Best Gifts for Musicians 2021: Headphones, Online Courses, Accessories - Rolling Stone
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The Best Gifts for Musicians, from Backup Drumsticks to DIY Electric Guitar Kits

Whether you’re shopping for a picky percussionist or an aspiring guitar hero, these gifts will strike a chord with the musician in your life

best-gifts-for-musiciansbest-gifts-for-musicians

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Musicians are famously picky about their gear. Legends like Eddie Van Halen and Chuck Berry were apparently fans of .009 (read: light) strings, so why should the music folks in your life be any different? But if your guitarist already has a go-to gauge, or your resident rhythm-keeper swears by a classic 5A, shopping for them can be as challenging as defining their “it’s kinda post-punk-meets-acid jazz” musical style.

That’s why we’ve rounded up the best gifts for musicians of all types and skill levels. Whether their instrument of choice is their voice or a 12-string, or they’re seeking a new pandemic pastime, check out our top picks for your most musical loved ones. Of course, if all else fails, you can always fall back on a gift card.

1. Akai Professional MPK Mini

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

Amazon

If you’re shopping for any younger musician, chances are their craft is digital. This Akai MPK Mini MIDI controller will help them do what they love, hooking up to a music software of their choice for easy beat-making. It’s essentially what the pros use — complete with MPC Beats, AIR Hybrid, Mini Grand and assorted MPC expansion packs — only parred down to fit in any studio. This Akai starter kit from Guitar Center also includes more than 1500 sounds to help get things going.

 

Buy: Akai MPK Mini Controller at $119.00

2. P Pluginz Marshall Jack Rack Amp Key Holder

Marshall Jack Rack

Amazon

Music-themed gifts are a great idea for any musician who’s ultra-picky about their setup (so, most musicians). This key holder, designed to look like a guitar amp, is a great choice if you’re not sure what your musician’s setup needs. Made using real amp inputs and real plugs as keychains, the wall-mounted piece makes a fun (and useful) addition to any entryway or studio.

 

Buy: P Pluginz Marshall Amp Key Holder at $25.64

3. Drum Rug With Non-Slip Bottom

drum rug amazon

Amazon

Drummer’s rugs — purpose-built pieces of fabric that keep kit components in place and prevent floor damage — are almost always a good gift for percussionists. Even if your gift recipient already has a drum rug, they’ll surely appreciate a fresh one. We like this rug from Amazon, which features a rubberized back and grippy corners for security, as well as thick, mid-pile carpeting to protect the floor underneath.

Buy: Aucuda Drum Rug at $64.99

4. iZotope Spire Studio (2nd Gen)

iZotope Spire Studio (2nd Gen)

Izotope

The Spire Studio (2nd Gen) allows you to record up to two tracks of lossless audio wirelessly to your phone. You can also hook it up to a computer to use it with your recording software of choice.

What puts the Spire Studio (2nd Gen) in a league of its own is the ability to make recordings on the interface itself. Your tracks will be stored onto its internal memory, and you can transfer them to your phone or computer later for mixing.

iZotope’s Spire Studio (2nd Gen) is a powerful multi-track recorder that allows you to create studio-quality demos anywhere you go. This is the best-possible gift for an aspiring musician.

Buy: iZotope Spire Studio (2nd Gen) at $304.99

5. Fender Artisan Crafted Leather Strapv

leather guitar strap fender

Courtesy Fender

Splurge-worthy accessories usually aren’t the first (or second) thing a musician picks up — which is why they make such good gifts. This luxurious guitar strap from Fender falls into that category, boasting premium leather and saddle-grade stitching. It comes in either black or brown and features a 2.5-inch width (you can also get the two-inch version here).

Buy: Fender Artisan Crafted Leather Strap at $89.99

6. Girl in a Band

kim gordon book girl in a band

Courtesy Amazon

In this best-selling memoir, author Kim Gordon tells her recounts her life as an artist. In both personal and professional anecdotes, Godron wanders from her childhood in California to falling in (and out) of love to co-founding the legendary band Sonic Youth. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone (musical or not) thanks to Gordon’s hypnotic prose, but the novel can really make a difference in the hands of a musician looking to get inspired.

Buy: Girl in a Band (Paperback) at $14.99

7. Pocket DJ Mixer

small dj mixer

Courtesy Uncommon Goods

If you’re shopping for a DJ, let them start a party anywhere with this Pocket DJ Mixer. It’s about the size of a smartphone, only slightly thicker, and doesn’t require a power source. Using three auxiliary audio ports, the travel-ready device lets you mix two songs and listen to the audio (or amplify it) while you work.

