The Best Gifts for Guitar Players

Every year near Christmas, Father’s day and my Birthday I rack my brain trying to come up with a list of gift ideas to give to my family. Most of the time this gift list includes a few guitar based items because playing guitar is a very big hobby of mine. I’ve put this list together for myself and anyone else who may be looking for gift ideas for the guitar player in their lives. This list isn’t for guitar lovers. You won’t find dorm room refrigerators shaped like a Marshall stack, or guitar shaped bottle openers. This list is the best gifts for guitarists – as in people who play guitar and love doing it!

I’ve broken down the list into different price points.guitar-gifts

If you’ve got any that I missed, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

All prices at the time of this writing and may be subject to change.

GIFTS UNDER $20

CAPOS

I had a friend in high school who thought that using a capo meant you couldn’t play very well. His view was that using a capo made it easier to play certain chords, and he naturally looked down on capo using guitar players as some form of inferior species. At the time, I didn’t really know enough to argue with him but I’ve since learned enough to abandon that line of thinking. Capos are really there to make transposing a song’s key easier. As such, they are nearly essential to anyone who wants to play with another musician – especially if they just want to jam informally and don’t have time to arrange a song in a different key.

What makes a good capo?

One essential attribute of a good capo is that it doesn’t screw up the tuning of the guitar when you put it on. Another nice thing is if the capo is quick and easy to put on and take off. Two of the best capos I’ve found are:

Kyser KG6B 6 String Capo

kyser-kg6b-6-string-capoThe KG6B might sound like a Soviet era spy agency, but it’s really a strong and lightweight aluminum capo. It’s spring-tension design make it a quick release, easy deploy kind of capo that won’t mess up your tuning.

It sells for $13 and has 9 different styles to choose from.

And if you’re a total nut on the six string, you can use this capo like Tommy Emmanuel does in his famous Beatles medley:

Here’s a video of Tommy Emmanuel explaining how he uses a quick release capo:

 

Shubb Deluxe Series GC-30 (S1) capo

shubb-s1-stainless-steel-guitar-capoIf your not into the quick release, mid medley key change like Tommy you can give the Shubb GC-30 a try. It’s a beautifully designed capo that’s accurate and strong, yet 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, meaning it should last a good many years.

The GC-30 currently sells for $15.92.

CLIP-ON TUNERS

Tuners have come a long way since the guitar first became popular. No more tuning forks or pitch pipes. In fact, you don’t even need a cumbersome device to balance on your knee. I know, you can get plenty of free tuning apps on your smartphone these days, but they really aren’t the same.

Here are two of the most accurate clip-on tuners on the market today.

Snark SN5X Clip-On Tuner for Guitar, Bass & Violin

snark-clip-on-tunerFirst up is the ever popular, and whimsical looking Snark. It features a full color display that rotates a full 360 degrees for easy viewing. It simply clips to the headstock of the guitar and shows the note currently being plucked by vibration – perfect for tuning in noisy environments (kids, bars, etc…). Also works in bass and violins!

This Snark sells for $9.96

Meisel COM-80 Clip-On Tuner

meisel-com-80-clip-on-tunerThe runner up for clip-on tuner is the Meisel COM-80. This tuner also features an easy to read back-lit LCD display, but it’s not as adjustable as the Snark. It also scores very high for accuracy, and is adjustable from 27.5Hz to 1760Hz. It’s a chromatic tuner calibrated for Guitar, Bass, Violin and Ukelele

The Meisel COM-80 currently sells for $10.99

NOVELTY GUITAR STRAPS

fashionable-sublimation-guitar-strapGuitar straps make great gifts. They can be functional and they can be conversation starters. They are often as unique as the player who uses them and give guitar players another way to express their individuality. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on them either. Here are a few favorites that sell from $5-20, great for the player who has everything.

HUMIDIFIERS

Acoustic guitars (and even hollow body electrics) like to be humid, but not too humid. It’s a balance. If a guitars isn’t maintained in within the proper humidity for long, it will start with losing intonation and will eventually get a cracked body, warped neck or more.

Luckily, guitar humidifiers are cheap. Here are two of the best guitar humidifiers for under $20.

GUITAR STRINGS

STINGS FOR ELECTRIC GUITARS

ERNIE BALL REGULAR SLINKY NICKEL WOUND SETS

ernie-ball-regular-slinky-nickel-wound-setsErnie Ball Slinky electric guitar strings are used by artists from Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Page, AC/DC, John Petrucci, Slash, Green Day and more. They are made in California, U.S.A. and consist of specific gauges and core-to-wrap ratios which create balanced rich harmonics and that signature Slinky feel.

Nickel Wound Slinky strings take a high carbon steel core and tin plate it and wrap it in nickel plated steel. This makes for a balanced tone that compliments all guitar types and playing styles.

The gauges run: .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046.

These Ernie Ball regular Slinky strings are sold in packs of 3 or individual sets ($14.11 for 3 pack, or $4.62 for one)

D’ADDARIO EXL110-3D

d-addario-exl110-3dThe D’Addario EXL110-3D electric guitar strings are corrosion resistant Round wound with nickel-plated steel for distinctive bright tone. The string gauges are .010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046.

These are made in the U.S.A. and sell for $9.95 for 3 sets

ELIXIR STRINGS W POLYWEB COATING

elixir-strings-electric-guitar-strings-polywebElixir is the pioneer in coated strings. The original POLYWEB coating creates a soft and slick feel while providing resistance to grime and rust. This means the strings last longer – both looking new longer and sounding great longer.

A pack of Elixir POLYWEB light gauge (.010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046) strings sells for $10.43. They’re more expensive than other strings, but they also last up to 3 times as long.

