The 10 Best Dorm Gifts for College Guitarists

Playing guitar is hard enough under the right conditions. Playing in a dorm room without annoying your roommate is impossible. It doesn’t have to be. The guitar gifts on this list are perfect for the college student. These gifts have to be small and usable in a college dorm room to make the list. Here are 10 of the best guitar gifts for the college student in your life.

Stocking Stuffers for Guitarists (under $20)

To make this part of the list the gift has to be less than $20 and offer some value. I don’t want some $5 guitar shaped key ring in my stocking, and neither does the guitar player in your life.

Guitar Cleaning Tool

The Music Nomad MN205 The Nomad String, Body, and Hardware Cleaning Tool is a handy tool made with premium washable microfiber pad cleans and cleans not only the top of the strings, but underneath as well. Useful for cleaning the dust and grime from the fretboard, bridge, pickups, saddles and all the parts of the guitar. Great for acoustic or electric guitars.

Guitar Humidifier

Acoustic guitars (and hollow body electrics) like to be humid because wood cracks when it dries. Guitars that are left to dry out can cause serious headaches and even costly repairs down the road. It starts with losing intonation and can end with a cracked body, warped neck or more. Read the full list of badness.

The D’Addario One-Way Acoustic Guitar Humidifier is an inexpensive safeguard.

Clip-on Tuner

The Snark SN5X Clip-On Tuner is cheap and one of the most accurate tuners. It’s a no brainer and an invaluable tool for any musician.

Picks

Novelty guitar picks are a great and cheap way to express your individual style. Besides, they get lost all on their own so it’s always good to have a few spares.

Guitar Strap

A guitar strap is another cheap way to show your style. Here are a few novelty guitar straps that are less than $20 and small enough for a stocking.

Capo

The Shubb Deluxe Series GC-30 (S1) capo is a beautifully designed capo that’s accurate and strong and gentle as a finger on the fretboard. It does exactly what a capo is supposed to do without sending the guitar out of tune. It’s stainless steel design makes it more resistant to wear and tear and it should last a good many years.

New strings

Whether your guitarist plays electric or acoustic guitar, he will need strings. We recommend the Ernie Ball slinky for electric and the Elixir 80/20 bronze for acoustics. They’re a nice bump up in quality, so it really is a nice gift.

Guitarist Gifts over $20

The next gifts on this part of the list are more than the stocking stuffers, but they are not necessarily larger.

Headphones

A good pair of headphones are essential for keeping your skills on the electric guitar fresh without disturbing the peace. The AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones are our choice for best headphone. They are studio headphones, which means you hear what the guitar and amp produce – no bass boost or EQ. This is extremely helpful for recording as it gives a more pure representation of the signal. EQ can then be  be tweaked after recording.

Headphone amp

Amplifiers just don’t get any more quiet or intimate than with headphones. The VOX AmPlug Headphone amp plugs straight into the input of an electric guitar and then the headphones plug into the AmPlug. That’s it.  It’s also silent to everyone without the headphones, so you don’t irk your roommate. Brilliant!

 

Multi effects pedal

Finally, a good multi-effects pedal is like a headphone amp on steroids. The Digitech Element XP is our choice for multi-effects pedal on this list. The Element XP is pricey, but worth the cost.

  • 58 effects (12 amps, 9 cabinets, 37 stomp boxes)
  • 100 factory presets
  • 20 tone/fx bank combinations
  • Built-in chromatic tuner
  • Built-in expression pedal – for Wah effect, volume swell, overdrive boost, etc..
  • 45 High quality drum patterns

That’s just a few of the features.

 

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What are the Differences Between Squier and Fender

Squier vs. Fender. It’s a timeless debate with no clear winner except to say that it comes down to price vs. quality with a hefty bit of personal preference thrown into the mix. Here’s a 30-second overview, with more detail below:

Squier vs. Fender Comparison

Squier:

  • Traditionally regarded as a starter guitar.
  • Product catalog has been mostly low end versions of Fender models
  • More affordable (budget) brand.
  • Guitar body may be made of non-traditional tonewoods (ex: plywood, pine, alder, poplar and basswood).
  • Hardware typically lower quality and from a variety of non-Fender factories. (Bridge, nut and tuning pegs are common complaints from experienced players)
  • Generally lower quality pickups that favor output over tonal clarity.
  • Satin neck finish tends to run a bit rougher and thicker than Fender.

Fender:

  • Historically more model choices available.
  • Guitar body usually made of traditional tonewoods (alder, ash and maple for the neck).
  • Hardware is Fender-branded and consistently better quality.
  • Pickups favoring tonal clarity over output.
  • Pickups have “that Fender tone.”
  • Tend to weigh less than Squier.
  • Cost more.

