Mixdown's 2018 Christmas Gift Guide: Assorted Gear

A Mixed Stocking

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The nights are getting warmer, Michael Buble is hitting the charts, and musicians are bracing themselves for a month of ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ covers. With Christmas almost upon us, it’s time to start searching stores for the ultimate present to give, which isn’t always an easy task. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with our Christmas Gift Guide to help you find the perfect gift for the musicians in your life.

CIOKS Schizophrenic Link

 

Distributed by: Amber Technology

Expect to Pay: $269

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Any serious pedalhead with a power-hungry board, particularly those with vintage stompboxes that need the extra voltage.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

In the admittedly limited world of small power supply units, it doesn’t really get more versatile than the Schizophrenic Link. Packing six isolated outlets in 9V, 12V and 18V, the Link also offers the extraordinary ability to reconfigure the outlets. The first two 9V outlets can be set to 18V, the last two can be set to 12V, while all six can be set to give you a regular ol’ 9V DC.

 

USABILITY:

CIOKS hasn’t made this unit for sound technicians; this is for the player who needs cable economy in a simple compact chassis. Hyper-accurate LED monitors of each outlet keep you in the know, a simple black switch on the bottom configures the voltage, while an all-inclusive package leaves you with nine flex cables and pedalboard mounting hardware out of the box.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

A modest black chassis houses the mighty power of this small unit. Weighing just a kilo and measuring 130x88x39mm, the Link will slot into your board like it was meant to be there all along.

 

OVERALL:

CIOKS have created a workhorse power supply in a shockingly affordable package.

 

Warwick Guitar Maintenance Kit

 

Distributed by: Amber Technology

Expect to Pay: $69

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Literally anyone – grubby guitars aren’t very rock ‘n’ roll.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

Warwick’s Guitar Maintenance Kit is an absolutely essential stocking filler for the regularly gigging musician. The string cutters and winder make restringing a cinch when you’re in a pinch, while the citrus-based cleaning solution will make your guitar glisten like it’s brand new again.

 

USABILITY:

Pretty straightforward here – just spray, wipe, wind, snip, and swivel until your axe looks as good as you’d want to hope it sounds. The naturally-based spray works a treat on both acoustic and electric instruments, so you won’t need to worry about damaging your guitar’s finish at all. It’s also always nice to have multiple hex keys on standby at all times.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Unlike some other guitar maintenance kits, everything packed into the Warwick Guitar Maintenance Kit is pretty high quality, and I liked how compact and durable the leather case for the kit felt. Slip this bad boy into your gig bag, and you’re good to go.

 

OVERALL:

It’s super important to maintain the quality and overall looks of your guitar, and Warwick have bundled everything you need to perform essential adjustments on your instrument into this kit. This one’s definitely a worthy stocking filler.

 

TC Electronic Polytune 2 Clip


 

Distributed by: Amber Technology
Expect to Pay: $109

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Performers who want lightning-fast onstage tuning.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

Without sounding too hyperbolic, the Polytune Clip is the clip-on tuner of the future. The Clip accommodates three primary modes of tuning, these being standard chromatic, polyphonic and stroboscopic. In case you’re hazy on what polyphonic tuning entails, this means being able to tune all six string strings at once – just strum and tune to the stroboscopic needle on screen, and you’ll be set within seconds.

 

USABILITY:

The Clip is more intuitive than some humans, automatically switching between monophonic and polyphonic tuning off your playing, changing orientation as you move it about and holding all of your settings within internal memory, even after a power outage. Not to mention the ultra-bright 108-LED matrix display means rain, shine, darkness or tornadoes will not stop you from accurately reading the display.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

As described by the modest manufacturers themselves, the Clip is the ultimate collision of beauty and brains. Say goodbye to the ugly maximalist chunk of your old clip-on, and say hello to a Blade Runner-esque work of art. The elegant black, minimal stainless steel clip is highly durable and pocket-sized.

 

OVERALL:

The Polytune Clip is a superlative stocking stuffer that you or your musician relative will both use and adore. It’s beautiful, ultra-functional and affordable.

 

Ernie Ball Braided Cables

 

Distributed by: CMC Music

Expect to Pay: $63.95

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Gigging players looking for a noise-free cable to last a career of use.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

Sheer clarity was Ernie Ball’s aim for their braided range of cable, which successfully offers reliably clear tone with crisp highs, tight mids, and rich harmonics via their unique dual conductors. Nasty handling noise is also largely eliminated, with multiple shielding materials present to keep your signal intact.