STRINGS FOR ACOUSTIC GUITARS

ELIXIR STRINGS 80/20 BRONZE ACOUSTIC STRINGS

elixir-strings-80-20-polywebThese are the acoustic version of the Elixir POLYWEB strings. They are an 80/20 blend (80% copper, 20% zinc) and feature Elixir’s special POLYWEB coating for smoother feel and longer life. The 80/20 mix provides a warm tone and the POLYWEB coating keeps the strings looking and sounding new for months.

The single pack of Elixir 80/20 bronze POLYWEB strings sells for $13.99.

D’ADDARIO EJ16 PHOSPHOR BRONZE

d-addario-ej16The D’Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze acoustic guitar strings offer a balanced tone and also provide D’Addario’s EXP coating for longer life. Similar to Elixir’s POLYWEB, but not as expensive. I’ve had good results with both kinds, but haven’t ever done a serious, scientific comparison of the two.. maybe someday I will.

In the meantime, you can get these excellent strings in a 3-pack for $12.99, or in a single pack for only $4.95.

 

MARTIN M140 BRONZE

martin-m140Lastly, I offer the Martin M140 Bronze acoustic guitar strings. These are also an 80/20 Bronze blend and offer brilliant sound and clarity with rich bass and bright treble. They are not coated for long life, but they also sell for only $3.32 so there’s your trade off. Great stocking stuffers though.

NOVELTY GUITAR PICKS

pick-geekWhether you’re looking for something different to pluck the old six string with or something for more of an arts and crafts project, the guitar picks on this list will fit the bill.

Guitar picks are always in demand for guitar players, because they’re always getting lost! At least that’s how it seems. Besides, they make for great stocking stuffers, birthday, father’s day or even mother’s day gifts for the guitarist in your life. They’re small, unique and not too pricey.

Here are some of the best novelty guitar picks around today.

GIFTS UNDER $50

VOX AMPLUG AMPS

The VOX amPlug headphone amps are not really amplifiers. They are pocket sized amp simulators that plug into you guitar input jack in place of the instrument cable. Then you plug in your headphones and jam out without disturbing the peace.

The amPlug headphone amp comes in a number of versions but the three best are on this list. Each one has 9 effects (3 chorus, 3 delay and 3 reverb), a fold-able plug to make it stow more easily in the pocket and runs off two AAA size batteries.

Each also has an AUX In jack so you can jam along with your favorite music.

VOX AMPLUG AC30

vox_amplug_ac30The VOX AC30 amPlug models the vintage AC30 top boost sound used by so many British bands in the 70’s.

The VOX AC30 amPlug Headphone amp sells for $32.

VOX AMPLUG METAL

vox_amplug_metalLastly, the VOX Metal amPlug models the high gain US amp sound. (Think Fender Supersonic, Mesa Boogie and Peavey).

Great for lead tone, not so great for clean.

The VOX Metal amPlug Headphone amp sells for $32.

VOX AMPLUG CLASSIC ROCK

vox_amplug_classicrockThe VOX Classic Rock amPlug models the classic UK 100 w amp sound. (think Marshall stack)

The VOX Classic Rock amPlug Headphone amp sells for $35.

BATTERY POWERED AMPLIFIERS

Here are a few battery powered amplifiers that a 9 volt battery and will fit comfortably on a desk (and maybe even a large Christmas stocking).

They’re not great for practicing with other people, but fit the bill for quick solo practice, and they’re fun and funky.

FENDER MINI TONE-MASTER

Fender-Mini-Tone-MasterThis is a miniaturized version of the classic Tone-Master and Fender does a great job of keeping true to the authentic Fender details here – cab corners, retro grille cloth, and vintage white control knobs.
At a glance:
• 1w battery powered amplifier that features two 2? speakers.
• Gain, Volume, Tone and Power controls.
• Powered by single 9V battery (included), or AC adapter

The Fender Mini Tone-Master sells for $35.28

FENDER-MINI-57-TWIN

Fender-Mini-57-TwinThis is quite simply a battery powered, highly portable version of the original Fender ’57 Twin Amp

At a glance:
• Completely captures the vintage 50’s look with its miniature chicken head knobs, down to its tweed covering and brown grille.
• Made of real wood and not plastic.
• 1w battery powered guitar amplifier with twin 2? speakers.
• Built-in distortion, Power, volume, and tone controls.
• Runs on a single 9V battery or power adapter.

The Fender-Mini-57-Twin sells for $36.95

MARSHALL MS-2

Marshall-MS-2-Mini-AmpModern technology has now made it possible to grab the Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp and take that Marshall tone with you – anywhere.

The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp has that classic Marshall look and crunch, with surprisingly loud volume for such a little thing. it’s just 5-3/4″ high and even includes a belt clip!

It features controls for overdrive, tone, and volume and is powered by one 9V battery.

The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp is a 1w battery powered amp that makes a great and fun gift or a truly portable practice amp, and sells for around $45

GUITAR AMPLIFIERS UNDER $100

Playing with different gear is a great way to get the creative juices flowing and break out of any rut you may find yourself in. There is perhaps no piece of gear that influences your tone and style more than the amplifier. Here are a few low cost amplifiers that should add a little spice to your practice.

BATTERY POWERED AMPLIFIERS

Battery powered amps are not quite as portable as the VOX amPlug, but they are audible to those around you. They’re the perfect fit right between the 10-20w practice amp and the headphone amp. And they’re conversation starters.

THE LEGENDARY PIGNOSE 7-100

pignose-7-100The Pignose 7-100 is a unique looking and playing amplifier. It’s genius is its simplicity. It has a single knob that looks like a pig’s nose and is located on the front. That one knob controls the power, volume and distortion. It works with your guitar’s volume knob too, so the tonal possibilities are surprisingly diverse.

