From humble beginnings as an organ store in Hollywood, Guitar Center has grown into the country’s largest retailer of musical instruments in just over 60 years. It’s the go-to spot if you’ve got a musician on your list this season.
But whether you’re seeking out a gift for a guitarist or another musician altogether, don’t let the name mislead you – Guitar Center’s selection spreads way beyond just guitar gear. The company keeps current with whatever modern audio artists need, and the inventory is endless; including drums, effects pedals, DJ equipment, even the necessary accessories for starting a podcast. No need to travel to one of their 300 stores either, as most any gear can be shipped right to the recipient’s front door.
They also offer Guitar Center exclusives – instruments and products designed by Guitar Center, in close collaboration with the instrument brands, that you won’t find anywhere else.
Even if you’re shopping for a seasoned professional performer, these gifts can bring back that same feeling of excitement as when they first started out. For actual newbies, they offer up plenty of opportunities to start their musical journey off right.
As musicians and music fans ourselves, we’ve selected 10 great gifts here to revive, motivate, and inspire the artist on your list (and maybe help them secure a future spot on Guitar Center’s Hollywood Rockwalk too).
1. Gibson Custom ‘59 Les Paul Standard Figured Top “BOTB” Electric Guitar Cherry Sunburst
A piece of rock history that any guitarist will want to get their hands on
If you’re looking for a legendary ‘59 Les Paul, there’s no need for a time machine. Besides, its curvaceous design, sunburst finish, and rich sound are timeless anyway.
For more than 60 years, this beloved and iconic instrument has been the go-to for guitar for rock idols like Keith Richards, Peter Frampton, Eric Clapton, Joe Perry and Jimmy Page just to name a few.
But Gibson’s Custom Historic models are far from just being copies. Years of research, effort and craft went into the details of making each and every one, right down to rediscovering the chemical composition of the parts.
Exclusive to Guitar Center, its single-cutaway mahogany body is solid yet lightweight, and features a recreated classic finish from “The Beauty of the ‘Burst” book. The dual Gibson CustomBucker pickups and a three-way switch let you set the sound you’re looking for, while the maple top and rosewood fretboard provide a naturally smooth feel for your fingers – especially for slides, solos, and complex chords.
This model features everything you’ve come to expect from one of the most treasured guitars in music history. It also includes a hardshell case and certificate of authenticity. It’s as close as you can get in 2020 to a priceless original – no time machine required.
Purchase: $6499 on GuitarCenter.com
2. Fender American Pro II Guitars and Basses
Fender’s genre-bending guitars and basses fit flawlessly into almost all musical styles
As they head into their 75th year, Fender continues to constantly evolve and upgrade their American Pro Series – meeting the needs of today’s guitarists, while retaining the best traits from their lengthy and legendary past.
The company was the first to mass-produce a solidbody guitar, the Esquire (soon to become the Telecaster) in 1950, followed by the P Bass and then the iconic Stratocaster. Today, this American-made series is played by more musicians on more stages than any other, and sets the standard for all electric guitars across the board, offering a visually vivid variety of colors and designs.
V-Mod pickups capture every nuance of sound as you bend, slide, and make your strings sing, right up to even the highest of its 22 frets thanks to the neck’s Super-Natural finish, sculpted heel, and C-shaped underside – providing a just-right fit for your fingers and palm.
Fender guitars are a versatile vehicle for all types of musical styles. The solid alder body brings a tight build and a tone that’s truly balanced with a familiar, warm sound, leaving just enough high-end shimmer to let your final notes ring out far and wide before returning it to the included carrying case.
Purchase: $1499 on GuitarCenter.com.
3. Taylor AD12e American Dream Grand Concert Acoustic-Electric Guitar Black
Taylor’s newest addition is comfortable, sustainable and affordable
Taylor’s American Dream delivers a rich, warm, unique resonance with every strum, encouraging the player to explore new chords and notes all around the neck.
Named for the shop where the company first got its start, the current tumultuous times challenged Taylor to tap into the resourcefulness and efficiency they’re known for, and create a quality instrument at a practical price for its class.
The Grand Concert’s full-size, contoured body shape is lightweight and comfortable to hold, with chamfered edges and solid wood construction, making it durable against minor dings and drops too.
