Great Gifts for Gearheads
Season’s greetings, pedal people! With the
holidays approaching, many of us may find
that our budget doesn’t leave much room for
our own personal pedal shopping. Fret not,
it’s still possible to get your gear fix during
the holiday season. Simply give this article to
your friends and loved ones, and leave the
rest to me. And I’m serious about this, by the
way. Then you can focus on giving to others
and your own generosity.
So, what gifts can you give to the gearhead
in your life? Good question. The problem
with instruments, amplifiers, and even boutique guitar pedals is that they don’t make
great stocking stuffers. They tend to be major
purchases for most players, and they’re not
often given as casual gifts. Yet a closer look
at today’s overabundant gear market reveals
a world of often-overlooked and sometimes
essential accessories. There’s an almost endless variety to choose from. But, for our purposes, let’s focus on stompbox-related accessories—pedal paraphernalia, if you like.
The first thing you’ll want to determine is
your budget. Then we can look at what’s
available in that range. Let’s start with $25
and under—something that might be appropriate for a holiday party, a “secret Santa”
situation, or as a literal stocking stuffer.
This would be the first and most obvious
choice as a small gift for your pedal-happy
friend. A good number of popular boutique pedal brands have T-shirts and other
promotional items branded with their logo.
Some offer a surprisingly extensive array of
souvenir knickknacks—hats, hoodies, coffee
mugs, posters, magnets, stickers, and the
like. These make great gifts, especially for the
player who may not be inclined to get them
A book or DVD about gear is another no-
brainer gift for the gearhead. While the subject
of musical instruments and equipment in gen-
eral has been documented quite extensively,
the selection of pedal-specific books and
videos is sparse. But there are still enough
titles to satisfy even the most ravenous pedal
junkie. Without intending to be blatantly self-
promoting, I think it would be awkwardly con-
spicuous at this point not to mention Analog
Man’s Guide to Vintage Effects, written by
yours truly. There’s also Dave Hunter’s Guitar
Effects Pedals: The Practical Handbook and
the one that started it all—Stompbox by Art
Thompson. As for DVDs, aside from promo-
tional demo videos, the only two that come
to mind are the recently released The Art
of the Stompbox and Fuzz: The Sound That
Revolutionized The World. Any of the above
will be warmly received.
Power to the Pedals
If your friend is a fuzz lover, see if you can
find a pack of cheap 9-volt carbon-zinc batteries. I’m serious. For reasons outside the
scope of this column, many players actually
prefer carbon batteries in their fuzz, overdrive, and distortion pedals to alkaline batteries—or even AC power. That said, a power
adapter can be another low-cost gift that
most pedal lovers will appreciate. Just be
sure it’s one that’s designed for music equipment with adequate noise filtering and voltage regulation. You can find these at nearly
any music store. Most guitar pedals can be
powered using a 9-volt DC adapter with a 2. 1
mm barrel plug and negative-polarity center
tip. This info is important, because using the
wrong adapter can damage a pedal.
Hey, Big Spender!
If you can afford to be a little more extravagant, your options are better and more
numerous. Power-supply kits that can power
multiple effect pedals from a single outlet,
such as the Godlyke Power-All and Visual
Sound One-Spot, are available at most music
stores. The Keith McMillen Batt-O-Meter battery tester is another handy gadget a lot of
pedalheads would appreciate.
A solder-free pedalboard cable kit is a gift
that just about any player would be thrilled
with, too. These are made by Lava Cable,
George L’s, and Planet Waves. In my experi-
ence, you can never have too many patch
cables. While you’re at it, the George L’s
cable checker is a useful accessory to com-
plement any cable kit.
If all else fails, you can always get a gift certificate from your local music store or favorite
boutique retailer. The bottom line is that
you’re showing your support for the musician
in your life, which may mean more than the
item you’re actually giving.
When I was 16, my parents bought me a
Guild D- 40 acoustic guitar. Although I’ve
bought and sold many guitars over the years,
I’ve held onto that Guild to this very day.
The reason I’d never let go of that guitar is
because it was a gift from my parents—a gift
that symbolized their approval and support
of my musical interests. And that meant the
world to me.
Appreciation and encouragement are among
the greatest gifts you can give to the music
lovers in your life. Though you may not
understand all the technical details, your gift
will show you’re not just fulfilling some social
obligation—it’ll show you really thought
about the interest of your recipient. Trust me,
whatever you get will be received much more
enthusiastically than another golf shirt or
some useless trinket from the mall.
Well, that’s it for now. Let’s wrap this up and
put it under the tree. I’ll see you all next year.
Until then, keep on stompin’.
Tom Hughes (a.k.a. Analog Tom) is the owner and
proprietor of For Musicians Only (formusiciansonly.
com) and author of Analog Man’s Guide to Vintage
Effects. Send questions or comments about this
article to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established by “Analog” Mike Piera in 1993, Analog
Man ( analogman.com) is one of the largest boutique
effects manufacturers and retailers. Mike can be
reached at AnalogMike@aol.com.