Everybody is making music these days. People are dusting off old trumpets and learning the guitar for the first time in their lives. Whether you know somebody who’s a dedicated player or a newbie who could just use a whimsical instrument to goof around with, here are a few of the best hidden gems out there.
Yamaha SLG200S Silent Guitar for $700: So you know someone who likes to play guitar, but is surrounded by people who don’t always want to hear it. Maybe that person who doesn’t want to hear it is you. The SLG200S has an electronic pickup, built-in preamp, and audio input so that they can plug their headphones directly into the guitar to hear their playing without disturbing anyone else. Others will still hear the faint sound of strings being plucked or strummed, but it’ll be a lot quieter than a typical guitar.
Ukutune 23-Inch Concert Ukulele for $130: Cheap, beginner ukes are everywhere, but a lot have cheap construction and sound thin or buzzy. This Ukutune has a solid spruce top plank for a richer tone. This concert-sized model is bigger than traditional soprano ukuleles, but it’s still a ukulele, so it’s not that big.
Deering Goodtime 6-String “Banjitar” for $629: A banjitar (also called a guitjo) has the body of a banjo with the six-string neck of a guitar, so it’s played the same way as a guitar. The banjo has seen a popular comeback in the 21st century, with artists such as Dom Flemons and Otis Taylor, but it’s a whole new, five-stringed instrument to learn. If you know a guitar player who digs Old Crow Medicine Show, give them an instrument they’ll know how to play from day one.
Fender Player Stratocaster for $700: These are the Mexican-made guitars that replaced the trusty Mexican Standard earlier this year. Home players and working musicians like that they’re a better value than the $1,000 American-made Fenders. Unlike Fender’s Squier line, these Fenders are good enough to keep forever and to play in a real band, if that’s what your special someone wants.
Hohner Performer 37-Key Melodica for $81: What, you haven’t heard of a melodica before? That’s OK! Maybe your giftee hasn’t either. You blow air into it through a reed and play its keyboard. The sound that comes out resembles the baby child of a harmonica and an accordion. If you do get this, be sure to ask the recipient to play a cover of the Black Sails theme song once they unwrap it. It’s not the exact same instrument, but it’s close.
Yamaha FG830 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar for $320: This guitar sounds as good as anything that costs twice its price. Beginners will love something good enough to keep for life, and yet the sound quality is good enough for working musicians and Sunday church performers. Its solid Sitka spruce top and scalloped bracing are also pleasant surprises at this price. If the recipient is shorter, consider the more compact Yamaha FS380, which is otherwise identical.
Bluesboy Jag Cigar Box Guitar for $280: People have been making small guitars out of cigar boxes for more than a hundred years. They’re a whimsical part of Americana, and I dare the guitarist who gets one as a gift to not smile as they pluck out a few tunes on a pint-sized axe. Traditionally, they have only three or four strings, and you can take your pick here.
Guitar and Drum Accessories