Awesome gift ideas for musicians, music lovers and audio pros
It’s the holidays—and with it, the tradition of family time and exchanging gifts. This selection of under-$100 goodies was chosen specifically with a high fun factor in mind, so maybe it’s time to give yourself a gift, too. Season’s greetings!
The Instrument that’s Over the Moon
We can thank Grace VanderWaal for kick-starting a flood of new ukulele players, thanks to several mature-beyond-her-years performances on America’s Got Talent (which ultimately, and rightfully, made her a season winner). Fender’s signature Grace VanderWaal Moonlight ukulele is a soprano model, with the small, light body design that’s ideal for those with smaller hands. It also has some welcome features: four in-line gold tuners on a Tele-style headstock, mahogany back/top/sides, pull-through bridge for easy stringing (why don’t all ukuleles do this?), a gorgeous gold sparkle rosette, and an understated navy blue satin finish. Bottom line: the Moonlight ukulele is stylish, highly playable, and makes a fine gift for budding musicians—but even veteran players are discovering how a ukulele can add new textures to almost any kind of music.
The Speaker for the House
Okay, you have good speakers in your studio—but ’tis the season to think about the rest of the house. It’s wonderful to be able to plug your laptop into some quality sound, or wave goodbye to those tinny speakers built into your desktop’s monitor. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to have decent audio for your TV, as well as be able to plug a portable player right into some real speakers? The Eris E3.5 Active Studio Monitors from PreSonus will do all those applications proud, not only because of its recording studio heritage, but also because of its compact size, choice of three inputs (TRS 1/4”, RCA, and 1/8” stereo minijack), and front-panel headphone jack when you need to listen without disturbing everyone else in the house.
Time to Blow Up Your Music
If you’re not familiar with melodicas, you should be. They’re easy-to-play, surprisingly expressive reed instruments that you blow into and play from a keyboard; the unique tone recalls instruments like the accordion or pump organ. Melodicas have even worked themselves into the mainstream musical world, from classical composer Steve Reich to bandleader Jon Batiste on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Hohner invented the modern form of the instrument, and their S37 Performer model hits the sweet spot of price and quality—with durable bronze reeds that won’t go out of tune, and a full three-octave keyboard (F below middle C through F). It’s light, portable, comes with a gig bag, doesn’t need power, and most importantly, has an extremely high fun factor.
Lend Me Your Ears, Bud!
If you don’t have a set of Bluetooth earbuds, you’re missing out on the most convenient way to hear music from your smartphone’s music library. Whether you’re on an airplane, taking a walk, or working out at the gym after eating waaaaay too many holiday treats, music makes it better. (And yes, you can take calls with this sucker, too; there’s a 3-button remote built into the wire joining the two earbuds.) Shure’s SE112-K-BT1 pairs easily, and unlike many earbuds, has a fairly flat response that doesn’t “hype” the sound. Just remember—to derive the full benefits of its 37 dB (!) of outside noise reduction, as well as the best bass response, try out the various earphone sleeves that come with the SE112, and choose the one that fits your ear canal snugly. This also helps keep the earphones in place if you’re jogging…or for that matter, commandeering a sleigh full of reindeer back to the North Pole.
The Ultimate Gift for Re-Gifting
You know that loud drummer in the praise band? Or the one that plays the local cafes with an acoustic duo, and thinks it’s a stadium gig? Oh…you’ve played with him too? Well, let’s be fair; the excessive volume isn’t totally the drummer’s fault, because drums and cymbals are inherently loud. Of course, electronic drums are a solution—but for cymbals, so are Zildjian’s low volume models, like the Zildjian 10″ L80 Low Volume Splash. Not only are they 80% quieter than traditional Zildjian cymbals (and made in the USA), they retain the feel that only real cymbals can deliver. It’s also the ultimate present for re-gifting: Give this to your drummer, and you’re also giving a present to yourself, your other band members, and the audience.
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