It's that time of year again! Actually… No… it isn't… but that's good news, because if it was that time of year, you'd already be late to the game!
In keeping with tradition, I'm making my Ultimate Musician Christmas Gift Idea List to End All Lists — known affectionately by those in the know as UMCGILEAL. Okay… No… that isn't true either… and I'll improve the name one of these days… but until then, here is list of things that I think any musician would totally enjoy.
These are either things that I own, would own, want to own, have heard students express interest in owning. Some are stocking stuffer types, others are more of a main event. Either way, I hope they give you some great ideas!
Here's everything on one page for your viewing pleasure. Scroll away!
Please Note: If you don't see the picture and link, it's because you may have ads blocked and… well.. these are ads! But the good kind!
Like having a really quiet, low energy guitar tech to hand you your axe anytime you'd like!
In the immortal words of Ben E. King — "Stand by me!" This is probably the best money that a musician can spend — and did you know they make excellent book holders for reading other things as well?
You've heard the expression "When picks fly…" right? Well, there's nothing more frustrating than losing all your picks or leaving them on Jordan's amazing music stand (see above). So if you're tired of raiding the dryer lint trap for lost picks, it may be a great idea to just invest the big bucks into a pack of these babies and saturate your environment!
Who knows how to draw a treble clef? No one does! We all just use this little thing. Handy for going old school and writing some music by hand!
Instead of letting your kids zone out and read license plates while they sit in rush hour traffic, why not let them practice their chords? Stuck in line at the Belle Hall Starbucks while the cashier explains which size is "large?" On a slow date? Bored at jury duty? Get some practice in, man!
Slide, Clyde! How else are you going to make whale sounds with your guitar? In all seriousness — one of my favorite things to tinker around with on the guitar. Who doesn't love a slide solo?
If you're still using the little black square pedal that came with your digital piano, please don't tell me — redeem yourself, get out of the cave, and walk upright like the rest of us!
You can tune a guitar, but you can't tuna fish. There… I said it.
Probably the most economical way to get into recording — these guys actually interface with all the iOS devices with the USB connector and work great for computer recording as well. Probably the only downside worth mentioning is the lack of a gain knob — meaning you need to distance yourself from the mic accordingly to get the perfect sound.
An incredible first step into making a proper recording — this microphone allows you to jump right into recording acoustic instruments and/or singing without the need to purchase a standalone interface. Perfect for the singer in your house!
This is probably the most useful thing I keep in my bag! It's tiny, but incredibly powerful. The Shure app that goes with it is packed full of settings that can be dialed in for your particular use. Great for capturing the sound spread for a live event or concert. Also works with the video camera for iOS to up your game for your videos.
This is the newer variant of what I use in my studio to run all of my recording. I've used it for just about everything I've ever done — a must for any recording musician. It's a great way for students to get inputs for controlling Garageband. I've used it for everything from practice to commercial recordings. Mighty red box!
What's the most important part of your practice?? If you're my student you can hear me saying "Thou shalt play in rhythm!!" A dedicated metronome is an absolute must! And let's just put it this way — the students who use the metronome app on their phone don't have the rhythmic skills of my students who own a standalone metronome! :)
A great overview of "everything" — many great visuals and snippets about great composers!
This is a favorite of mine — can be used to turn your digital pages when you're reading music off of the iPad. Once you get over the small brain-stall of "Hey, time to turn the page! Left foot, go!"
My one and only — Okay, that obviously isn't true. I own lots of guitars. However, this one is my daily driver and love of my life. As you can see, it isn't worth more than my car (or is it… hmm), but definitely gets the job done. Much love for this guitar!
I admit it — I have total Jaguar-lust! This was "the" guitar style for me when I was a kid… and as many of you know… I still feel like a kid… so… yeah, big fan!
This is my go-to recommendation on a smaller acoustic guitar — I have a student (you know who you are! Get back to practicing!) who owns one of these and I have to admit, every time I grab it to tune it up, I'm a little jealous of how good the sound is for how small of a body it has! The Miata of acoustic guitars? You heard it here first, folks.
I had a student once who kept yammering on about his love of Tool — I kept saying, "Totally, who doesn't love having tools around!?" Hey, we can't connect to everyone!
If you've been around me for any period of time (let me first apologize!) you know that I can go on a tirade over how modern technology has actually robbed us of great sounding speakers. As TVs and displays have gotten slimmer and slimmer, we've forgotten that we actually need speakers to create sound! This is an easy way to *instantly* upgrade your movie watching experience, or to simply use your Apple TV to listen to some music (and actually hear what is going on!)
Again, for that student who keeps listening to music through his skittle-sized phone speakers!! Join the real world, my friend. Music can actually sound like something other than lyrics!
Ditto above! Sound, people…
These headphones have been my workhorse for years — If I were to lose them today, I'd order another pair immediately without even batting an eye. Incredible sound and comfort. I use these guys whenever I'm practicing on digital instruments, listening to music privately (ain't no party like a private listening party!), or just want to look busier than I really am (you should see the looks I get in the grocery store!). Amazing headphones — can't say enough good things about them.