Buy: Pocket DJ Mixer at $100

8. Korg OLED Clip-On Tuner

Best Gifts ofr Musicians

Guitar Center

Sure, smartphone apps can tune instruments, but they’re still not as accurate as real tuning devices. Plus, some musicians find it more convenient to have a dedicated tuner — no worrying about smartphone batteries, for example. If your giftee is in need of a great tuner, pick up this one from Korg. The clip-on device offers precision tuning with ±0.1 cent accuracy, ensuring near-perfect calibration before shows or recordings. You also get extra features like chord and tempo finders, a memory backup and an auto-off function to save juice (it uses one AAA battery).

Buy: Korg OLED Clip-On Tuner at $49.99

9. MasterClass Subscription

Best Gifts for Musicians

Masterclass

MasterClass’s ever-expanding catalog of A-list celebrity teachers makes it a great resource for beginners looking to get the basics as well as veterans looking to get inspired. The online learning platform has classes for songwriting, music production, singing, guitar, violin, drumming, and more with the crème de la crème of the industry: think Alicia Keys, St. Vincent, Hans Zimmer, Deadmau5, Tom Morello and many, many others. MasterClass subscribers get access to as many courses as they want, and, perhaps even better, the gifter doesn’t need to deal with any shopping, shipping or gift wrapping — just enter the recipient’s e-mail and pay the bill.

Buy: MasterClass All-Access Pass at $180 per year

10. Zildjian Ringo Starr Artist Series Drumsticks

 

 Zildjian Ringo Starr Artist Series Drumsticks

Amazon

If you’ve heard your favorite drummer sing the praises of their heroes behind the kit, chances are they’ll be fans of their icon’s signature drumsticks. Zildjian’s Artist Series bears the names of Ringo Starr, Travis Barker, Dave Grohl, and more; other options available.

Buy: Zildjian Ringo Starr Artist Drumsticks at $13.48

11. Hercules Five-Instrument Guitar Rack

Best Gifts for Musicians

Musician's Friend

Why choose between a Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Strat when you can play ’em all? If that’s the case with your beloved string plucker, get them this five-instrument rack.

Buy: Hercules Five-Instrument Guitar Rack at $74.79

12. Piano Key Cufflinks

Best Gifts for Musicians

Uncommon Goods

Ivory ticklers can literally wear their profession (or past time) on their sleeves with these cool piano key cufflinks. They’re hand-carved in Rhode Island from holly and ebony, and will surely hit the right note with your favorite pianist.

Buy: Piano Key Cufflinks at $72

13. Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone

Sony MDR7506

Amazon

Crystal-clear audio is a must for audio engineers and audiophiles alike, and these MDR7506 pro cans by Sony will be music to the ears of whoever unwraps them. The MDR7506s have been a staple in professional recording studios for nearly 30 years, beating out any new releases to remain some of our favorite studio monitor headphones. Weighing in at just half a pound, the headphones are very lightweight, and their completely neutral sound ensures total clarity throughout the recording and production processes.

 

Buy: Sony MDR7506 Large Diaphragm Headphones at $86.00

14. Populele Smart Ukelele

Smart Ukulele

Uncommon Goods

 

Half the battle of picking up a new instrument is knowing how to start. Aspiring uke players can get the best of both the analog and digital worlds with PopuMusic’s Bluetooth-enabled ukelele, which has a light-up fretboard that makes it easy to pick up and play in minutes. The Populele’s accompanying iOS and Android app uses video game-like lessons to teach new players, and it’s also loaded with a tuner, chord finder, and a library of nearly 100 songs.

Buy: Populele Smart Ukelele at $150

15. The String Sling

The String Sling

String Sling

The String Sling is an incredibly thoughtful gift for guitar players that’ll help keep their guitar’s strings in perfect condition, and provides a place for their most-used accessories.

We’ve used the String Sling, and were very impressed by the quality of the materials used, especially the microfiber cushioning that faces the strings. We couldn’t imagine gigging without the String Sling, and guarantee the guitar player in your life will wonder how they went without it.

 

Buy: The String Sling at $42.95

16. The Fret Wire DIY Electric Guitar Kit

If you’ve got a DIY-loving guitarist on your hands, why not let them build their own six-string? The Fret Wire offers a range of buildable electric and acoustic guitar kits, ranging from hollow bodies and double necks to lefty options. Most of them come in unfinished woods, so your hands-on recipient can create a truly custom instrument. See all options; bass kits also available.

Best Gifts for Musicians

The Fretwire

Buy: The Fret Wire DIY Electric Guitar Kit at $145

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