While some of you have probably had all of your Christmas presents bought and wrapped since before Thanksgiving, others are still scouring WalMart, the Internet, and your local music stores for last-minute gifts. If you’re struggling to find something for the bluegrass musician in your life (or if you need to make a suggestion to that clueless loved one who keeps buying you those random compilation CDs from the discount bin), here are some of my favorite ideas.
Whether you’re looking for a gift that’s sure to please the A-list musician in your life, or perhaps one to fulfill your obligation of being some musician’s “Secret Santa,” you’re sure to find something that fits the bill with Peterson Tuners. I recommend the StroboClip for its incredible tenth-of-a-cent accuracy and portability. It’s a small package that really packs a punch!
The Big Bad Pick Punch
Today musicians use picks made of everything from animal parts to plastic. Buy this little baby for the musician in your life and watch them go crazy making guitar picks from everything from milk jugs to old credit cards – imagine discarding your old driver’s license by cutting it into a pick! As long as they don’t forget and throw it out into the crowd, they’re good. Nobody wants a crazed fan showing up at their place in the middle of the night!
G7th Heritage Series Capo
G7th capos sold out of their brand new Heritage model capos when the series was debuted at IBMA’s World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC this past fall. To the uneducated eye these may look like typical yoke-style capos but trust me, they’re not! Their patented feature, Adaptive Radius Technology (A.R.T.), allows the capos to apply tension to the strings more evenly across the fingerboard through the use of a silica gel capsule that is concealed behind the string pad. Suffice it to say, these capos keep instruments in better tune as the player changes keys. If the player in your life needs a new capo, you might want to check these out.
A few years ago Matthew Goins and company burst onto the scene with an absolutely great product. This easily obtainable alternative to shell sent pickers into a frenzy. Some think they’re a little expensive and I’d agree that if you like them but are prone to losing things, you’d best be adding dollars to your monthly gear budget. I’ve heard these picks described as smoother than shell and twice as strong. I’ll not disagree. These babies fit great in a stocking!
Bear Family Box Sets
Although they don’t fit in a stocking extremely well, there truly is nothing better than getting a Bear Family Box Set. Where else would you find the original Flatt and Scruggs cut of I’ll Take the Blame, or have the chance to discover one of the songs Jimmy Martin got the most comments about his guitar playing on? Hint: It secretly wasn’t him playing all those great guitar runs. If the musician in your life is a fan of bluegrass music, there is surely a box set for them. Do they like the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, or the funky stuff that Flatt and Scruggs did toward the later part of their career? Yep, they’ve got that too.
Stumped over what to get the banjo player in your life who already has that epic prewar banjo and all the accessories? How about getting them something they never knew they wanted? THE BANJO TAM! Think about it… what is more epic than a banjo, but with jingles? Seriously, it exists in multiple forms: open back 5 string, resonator 5 string, ukulele, and even the ELECTRIC 5 string. All come complete with jingles (and lots of them). Who knows, maybe you just want your kid to aggravate the next door neighbor. Take my advice: if the banjo player in your life is a pretty good sport about things, they need one of these. Actually having played one myself, I can say that yes, they’re actually pretty cool!
Shawn Lane’s I-Tone
What about the picker who already has everything they want including the fancy pick? Buy them another one! Shawn Lane’s new pick, called the I-Tone, is literally made of space age material. It’s a fantastic fancy pick (defined for the purpose of this article as picks comprised of man-made material that cost more than $1) or shell alternative. Generally speaking, it’s the same concept as the BlueChip; the bevels are spot on and fit and finish is perfect. Plus, you can almost guarantee the picker in your life doesn’t already have one of these. The product debuted just a few short months ago.
For years, acoustic guitar players have strung their instruments using bridge pins made of bone, ebony, ivory, or plastic to hold the strings in the bridges of their axes. Now, thanks to the folks at Bigrock Innovations, there’s really no need to remove the pins to re-string. That’s right, next time you lose your peg puller you can just buy a set of these and not have to worry about it again. Granted, most peg pullers are cheaper than a set of these pins, but they’re still pretty cool. They offer a little different sound than what most players are used to, and certainly do add sustain. These would make a great gift for the musician who hates the string changing process and doesn’t mind being a little different.
D’Addario NS Micro Clip-on Tuner
This thing is awesome! Features of the tiny tuner obviously include the ability to clip it virtually anywhere on an instrument, calibration settings for alternate tunings, a REVERSIBLE SCREEN DISPLAY, and even a visual metronome. If only it fried chicken. The biggest selling points are the reversible screen, compact size, and low cost. You can pick up a couple of these for right around $20.00.