Whether you're taking a stroll through the labyrinth that is Guitar Center or searching the even mightier web database at Musician's Friend, it's impossible not to salivate over the massive selection of inventory these days. While each outlet has an abundance of holiday deals (a Fender, mini-amp, and 30 accessories for under $200? Should I be scared?), many of us are looking for something very specific - the Holy Grail of guitars, if you will. A lot of familiar brands come into play and you really can't go wrong with most items that have the words Les Paul or Fender attached, but let's not close the chapter on your holiday wish list yet.
First things first: We're short on time. The clock is indeed ticking, but thankfully there are plenty of moms, dad, girlfriends, and boyfriends that won't even step foot into a mall until Christmas Eve. So in the meantime, scribble down a few more gift ideas that would give your playing that extra edge. We at Ultimate Guitar wanted to help you out by proposing a few ideas of our own, which happen to be some of the most promising products that have been released in the past few years. We've taken budgets into a consideration, although we couldn't resist putting in a few items that are more likely to suit the financial state of the Trump family. But who says Santa hasn't officially determined that you were really, really, really good this year?
When it all comes down to it, you know that you deserve that Gibson Robot Guitar and one of the latest Dean Dimebag models. That's right, put those babies down on your Christmas list. Prices be damned!
Guitar picks are a personal thing, but there seems to be one particular brand that has enthralled the masses - whether those players are acoustic guitarists, bassists, or electric slingers. Dunlop Big Stubby Guitar Picks are made of a material called Lexan (which has been used to make everything from bullet-proof glass to iPods in the past) and contoured for easy-grip use. The result is in the performance, with solos that are played on higher frets suddenly becoming easier to manage. I'm not sure if I really understand the mysterious nature of Lexan, but I want to thank the scientists out there who do.
Someone once said it's like having condoms on your strings when you use Elixirs. As bizarre as that may sound, the statement isn't too far from the truth. Science has stepped into the musical arena again with Elixir Strings, which offer 2 flavors or coatings. Whether you go for the ultra-thick Nanoweb coating or the original Polyweb, you're guaranteed to extend the life of your strings by at least 3 times the average string. Elixir is no longer just for electric players, either -- the company now offers an Anti-Rust plain steel string for acoustic as well.
I think we've all been taught the lesson that image definitely does not make the musician (thank you, Pete Wentz), but it never hurts to whip out a killer guitar strap from time to time. Some companies even offer the service of creating custom straps after any design or logo you have in mind. Medina-Made specializes in making any kind of strap that you can think of - as long as it doesn't infringe on any sort of copyright, that is. Prices will vary depending on your design, and you'll need to contact Medina Made to get a specific quote. The company has a nice array of pre-made guitar straps as well, with everything from Rockabilly to Celtic Apostles as themes. Yes, Celtic Apostles.
It's the Swiss army knife of the guitar worldUh, without the knife. It all comes down to convenience with the ProWinder, which features a string winder, bridgepin puller, and string-clipper all in one. It's a great deal for the price and comes with an unconditional guarantee.
It may just be possible that tuning your guitar doesn't have to be the laborious task it once was. Some of you might enjoy the hands-on approach to tuning your guitar, but it never hurts to save a little more time for the actual performance.
That's where String Master's Robotic Guitar Tuner comes into play. Insert your 9-volt battery, connect the tuner to the appropriate peg, and you're pretty much done.
We all want a pedal that is the best deal for your money, and DigiTech came up with a product a few years back that has taken that idea into consideration. Modeled after 7 well-known distortion units, the DF7 solidly recreates the sounds of pedals like the Pro Co Rat, the Boss MT-2 Metal Zone, and the Big Muff Pi. It's all controlled with knobs and is pretty self-explanatory, but a straightforward and accessible manual is included to lead the way just in case. Even better, general feedback from users has been extremely positive about the Distortion Factory Pedal.
Dunlop's Crybaby or Morley's Bad Horsie are often the go-to pedals for an exceptional wah sound, but Rocktron deserve a bit of attention itself. The company's Tri-Wah pedal offers 3 settings (Normal, Classic, and Bass), giving you a few more options and huge frequency sweep while playing.
The list price is at around $99, but deals have been popping up all over the net for the Rocktron.