At a glance:
• 5w amp with 5″ speaker.
• Runs on 6 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.
• About the size of a shoe box and weighs around 5lbs.
• Hinged design and can be played either fully closed, wide open or at any point in between.
• It also has an open space inside that can be used to store the AC adapter or guitar cable when not in use.
• A preamp out jack which makes it possible to play the Pignose through a larger and more powerful amplifier (or PA) or straight into a mixing board.
The Pignose 7-100 has a distinctive look and sound that is like no other. It’s stylish and funky, and is definitely a conversation starter

The Legendary Pignose 7-100 sells for about $75

ORANGE MICRO CRUSH

Orange-Micro-Crush-CR3The Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange, from the woven grill to rubber footstools and trademark Orange finish. It’s also wood, and not plastic.

At a glance:
• 3w battery powered amp.
• Single 4″ speaker.
• Clean and Overdrive channels.
• Tone control.
• Chromatic tuner.
• Headphone jack
• Runs on a single 9v battery or AC adapter.

This is a great way to get the British Orange crunch.

The Orange Micro Crush CR3 sells for $68

BLACKSTAR FLY3

blackstar-fly3The Blackstar FLY 3 is a 3 watt mini amp that runs off battery or DC power. It’s compact and portable and features Blackstar’s patented “Infinite Shape Feature (ISF)”, which lets you vary the tonal character of the amp.

When turned towards zero, it gives a tight, focused, percussive response, characteristic of American amplifiers. When turned towards 10, the response becomes woody, crunchy and warm, like traditional British amps.

The FLY 3 also has standard MP3 / LINE IN jack and a headphone output jack.

It’s 3 watts and features clean and overdrive channels and digital ‘tape’ delay effect.

The Blackstar FLY3 sells for $59.99

SMALLER, LOW WATT AMPS

The VOX V9160 Pathfinder 10 Combo Amplifier

vox-v9106-10w-pathfinderThe Pathfinder 10 is like the classic VOX AC15’s little brother. You get classic VOX look and VOX tone at a great price. The Pathfinder 10 has a clean/overdrive switch which lets you choose tones ranging from VOX chime to creamy, warm overdrive.

With its 10 watts of power and custom 6.5 inch speaker the VOX Pathfinder 10 is a great amp for everything from clean leads to crunchy rock and blues. Also included are Bass and Treble EQ, and a lineout/headphone jack.

The Pathfinder 10 sells for $79.99

MARSHALL MG15CF

marshall-mg15cfThe MG15CF is pure Marshall tone in a compact 15 watt combo. It features clean and overdrive channels, 3 band EQ, and MP3/line in jack and a headphone jack. The MG15CF sports the modern Marshall look and is decked out in a bold carbon-fibre exterior.

The Marshall MG15CF sells for only $99

ORANGE CRUSH 12

orange-crush-12The Orange Crush 12 is a 12w solid state amplifier with a 6 inch speaker. It also features 3 band EQ, volume and gain controls. The headphone out jack with the Orange CabSim circuit. This lets you emulate the sound of a 4×12″ cabinet through the headphone jack.. Sweet!

The Orange Crush 12 gives you great British crunch tone in a portable practice amp at an affordable price of only $99

Related Posts:

Cheap Electric Guitars That Should Cost More, but Don’t.

There are many lists of cheap guitars on the web. Heck, I’ve even written a few myself. This is not one of those lists. This is a list of excellent guitars that should sell for more, but don’t. They are truly great guitars at affordable prices.

Many of these are the more affordable version of major guitar makers. For example, Epiphone is the affordable version of the Gibson guitar. Sometimes, the price difference is due to different components that are used, sometimes it’s a difference of where the guitar is assembled. Epiphone Les Paul guitars have different components than Gibson Les Pauls, but the difference is usually not noticeable to the novice or hobbyist.

Ibanez Artcore AF75

It’s hard to find a hollowbody electric guitar at this price, and harder still to find such a good quality one. The Ibanez AF75 is part of their Artcore series of hollowbody guitars, with a maple body and mahogany neck and ultra-smooth rosewood fretboard it has the look and feel of an old-fashioned jazz box. The AF75 comes with a pair of Classic Elite ACH humbucker pickups for everything from a warm jazz tone to classic rock growl.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
Jazz Tones Demo:

 

Classic Rock Demo:

 

Epiphone Limited Edition Wildkat

If you’re looking for an ax with a sense of style – whether you play blues, jazz, rockabilly or just plain rock – look no further than the Epiphone Limited Edition Wildkat Electric Guitar in Pearl White.

Epiphone has been a leader in archtop guitar design since the 1930’s, but they’re not afraid of a little innovation. The Wildkat Royale is just such a design. Epiphone’s WildKat is a beautiful blend of pearl white finish accented by gold sparkle binding, gold Hardware and a gold Bigsby tailpiece. Vintage style dogear P-90 pickups round out the Royale vibe and give the WildKat classic tone and bite.

The Epiphone Wildkat is a smaller body, semi-hollow guitar that provides great vintage sound and vibe at a surprisingly affordable price. The WildKat features a solid mahogany body that is routed to create an acoustic guitar-like body. It’s got plenty of tonal versatility too, with bridge volume, neck volume, master tone and master volume controls. The WildKat also has premium 16:1 Grover machine heads, likely to help offset the Bigsby’s tendency to mess with the tuning. But the Bigsby was never really meant for dive bombing solo’s anyway.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review

Or watch this demo for more rock tones:

 

Epiphone LP Special II Les Paul

The Epiphone LP Special II is on this list because it is the Les Paul Electric Guitar that you can afford!

Epiphone was one of Gibson’s main competitors until Gibson bought the company. Being that Epiphone is now owned by Gibson, and they both make Les Paul style guitars, you can imagine that the differences other than price are such that the weekend warrior or hobbyist isn’t going to notice. (see the link at the top of this post for more on that)

So while the Epiphone LP Special II isn’t top of the line like the Gibson Les Paul, it is a very good guitar and it isn’t going to set you back $3,000 or more either.

