hat into the audio peripherals ring with the R&B true wireless earbuds. Offering up to five hours of playtime on a single charge (15 with the companion charging/carry case), the R&B is also sweat-proof and compatible with various voice assistants. It utilises Bluetooth 5.0 for its wireless capabilities and comes with three different-sized ear cushions.
Product page: ehx.com.
Ernie Ball Primo Slinky
Guitarists can always use more sets of strings. This set of Primo Slinkys is a half gauge set, meaning it strikes a balance between the light playability of 9s and the heavier feel of 10s – great for beginners, or those with a lighter playing touch.
Product page: ernieball.co.uk.
Mojotone Premium Historic ’59 P.A.F. Humbucker set
They say nothing beats giving the gift of tone – at least for a musician. Mojotone’s latest humbucker offering is a true-to-spec recreation of the late-50s Gibson humbucker, also colloquially referred to as the P.A.F. These pickups feature field-charged rough cast alnico 2 magnets, unpotted coils and 42AWG enamel wire for harmonically-rich tones. The Premium Historic ’59 P.A.F. humbuckers are also handwound to 7.1k ohm (neck) and 8.2k ohm (bridge) to mirror the mismatching of vintage P.A.F.s. It also comes beautifully presented in a Lifton-style solid pine box for easy gifting.
Price: $249.95 (per pair)
Product page: mojotone.com.
Drop Top Images Framed Musician Prints
Maybe the guitarist in your life has a slightly too-serious case of GAS – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. And while there’s an argument to be made that you can never have enough gear, sometimes it’s good to be reminded what it’s all about: the music. These prints from Drop Top Images provide some classy inspiration, and with the huge range of artists featured there’s great scope for a personal touch, whether you’re looking to inspire a beginner or an expert.
Price: £35.99-£229.99 (depending on framing options)
Product page: droptopimages.co.uk.