If you're the kind of person who can fix anything or enjoys building and/or taking things apart, you should be in your element with any of the Build Your Own Clone kits. Rather than asking for a pre-made wah or flanger, guitarists can now have the satisfaction of building their own units. The resulting tone and quality is all left up to the do-it-yourselfer, which might be too much of a gamble for some of us out there. Thankfully the Build Your Own Clone site has a forum for all of your troubleshooting needs.
There's been a trend among a lot of the musicians who have been interviewed by Ultimate Guitar lately. Everyone from Saosin's Justin Shekoski to Dethklok creator/guitarist Brendon Small have admitted to being disciples of Paul Gilbert's instructional videos at one point or another. The virtuoso guitarist has put out several videos over the years, but Intense Rock, Vol. 1 and 2 has been deemed the must-have selection out of the bunch. Combining his immense knowledge of phrasing, picking, and improvisation with his sharp wit, Gilbert gives guitarists the tools they need to lay down a killer riff or lightening-speed solo. Also check out his latest release Get Out Of My Yard if you're up for more of a challenge.
While searching through the tab database on Ultimate Guitar, you might have noticed that quite a few of the songs can be accessed only through downloading a trial of the software program Guitar Pro. It's definitely a cool educational tool that allows you to play along with MIDI files (not the best rocked-out versions, of course), but for about $60 your options will expand. The keyboard-heavy files can be switched for more realistic version through an RSE (Realistic Sound Engine) system, and you also get the opportunity to score your own guitar masterpiece with ease.
It's always amusing to see the message boards go wild with the mention of these games, so keep it coming. Regardless of what you think of Guitar Hero or Rock Band, these music simulation video games are now a couple of the hottest releases on the market. While Guitar Hero still has fields of devotees, it is Rock Band that is currently drawing the most attention with its additional drum set and vocal mic setup. We all know that there are plenty of guitarists who despise the idea of watching Guitar Hero gamers easily conquer a song that takes time and energy on a real instrument, but don't knock it until you try it. Just like Madden or Halo, they are games. By the way, both are quickly getting sold out, so you might need to check out eBay to bring the goods home.
The magazine that exemplified the 60's and 70's music scene may have fallen victim to bad decisions over the years (putting the women of Melrose Place on the cover - really?), but Rolling Stone has enough history under its belt to still garner a lot of respect. If you'd love to get your hands on the earliest Led Zeppelin or Frank Zappa articles, the new DVD-ROM archive Cover To Cover will keep you busy. With over 98,000 searchable pages, the 4-disk set (one of which is to initially set up the searchable database), it's a pretty good deal for the money. You also get a year's subscription to Rolling Stone on top of it all. Try to ignore the fact that Fall Out Boy was on the March cover. Everyone makes mistakes.
Back when MTV actually featured music-related programming, many of us were able to catch what could easily be called one of the most unforgettable performances by the late Kurt Cobain. Nirvana set the standard for all other acts when they took the stage for Unplugged back in 1993, and up until now that performance was only available on CD. While the CD alone is worth a trip to Best Buy, the DVD features the entire 44-minute performance plus rehearsals that have never before been viewed. If you miss what Nirvana brought to the music world, Unplugged In New York might just blow any guitar accessories out of the water.
Hey, It Could Happen
You'd be hard-pressed to find a metal guitarist out there who wasn't affected in some way by Dimebag Darrell, and the good people at Dean have rightfully kept his spirit alive with a series of guitars styled after Dime's own collection. You get sturdy construction, eye-catching graphics, and the ability to lay down some Dime-worthy pinch harmonics with the Razorback Slime Bumblebee model. The one downfall would be the price tag - don't expect to pay under $1,000. If you're looking for a Dime model that's a little kinder to the wallet, check out the Dime-O-Flage ML, which is one of the best values in the Dimebag series at about $299.
If handling the Pro-Winder tuner is just too strenuous, Gibson has come to the rescue with crazy sci-fi technology. The Robot Guitar's tuning process is controlled through a knob on the guitar body, which will emit blue lights when it's completely in tune. The guitar features 6 tuning presets, which you can set up to your liking. Unfortunately, the legendary company's futuristic addition to the world of guitars might be out of most of our reach temporarily. For one, it's going to be a rarity at retail stores for a few months until production goes into full-swing in 2008. If you do manage to find one, the price tag might still be a little hefty, running somewhere between $2,000-$5,000. And then there are the people that say the Robot Guitar promotes laziness, and I suppose they could have a point But is it cool? Hell, yeah.