The body and neck are mahogany, while the fingerboard is a smooth rosewood. It’s got 700T and 650R open coil humbucker pickups for long sustain and searing Les Paul tones. Also included are the LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop-bar tailpiece.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review:

 

Fender Telecaster

The Fender Telecaster solid body electric guitar has been around since the birth of Rock and Roll, and with good reason – it’s a work horse! Its simplicity of design and versatility make it an easy guitar to play, and an old stand by for seasoned players when that flashy new ax runs afoul of the tech gods and starts to glitch.

All the Fender guitars on this list are made in Mexico, which is why they don’t cost twice as much. Unless you’re a pro, you won’t notice the difference otherwise.

Fender Standard Telecaster

First up in the Tele line is the Fender Standard Telecaster, with Maple Fretboard. This is the classic, no frills Tele. Complete with 2 single-coil pickups (neck and bridge), C-shaped neck, 9.5″ fretboard radius and medium jumbo frets, master tone and master volume knob, and pickup selector. That’s it. Not a lot can go wrong here, but once you master the finesse of the tone knob and the appropriate playing style, you’ll be amazed at what you can play with such a simple rig.

The 6-Saddle string-through bridge provides superior intonation, sustain, and ease of adjustment. Because of this and its simple design, the Fender Telecaster has a reputation for keeping great intonation and staying in tune, even after the most abusive play.

Fender’s use of alder wood for the body provides a bright, balanced and resonant tone with pronounced upper midrange, excellent sustain, and sharp attack. It’s a great guitar for Blues, Rock and Jazz.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review:

 

Fender Modern Player Tele Plus

For those who like the standard Telecaster, but feel that something is missing – check out the Fender Modern Player Tele Plus.

The Modern Player Tele Plus features the same body, neck and fretboard as the standard Telecaster, but the pickups are different. The Player Tele Plus replaces the single-coil bridge pickup with a humbucker, and adds a single coil strat pickup in the middle. It also has a 5-way switch for selecting a much greater range of tones.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review:

 

Schecter Omen-6

Schecter-OMEN-6The Schecter OMEN-6 is a great hard-rock and metal guitar for anyone on a budget less than 4 figures. This guitar features a Maple neck and basswood body, Rosewood fretboard and Schecter Diamond Plus pickups in the bridge and neck position. The naturally bright tone of the maple balances the warmer tones of the basswood body, and the Schecter Diamond Plus pickups are over wound for aggressive high output pickup, to help give your  amp a friendly shove over the edge. The OMEN-6 also has high quality Schecter tuners for precise tuning and a tune-o-matic bridge with string-thru body tail for better sustain and clarity.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Schecter 431 C-6 Deluxe

The 431 C-6 is Schechter’s first “entry level” guitar to earn the “Diamond Series” name. That’s because it is built with more care and quality than many entry level guitars, but it still retains the entry level price. The Schecter 431 C-6 Deluxe looks cool, and plays great and all with an affordable price.

The Schecter 431 C-6 Deluxe comes in a very slick looking satin metallic light blue, black or white and features solid basswood body with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. The 431 also has Schecter Diamond Plus humbucker pickups (which I think are actually produced by Duncan); volume, tone and 3-way pickup selector switch (neck, bridge, both).

Schecter 431 C-6 Deluxe
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club

It’s not often you see a Gretsch in new condition for a price like this. To be fair, it is an entry level guitar – but it’s still a Gretsch for under $300!

The G5425 Electromatic Jet Club features a chambered basswood body and arched laminated maple top with slick gloss finish. The neck is maple with rosewood fingerboard and “Neo-Classic Thumbnail” inlays. The chambered body gives it more sustain when plugged in, and a more acoustic sound when strummed without an amp. This makes it a pretty decent practice guitar if you want to get some licks under your fingers late at night without disturbing the peace.

Speaking of plugging in, the G5425 has two humbucker pickups – both Gretsch dual-coil humbuckers, and 3 positions: Bridge, Neck and both Bridge and Neck.

The Gretsch look is complete with pearloid pickguard and “G-Arrow” control knobs.

The Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club has a great mellow tone but is also capable of darker metal or hard rock tone as well at an incredible price.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review:

Danelectro ’67 Heaven

The Danelectro ’67 Heaven is one of the most unique looking guitars out there. With its single coil lipstick pickups and offset body style it looks vaguely like a distant relative to a Fender Mustang or Jaguar. Rest assured, it is as unique as it’s gator skin finish.

This is a modern day reissue of the ’67 Hawk that first appeared back in 1967. The body is solid poplar, the neck is maple and the fingerboard is rosewood. The controls are about as simple as can be: volume knob, tone knob and pickup selector switch. The switch toggles between neck, bridge and a blend of both.

It’s unique, cool and surprisingly cheap. What’s not to love?

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Watch the Review:

 

 

 

Related Posts:

Top Electric Guitars for Beginners Under $500

These guitars are suitable for beginners and more advanced players alike. They are middle of the road in terms of price, but the quality is top notch. They’re great for the hobbyist or even the weekend musician, or someone staring out in a more professional musical career. They touch on a number of styles and tones, and they’re attractive and fun to play.

Without further ado, here is my list of Some of the top electric guitars for beginners under $500.

Danelectro

The Danelectro company was founded in 1947 and still have a retro-futuristic vibe to their guitars. The look of these guitars conjures up science fiction visions of the atomic age, and they’ve got a distinctive sound too. If you’re the type of player who wants to get noticed for your guitar, a Danelectro is a great choice.

Danelectro D59MOD

Danelectro-D59MODThe Danelectro D59MOD is a double cutaway which features two single coil “Lipstick” pickups and vintage tuners. The Mod ’59 has basswood body and neck and a rosewood fretboard. The tone and volume knobs are dual, concentric knobs (one for each pickup).

At 6.4 pounds, it’s fairly lightweight too, which is good for the beginner or anyone who plays for an extended period of time.

The light weight and single coil pickups mean it doesn’t have the darker tonal qualities of a Les Paul, so it’s not well suited to the player looking for a more aggressive, metal tone.

