FEATURE: Ultra last minute DIY Christmas gifts for guitarists

“Oh crap! It’s Christmas day and I haven’t got anything for XXXX… and we have to leave for their house in 10 minutes!” We’ve all been there, right? You plan and plot but you can’t possibly remember to get gifts for everyone, can you? Well that’s where I Heart Guitar comes to the rescue. Did you know that with a little clever recontextualisation, ordinary items around the house can become the ultimate last-minute gift idea for the guitarist in your life? It’s true! Obsoive:

Personalised picks

Everyone loves personalised guitar picks (I have some killer custom picks from Grover Allman, which you’ll be able to buy in the new year when I set up a merch store). But if it’s Christmas morning you obviously don’t have time to get the fine folks at Grover Allman to whip up a batch of picks and send them off to you, so what do you do? Here’s what: rummage around in the breadbox to look for bread tags (or ‘Toast Tickets’ as they’re called in my house). You’re bound to find at least a couple that had somehow dropped off their associated bread baggie and escaped your view for the last six months or so. Then you just need a magic marker (or a Dymo tape labeller if your guitarist buddy prefers the textured vibe) and a steady hand. Christmas saved! You’re welcome.

Do-it-yourself lap steel kit

Secretly, every guitarist really wants to play lap steel. It goes back to seeing David Gilmour playing a lap steel in the Delicate Sound of Thunder video. Real lap steel guitars can be expensive, but your guitarist buddy can instantly convert their guitar into a third-rate Weissenborn ripoff and themselves into the next Ben Harper when you give them this handy home lap steel kit. Simply wedge an Ikea pencil (they’re free!!!) under the strings down by the nut, and use a C battery as a tone bar. They’ll be screechin’ the blues in no time, especially if the battery leaks.

Tissue box guitar

Cigar box guitars are a very popular DIY project – just look at the hundreds on Etsy – but what if you don’t smoke? Or what if you have your majestic stogies smuggled one at a time by means you’d rather not think about? Well, not everyone smokes but everyone has a nose. Just stretch some rubber bands over an empty tissue box. Don’t even worry about constructing a neck for your tissue box guitar – it’s a lot of effort and the string tension would probably crush it within microseconds anyway. Get creative with your tissue box guitar – cover it with sequins, glitter and stickers for that stage-ready vibe, or leave it unfinished as I’ve done. Tell them it’s your tribute to the Washburn N4.

Designer guitar strap

Quick, go dig around in the closet. You’re bound to find a tie somewhere – maybe even one that you got as a gift last year. Or if you’re like me, about 10 years ago your former next-door neighbour gave you a bunch of his old ties from the 80s, many of them outrageously kitsch. Just gouge a notch in either end and you have an instant guitar strap. It’s so easy I don’t know why I never thought of it before. This eggnog’s good stuff.

Oh by the way, if you actually try any of these and they cost you a friendship, a relationship or an inheritance, you forfeit any right to sue…

Merry Christmas from I Heart Guitar!

Christmas gift ideas for guitarists (from someone with far better taste than I)

The ever resourceful and Christmas-loving Pilgrim Lee (that’s Mrs I Heart Guitar to you) has trawled the internets on your and my behalf to uncover the most interesting Christmas gifts for the guitarist in your life. Now, I’ll be doing one of these lists myself (which will be a lot geekier, and probably more of a ‘Christmas gift ideas for yourself’ kind of thing), but everything in Pilgrim’s list is bound to make you a lot cooler than anything I’d recommend.

Click here for Pilgrim’s site, drawpilgrim.com


Guitar Vintage Kay – this looks similar in several ways to my first acoustic, especially the headstock shape, the tuners and the ‘Steel Reinforced Neck.’ Cool!

1960’s Fender Music Bass 637972 Turquoise, Sea Foam Green, Music Guitar, Instrument, Rock n Roll, Bass Guitar

NEWS: Christmas gift ideas for guitarists

According to feedback from some I Heart Guitar readers, not everyone who reads the site plays guitar: some just like guitar-based music and are into the interviews and reviews and stuff. I guess in a way this post is dedicated to them, provided there’s a guitarist on their Christmas shopping list. Here are some goodies which are bound to fulfill two key criteria: a) stuff a stocking, and b) guilt the receiver into letting you have the last slice of turkey/tofurkey at Christmas dinner, hehe.

MXR M-102 Dyna Comp Compressor Pedal Standard

One of the coolest compressors known to man, the MXR Dyna Comp is not the pedal to stomp on if you want a clean guitar to sound like a crisp FM radio. But if you’re after soupy funk, swampy blues, snappy soul, or those singing, silky David Gilmour tones, you can’t go past this little red monster. It’s also quite inexpensive, yet very sturdy and roadworthy. You could probably use it to hammer in a nail, or crack a home intruder over the head and keep him down for the count until your biker mates arrive to finish the job. I have one of these on my pedal board and it’s my secret weapon. Well, that and my magic amulet.

This elegantly simple device from the mind of Eddie Van Halen attaches to the low E string saddle on a Floyd Rose-style bridge (at least, if it’s set to divebomb-only mode, either due to the design of the bridge cavity rout or some kind of aftermarket blocking method). Flip the lever and you’re instantly in drop D tuning. Now you don’t need to change guitars to crank out ‘Unchained.’  Eddie claims that you could have 6 of them on a guitar and drop the whole dang thing down a whole step. Unfortunately it’s not recommended for fully floating bridges, so that rules out all of my Floyd-equipped axes.

Dunlop Eric Johnson Classic Jazz III Guitar Pick 6-Pack

Believe it or not, these picks from Jim Dunlop are paintstakingly modelled on a specific favourite red Jazz III pick from Eric Johnson’s personal collection. They feature a more refined and smoother tip, are more flexible than a standard Dunlop Jazz III, and have a matte finish with raised logos for grip. There have been signature picks before (I’m quite fond of Ibanez’s Paul Gilbert picks), but not quite like this. Will this start a trend? Will we see picks replicating the teeth-marks of Eddie Van Halen, or the pick scrapes of CC Deville?

Marshall MS-4 Micro Stack Standard

There are quite a few mini amps on the market, but this has gotta be my favourite. There is, of course, nothing cooler than a Marshall stack, and you could probably talk yourself into buying 8 or so of these so you could have a mini Yngwie amp rig on your desk. Think about it: 4 dry amps in the middle, and 2 either side, each pair with its own delay signal. Ok, maybe that’s just me, but at the very least you could chuck one of these and a travel guitar in your backpack for a picnic. Or you could have a bitchen Barbie concert in your doll house. 

D’Andrea Guitar Care Kit Standard

I know, I know, cleaning your guitar isn’t the most glamorous of ways to pass one’s time, but I’ve received these kits as Christmas presents every few years since I was in my early teens and they’re always very useful. So unless the guitarist you’re buying it for is an utter jerk, this is a gift that will be greatly appreciated. Just make sure you’re not in the room if they use the string cleaner and polishing cloth, cos you risk being exposed to the dreaded fingers-on-the-blackboard sound. Urk.