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Holiday 2020: The Best Gifts for Musicians

Rock music band with lead electric guitar player and drummer behind drum set
4 PM production/Shutterstock.com

Serious musicians live and breathe music, so it makes sense that they’d probably want a music-themed gift for the holidays. Fortunately, we rounded up a variety of gifts—like MIDI controllers and digital music lesson services—that will appeal to musicians of all kinds (and of all skill levels).

Learn How to Play Guitar: Jamstik Guitar Trainer

Jamstik Guitar Trainer on table with tablet and coffee mug and headphones

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play electric guitar, you can be up and running in a matter of minutes with the Jamstik Guitar Trainer. The travel-size, wireless, MIDI guitar lets you play at home or on the go, and is perfect for learning how to play guitar and write songs, as well as creating and producing your own music. Its included software has interactive teaching apps and options for introductory music production and composition.

FretTouch Finger Sensor technology and Infrasense Optical Pickups can sense where your fingers are on the Jamstik and provide accurate real-time feedback on a connected device. With these features, you’ll be playing your first guitar chords in no time. Built-in software provides on-demand guitar lessons, and you can plug in your headphones so you don’t disturb others.

Learn to Play Guitar

Jamstik Guitar Trainer

Learn to play guitar with this handy MIDI guitar and interactive learning software.

Listen to Streaming Classical Music: Idagio Subscription

Idagio classical music streaming service home page

Sure, you can find classical music on standard streaming services, but none of them really understand it like Idagio ($29.99 per month) does. The music streaming service is dedicated to classical music and makes it easy to learn more about the genre (and discover terrific new pieces you like) with minimal effort.

You can save pieces you like, create playlists, browse new releases, and find beloved legendary records with ease. Plus, any time you click on an album, Idagio provides a blurb that tells you about the album, artist, or composer. You can even find curated classical playlists based on your mood.

Practice Guitar without Annoying Others: Vox AP2AC Headphone Amp

Vox AP2AC Headphone Amp

You might love practicing guitar (go you!), but others in your home might not appreciate it as much. Luckily, Vox’s AP2AC Headphone Amplifier enables you to practice quietly without disturbing others. Just plug in your guitar and some headphones, and start playing. You’ll be able to hear what you’d normally hear when connected to a regular amp, and everyone else will hear little to nothing.

The headphone amp works for both bass and guitar. It has built-in controls for tone, volume, gain, chorus, delay, and various reverb effects. And its small size easily fits in your guitar case or desk drawer when you’re done. Talk about a win-win situation!

Practice Guitar Without Annoying Others

VOX AP2AC amPlug 2 AC30 Guitar/Bass Headphone Amplifier

Plug your guitar and headphones into this headphone amp so you can practice without bugging others in your home.

Plenty of Songs for a Jam Session: The Ultimate Fake Book

cover of The Ultimate Fake Book
Hal Leonard

Fake books are essential for every gigging musician, and they’re fun to mess around with during practice and casual jam sessions as well. They’ve got all the melodies, lyrics, and harmonies you’ll need to play a gig or round out your repertoire.

The Ultimate Fake Book (for C instruments) is a perfect addition to virtually all musicians’ sheet music libraries. It contains over 1,200 songs across all genres, like jazz standards, country classics, and pop chart-toppers, with titles like Unforgettable, When I Fall in Love, Georgia on My Mind, Brazil, Friends in Low Places, and Let’s Fall in Love. There are different fake books for Bb instruments and Eb instruments as well.

Plenty of Songs for a Jam Session

The Ultimate Fake Book (for C Instruments)

This fake book has over 1200 songs across several genres, like jazz, country, and pop.

Stay in Tune and on the Beat: KLIQ MetroPitch

KLIQ MetroPitch joint metronome and tuner

Tuners and metronomes are the cornerstone of any musician’s success. And when both can be combined into a single device, it’s a match made in heaven. The KLIQ MetroPitch is a tuner and metronome that works with all instruments and chromatic tuning modes. It even includes a carrying pouch and comes in four different colors.

The device’s small design will effortlessly fit in your instrument case when not in use. It supports a wide pitch range, from A0-C8, along with various tuning modes, transposition settings, pitch calibration, tap tempo, and even has a tone generator. It has a high-sensitivity microphone, input and output jacks, volume control, tempo dial control, and a low battery indicator. It’s the perfect musical accessory or stocking stuffer idea.

