Bob Wire’s Christmas Gift Ideas for Discerning Musicians

By BOB WIRE

You know, I can’t walk a city block without two or three people stopping me, saying, “Hey, Bob, what would be a good Christmas gift for the musician on my list?”

I applaud these people for having the good sense to put their faith in the Burlap Fog for the answers. In fact, if you’ve got any questions about gift giving, abnormal psychology, or the meaning of life, feel free to drop me an email. Or if you find yourself on the horns of a moral dilemma (which can be quite painful), just ask yourself: “What Would Bob Do?”

But back to the gift ideas for musicians

Most musicians are pretty easy to buy for. One generous gesture would be to pay off his or her hefty bar tab. Trust me—they’ve got one. Somewhere.

An electric tuner would be a good choice for any guitar or bass player. Of course they already have one, probably more, but they are always being misplaced, left at a gig, or used to level a bass drum. They’re about $20, and will be used a lot. I recommend the Snark, which clips right on to the head of the guitar and picks up the vibration of the instrument and features a big, bright display.

Some clip-on guitar tuners can be veryopinionated.

What’s that? He plays punk rock? Never mind.

Something else a musician always loves to see under the tree is a CD-shaped package. What’s really funny is to take an empty CD case and put a job application inside. It’ll keep ‘em amused for hours!

If your musician plays live at all, a little LED light with a clip would be nice, to illuminate the PA onstage. It can be dark up there, especially if you’re playing a venue that has a decrepit, firetrap wiring system that bathes the stage in 25 watts of glorious fluorescent lighting. But I’m not naming any names (cough cough *union club* cough). I don’t know how many times I’ve accidentally turned my own guitar up when I thought I was turning up the other guy’s guitar. (Whoops! Hee-hee.)

Gift cards are another welcome present, and easy to lose. I mean use. Home Depot is a good one, as musicians are always building crazy shit like sound baffles for the home studio, an amp stand to raise that 4×12 cabinet to eardrum height for maximum bleedage, a two-by-four based roof rack for their ’64 Dodge Dart, or a six-foot, triple-chamber PVC pipe bong. You know, anything that facilitates delivering their music to the masses.

A gift card to iTunes is a no-brainer. He or she may not already own the newest release by William Shatner, or the soundtrack to the hit Broadway musical, “Yet Another Evening With Martin Short.”

There are a few book titles that may bring a smile to the demented grin of a musician. (Sorry about that sentence. Still on my first cup.) I really like the “For Dummies” books myself. “Ventriloquism for Dummies” could start a musician down a very interesting career path. “Reading for Dummies” is another popular volume. Might want to go with the audio book on that one.

One thing to keep in mind is that we musicians are famous for our short attention spans. So a magazine subscription might be a better way to go. I was downtown last week and I picked up a copy of something called “Crack Masters.” I thought it was a magazine about drugs, or maybe spackle-related issues. Boy was I wrong! So make sure you know what the musician’s interests are.

For a guitar player, it’s easy: Guitar World, Guitar Slinger, Guitar One, Guitarist, Guitaring With Guitars, and Turn Up That Guitar Mister! Magazine. I have a subscription to Guitar Player myself, mostly because I love to look at big color pictures of naked guitars. I tell Barb I enjoy it for the articles. She must wonder why it’s always in the bathroom.

Other magazines that might appeal to the musician on your list are Wine & Shotguns, Popular Pharmacy, Couch Surfer, Time(keeper), Maxim, American Riot Grrrrl, Underage Groupie, Sticky Bud Enthusiast, Spit Valve Digest, Basement Dweller, and Drunken Folkie.

And what musician wouldn’t be thrilled with a new instrument? You can be as generous as your budget will allow, going from a $3.00 Jew’s Harp (as seen on “It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas”) to a $30,000 grand piano (as seen on “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”). One thing to keep in mind, though, is that selecting a musical instrument is a highly personal choice, so you really need to do your homework. For example, if the musician on your gift list is a neck-tattooed, vodka-swilling, chain smoking heavy metal banshee, he might not really appreciate that Hello Kitty guitar strap. Or he might use it for rough sex. Your call.

So make sure you know all about your musician and his or her preference in musical instruments. Say, for instance, if you’re buying a guitar, he or she might like, oh, an American Fender Telecaster with Texas Special pickups, a maple fretboard, tobacco sunburst finish, 3-ply pick guard, all black hardware, jumbo frets, dual-action straplocks, strung with .010 gauge D’Addarios, and delivered in a classic Fender tweed case. You know, just for example.

The best gift of all, though, is something that will bring joy to anyone on your list, not just musicians. It’s a gift that will continue to bring happiness to the recipient long after the last of the wrapping paper has been tossed out, the batteries have died in the new toys, and the wayward pine needles have been vacuumed from living room floor.

Of course, I’m talking about my new CD, Off White Christmas, which can be purchased now at Missoula music stores like Rockin’ Rudy’s and Hastings, or on the website.

So there ya go — gift ideas for musicians of every type on your list. Merry Christmas and happy shopping. Now git!

*****************

Wanna laugh ’til your sides hurt? These ought to do the trick: Music Lessons for Your Kids and Other Ways to Waste Money, You Can’t Say That on the Radio, and Dial “M” for Mandolin.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blogarchive.

*****************

Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers.