Christmas gift ideas for guitarists (2012)

With Christmas approaching here are some cool guitar accessories to add to your wishlist or sneak on to your family.  And if you don’t play guitar there’s a good chance you know someone who does, so these ideas will help expand your list.  All accessories should be available via Amazon or any local/online music store, except where stated otherwise.  Street prices are in USD and GBP to serve as a guide and I’ve ordered the list based on price (low-high).

NB- if you’re family and reading this, I have everything on the list so click here to make me a happy man! :P

1. Planet Waves Pro-Winder string winder & cutter:  An inexpensive yet invaluable tool for any guitarist that’ll make them wonder how they managed without one.  There’s a bass version available too.  $7.95 / £6.50.

Planet Waves Pro-Winder Guitar String Winder & Cutter

2. Guitar Tuner: All-instrument headstock tuners are becoming popular as their tuning accuracy improves, and it’s pretty handy as they work well with acoustics and electrics.  Check out the Planet Waves NS Mini Headstock Tuner and Snark SN-8 Clip-On Tuner.  The Snark is my favorite because it’s quick and has a built-in metronome. PW is $20 / £16 and Snark $15 / £13.
Planet Waves NS Mini Headstock TunerSnark SN8 All Instrument Clip-On Tuner

3. Strap Lock System: The majority of players don’t use or believe they need strap locks but think of strap locks as insurance, especially if you gig.  It basically locks your strap in and ensures the guitar never slips off while playing, even if you love doing crazy guitar spins à la Malmsteen.  I personally prefer Ernie Ball Super Locks ($20 / £16) but the Dunlop StrapLok System ($15 / £18) and Schaller Security Locks ($25 / £15) are also good.  A popular alternative for strap locks is the DiMarzio ClipLock strap ($22 / £20).
Ernie Ball Super LocksDunlop StrapLok SystemSchaller Security LocksDiMarzio ClipLock Strap

4. Guitar straps boil down to personal taste as there are numerous brands and types, but after trying many I settled on Planet Waves Joe Satriani woven guitar straps a few years ago.  Excellent quality, very comfortable, and they look cool.  If the JS designs don’t do it for you head over to Planet Waves and check out their strap collection.  Woven straps average $25 / £20.
Planet Waves JS Guitar Straps

5. FretWraps: A great accessory for muting and dampening strings to reduce unwanted noise.  I use it primarily as a string-dampener at the neck replacing packing foam.  Hair ties are just as effective but you’ve got to find the right size and elasticity while FretWraps are purpose-made and never wear out.  Available directly from GRUV Gear for $30 + shipping (worldwide).
GRUV Gear FretWraps

6. Guitar stand: A compact, sturdy and lacquer-safe stand for guitar or bass (GS401B for acoustics).  It also comes in a nice bag so you can fold and stash it in the back of your amp or with other accessories.  Hercules GS402B mini Electric guitar stand ($35 / £20).  Hercules GS401B mini Acoustic guitar stand ($35 / £23).  Don’t miss Hercules’ multi-guitar rack stands if you’d rather have all guitars on a single stand.
Hercules Mini Electric Guitar Stand GS402B Hercules Mini Acoustic Guitar Stand GS401B

7. Instrument cable: After I switched to Bullet Cable a few years ago I haven’t looked back.  Brilliant quality and durability, fun cable + plug designs, and a friendly team behind the brand always willing to help.  For your sonic pleasure I highly recommend the Bullet Vintage/Retro Coil 10′ or 25′ cable ($35-$45 / £25-£35) and Silver Bullet instrument cable ($35 / £35).
Bullet Mini-Coil CableSilver Bullet guitar cable

8. Vox amPlug Headphone Guitar Amp: These headphone amps have been around for a few years and Vox have done good by continually expanding the range, so no matter what genre of music you play there’s one for you.  Priced at $40 / £35.  If you’re willing to drop more coin, Vox have one-upped the amPlug recently with the release of their amPhones Guitar Headphones which is definitely worth a look.
Vox amPlug Headphone Guitar Amp

9. Patch cables: If you’re putting a pedalboard together or would like to upgrade patch cables on your existing board, you can’t go wrong with either the Bullet Cable SLUG Connector Kit ($80 / £69) or Lava Cable Mini ELC Pedalboard Kit ($70 / £70).  I find both equally good and use them in 2 different rigs but Slugs are easier to make, by far.
Bullet Cable SLUG Connector KitLava Cable Mini ELC Pedalboard Kit

10. Buffer pedal: Last on the list is another invaluable tool to help retain the integrity of your guitar signal (read- prevent high frequency loss).  An absolute requirement for long cable runs but equally effective when you plug straight into an amp, you cannot discount the value of adding a high-quality buffer in your signal chain.  The RJM Tone Saver and Radial PB1 are the most transparent and natural buffers I’ve come across with one differentiating feature (isolated output vs. clean boost), so read up to determine which one is better suited for your rig.  RJM Tone Saver Audio Buffer/Isolated Splitter ($149 / £129), Radial BigShot PB1 Class-A Power Booster ($140 / £139).
RJM Tone Saver Audio BufferRadial BigShot PB1 Class-A Power Booster/Buffer