The only thing harder than buying a gift for a beginner guitarist is buying a gift for an experienced guitarist.
Buying a gift for someone who plays an instrument you don't can be not only intimidating, but incredibly stressful. Naturally, the best way to be completely certain you are getting a gift they're really going to love is to just ask them, or if you are buying an instrument for someone starting guitar lessons in 2020, a qualified and experienced guitar teacher.
Of course, if you're like your gifts to be a surprise, that isn't and option for you, and you're probably tearing your hair out trying to separate your Fenders from your Gibsons or trying to figure out when your favourite motorbike brand started making pianos.*
As an experienced gift giver and receiver as well as guitarist, I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly of gifts for guitarists, and I've compiled a list below of our top picks for beginner, intermediate and advanced guitarists - instruments and accessories that are good value, safe bet for pretty much anyone interested in guitar.
Dos & Don'ts for Guitar Related Gifts
- DO give something they can use - everyone needs spare strings, cables & headphones!
- DO ask expert advice. Teachers, experienced musicians, and trained musical instrument sales staff are good sources of advice. Old mate who played guitar thirty years ago and thinks Yamaha only make motorcycles and golf carts probably isn't.
- DO Gather information about the preferences of the intended recipient of the gift. Things like their colour preferences, and favourite styles of music can really help narrow down choices. Their favourite guitarist might even have a signature model guitar, like this, this, or this
- DON'T wait until the last minute! This is probably a no brainer, assuming you've lived through at least one Christmas. The longer you leave things, the narrower your choices get
- DON'T give them a mug. It's scientifically proven this is a terrible gift. Yes, even if it has guitars on it.
Best Beginner Guitars
Yamaha CS40 Nylon String Guitar
$189 RRP $219
- 3/4 size nylon string guitar
- World's most popular guitar for young beginners
- Excellent build quality
The CS40 is one of the world's best selling guitars for a reason - they're incredible value. There isn't a teacher anywhere in the world who wouldn't be satisfied with one of these as a starter guitar for their younger students.
BRAIDWOOD DREADNOUGHT SOLID TOP 02
$199 RRP $299
- Full size steel string acoustic guitar
- Ridiculously good value for older beginners
- Classic look, sound & feel
The Braidwood Dreadnought Solid Top 2 is a real standout this year, as a solid top acoustic guitar under $200. While it might not have the projection of the Yamaha FG series, it's less than half the price, and has a beautiful, easy to play neck for beginners.
Best Intermediate Guitar
Yamaha FG-TA TransAcoustic Guitar
$799 RRP $999.99
- The most fun acoustic guitar you've ever played!
- Amazing sounding reverb/chorus built-into the guitar with no need for external amplification or devices
- New scalloped bracing for louder, richer acoustic sound
What do you get a guitarist who already has a guitar they like? The Yamaha FG-TA TransAcoustic guitar is a unique an fun instrument that provides onboard effects that are activated through a soundboard transducer. In practice, what this means is you can add reverb or chorus to your guitar without the need for any effects pedals or external amplification, creating sounds that are impossible with any other instrument on the market. No matter how much your loved one likes their current guitar, there'll still have fun with this one too!
Oh, and if your loved one is a little on the smaller side, or they just prefer more compact guitars, there's also the FS-TA, for the same price
Best Advanced/Pro Guitar
Fender American Professional Series
- The world's most iconic electric guitars
- A versatile and essential addition to any guitar collection
- Great sound and play-ability, made in U.S.A
American made Fenders have been one of the go to instruments for guitarists the world over. The American Pro series are one of the best workhorse guitars on the market, and with dozens of different body, pickup and finish options to choose from, this is a series with something to please everyone. While Stratocasters and Telecasters are the go to instruments for many of the world's best guitarists across all genres, the American Professional Series also offers offset models like the Jazzmaster for people looking for a guitar that will perform well on stage, and visually stand out.
There are some things that everyone has a different opinion on, like the best guitars and amplifiers, but there are some thing that every guitarist needs. Things like strings, stands and cases make great gifts for any guitarist after all - who doesn't need spare strings? They might not be glamorous, but can be absolutely sure that some day they are going to get used. Here are some of our best picks for Christmas 2019
Cartoon Clip on Tuners
Most guitarists have a tuner, but not many of them are this cute! There's even a Reindeer, just in case you feel like getting really "in tune" with Christmas. Ahem.
Seriously though, in addition to being adorable, these Swiff cartoon tuners are well made, easy to use and dead accurate. They even do ukes and basses!
If there's a guitarist who has too many spare strings, we haven't met them. Bulk up your spares with bulk value packs of the world's best selling coated guitar strings, which last 3-5x longer than regular strings. Available in a wide range of gauges for acoustic and electric guitars.
If you don't have a decent case for protecting your instrument on the go, you absolutely need one. Gator are a world leader in instrument protection, and have a case to suit everyone's instrument, taste and budget.
Cables & Wireless Systems
Almost every guitarist has a story about showing up to a gig bright and early, only to have their lead break during soundcheck. There isn't a guitarist alive that won't be grateful they have the spare you bought them!
If a lead doesn't sound cool enough, or you're buying for someone who like to move around a lot when they play, maybe a wireless system is the way to go. All practicality aside, it's a lot of fun to run around the house and play wailing guitar solos!
*= Trivia Yamaha's very first product was a reed organ, made in 1887 - nearly 70 years before their first motorcycle