 

USABILITY:

The design memo at Ernie Ball HQ may well have read “give ‘em enough rope” because the braided cable certainly does have enough, for any purpose, at 7.62 metres. It’s highly durable rope too, as the braided jacket exterior guards against all kinds of gig conditions.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

The Ernie Ball braided cable sports a fair amount of stylish swank with its braided jacket exterior, available in a myriad of colours including a garish gold. The dual stranded 16-gauge conductors significantly reduce background noise (something also used in the brand’s microphones) and yield an ultra-clear tone.  Of the two bog-standard TS Male connectors, one is ¼ right angle.

 

OVERALL:

Leads become an annual expense of hundreds of dollars when purchasing entry-level options. Ernie Ball’s braided cables are a sensible option for long-term practical use.

 

Ernie Ball Jacquard Guitar Straps

 

Distributed by: CMC Music

Expect to Pay: $49.95

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Those looking to build an image that will last with a stylish and sturdy guitar strap.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The straps will attach themselves to any guitar or bass you wish. A huge range of intricate Jacquard patterns offers plenty of room for individualism, and without cliche too. Our picks are the Vintage Weave and the Morning Blossom.

 

USABILITY:

There’s nothing complex here. Just hook your chosen strap onto the guitar and use the basic belt wrap to extend the length to your desired pose. The polypropylene material makes this a highly durable as well as comfortable strap, ripe to take any stage beating.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Ball’s range boasts the title of the world’s number one polypropylene guitar strap and we’re not here to prove them wrong – the 41-72 inch strap will not stretch. The aesthetics are stunning, with embroidered leather ends and more comfortable polypropylene webbing.

 

OVERALL:

A guitar strap is a statement, and one all players make. Ernie Ball offer a compellingly beautiful range of these statements.

 

Ernie Ball Paradigm Bonus Pack Strings

 

Distributed by: CMC Music

Expect to pay: $35.95

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Whammy-hounds, known tremolo pick string abusers, and those who simply want ultra-durable strings without tonal sacrifice.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

By all accounts, Paradigm strings have overcome the blunt tonality that plagues durability-focused strings, offering a bright sound even after weeks of playing. Importantly, they resemble the perennially excellent Slinky strings Ernie Ball are known for, across all gauges.

 

USABILITY:

Mixdown’s review of Paradigm strings from earlier this year highlighted its most quintessential strength; they are utterly unbreakable. There is not a single bend, daring low tuning or tremolo-induced tremor that has been able to snap these bad boys. If you don’t believe us, there are plenty of videos floating around the net of guitar players admirably trying and failing to break Ernie Ball’s promise.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Jettisoning traditional string-stressing lock twist for Ernie Ball’s Reinforced Plain String (RPS) tech, plus ultra fine grain strings result in a staggering 35 percent more tensile strength and 70 percent more fatigue strength. The Everlast Plasma process scours the string for defects and bolsters against corrosion, without the string coating that is traditionally the source of tone loss.

 

OVERALL:

Ernie Ball’s Paradigm strings are simply the Slinkys you know and love, with added highly engineered durability at no loss to tone. The Bonus Pack deal of buy-two-get-one-free is too good to pass up this Christmas.

 

Ernie Ball Power Peg


 

Distributed by: CMC Music

Expect to Pay: $49.95

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Those with little patience for restringing, looking for an efficient do-it-all tool.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The peg head on the Ernie Ball Power Peg fits (virtually) all bass, acoustic, and electric guitar tuning machines, meaning you’ll be the toast of the venue if you bring one along. Ernie Ball claims the Power Peg winds 70 percent faster than traditional manual pegwinders, which is a game-changer for metal players who regularly destroy strings with high intensity playing.

 

USABILITY:

The Power Peg is powered by four AA batteries, which review consensus says is good enough for months of consistent use. The gun tool is trigger operated, with its universal proprietary head making tuning especially simple. You don’t even have to switch anything in between bass or guitar, if you find yourself doing a mass restringing of your instrument collection.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

It’s small and uncomplicated with its single trigger, featuring a fluoro head and handle to safeguard against losing it in the pitch-black of a frantic side stage. Certainly beats frankly terrifying DIY models using repurposed power drills long favoured in musician circles.

 

OVERALL:

Unless you find a lengthy restring meditative, most of us are rejoicing in the arrival of the Power Peg, a simple tool to speed up the most basic level of guitar maintenance.