Stay in Tune and on the Beat

KLIQ MetroPitch - Metronome Tuner for All Instruments - with Guitar, Bass, Violin, Ukulele, and Chromatic Tuning Modes - Tone Generator - Carrying Pouch Included, Black

The KLIQ MetroPitch is a two-in-one tuner and metronome with pitch calibration, multiple tuning modes, and transposition settings.

For Digital Musicians: AKAI Professional MPD218 Controller

AKAI Professional MPD218 Controller

If you’re more into making beats than playing them, you’ll want a good MIDI controller at your fingertips, like the AKAI Professional MPD218. The MIDI-over-USB pad controller blends MPC controls and technologies with USB connectivity to make it easy to create beats.

The controller is lightweight and portable, so you can easily move it around or take it with you on the go. The thick pads are highly sensitive and perfect for triggering drums, samples, effects, basslines, and more. Expandable banks, assignable controls, full level controls, and MPC note repeat puts all the music production options in your hands, as does the included comprehensive software suite: Ableton Live Lite, Sonivox Big Bang cinematic percussion, and Big Bang universal drums.

For Digital Musicians

AKAI Professional MPD218 - USB MIDI Controller with 16 MPC Drum Pads, 6 Assignable Knobs, Note Repeat & Full Level Buttons and Production Software

The AKAI Professional MPD218 Pad Controller is lightweight and has expandable banks, assignable controls, and an included music production software suite.

Good Supplies Make for Good Practice: Manhasset Music Stand

Manhasset Model 48 Sheet Music Stand

A music stand might not be exciting, but it’s still nice to have one that’s high quality. The Model #48 Sheet Music Stand from Manhasset is durable and easy to use. You can set it to any height, and its no-knob friction-tilt neck holds the tension. It uses solid brass bearings, and has a greaseless heavy-duty chrome inner shaft and a heavy-gauge steel welded base for sturdiness. (I’ve had mine for nearly 20 years and it still looks new and works perfectly.

Good Supplies Make for Good Practice

Manhasset Model #48 Sheet Music Stand

A durable music stand is a must-have for a home music studio and every practice session.

Get Digital Music Lessons: Yousician

Yousician app music exercise

Yousician (starts at $14.99 per month) is a great place for online music lessons for piano, guitar, ukulele, bass, and voice. Students of any skill level can sign up. Plus, with COVID-19 still at large, keeping music lessons online rather than in person is ideal.

The site has world-class educators, offers tailored lessons and exercises, and offers solid tools for learning how to master your instrument. You can explore thousands of exercises, lessons, and songs; set goals; track your progress; and monitor your improvement over time. You can also access step-by-step video tutorials and compete with other students for placement on the leaderboard. Yousician also has occasional sales, so be sure to double-check if it’s running any specials before signing up.

Practice Guitar with a Small Amp: IK Multimedia iRig Micro Amp

IK Multimedia iRig Micro Amp with guitar and smartphone
IK Multimedia

You don’t have to break the bank to find an amp for your guitar, and you don’t have to go all-out on a stage-worthy amp just for your practice room. The IK Multimedia iRig Micro Amp ($149.99) is compact yet powerful. The 15W amp covers a range of tones, with three custom-voiced analog channels: lead, drive, and clean. Plus, top-seated knobs for gain, bass, mid, treble, and volume let you control how it sounds. Plus, you can pair it with a smartphone or tablet and take advantage of apps like Amplitube or JamUp for an endless number of tones.

If you’re looking to round out your setup, consider picking up the iRig Blueboard ($99.99) as well. The Bluetooth MIDI pedalboard lets you control your favorite music apps (like AmpliTube) and more with your foot. The Blueboard makes it easy to do things like switch between presets, turn effects on and off, control volume, and change patches. Four backlit soft-touch pads are set in a sturdy chassis, and you have two TRS expansion jacks. It’s the perfect partner for the iRig Micro Amp when paired up with a smartphone or tablet.

Suzanne Humphries Suzanne Humphries
Suzanne Humphries was a Commerce Editor for Review Geek. She has over seven years of experience across multiple publications researching and testing products, as well as writing and editing news, reviews, and how-to articles covering software, hardware, entertainment, networking, electronics, gaming, apps, security, finance, and small business. Read Full Bio »