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Surprising your loved ones with a thoughtful gift is one of the best feelings in the world, but finding the right gift can be exceptionally challenging. For the musicians in your life, your first thought may be to get them Bluetooth earbuds or online music lessons — but an expert says there’s plenty more options.
Billboard spoke with professional guitarist and educator Alex Mak — who has performed as a musical guest on Late Night With Seth Meyers, served as the guitar chair and programmer for the hit Off-Broadway show Titanique and has recorded guitar for instructional guides such as Yamaha’s Arranging for Contemporary Music — to get insight into the most praise-worthy gifts for the musicians in your life. While his go-to choices included David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars on vinyl or a subscription to Logic Pro, he also listed out a few other picks that are perfect for gifting year-round.
Whether they’re a professional in the industry or just starting out, these gifts are sure wow your loved ones. Keep reading to shop Mak’s picks below.
For a budget-friendly gift, Mak recommends this guitar tuner that’s under $25 but is useful for any string instrument.
“For any stringed instrument, a nice clip-on tuner will sort you out no matter where you are or how loud it is,” he says. “The Eclipse is long-lasting, easy to see in bright sunlight and because it’s rechargeable, you won’t have to worry about carrying batteries.”
If they play shows nightly, then help them protect their ears with some quality earplugs that’ll muffle loud sounds as they play their favorite songs. Mak especially likes Sennheiser’s design are “they’re tuned to sound natural, but at a much safer listening level.”
Nowadays using a tablet or smartdevice has made things easier for musicians to do everything from record music or even turning the page on sheet music. Help them save time turning the page with this musician-approved digital page turner. Mak even says “Once you get used to this pedal for hands free page turns, you’ll wonder how you survived doing things the old fashioned way!”
Add some style to your loved one’s instrument with a basic yet stylish leather guitar strap. Mak prefers this one as it’s wide width “spreads out your instrument’s weight on your shoulder. It [also] has a nifty lock mechanism to prevent accidents, which I promise will happen otherwise.”
Help keep their instrument reamin in-tune with a Shubb Capo that’ll attach to their instrument and keep audio in sounding as pristine as possible. Mak makes sure he keeps one close by when he’s working with vocalists or is in the creative zone.
“They’re one of the simplest ways to get some inspiration and create complementary parts in a recording session,” he tells. “Shubb capos are durable, fast to put on, and they keep things in tune.”
No matter what stage of their career they’re in, this music book will help provide them advice and guidance — especially for those who enjoy picking up a good book when they’re not playing their instrument. The book comes out on Oct. 24, but you can preorder the book now to ensure you get a copy.
This copy is one of Mak’s favorite picks as it has helped to educate professionals and is the most updated version.
“An updated version of the manual that’s educated the likes of Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan, the Passman book is a great read for artists at any stage in their careers. Advice in this industry has a quick expiration date, and with all the changes happening as we speak, current knowledge is your greatest asset.”
You can never go wrong with basics and for artists that would be storage spaces for everything from sheet music to recorded audio. That’s where this portable USB comes in — and it’s on sale! For Mak, he finds that “SSDs are loads faster than hard drives, making them perfect for transferring large files. The T7 Shield is fast and IP65 rated for water and dust resistance.”
They can track their performances, practices and more using a portable recorder that Mak describes as “worth their weight in gold.” This design by Portacapture comes with a touchscreen to customize your recording experiences and is compact enough to slip in your bag or purse.
“They’re a huge step up in quality from recording audio with your phone,” he tells. “I use one daily to record practices, performances, videos, lessons — you name it! The Portacapture’s touch screen gives you intuitive access to a full-featured audio interface, no matter where you are.”
For friends who record music videos or content for social media, the musician finds that lighting can have an even greater impact than the type of camera you use, which is where this LED light comes in.
“Lighting makes a huge difference in video quality, in my opinion even more than a new camera,” Mak says. “This LED light is perfect for recording videos for social media (and remote meetings). It offers warm and cool lighting tones, and an app for quick adjustments.”