My students sometimes love playing with these footrests more than their guitars — I occasionally have to limit their use! I'm almost inclined to have one of these under my desk at home — just feels nice.
One of the best books I've ever gone through as a Beatle fan — whatever faults it has aren't even worth mentioning. If you like the Beatles, this is a must own.
This is the Bible — you know, the other one.
Nothing is more hip than turning this book into a one man lounge music act. This is the Bible! Oh, wait, the other other one!
This is paper. Music paper. A composer must — it's easy to fill up a few of these if you're writing things regularly!
If you're ever had to wind guitar strings by hand, you know the value of this!
I've actually sold myself on this — I'm buying it. Huge help when changing strings for students — especially quickly! And again, who doesn't love tools?
Maybe I'm just a huge Glenn Gould fan, but nothing is cooler than a piano chair! And it's worth mentioning that quite often students who play digital instruments frequently just sit in whatever they happen to have nearby — and as many of you are aware, pianos typically require that we sit just a bit higher than that! This is an excellent buy for anyone with a digital instrument or for anyone with young ones who don't quite sit high enough.
This is it — THE desk I use. Has it ever fallen to pieces or exploded during our lessons? No. That's the first thing I look for in a desk. That's why I've dubbed this guy Mega-Desk!
I'm a big fan of practice-helpers — anything that can give you better insight into planning your week and giving you an overview of the kinds of things you are accomplishing is a huge plus in my book. And this is the book that I like to use. Give it a try!
I've always wanted to decorate Mega-Desk with these guys!
Students who like deciphering music as much as I do know the value of this guy. The ability to separate your sound into right channel vs left channel while also controlling all the possible sound frequencies to hear separate parts?? Please. A must.
Ask anyone who travels at all — these are the best in the entire category of noise cancelling headphones. The ability to silence the outside world is amazing… and not a little bit dangerous maybe… so don't use while driving or something like that. Incredible!
I often like to ask students what they use to listen to music — many times it's just the tiny phone speaker (which is usually mono!). Your great grandfather playing his Victrola had better audio! I think there is something satisfying to physically owning an album — to sitting and watching it play. And when you're not listening to it, it's there on the shelf reminding you that it exists. You don't get that with digital! Plus no one is going to text you and interrupt your listening on your hifi!
Most of my students have one of these because I'm a nice guy and I share — however, if you wanted to really go crazy and get the entire set… This could be your opportunity!
For my students interested in on-the-go music making or music creation. Also works really great to just take around the house. I sat at the island in my kitchen and charted out tons of music with one of these little guys.
Same idea as above — only more for the electronically oriented music creators out there. I have to admit that it also just looks amazing with the reverse keyboard. You aren't going to practice on something like this — but you will be able to tote it around and enter in some parts one at a time!
It's not just the only phrase you remember from the movie Ghost — it's also my favorite tiny looper pedal! Give Ed whatshisname a run for his money! It's a great practice tool to stay in rhythm and layer things on top. I'm a big fan.
I'm a little divided on things like this — Obviously please don't play this all the time… However, I can imagine a million instances where students don't take their instrument with them, but could have gotten great practice done on something like this.
Oh, this is just so cool — It's a keyboard with… well.. you just have to watch the video on it. It's weird and weird can be good. I've always wanted one of these guys to play around with.
This is probably the only digital in its price range that can give an actual piano a run for its money. People often make the mistake of only buying the actual keyboard — but the stand is a huge part of your experience (as are the pedals). Really great keyboard — Yamaha sound samples are my favorite in the industry currently.
Line 6 make some of the best digital effects out there — I always recommend this amp to students for its great sounding built in effects. It's big enough to drive your neighbors insane and cause deafness, but small enough to take with you. What else could you want?
This is more for the student who purchases a standalone interface — great professional sound. I've used this microphone to record just about everything over the past 11 years!
I'm a huge Nintendo fan — I have zero shame in that. I like that they took an old school build-it-code-it attitude to this set. And the fact that you can make your own tiny keyboard? If I had a kid, he'd get to watch me put this together while complaining that it's really his present!
No comment needed. Koji Kondo is one of the best composers for modern media — Again, no shame in admitting that.
Included because I know a huge population of my younger students are gamers who like to use Twitch to stream your sessions. This is a great way to swipe video and audio off of an HDMI output. Recording options above will allow you to voice over all of your mayhem! YouTube's number one videos are kids streaming games — if you become a millionaire, please buy me a new Miata!
If you've ever wanted to. You can. It's okay. No one will judge you. Ukuleles are a blast.
It's a metronome and a tuner. I can't riff anything off of that except to say that guitar players need both. Two birds, one stone. What a violent comparison! Leave the birds alone and play music!
Get a fun color, life is better with a pop of color.
Your own Mega-Desk deserves a monitor big enough to watch those tracks go by!
See something that I forgot to include? Have a great suggestion that musicians would love? Let me know!