*NOTE: The use of “Fender” throughout this article refers to the Made in Mexico (MIM) Fender models. This is the Fender product line closest to the Squier line.

Squier Evolution

Many beginning guitar players start with Squier guitars. This is because of the excellent quality for the price. Squier Affinity guitars are included in many starter packs with practice amps aimed at beginners.

Quality usually follows price and when comparing Squier guitars to Fender guitars, it is generally helpful to picture a the various Squier models in a range just below and leading up to Fender. You can buy a new Squier guitar for a little over $100 to just under $500. Fender MIM guitars typically start at the $500 range and go to just under $1000. Fender American Standard (American made) models comprise the remainder into the multiple $1000’s.

Squier has a reputation for being the low end version of popular Fender models, but this has been changing in recent years. It is true that Squier started with low end, bare bones versions of the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster but there are now a host of models exclusive to the Squier brand and of better quality.

More recently they have expanded to include: jazzmasters, Jaguars, and the Squier Classic Vibe series (clones of the Fender models from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s).

Squier or Fender, Which is Better?

This question may seem like a Coke vs. Pepsi sort of debate, but it’s not. In fact, Squier is made by Fender. So there is really no rivalry here. It’s just a question of which branded version of guitar is better.

However, just like Coke vs Pepsi, the answer to the question Squier vs Fender is largely a personal opinion. Squier use tonewoods that are generally considered inferior, but how much effect the wood has on tone in a solid body electric guitar is debatable – especially in the less than $1000 price range.

Fender guitars are consistently better quality than Squier, but they’re also more money. The bottom line is that Squier guitars are excellent quality for a budget instrument and newer high end squiers are just as good as Fender guitars. If you’re looking for a beginner guitar, go the Squier that fits your budget and taste. Otherwise start with either a high end Squier or Mexican Fender (MIM).

Popular Squier Electric Guitars

 

 

 

 

Squier by Fender Bullet Mustang Electric Guitar – HH – Rosewood Fingerboard – Imperial Blue

 

Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster Beginner Electric Guitar – Maple Fingerboard, Black

 


Squier Affinity Stratocaster HSS Pack with Frontman 15G Amp, Cable, Strap, Picks, and Online Lessons – Candy Apple Red Bundle with Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD

 

Popular Fender Standard electric Guitars

 

 

 

Fender Standard Stratocaster Electric Guitar – Maple Fingerboard, Arctic White

 

 

Fender Mustang 90 Short Scale Offset Electric Guitar – Rosewood Fingerboard – Torino Red

 

 

Fender Kurt Cobain Jaguar NOS 3 Tone Sunburst Solid-Body Electric Guitar

 

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Marshall, Fender Make Misstep With Bluetooth Speaker Offerings.

It’s hard to merge bluetooth speaker sound and guitar amplifier tone into a single, attractive unit but some have done it well. We covered the Top 3 Best Bluetooth Speaker Guitar Amplifier Combos previously, but this is about two of the biggest amplifier companies and their misstep (or missed step?) into the arena

You would think veterans like Marshall and Fender would have some promising products to offer, but alas they seem to have come up dry.

This is particularly disappointing in regards to Fender because they have a solid history of innovation and have not shied away from embracing new technologies. They were early successful adopters of modeling virtual amplifiers, and combing solid state modeling with tube driven tones. But for whatever reason they fell well short this time.

In Fender’s case, they’re offering 2 bluetooth speakers: the Monterey and the Newport. I want to like them, really I do. They look slick. They’re made by Fender. I’d be happy to have one on my desk for streaming music from my phone or plug my Telecaster into and jam along…

And that’s the problem – you can’t. It’s only an audio speaker – for the price of an amplifier!?

What?!

I hate to tell you Fender, but Line 6 ate your lunch! If I had $200-400 to drop on a speaker, it’s be on the Line 6 AMPLIFi, not the Newport or Monterey.

Fender got close. They have the speakers, and with the Fender Mustang GT they have a very nice bluetooth enabled amp, but it’s not designed as a bluetooth speaker. It’s not a bad amp for for $250, but it’s just an amp.

Marshall isn’t any better. They have half a dozen or so offerings ranging in price from $180 to $400, and these products look like amps, but they’re not. They’re just speakers.

Nice try guys, but I don’t have that kind of cash to blow on single function speakers.

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Top 3 Best Bluetooth Speaker Guitar Amplifier Combos

Bluetooth speakers are not that new, and battery operated portable versions are everywhere. What is new is the blending of the bluetooth speaker and guitar amplifier. Most major amplifier brands have come to market with their own offerings. Here’s a list of our top 3 picks in the categories of best overall premium package, best portable package and best for the budget conscious consumer.