The secret to Taylor’s sound isn’t a secret at all. Right from the start in 1974, the founders focused on how various woods affect the resulting reverberation of each guitar, and this one is no different; with solid Sitka spruce up top, solid figured ebony on the back and sides, and genuine West African ebony making up the fingerboard, bridge and peghead – just like the more expensive models.
On top of innovating a great sounding guitar, Taylor also practices responsible sourcing for materials, even operating their own fully sustainable ebony mill.
The acoustic sound is sweeping and colorful, but going electric is simple too: Just plug in to the 2-band preamp and let the pickup amplify your songs, perfect for any jam session or open mic night.
Purchase: $1999 on GuitarCenter.com
4. Martin Special X Series Rosewood Acoustic-Electric Guitars
Martin set the stage for all acoustic guitars, and still sounds great over a century later
When you picture an acoustic guitar, chances are the shape you’re envisioning is a dreadnought body. Martin Guitars were the first to introduce this now-standard silhouette back in 1916, instantly increasing the volume, bass and overall strength of a guitar’s sound in the days before amps or pickups.
The company is still, 187 years later, run by the Martin family, and continues to be a pioneer for crisp-sounding guitars across genres and generations; from Elvis to Eric Clapton, and Kurt Cobain during Nirvana’s legendary “MTV Unplugged” show.
While there’s the option to go electric in this model, thanks to the piezo pickup in the undersaddle, many of the elements that made Martin great almost two centuries ago still remain here, such as their structural X-bracing inside.
Its appearance alone makes it stand out from the pack too, with mother-of-pearl inlays contrasting against the dark rosewood-colored body. Rosewood is usually too dense to be practical for an acoustic, but the Special X series features a satin finish and high-pressure laminate that resembles rosewood’s hue and hypnotic pattern (and still sounds amazing).
Purchase: $629 on GuitarCenter.com
5. Gretsch G5027CE Rancher Jumbo Acoustic-Electric Guitar Walnut
This special Gretsch features a Walnut finish, white binding, and a gold pickguard that’ll still be in style for decades to come.
A lot can happen in 137 years. From their founding in 1883 as an instrument manufacturer, Gretsch guitars first appeared in the 1930s, and have found their way into the hands of musicians throughout the decades since – from Bo Diddley to Bono, Chet Atkins to George Harrison, Burl Ives, Brain Setzer and countless more.
The Rancher first appeared in the early 1950s, with its round soundhole and spatially-pleasing pickguard. Its Jumbo cutaway design retains the classic features of the past, like its deep, bellowing tone, as well as modern additions like the built-in Fishman Presys III preamp/pickup system to plug into when you want to go electric.
The contoured Venetian cutaway provides easy access to even the highest of the 21 vintage style frets. Plus pearloid Neo-Classic thumbnail inlays at varying intervals stand out on the 12” radius rosewood fingerboard, which is affixed solidly onto the mahogany set neck. Spruce wood up top and laminated flame maple along the back and sides give the body a sturdy build, and a grounded foundation for its strong sound to resonate.
Purchase: $599 on GuitarCenter.com
6. New Amps & Effects from Boss
Put Your foot down with these pedals, a perfect addition to any board
Boss Pocket GT Amp & Effects Processor
The best way to learn is by doing, and that’s exactly what the Boss Pocket GT sets you up for. A built-in tuner helps you get started, syncing wirelessly to your phone or tablet. With over 100 amps and effects, and 99 customizable user memories, you can play along with (and put your own spin and solos on) your favorite songs and backing tracks, with YouTube lessons and connection to nearly any music app, too. Purchase: $249.99 on GuitarCenter.com
Boss GT-1000CORE Multi-Effects Processor
For one of the biggest selections of effects in a single stompbox, go for the powerfully loaded GT-1000CORE, which features 24 simultaneous effects blocks, and over 140 unique amp and effect types. Easily recall presets, with space to store up to 250 user patches for use on-stage, in the studio, or directly connected to your DAW. Whether on its own, or in your pedalboard setup, this thing is an absolute monster, and the combinations for creating a signature sound are virtually infinite. Purchase: $699.99 on GuitarCenter.com
Boss RC-5 Loop Station Effects Pedal
As a singer-songwriter, the possibilities with a loop pedal are limitless.
The basic controls are all here, but this also effortlessly links up to external footswitches, MIDI instruments and DAWs. The unit’s 32-bit quality keeps your loops sounding crisp and clear, even with multiple overdubs. Everything can be easily monitored thanks to the brightly backlit LCD display, and the multi-function knob lets you quickly find what you’re looking for when seconds matter – especially onstage. Purchase: $199.99 on GuitarCenter.com
Boss RC-500 Loop Station Effects Pedal
For those looking to up their looping game, look no further than Boss’s RC-500.
With 57 preset rhythms and 16 different drumkits, the RC-500 packs a two-track looper with loads of onboard mixing options and deeply detailed controls. Sound quality is crystal clear, and with room for 99 phase memories, your creations are safely stored and easily accessed. Purchase: $349.99 on GuitarCenter.com
Boss OC-5 Octave Pedal
Get beautifully full and transcendent sounds out of your guitar and bass with this optimized octave pedal.
Thanks to Vintage Mode, you’ll still be able to recreate the mono sound of the original OC-2, as well as play with an updated smart Poly mode, which tracks full chords with full effects. You can even single out the lowest note in a chord with the handy range knob, or “octave up” in either mode for a uniquely, hypnotically harmonious tone without any lag or latency. Purchase: $129.99 on GuitarCenter.com
7. Dunlop Cry Baby Junior Wah Pedal
Make your solos “speak” while finding your own voice
This 8” pedal is smartly designed to efficiently fit onto your board and take up minimal space. The input and output are on the front, making more room for neighboring pedals to fit right up against it and keep your cables untangled and organized in the process.
Hendrix, Clapton and Slash may have mastered the wah, but with three scale-spanning settings to experiment with, the Dunlop Cry Baby still gives you (and your guitar) plenty of room to find your own style, and discover endless ways to incorporate this seemingly simple pedal into a lifetime of playing.
Purchase: $99.99 on GuitarCenter.com
8. Get’m Get’m Rolling Stone Guitar Strap
Hold up: If you’re getting a new guitar, don’t forget a strap that can carry the weight
Straight out of the Rolling Stone vault, these classic 72-inch straps feature large black metal studs with an antique finish all along the quality nylon webbing and tough pleather facing.
But it’s more than just aesthetics – these strapping straps with real leather tips are solid, strong, and safely support your guitar or bass while playing.
Purchase: $135 on GuitarCenter.com
9. Fender Classic Series Wood Strat/Tele Limited-Edition Case
An eye-catching case to keep your guitar safe
Take no chances when it comes to protecting your Tele or Strat. This limited-edition case covers your guitar in a 3-ply hardshell wood body, while keeping it cozy inside with soft crushed acrylic plush interior lining. An inner compartment leaves plenty of room for essential items too, like extra picks and strings, even tuners.
The unique Surf Green color makes it stand out from the rest of the pack, so you can always quickly spot your guitar in a pile of band gear or luggage. Grab it by the black, vinyl-wrapped, steel-core carry handle, unlock the steel-draw latch, and you’re good to go onstage.
Purchase: $199.99 on GuitarCenter.com
10. Breedlove Organic Collection Jeff Bridges Acoustic-Electrics
A responsibly-sourced line of guitars from The Dude himself
Jeff Bridges is a national treasure, and has brought to life some of the most memorable characters in movie history. But acting isn’t his only passion – music and conservation play a big role too, and both (much like this guitar’s X-shaped bracing) intersect, with the creation of his Breedlove acoustic line.
This signature collection is made with top-quality wood from certified fully sustainable sources, and never from clear-cut forests. European spruce up top and a solid African mahogany neck (and ebony fingerboard) help create a sound that’s rich and natural, while the body design can stand up to some seriously hard strumming. The controls are in a cleverly convenient place, too: Inside the soundhole, for quick access without losing your groove.
There’s three different varying models, and each comes with a deluxe Jeff Bridges gig bag, embroidered with his signature motto. A portion of every purchase goes to preserving the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous peoples as well, so you’re doing good while sounding great.
Purchase: $699+ on GuitarCenter.com.