At Adirondack Guitar, we are dedicated to helping musicians find the ideal guitars, basses, amps and gear to realize their full musical potential. Often, that means helping parents find the perfect guitars, basses, and amps for the young (and young-at-heart) guitarists in their families who are interested in making music. Of course, choosing the right first guitar is the first step and is so important that we covered in a previous article, What to Look For When Buying Your First Guitar, but that is only the beginning of the equation.
As the guitar player in your family grows into their instrument, they will begin to acquire preferences, and soon you will find them asking for things like specific amps, effects pedals, pedal boards, and accessories that will make great holiday gifts. If all of these seems confusing to you because you know little or nothing about guitars and guitar gear, don’t worry. We have you covered! Read on below for answers to common questions about guitar gear and some great holiday gift ideas from the staff of ADK Guitar.
Question - I’ve already gotten her a guitar, where do I go from here?
Playing guitar and bass is actually more of a journey than a hobby. When your kid takes up a sport, for instance, you have to pick up a specific list of equipment, but learning the guitar is more organic and individual. As your child develops into a musician, they will go through a number of stages. First they will be all about mastering certain basic techniques, like strumming, forming and switching chords and picking individual notes; then they will spend some time learning about music, including scales, chord progressions and maybe even some music theory. At some point, they will graduate to learning to play their favorite songs, play in a band, and then they may even create their own original music.
A thoughtful holiday gift would therefore be anything that supports them on this journey. Often, the difference between getting bored with a musical instrument and continuing to develop as a musician is determined by the opportunities players have to experiment with new musical materials and styles. This means that it usually takes more than just guitar lessons to help your kid develop into a consummate musician. Often, it takes providing them with the tools they need to take their interests to the next level.
Of course, you don’t have to make blind guesses about which amps or effects pedals would be right to help the guitar player in your life reach the next stage of musical development. At Adirondack Guitar, our knowledgeable staff prides themselves on their ability to help musicians find the exact equipment they need to make the music they have always dreamed of making.
Q - Everyone says that I will have to spend thousands of dollars before my kid will be able to make music? Is that true?
Actually, great sound can be surprisingly inexpensive. At ADK Guitar we sell world famous Vox amps, the classic tube amps used by iconic bands like The Beatles, U2 and Radiohead. Obviously, the actual amps used by bands like U2 and Radiohead are likely to be beyond your Christmas budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a Vox within your budget that will give you that iconic Vox sound.
Vox MV-50 and the Vox AV-15
Vox is a British company that makes some of the best loved tube amps in the world. They were recently acquired by Korg which is a famous innovator in the world of digital music. The result of merging these two conceptual models is the development of incredible new products like the Vox MV-50 series of 50 watt tube amps. These tiny tube amps are as small as a coffee cup but loud enough to rattle the windows when plugged into external speakers, and they are now only $199! Just check out the demo below!
The MV-50s don’t come with built-in speakers, but they can be played wearing headphones, plugged into PA systems, or played using virtually any type of external speakers, like the portable ZT Lunchbox portable speaker cabinet we carry in our showroom. Being able to play using headphones will allow your budding musician to practice whenever she wants, and the portability of the MV-50 amp will encourage her to get out there and play with other musicians, instantly expanding her social and musical horizons.
If you are looking for that classic Vox sound with a built-in speaker check out the Vox AV15 Analog Modeling Combo Amp. Analog modeling technology allows the Vox AV15 to offer an array of built-in effects and preset sounds, giving it the ability to sound a lot like several iconic Vox tube amps used by many of rock’s leading bands, but at a fraction of the price -$249.00! The modeling circuitry also makes this Vox lightweight and relatively portable, and the output jack doubles as a headphone jack, allowing the guitarist in your family to practice silently whenever it is convenient for them. The result? The guitarist in your family practices more and develops her skills more quickly!
Q - I got my kid a guitar and amp but she’s still not happy with the sound. What can I do to help her get the sound she is looking for?
