In today’s day and age, just about everyone has a friend or two who plays guitar. Whether they’re a seasoned professional or an ambitious amateur, guitarists are dime-a-dozen in modern social circles. Guitars are among the most approachable instruments that you can pick up if you’re passionate about music; they can be purchased inexpensively, and within a short time of buying one you can learn enough chords to play a song or two.
Of course, not everyone can be a guitarist. Granted, the fact that Ed Sheeran is considered a guitarist is ample evidence that the bar isn’t all that high, but most people just aren’t interested in putting in the time and effort necessary to learn to play the instrument. This might be true in your case, but it doesn’t change the fact that you probably have a friend or two that plays guitar!
When the time comes to give a guitarist a birthday or Christmas gift, the obvious option is a guitar. However, upon taking a quick look at guitar prices, you might quickly be dissuaded of this notion. With Gibson, Fender, Ibanez and Martin guitars all selling for prices anywhere from the high hundreds to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, you’ll quickly find yourself looking for less expensive options.
With this thought in mind, you’ll quickly find yourself trying to think of gifts that are less expensive than these lovingly crafted works of metal and mahogany. Things that a guitarist will still appreciate, but are also inexpensive enough to allow you to make rent during the month in which you purchase them. Do such things exist, you ask? They do, and we’re here to tell you all about them!
Showing them you care without spending a mint
Now, when it comes to guitarists, there are a lot of ways to show your appreciation for them without taking the kind of financial hit you’re likely to suffer if you go all the way and get them a new guitar. Sometimes, the little things can be just as important and meaningful as something as expensive and extravagant as a guitar. Let’s look at some of these things now!
Selection of guitar picks: $5 – $10
While it hasn’t gained a lot of attention from the academic community, guitar picks seem to possess a strange quality known only to those who use them frequently: the ability to spontaneously disappear without a trace! Guitarists are always losing guitar picks, and for this picks are always a welcome gift.
There are a wide variety of picks available, from the ultra-thin nylon examples to rugged and robust translucent plastic examples. Some are textured, some have attractive designs on them, but all are absolutely indispensable to guitarists who use them on a daily basis. At the rate they disappear, your gift is highly likely to be received with exuberant thanks!
Before you go out and buy a selection of picks that might not be what the recipient is used to, you’ll want to subtly gather information about the picks they prefer. Find out what thickness of pick they prefer, and whether or not they prefer picks with a textured surface. If you want to really go the extra mile, find a pack of picks from their favorite band!
Set of new strings: $5 – $20
Another thing that you might want to consider getting your guitarist friend is a set of new strings. Most people don’t know this, but strings degrade fairly rapidly. Unless the strings are of exceptionally high quality, it’s generally a good idea to replace the strings on your guitar every two months at most.
Getting your guitarist friend a set of strings can be a bit tricky, as there is a lot that you’ll need to know before you actually make a trip to the music store. The primary things to keep in mind when purchasing someone else a set of new strings are string gauge, the type of guitar they’re going to be put on, and quality of the strings you plan to purchase.
Most guitarists prefer a specific gauge of strings; thicker strings offer more resonance and richer tones, but lighter strings are easier to fret and bend, and can be brighter and clearer. Additionally, electric guitar strings, classical guitar strings and acoustic guitar strings all have different characteristics. Do some detective work and find out what strings your friend uses. They’ll appreciate your observational skills!
DIY guitar rack or pedalboard: $20-$100
While many beginner guitarists are satisfied with just one guitar. Once the guitar fever gets a hold of them, however, they’re likely to start collecting and keep going until the day they die. Guitars aren’t the only thing they’re likely to start accumulating; pedals, amps, cables, effects processors and other hardware are also likely to start piling up as well!
If you’re a DIY enthusiast with some basic carpentry skills, you can help your guitarist friend by building them a custom guitar rack that will double as an aesthetic addition to their home in addition to helping them store their instruments. This guitar rack can be as simple or ornate as you’d like it to be; the only thing you’ve got to worry about is making sure that it can safely hold a few guitars without damaging them!
For an electric guitarist, a pedalboard might also be a welcome addition to their collection. Guitar pedals can be a lot of fun to use when you’re making music, but loading 5-10 of them into a bag and then setting them up at a gig or studio can be a big hassle. To remedy this, a pedal board simply holds your most used pedals together in a compact, transportable package. With a bit of research, you can build one quite easily, and the recipient will thank you profusely!
A high-quality handmade strap: $35 – $100
When you’ve got a lot of guitars, there’s a good chance you don’t have quite as many straps. For many guitarists it’s tempting to simply switch straps between whatever guitar you’re currently using, or keep cheap, low quality straps on your guitars. For a guitarist who isn’t particularly stable, a good strap can seem like an extravagant expenditure.
For someone looking to buy a reasonably priced gift, however, a good guitar strap can be purchased rather inexpensively and still be a dramatic step up from the straps your guitarist friend is currently using. Cheap straps are often very uncomfortable and ergonomically clumsy, leading to an unpleasant playing experience, so a high quality guitar strap will no doubt be welcomed gladly!
There are any number of different designs available when it comes to guitar straps. Some are patterned ornately with bright colors or very tastefully constructed from leather, canvas and comfortable padding. Try to match the style of guitar strap you buy with their personality and aesthetic tastes; no matter what, they’re likely to appreciate it immensely!
A used guitar: $50 – $100
Yes, yes, we know. We said that we were going to be recommending alternatives to something as expensive as purchasing a guitar as a gift. But that’s the thing: not all guitars are unreasonably expensive! Yes, new guitars from big manufacturers are usually pretty pricey, but a used guitar can often be just as highly appreciated!
You see, guitars are more than just the name on the headstock. As a musician, the most important thing is your connection with the instrument, not its numerical value. A cheap guitar can hold as much or more personal meaning and value as an expensive Gibson or Martin, especially when it’s a gift from a close friend.
If you do some searching, you can easily find guitars that have been discarded or donated to thrift shops, antique shops, second hand music stores and other places where used goods are sold. Most of them are in poor condition, but every now and then you’ll find a gem. Just make sure the guitar has no cracks, and that the neck is straight before you buy it!
Purchasing one of these gifts for your guitar playing friends will undoubtedly leave a good impression on them, showing them that you do indeed care about them. These things may seem insignificant or devoid of much meaning, but trust us when we say that guitarists will appreciate them profoundly. We hope your gift is accepted gratefully!