Danelectro ’67 HeavenDanelectro-67-Heaven

The Danelectro ’67 Heaven is one of the coolest things out there. It’s got a classic, offset body style (similar to a Fender Jaguar) with an alligator finish, and “Souped up” single coil “Lipstick” pickups and an adjustable bridge. This is a 2013 re-issue of the 1967 classic.

Demo video:

Epiphone

Epiphone has been making musical instruments since 1873, and has made instruments for just every style of popular music. They’re mostly known these days for making more affordable Gibson clones. Gibson guitars have name recognition, but they also have a premium price tag to go with it. The truth is that it doesn’t make sense for the hobbyist (much less a beginner) to fork over a couple thousand dollars for a Gibson when they can get a better quality for the price with an Epiphone.

Epiphone Es-333 Tom Delonge Archtop

Epiphone-es-333-tom-delongeThe Epiphone ES-333 Tom Delonge Signature archtop electric guitar is built to the specifications of the Blink 182 guitarist – and it’s less than $500!

The ES-333 features the best of archtop and semi-hollowbody designs, along with Gibson USA Dirty Fingers humbucker pickups. It has a laminate maple body and mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard.

One problem with hollowbody guitars is feedback caused by too much uncontrolled resonance. The ES-333 solves that problem with a mahogany center block. This also makes for amazing sustain. An instantly recognizable Tom Delonge “paint job” of Cream racing stripes on a Brown finish round out the signature look.

Weighing a solid 12 pounds and stocked with Dirty Fingers humbuckers, the ES-333 has a nice beefy tone that lends itself well to hard rock and rock-blues styles.

Epiphone Es-339 Semi Hollow Body Electric GuitarEpiphone-ES-339-Semi-Hollow-body

If you’re looking for versatility and sustain, then look no further than the Epiphone ES-339 Semi Hollow body electric guitar! The ES-339 is one of the smaller ES series from Epiphone. It features ProBucker humbucker pickups, push-pull coil tapping knobs, which lets you switch between humbucker and single coil tones for each pickup. The body is a laminate maple and the “D” profile neck is mahogany. The tune-o-matic bridge makes it easy to keep in tune

It weighs 8.5 pounds, which makes it middle of the road in terms of weight. Also available in Natural finish.

Limited Edition Les Paul Custom Pro Electric Guitar, TV Silver

Here we get to the Les Paul.

epiphone-Les-Paul-Custom-ProI’ve always found it somewhat ironic that the guitar that is loved the world over by hard rock and metal fans was invented by an iconic Jazz and country guitarist from the middle of the 20th century.

But be that as it may, Epiphone makes killer (and quite affordable, compared to Gibson) versions of Les Paul. Here is one such version.

The Limited Edition Les Paul Custom Pro electric guitar is slightly smaller – it weighs a paltry 8lbs – than a traditional Les Paul model, but the the fingerboard and body are exact recreations of the Les Paul Custom’s iconic look. It’s a solid wood body (no laminate) with rosewood fretboard, tune-o-matic bridge and mahogany neck. It’s decked out with a ProBucker-2 and ProBucker-3 humbucker pickups. The volume controls allow for coil-tapping, which means you can switch between full humbucker or split single coil mode for a total of 6 different tonal possibilities.

Les Paul Quilt Top Pro Electric Guitar Faded Cherry Sunburst

Here’s an affordable Les Paul for all you Slash fans out there!

epiphone-Les-Paul-Quilt-TopThe Epiphone Les Paul Quilt Top Pro electric guitar, in faded cherry sunburst.

This beauty features a solid Mahogany body and carved maple top with a quilt design to the finish. It also has a set-in mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard. Equipped with 2 Pro humbuckers, each with coil-splitting (humbucker/single coil) and weighing a hefty 14lbs, this puppy is ready to rock when you are. Like the Custom Pro above, the Les Paul Quilt Top also has a tune-o-matic bridge and Grover tuners, so it gets in tune and stays in tune easily.

Wildkat Royale

epiphone-wildkatFinally, we have Epiphone’s entry to the Jazz/Rockabilly segment of the market. (Yes, I know, you can rock out on the Wildkat too but it just oozes Jazz Box looks..)

The Epiphone WildKat Royale is beautiful in a pearl white finish, with gold sparkle binding. The gold hardware and Bigsby tailpiece make for stunning accents as well. The WildKat is equipped with 2 vintage style dogear P-90 pickups which give it a hefty, bite to its tone. The gold B70 licensed Bigsby vibrato and tailpiece complete the look.

The WildKat is a limited production release, so they have a good chance of becoming moderately collectible, and at least holding their value a bit better than other mass-market productions. It’s got a semi-hollow mahogany body (with center block to dampen unwanted feedback), maple neck and
rosewood fretboard and weighs about 11 lbs.

It also features bridge volume, neck volume, master tone and master volume controls, and premium 16:1 Grover machine heads for more accurate and long lasting tuning.

Fender

Fender is one of the big players in the electric guitar market and they are well known for fine craftsmanship and innovative products. This craftsmanship extends to their budget (Squire) and Mexican made brands as well. Often times, the models made in Mexico use the same parts as American made, but with cheaper labor. The result is virtually the same quality guitar at half price.

Here are two classic models that feature the Fender logo, but are made in Mexico.

Fender Standard Telecaster

Fender-Standard-TelecasterLeo Fender’s game changing solid body electric guitar that launched the sound of Rock and Roll is still available largely unchanged today. Sure, there are artist endorsed and modified version for thousands of dollars, but you can still get a standard Tele for less than $500.

The somewhat corny history of the Telecaster is that Leo Fender wanted a modern sounding name for his modern, solid body guitar. Being the 1950’s and the heyday of the television age, he settled on “Tele” from television and “caster” from Broadcaster.

