HMXHellion is a Producer/Senior Writer at Harmonix and plays guitar in the band VAGIANT. Her holiday wish list includes “a sparkley green guitar, a pair of Christian Louboutins, and a reliable hangover cure.”
Hey everybody, HMXHellion here, freshly plumped with a couple extra pounds of lovin’, cheerfully gained on my Thanksgiving weekend diet, composed of such health-conscious foods as “bacon grease” and “stuff cooked in bacon grease.” After eating enough to feed a bathtub full of panthers, I spent much of the weekend shopping, as, I’m sure, did many of you. I do, however, imagine that my purchases (due to my Jersey upbringing) involve significantly more leopard print than yours. Like, enough leopard print to reupholster the tour bus of Hanoi Rocks 1 and still have enough left over to make a half-dozen throw pillows.
While clamoring for rhinestone-encrusted stilettos and drag queen-red lipstick, it occurred to me that many of you might be doing some holiday shopping for your bandmates this year. Buying gifts for your bandmates can be a tricky proposition – musicians are inherently oversensitive people. Once, while making the common beginner’s mistake of dating a guitar player 2, I made the common beginner’s mistake of trying to get said guitar player a present which he might actually need – a fancy new chromatic tuner. The unveiling of this thoughtful gift was met with a twitchy expression and an epic sulkfest involving loud sighing and unnecessarily aggressive stomping, ultimately culminating in the phrase “Well I’m SORRY I used your underwear drawer as an ashtray, maybe I’m just too BUSY being OUT OF TUNE all the time to know the difference!” 3 He stormed out (WITH the tuner, mind you) and I’m relatively certain that he was the one who peed on all my winter coats, but I can’t be positive. Regardless, holiday gift purchases for musicians can be an emotional minefield and must be carefully considered.
To that end, I have compiled some lists to help you buy the perfect gift for all the musicians and aspiring musicians on your list.
Gift Ideas for the Musicians in Your Life
Best Gifts for Guitarists:
- Picks – A guitarist can never have enough picks. Try to steal a pick from your guitarist friend’s jacket pocket or from the practice space carpet to determine what style and thickness he/she prefers.
- Cables – Instrument cables are highly desirable and they’re easy to pick out since the only major difference between them is length. If any company out there is considering coming out with a sparkly pink guitar cable, I would like to take this time to pre-order a majillion of them.
- Cool notepads – Ideal for writing passive aggressive messages to his/her bandmates regarding the unauthorized borrowing of gear or lack of appropriate appreciation for polymodal chromaticism.
Worst Gifts for Guitarists:
- Journals for writing lyrics – You don’t want the guitarist writing lyrics, unless you like singing about fast cars, sleazy bar-bathroom hump-a-thons, or how awesome your guitarist is at guitar.
- Tuners – I personally wouldn’t feel offended by getting a tuner as a gift, but then again I ALSO don’t think that I am the reincarnation of Gram Parsons or that “One Hundred Years from Now” is meant as a personal warning message to my future self.
- Gonorrhea – Because you don’t want to give someone something they already have.
Best Gifts for Bassists:
- Earplugs – Bassists tend to be the MOST reasonable when it comes to what they perceive as the desired volume of their instrument… which is to say that said volume is still outrageously high. Protect your bassist’s ears (and fragile sensibilities) with a high-end pair of earplugs.
- Guitar cleaner and polish kits – Bassists are often fetishistic about their instruments. Somebody has to be.
- A nice watch – Because hey, your bassist is the only member of the band who is going to be using one, might as well have something nice to look at while he/she is thinking of ways to murder the rest of you in your sleep.
Worst Gifts for Bassists:
- A keyboard
Best Gifts for Drummers:
- Drumsticks – Drummers break their sticks a lot. In most bands, I’m told, the drummer breaks his/her sticks during the normal course of playing songs. In my band, LoWreck breaks her sticks by throwing them across the room when she gets mad about such rational things as “plant care” or “ugly turtles,” or by trying to shove them in her nose or posterior region when she is bored. Regardless, your drummer will need lots of sticks.
- Drum key – I have no idea what a drum key is or does, but drummers all seem to need them frequently and are chronically unable to find them. I assume that this key leads to some kind of magical drummer paradise in which hygienic practices are lax, shirts are optional, and back hair flows freely in the breeze, like petals on the wind.
- Beer – You really can’t go wrong here. Drummers will even drink those weird fruity Lambic beers that remind me of licking a Strawberry Shortcake doll.
Worst Gifts for Drummers:
- A metronome – The drummer equivalent of a tuner, only more offensive.
- A spa package – Because, come on. That’s like giving chopsticks to a dude with no hands – he’s definitely not gonna use that.
- An air mattress – Giving a drummer an air mattress is like saying, “No, you don’t need to get an apartment ever! Come live on my floor and eat all my Funyuns and rifle through my photo albums with your hot dog-sized, Funyun-coated fingers while I’m at work! If you want, you can borrow my undershirts without telling me – what’s a few pit stains between bandmates?”
Best Gifts for Singers:
- A vintage microphone – Pretty much every singer wants, at some point, to use one of those cool retro ‘40s-style condenser mics. Mostly because they think it means they can now get away with that hip fedora they’ve been secretly hoarding.
- Round base microphone stand – This style of microphone stand is much more conducive to “sexy singer antics” than the traditional tripod-based style. On the downside, your singer will probably start doing “sexy singer antics.” Try to hold onto your panties.
- Slippery elm lozenges – These taste like dandruff and centipedes, but they are fantastic for soothing vocalists’ strained throats. Also your singer will interpret this gift as both a symbol of your genuine care and concern, and of your secret desire for him/her to sing ALL THE TIME.
Worst Gifts for Singers:
- Voice lessons – Come on. Think it through.
- Therapy – Just because they need it doesn’t mean they want it.
- Anything ironic – Irony is lost on singers. Singers are too busy adjusting their mirrored aviators and fretting about their reputations as skilled lovers to comprehend irony. Save the “Kiss Me, I’m Fat” shirt for the bassist, because it will only lead to your singer suffering through an irritating bout of anorexia. Again.
Thanks for reading, everybody -- may your trips to the mall be fruitful and your hours in line few. And if any of your gift purchases result in breaking up with your significant other, remember that there are lots of people out there who are much more sane than musicians… like mass murderers… and that guy who stands outside the hardware store barking at people and offering you cough syrup. Happy shopping, loyal readers, and let me know how it all turns out! 4
- That’s not a dig. I love Hanoi Rocks.
- Do not do this.
- In my defense, he was a very good guitar player with pretty hair.
- What do you want for the holidays this year? Share your desires with the world in the comments section below and I will steal your ideas and put them on my list.