In a word, effects. The thing that sets most professional guitarists apart, aside from their skill which develops with time and practice, is their use of effects pedals to achieve distinctive, iconic tones. With Hendrix it was the Wah Pedal, with The Edge of U2 it was the delay and an array or effects pedals too numerous to list here (link:https://www.musicradar.com/news/guitars/u2-exclusive-the-edges-stage-setup-revealed-223342 ). Back in the late 70‘s Eddie Van Halen used a phaser, flanger, wah pedal and a delay to create iconic riffs that we still listen to with wonder. Maybe in the 2000‘s the guitarist in your family will use the stomp boxes that you get them for Christmas to create a new vision of what Rock guitar will sound like in the future!
Effects pedals are among the best holiday gifts you could ever buy for a guitarist. These reasonably priced sound-boxes are much more than just window dressing on a guitarist’s sound. Effects pedals literally allow the guitarist in your family to create an iconic guitar sound that everyone will instantly recognize, or experiment to create a new sound that is uniquely their own.
Many of the effects pedals that we carry at ADK Guitar can be found on the pedal boards of leading guitarists around the world. Pedals like the EQD Hoof Hybrid$179, the Electro Harmonix Wailer Wah Wah pedal$62.75, and the incredible Electro Harmonix Canyon Loop/Delay$139 come in under $199 and will help your aspiring guitarist shape their sound and grow as a musician. Visit our website to read more about and watch video reviews and demos of each type of effects pedal we carry. For instance, here is our review of the limited edition EarthQuakerDevices Hoof Hybrid Fuzz:
Just as it is important to ask if toys come with batteries, it is important to note that most effects pedals generally do not come with patch cablesor power supplies. However, we carry both of these in our showroom and they can also be found on our website. Get in touch with us and we will be happy to set you up with the exact cables and power supplies you need to power any effects pedals that you are gifting this holiday.
Q - Listen, you don’t know my kid. If I get her effects pedals, they will be all over the floor, in the living room, under the couch and so on. What do I do to make sure they are not left all over the place?
You’re right to worry! It’s easy to misplace and damage pedals, which is one of the reasons why companies like Boss and Blackbird, among others, developed pedal boards. Pedal boards hold and fully facilitate the effects pedals that guitarists use both on stage and wherever they practice. The effects pedals are placed side-by-side on the pedal board where they are connected to a power supply (sold separately) and patched together with patch cables (sold separately). The type and size pedal board you should purchase depends on how many effects pedals your guitarist plans to use. If you purchase two for this Christmas, it would be best to put them on a pedal board that will hold 4-6 pedals (only $119). This will give them room to add more in the future.
The vast majority or performers these days are using pedal boards because they are completely customizable and expandable, and if an effects pedal stops working, it can be replaced. Below you will find a video with recommendations about putting your own pedal board together:
Q - If my kid loses interest in guitar, will I be stuck with a garage full of old equipment?
Of course not. At ADK Guitar we are always looking for high quality used equipment to pass on to musicians who will love it and use it. Therefore, we buy guitars, amps, pedals, basses and all the equipment guitar players are no longer using. Also, if your kid outgrows their current guitar and amp, you can use them as trade-ins toward newer models down the road. All trades are assessed based on their condition and current market value. You never have to feel stuck with old instruments and equipment that you aren’t using anymore. In fact, our sales team will be happy to help you find guitars and equipment that are known to hold their value, so when you trade it in down the road, you will get the most out of your investment. If you want to come down to our showroom to discuss these gift ideas in detail, you can get in touch with us through our website or call us at1-518-746-9500. We are a small family-run operation and not a huge box store and we seek to give all of our customers the individualized attention that they deserve!
Even if your child never earns a dime playing their guitar or bass in a band or on a recording, just being able to play for their own enjoyment will enrich their lives. The joy and feeling of accomplishment that kids get from playing guitar and bass yields long-term psychological and social benefits including increased confidence and a healthy sense of self-esteem. Getting your kids another video game system this Christmas will never help them grow as a person or express themselves artistically, but giving them a guitar and the equipment they need to make music definitely will.