The Telecaster is still a preferred guitar for many players today (myself included). It’s simple feature set allows for a multitude of tonal possibilities from classic Tele spank and twang to classic rock crunch without any bells and whistle to get in your way. It’s a workhorse that rarely goes out of tune or out of style.

The Fender Standard Telecaster features:

  • 2 Tele single-coil pickups, great for Country, Blues, Rock, Pop and even Jazz.
  • A modern C-shaped neck, 9.5″
  • 6-saddle strings-thru-body Tele bridge allows for improved intonation and individual string height adjustment.
  • Shielded body cavities to limit unwanted feedback.

The Standard Telecaster is a simple, solid electric guitar. It has a 3-way pickup selection switch, volume and tone knob so you get excellent control over the sound, without an overly complicated control panel getting in the way. The 6-saddle string-thru-body bridge helps to keep the guitar in tune. In short, it’s simple and dependable, which makes fro a great guitar for beginners and experienced players alike!

The Standard Telecaster comes in more color and finish variations than I can really display here, but Additional Fender Standard Telecaster Models!

Fender Standard Stratocaster

Fender-Standard-StratocasterMade famous by the likes of Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, Gilmour and Vaughan the Stratocaster was Leo Fender’s follow up to the wildly successful solid body Telecaster. Once again, as with the Telecaster, Leo wanted to capture the modern futuristic vibe that the 1960’s had to offer and hoped his use of “strato” would make people think stratosphere and evoke the excitement of the newly born space race.

Whether people got the connection he was shooting for is open to debate, but what is not debatable is that the Fender Stratocaster is still one the preeminent guitar models 60+ years later!

Strats come in a host of varieties and player endorsed versions, but you can still get a basic strat for under $500.

The Fender Standard Stratocaster electric guitar features:

  • 3 Standard Strat single-coil pickups. This is the heart of everything from the Stratocaster squawk to creamy blues goodness.
  • A modern C-shaped neck, 9.5″ freeboard radius and medium jumbo frets. Playing fast, and string-bending like your favorite bluesman is a breeze on this neck.
  • Synchronized tremolo bar for everything from dive bombs to subtle vibrato
  • Shielded body cavities to prevent unwanted feedback

The Standard Stratocaster gives you legendary Fender tone with classic styling and weighs about 10 lbs. Additional Fender Standard Stratocaster models.

Godin

Godin is a Canadian guitar company and while some of their most popular models aren’t even branded as Godin (They make acoustics under the Seagull, Simon & Patrick, Norman, LaPatrie and Art & Lutherie brands), they are better known in electric guitar circles. They are typically favored more by studio musicians and touring players than frontmen, but the construction quality and tone are just as good as the big names.

Godin Redline HB

Godin-Redline-HBNext up, the Godin Redline HB electric guitar. The Redline is Made in North American (instead of China or Mexico, as is common with this price range) and features a double-action truss rod to help ensure a straight neck and proper intonation. The neck is made from Canadian Hard Rock Maple and features Godin’s “ergo cut neck” style for ease of play.

The Godin HB Redline weighs about 13.5 lbs, and comes with 2 custom Godin humbucker pickups – a GHN1 in the neck position, and a GHB1 in the bridge position.

Here are the full specs:

  • Rock Maple neck
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • 24 frets
  • 16 ” fingerboard radius
  • 24 3/4″ Scale
  • 1 11/16″ nut width
  • Body has silver leaf maple centre with poplar wings
  • 2x Godin humbuckers (Neck: GHN1 / Bridge: GHB1)
  • 3-way switch, 1x volume & 1x tone
  • Fixed Bridge

With its double cut-away body and hot humbucker pickups, the Godin HB Redline makes a great hard rock or metal guitar and the price is just right for the beginner or hobbyist.

 Gretsch

Gretsch-G5425-ElectromaticThe Gretsch G5435T Electromatic Pro is a very affordable and very versatile entry in the under $500 range. It features an arched top, chambered mahogany body with set maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. An Adjusto-Matic bridge with Bigsby B50 tailpiece and “Blacktop” Filter’Tron pickups complete the sound, making the G5435T a great way to own a piece of that Gretsch vibe.

I like the G5435T Electromatic Pro so much, I wrote a full review for it when it came out. You can read the full review here.

 

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Electric and acoustic guitars, amps, effects, pedals reviews and more!

Welcome to Middle8Reviews.com!

Middle8reviews is home to impartial reviews for guitars and guitar gear. We focus on gear for the hobbyist or amateur guitar player. You won’t find many reviews of $3,000 guitars and amps here. That stuff is for the pros, who know what they want and where to get it.

What you will find are reviews for the rest of us.

Electric guitars for beginners, acoustic guitars for the non-professional and plenty of guitar gear reviews make up the bulk of reading material here at Middle8Reviews.com.

Here’s a sample of the reviews you’ll find here:

  • Looking for gift ideas for the guitarist in your life? Or maybe you’re looking for ideas to put on your gift list. Either way, here’s my list of the Best Gift Ideas for Guitar Players in the under $25, $50 and $100 price ranges.
  • 10 Great and Inexpensive Acoustic Guitars for Beginners. – This is an excellent resource for finding an acoustic guitar to start your journey, without breaking the bank. (Most models are less than $400, but play very well)
  • Top 12 Low Watt Tube Amps For Under $500.  Low watt tube amps are an awesome way to get pure tube tone in your bedroom, dorm room, or where ever you don’t want window shattering volume. This list is the 12 best low watt tube amps on the market today.
  • Cigar Box Amplifiers. This is one of those fun and funky reviews we do from time to time. Cigar box amplifiers are just a fun idea, and make for a unique – and functional- conversation piece or gift.

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The Epiphone G-310, An affordable SG. (Review)

Epiphone is known for crafting excellent affordable guitars that are often times inspired by pricier brands. The Epiphone G-310 is just such a case.

It’s styled after the Gibson SG, but sells as a fraction of the cost.

