Stocking Stuffers for the Budding Guitarist
by Vince Schaljo
With the Christmas season fast approaching, finding the perfect “something” for someone can prove taxing. Depending on how well you know the person, you can often find yourself taking a shot in the dark picking something up that you think they might like or use. When it comes to budding guitar players though, it’s easy to fill a stocking with little things you can be sure they’ll use. Here’s my top ten list of practical stocking stuffers for the aspiring guitarist!Strings.
Every guitar needs to be restrung on a regular basis. Learning how to do it yourself will not only save a little money in the long run, but will also mean you don’t need to leave your guitar at a shop overnight for a simple restring to be done. If the player is relatively new to the instrument, a medium gauge 10-46 should do just fine. If they’re more experienced, find out what they like first!
Lemon oil, string winder, guitar polish.
I lumped these together because they all have to do with general guitar maintenance. It’s imperative that a guitar neck is kept in good condition by giving it a healthy dose of lemon oil when it gets dry. A string winder will help the restring process go much quicker, and guitar polish will help keep your guitar-playing-companion’s baby looking nice and shiny. Just as I mentioned with the strings, learning to do these simple things will save time and money!
Playing a guitar that’s in tune is better for everyone in the instrument’s vicinity. Clip tuners make keeping it in tune very easy, and can be used even in high volume areas. Simply clip the tuner to the guitar’s headstock, set it to “vibration”, and the tuner will read each note based on the vibrations that the frequency sends through the guitar.
A handy tool for any player hoping to be the next big singer-songwriter, a capo allows you to shift the “open” position of the guitar from the nut to any fret you wish. This allows you to play typical open chord shapes for chords that would normally require extensive barre chord shapes. It’s also a lot of fun to experiment with alternate tunings with a capo, or even using a “partial” capo to leave some strings open.
Strap / strap locks
Anyone who wants to play in a band or play in front of an audience will get good use out of a strap. It feels different to play when the guitar is hanging from your shoulder than when sitting, so it’s good to get used to both before you jump on the stage. When it comes time to do that though, strap locks would be a good idea. Many straps are notorious for slipping off a guitar’s strap buttons, which are what strap buttons are here to prevent. You can get inexpensive plastic ones, or invest in a set of metal locks that replace the original guitar strap buttons.
There is a conspiracy that exists among guitar players where all their picks up and vanish. So, when someone hands us a handful of guitar picks, it’s like winning the lottery.
Just like with strings, make sure you know what the experienced player likes to use before buying. Guitarists can be picky when picking their picks.
Most professional players’ guitar rigs contain at least a couple effects pedals. The budding player can plug in a pedal to try and dial in a sound similar to that of their heroes, or just to have a little fun. Even if you’re not sure what kind of effect they may want to play with, a good reverb, delay, or boost pedal will always be a winner.
Relatively inexpensive computer programs exist that make learning songs and jotting down musical notation easier than just learning by reading it. Guitar Pro is a good example – you simply download any compatible sheet music or tab, and the program will playback the song as it reads through the notation. You can slow parts down and speed them up, or even write in your own notation and have the program play them back using a variety of selectable instruments. There’s a ton more features that make it a great tool for any player looking to learn, practice, and write music.
Ok, so you can’t throw them into a stocking. That said, one on one guitar lessons with a good teacher is still the best way to learn an instrument. An interactive setting where the student is able to ask questions and receive feedback simply can’t be beat by a program or just reading online.
Sometimes shredding for five minutes can turn out cheesy. With this fantastic invention, shredding for five minutes will actually create strands of delicious cheese. You’ll need to start with a solid brick of it, though.
Merry Christmas, and happy playing!