It’s that time of year again when musicians know what they want for Christmas… but daren’t ask. The chances of a new guitar or amp may be out of the question, whilst accessories and the essentials make the best stocking fillers.
Essential is a word that crops up a lot in a musician’s thesaurus. For guitar players, everything to do with gear is ‘essential’, the latest amps and guitars on the market are essential of course, so where do you stack it all? You can’t scientifically create space, but a typical seven rack guitar stand is ideal for your guitar room as a space saver, like compact foldaway stands, they’re a must for use at home, stage or studio.
You could compare instrument care kits to the mandatory socks at Christmas, but like tootsie warmers, they are the perfect present. Lots of brands offer cool instrument cleaning products, including Lizard Spit who are renowned for a host of merchandise for guitars and basses as kits, or as individual items for general cleaning or detailed maintenance.
‘Please aunty, no aftershave or perfume this time, I’d prefer a few sets of strings this Christmas’. A bit like car tyres really, you can’t do without them and they eventually wear out. Saying that some of the new coated strings from the likes of Rotosound, Elixir, D’Addario and Dean Markley, to name but a few, have advanced to a level within longevity and tone where they really don’t need changing after every professional gig.
Unless you have luthier skills, we wouldn’t recommend tackling a full fret repair job or snapped headstock, but a basic tool kit is so important as part of your equipment and help you set up your instrument correctly, including changing strings, string heights, and intonation. Most instrument tool kits contain the basic needs, including string winders, screwdrivers, spanners, Allen keys, cutters and much more.
Environmentally conscious guitar players may want to receive wooden plectrums. Timber Tones wooden plectrums are available for all styles, including jazz, blues, rock and country, and made from responsively harvested tonewoods, each offering individual tonal properties.
Worn guitar straps are dangerous, especially at the button ends. Heaven forbid your guitar or bass come crashing to the floor which could break your ankle or all your toes, but more importantly, damage the guitar. So ask Santa for a decent set of strap locks like the professionals use. There are some funky themed sets now, Gothic with skulls for example or conventional designs in a variety of finishes including chrome, black or brass.
There’s no real excuse to be out of tune on stage anymore, we seem to totally rely on technology now rather than our ears, gone are the days of pitch pipes and tuning forks. Headstock and pedalboard tuners are of course the perfect solution for tuning up mid-song or during announcements. From sophisticated strobe tuners to highly adequate and affordable models, they’re all easy to operate and simple to use with the flickering needle or cascading segment displays.
Headphones, ahhh…bliss, we all love to shut out the world and listen to music on our mobile phones, often with wireless-Bluetooth earbuds, but it can be all so different when it comes to a decent pair of studio headphones. Generally speaking, it would seem you get what you pay for, but even in the lower price range, there are some excellent sets more than adequate for mixing and tracking, providing high-frequency audio with bass reflex technology.
Think wah-wah and most old school rock players instantly relate to Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix, while veteran funksters will narrate back to the ‘wocka wocka wak wak’ guitar intro to Shaft by Isaac Hayes. The wah-wah pedal was a milestone amongst guitar effect pedals. But pedalboards are smaller these days and the conventional wah-wah is a big chunk of hardware….…hail the Dunlop Cry Baby Mini, a real space saver with the hair raising frequencies of its big brother.
Please Santa, may I have the best gig bag on the market?
A gig bag stands out a mile in a crowd, periscope-like on the owner’s back, who are often unaware they have just cleared the overhanging shop sign by a micrometer, and why are so many very expensive instruments transported in gig bags that offer as much protection as plastic bin liner?
Fusion has very high-quality gig bags for scores of instruments from flutes to bagpipes and everything else in between, even double bags for guitars and basses, all with soft linings and premium instrument protection inside. Tough, lightweight and weather-resistant on the outside, Fusion gig bags have often been compared to a bungalow with ample room for accessories in spacious compartments and carrying options with padded handles and back straps.
Have a fab Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all.
About the Author
With over 30 years in the music business, Lars Mullen does indeed wear many hats, as a writer, journalist, photographer, press person for his own company Music Media Announcements. As an extensive traveller, he's a familiar figure reporting from music trade shows around the world. Spending many years touring as a professional guitarist, Lars has also interviewed a host of top bands and artists, continues to write articles for magazines globally and still finds time to track down Fusion artists for our Artist Spotlight column.