The SG is a signature guitar for the likes of Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Tony Iommi, Paul Weller, Angus Young and Derek Trucks. The Epiphone G-310 is your chance to own a comparable guitar at an affordable price.

An affordable SG

Epiphone-G-310

The Gibson SG (“Solid Guitar”) was created as a replacement for the Les Paul in 1961. It was dubbed a “fretless wonder,” in reaction to its low frets and fast action. The SG’s twin horn cutaway design was unlike any other of its day, and would become an iconic fixture in future generations of hard rock players. \m/ – – \m/

Fast forward to new millennium, and Epiphone created the Epiphone G-310 for those who want real SG tone and style, but at an affordable price.

Epiphone G-310 Specs

The Epiphone G-310 is built to the same dimensions as the vintage Gibson SGs or the 1960s, and with the same techniques as those used in the original Kalamazoo factory. It’s a well balanced guitar, unlike many cheaper clones that tend to be neck-heavy.

The Epiphone G-310 features a mahogany, “D” shaped neck with 22 frets, a 12″ radius and 24.75″ scale. It also has a rosewood fingerboard with a 1.68″ nut.

While the body is vintage spec, the hardware is anything but. The Epiphone G-310 is as modern as it is retro. Among some of the modern day improvements, are the Epiphone G-310’s special red- hot open-coil humbuckers with Alnico magnets. There is a 650R humbucker in the neck position and a 700T humbucker in the bridge position. This gives you killer classic tone with modern punch.

The Epiphone G-310 is decked out in quality hardware too, from its volume and tone knobs (featuring full-size 500K potentiometers) to its all-metal 3-way toggle pickup selector switch, you know it will last.

Epiphone-G-310-bridge

The LockTone™ Tune-O-Matic bridge and Stopbar tailpiece ensure that the Epiphone G-310 has great sustain, without going out of tune.

  • Body Material: Mahogany
  • Neck Material: Mahogany
  • Neck Joint: Bolt-On
  • Scale: 24.75″
  • Neck Profile: SlimTaper™ “D” Shape
  • Nut Width: 1.68″
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
  • Frets: 22 Medium/Jumbo
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12″
  • Neck Pickup: 650R Humbucker
  • Bridge Pickup: 700T Humbucker
  • Bridge: LockTone™ Tune-o-matic
  • Tailpiece: LockTone™ Stopbar
  • Controls:
    • Neck Volume
    • Neck Tone
    • Bridge Volume
    • Bridge Tone
    • 500K Potentiometers
    • 3-Way All-Metal Toggle Switch
  • Hardware: Nickel
  • Machine Heads: Premium Die-Cast
  • Colors: Ebony (EB), Red (RE)
  • Warranty: Epiphone Limited Lifetime

Conclusion

If you’d like an SG but don’t want to drop 1500 bucks, or even if you’re just looking for a great guitar with classic style, the Epiphone G-310 will fit the bill.

It’s a quality guitar at a great price.

The Epiphone G-310 comes in Ebony (EB) and Red (RE) and sells for about $250.

Epiphone-G-310-black-red

Demo:

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Who Plays A Fender Jazzmaster?

Who plays a Fender Jazzmaster? Elvis Costello for one. Sonic Youth, The Cure, My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Jr. are a few of the bands who have made it part of their signature sound.

fender-jazzmaster

Great guitars are as unique as the artists that play them. They have their own stories to tell.

If I could play all the memories
In the neck of my guitar
I’d write a song called
“Senorita with a necklace of tears”
and every tear a sin I’d committed
oh these many years

Paul Simon, Senorita With A Necklace Of Tears

So it is for Elvis. Here’s an interesting interview with Elvis Costello in which he talks about his Fender Jazzmaster guitar. It’s a classic story of the guitar choosing the player, and a case of offbeat taste that is truly Costello.

Elvis did this interview as part of the 2008 release of the Elvis Costello Fender signature model Jazzmaster.

A Brief history of the Fender Jazzmaster

The Jazzmaster was introduced in 1958 and was originally targeted, as the name would suggest, at Jazz musicians. Ironically, many Jazz musicians avoided the thing (reportedly due to a propensity to induce unwanted feedback) and it became associated instead with surf musicians.

Elvis references the guitar’s natural fit for this type of music when he talks about “spy movie” music. It’s what led him down the path to creating Watching the Detectives, so I suppose we should be grateful it had such qualities.

And here’s a bonus interview in which Lee Ranaldo talks about his Jazzmaster guitar and why it’s not only one of the most comfortable guitars to play, but also brought Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. together.

Incidentally, Lee Ranaldo also happens to have his own Fender Signature series Jazzmaster available. 😉

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10 Best Inexpensive Acoustic Guitars for Beginners.

If you’re looking for an affordable acoustic guitar for a beginner, but not one that’s cheaply made then you’ve come to the right place. There are hundreds of cheap guitars out there, with low price tags and low quality. These aren’t them.

These acoustic guitars offer good quality, and great value for their respective price tags.

Many of the guitars on this list might be considered the best acoustic guitars for beginners, but they also make an excellent choice for a backup or travel guitar for the experienced player as well. Worried about bringing your Martin D-16GT on a camping trip for a week? Why not pick up the Seagull S6 instead?

To put it simply, these are good acoustic guitars for cheap.

Without further ado, I present to you….

10 inexpensive acoustic guitars for beginners.

1. Seagull S6

Seagull-S6

Seagull acoustic guitars are made in Canada and come highly regarded. They offer a beautiful sound at an excellent value. The Seagull S6 has a mahogany back and sides, and a solid cedar top. The Seagull S6 blends the warmth of mahogany with the crisp definition of maple.

The rosewood fretboard is easy on the fingers, while the Tusq nut and saddle provide good tone and stable tuning.

This acoustic guitar also features a double action truss rod to help keep it in tune over the years.