BEST PICK – Premium Bluetooth Speaker Guitar Amp Combo

Line 6 AMPLIFi

Up first on this list is the Line 6 AMPLIFi series. I think this is the clear leader in the new bluetooth speaker/guitar amplifier hybrid frontier. Here’s why…

It’s not often easy to be excel in different fields, but the AMPLIFi does and makes it look easy. It delivers great amp tone and features for the guitarist, and serious bluetooth speaker sound for the audiophile. It also looks unique and stylish as a home speaker – so much so that even my wife (who typically hates guitar gear and claims “it all looks like same”) is happy to have it in the family room entertainment center. That’s an award winning feat by itself, if you ask me!

Some amps being promoted as bluetooth speakers sound like, well your smartphone played through a guitar amp. Not so with AMPLIFi. Line 6 delivers a premium quality audio experience, and superior tone control.

In fact, it’s in the control that the AMPLIFi magic really shines.

The Line 6 mobile app, called AMPLIFi Remote, makes it a breeze to record and share your creations or tweak your tone. You can call up a multitude of professionally recorded jam tracks, or any song from your personal library to jam with or listen to whenever the mood strikes you.

But it gets better!

AMPLIFi Remote gives you the ability to automatically match your amp tone settings to the music you’re playing along with. Simply pull up your song of choice, and select the tone matching feature and AMPLIFi Remote will pull the preferred preset from thousands in the cloud. You can also dial up any legendary guitarist’s tone and automatically have their tone for a jam track, or solo work or just whatever you want.

And all of this is free!

Beyond the artist tone matching, AMPLIFi Remote allows you to tweak all the usual settings on a amp as well. AMPLIFi offers a choice of over 200 virtual models of guitar amp and speaker cabinet configurations.

Here’s a snapshot of what’s available:

  •  70+ amps
  •  100+ effects
  •  20+ speaker cabinets
  •  Remotely control all amp and effects parameters
  •  Automatic tone matching
  •  Access thousands of tones online

You can also share your own tones via Twitter and Facebook or rate existing ones on the cloud.

The Line 6 AMPLIFi comes in 30w, 75w and 150w variations and looks modern and stylish in your living room, or just about any room.

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BEST PICK – Portable Bluetooth Speaker Guitar Amp Combo

Vox Adio Air GT

Up next is the Vox Adio Air GT. The Adio is a 50W 2×3 bluetooth modeling guitar combo amplifier that is not nearly as fully featured as the AMPLIFi, but it has strengths that the Line 6 doesn’t have.

As an amplifier, the Adio Air GT provides everything you’d expect from Vox – classic cleans to AC30 and high-gain overdrive.

The Adio Air GT also delivers when it comes to performance as a bluetooth speaker. Adio provides the cabinet resonance of a guitar amp, with the high fidelity and spatiality and depth you expect from stereo speakers.

The uniquely designed cabinet provides an immersive listening experience when paired with your smartphone or tablet. The Adio features a bass reflex construction that uses a flair design to provide excellent low-frequency response, with minimal unwanted noise.

Like the Line 6 AMPLIFi, the Vox Adio Air GT models a wide range of amps (though not quite as many as the AMPLIFi). The Adio uses its VET (Virtual Elements Technology) to model the amp and effects components circuit design:

  •  11 built-in amp models (including the AC30 and a variety of high-gain and clean amps).
  •  The variety expands to 23 when using the Tone Room software.
  •  8 different built-in effects:
    •  4 modulation effects, such as chorus and tremolo
    •  4 ambience-type effects, like delay and reverb
  • 19 total effects available with Tone Room

Where the Vox Adio Air GT comes out ahead of the Line 6 AMPLIFi is in its portability. The Adio is a much smaller package, weighing only 6.39 lbs, and even runs up to 8 hours on 8 AA batteries.

Recording with the Adio is also fairly robust with the inclusion of a USB port and JamVOX III software.

The Vox Adio Air GT is the best pick for portable bluetooth speaker guitar amp combo.

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BEST PICK – Budget Bluetooth Speaker Guitar Amp Combo

Blackstar FLY3BLUE

The FLY3BLUE is a 3w bluetooth version of the original, but the addition of bluetooth makes it the perfect take anywhere practice amp or MP3 speaker dock.

The FLY3BLUE features bluetooth connectivity as well as a line in jack, so it can be used with older MP3 players and smartphones and tablets.

Like the Vox Adio, the FLY3BLUE is a portable, battery powered amp (6 AA), but not as fully featured when it comes to modeling. They only effect available is Tape Delay.

You can also connect the FLY3BLUE to the FLY 103 official extension speaker for stereo setup, but again stereo sound is something available with both the AMPLIFi and Adio without the need for another speaker.

Where the FLY3BLUE comes out ahead though is in price. It’s a fraction of the price of either the Line 6 AMPLIFi or Vox Adio. It also makes the FLY3BLUE the best pick for budget bluetooth speaker guitar amp combo.

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