At around $399 it may seem a bit pricey, but it it well worth the money. It’s not a cheap guitar, but it’s a good guitar and one of the best in the under $500 price range. I would not recommend it for someone who is looking to try his hand at learning guitar and may not stick with it, but it’s an excellent 1st guitar and a great investment for someone willing to put in the practice time needed to play well.

Here’s a demo/promo video of the Seagull S6 in action:

2. Yamaha FG800

Yamaha-FG700S-soundThe Yamaha FG800 is significantly lower in price (about half the price of the Seagull S6), but still a very good beginner acoustic guitar. It features a solid Nato back and sides, Solid Sitka Spruce top, rosewood fingerboard and die-cast tuners and a high-gloss natural finish.

Yamaha’s legendary value and quality make are present in this very affordable entry-level 6-string acoustic guitar.

Check out the Yamaha FG800 in action:

 

3. Takamine GD20-NS

Takamine-G-340

The Takamine GD20-NS is a Dreadnought body style acoustic guitar and features a Cedar top with synthetic bone nut and bridge saddle, rosewood head cap, and pearloid dot inlays. The back and sides are Mahogany. This is definitely the beginner line of Takamine guitars and while it does not feature the superior sound qualities of the higher end models, it doesn’t feature their higher end price tag either.

Most people agree that the GD20-NS gives you pretty good bang for the buck and makes an excellent acoustic guitar for beginners.

With a beautiful sound, sturdy construction and a pleasing look, the Takamine GD20-NS is a solid beginner guitar offering plenty of room to grow. At  under $300, it’s a solid buy.

Here’s a demo of the it in action:

 

4. Fender CD-140S

Fender-CD-140S

The Fender CD-140S is a full bodied Dreadnought acoustic guitar featuring solid Spruce top and laminated mahogany back and sides. It’s a lower-end Fender and may not have the superb workmanship of the higher priced models, the solid Spruce top and Rosewood headstock and bridge with compensated saddle make it an appealing beginner model.

The CD-140S dreadnought provides a full, resonant sound at a great value (currently under $200).

The 2011 upgrade gives this model a new tortoise shell pickguard and mother-of-pearl rosette design.

Check out the Fender CD-140s acoustic guitar in action here:

5. Epiphone DR-100

Epiphone-DR-100-brstThe Epiphone DR-100 acoustic guitar features a Spruce top, Rosewood fingerboard and Mahogany back and sides giving it an overall balanced tone.

The DR-100 is considered by many to be strictly an acoustic guitar for beginners  – meaning it will not be long before the serious player wants to trade up. But at less than $100, it’s a fine starter guitar for people who aren’t sure they will have the desire or aptitude to stick with playing.

It’s available in 3 different finishes: Ebony, Natural, and Vintage Sunburst.

6. Ibanez PC15NT

acoustic guitars for beginners - Ibanez - AC30NT

The Ibanez PC15NT is a worthy entry in the beginner guitar series, and while you can find better acoustic guitars out there, few are as good at this price. It features a solid Engelmann Spruce top, and Mahogany back and sides. It’s smaller body doesn’t take much away from it’s loudness or crispness. It’s similar to Martins and Taylors in terms of sound and retails for around $150.

You do get what you pay for though, and the PC15NT is geared toward finger picking or soloing. It’s ok for strumming and rhythm work, but not as well balanced for each technique as some other guitars on this list.

See demo:

7. Fender DG-8S

Fender-DG-8SThe Fender DG-8S features a solid Spruce top, and laminated Mahogany back and sides. It has a Rosewood bridge with compensated saddle. The saddle and nut are plastic.

If it sounds a little light on construction, it’s because it is. This is a definite starter guitar – read: you will be trading this in if you pursue playing past the basics. That’s ok though, because this is a great acoustic guitar for people looking to try their hand at guitar playing but who aren’t sure how far they want to go with it.

It’s usually sold in a starter kit package, including things like a chromatic electronic tuner, instructional DVD, strings, picks and strap. Basically, everything you need to sit down and start learning. All for under $200.

There are cheaper starter kits out there, but they’re…well, cheap. In the right hands the Fender DG-8S can really sing (and make a great gift for Christmas 😉 ):

8. Martin LX1

Martin-LX1The Martin LX1 is a 3/4 size acoustic guitar which features a solid Sapele top, back and sides. It also has a Stratabond modified low oval neck and Gotoh nickel-plated tuners with the classic C.F. Martin script logo on headstock.

Being 3/4 size it’s perfect for a travel guitar as well as a practice guitar for beginning students or younger students with smaller hands. It retails for under $300 and includes a gig bag. That might seem like a lot for a 3/4 guitar, but it’s a very good quality 3/4 guitar.

Here’s a demo:

9. Baby Taylor

Baby-TaylorThe Baby Taylor is another 3/4 size dreadnought acoustic guitar and like the Martin LX1, it’s perfect for younger players and those with smaller hands. It’s in the same price range as the LX1 (under $300), and while it’s a good guitar, it’s not as good as higher end Taylors. That’s also true of the Martin LX1 though. It’s simply difficult to provide a high quality instrument at the lower price point.

Don’t get me wrong, the Baby Taylor is still a solid guitar a great 3/4 Dreadnought. It’s got a solid Mahogany top, and Sapele back sides. It’s also got a Tusq nut and saddle for great tone in such a tiny package. A gig bag is generally included also, since it’s a non-standard size.

Here’s a nice demo of the Baby Taylor acoustic guitar:

 

10. Washburn WD10 Series

Washburn-WD10-SeriesThe Washburn WD10 Series has a solid Spruce top and wood Rosette with bone nut and saddle. It may be the bone saddle and nut, or maybe it’s better construction but this guitar sounds like a guitar twice it’s price. That and the fact that its price is less than $200 make this a great acoustic guitar for the beginner or as a backup or travel guitar.

You could do far worse for $250 than this great looking guitar with a nice bright tone and strong mid range.

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