 

Gruv Gear Club Bag

 

Distributed by: CMC Music

Expect to Pay: $315

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Jet-setting tour musicians who want to be able to take their gear and accessories on the plane efficiently.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

Gruv Gear is a premium lifestyle accessories company that understands the actual needs of musicians via extensive research. The Club Bag exemplifies this, offering unparalleled transportability for a laptop, headphones, pedals, cables, mini PAs, and pretty much anything within a 20 litre capacity. In layman’s terms, it will all fit under an airplane seat – we’re not kidding.

 

USABILITY:

The bag is hyper space-efficient and is designed to be hyper ergonomic, without placing undue strain on your back. None of your valuable tech will get bashed around, thanks to the bag’s freestanding, fully-padded construction. The organisation of the pockets is intuitive too, with insertable Bento shelves and drawers to boot.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

The rugged weatherproof 1680D ballistic nylon shell of the Club Bag manages to be impenetrable without being ugly or uncomfortable and weighing a measly 2.7kg. Genuine leather trim and a rather garish honeycomb interior render it basically fashionable.

 

OVERALL:

Travelling musicians with gear galore often find themselves scattering tidbits in awkward pockets, or letting them float in luggage. The Club Bag is just the reasonable, well-designed answer we should have all had years ago.

 

Klotz KIK Cables

 

Distributed by: CMC Music

Expect to Pay: $27.95

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Guitar players looking for a high quality lead that does justice to their tone.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The German manufacturers are kings of the lead game, and their signature KIK cables are their pièce de résistance, offering a sheer, transparent sound with a low capacitance of 115pF. This works for all players, especially those who mostly play clean or use a lightly overdriven sound.

 

USABILITY:

At risk of pointing out the obvious, the KIK cables are plug-and-play. Offered with straight or angled jacks, lengths of 1m, 3m, 4.5m and 6m depending on your preference, this is easy to practise or play live with.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

An effective bare copper spiral shield with conducive plastic is coated by a PVC jacket to make the KIK very hardy. The cable and connector are bonded using a special solder/crimp technique patented by Klotz, ensuring this connection is practically indestructible.

 

OVERALL:

Be kind to your wallet and your tone and buy a KIK cable for Christmas – you won’t need another lead for years.

 

Roadie 2 Tuner


 

Distributed by: Sound & Music
Expect to Pay: $209

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Perfect for guitar technicians, gigging musicians and just about anyone else who has to restring their guitar. Basically, it’s the perfect gift for the guitarist who has almost everything.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

The Roadie 2 picks up the note from vibrations through the guitar’s machine head while tuning. It doesn’t need any sound to achieve this, so an electric can be tuned quietly, whilst unplugged.

 

USABILITY:

It’s really simple. You don’t even need to know what notes the guitar is tuned to, as the Roadie 2 does all the work. Place it over the machine head, pluck the string and it automatically adjusts the tuning of that string. Then, move on to the next string.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

It’s plastic, but that doesn't mean it isn't solidly built. Helpfully, you don’t need batteries for this device as it is charged via USB, doing away with frustrating battery replacement.

 

OVERALL:

This device makes it all too easy to be in tune. The Roadie 2 is a similar concept to some of those ‘robot’ style guitars, except it doesn't cost the earth and can be used with any guitar you own. In all, a very clever idea.

 

Vinyl Me, Please Gift Membership

 

 

Distributed by: Vinyl Me, Please

Expect to Pay: From $133

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Anyone who appreciates a quality vinyl record.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

Vinyl Me, Please offers three, six and 12-month subscriptions, where recipients will be treated to an LP (designed exclusively for Vinyl Me, Please) delivered to their door each month. The service caters to listeners of all genres, offering the choice of three distinct tracks: Essentials, Classics and Rap & Hip-Hop.

 

USABILITY:

It’s the ultimate no-fuss solution for vinyl collectors. Gift recipients will be shipped a curated special edition record each month or can choose from more than 50 titles to suit their unique taste. Best of all, each membership offers a special bonus record to add further intrigue to any collector’s library.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

It’s as easy as selecting your preferred subscription length, choosing your track, and accepting praise for giving the vinyl enthusiast in your life the best gift they could hope for.

 

OVERALL:

Save yourself the hours of trawling through markets and second-hand stalls; Vinyl Me, Please will grow your collection with no trouble at all. Who wouldn’t want an exclusive LP arriving on their doorstep each month?

 

Line 6 Relay G10 Wireless System


 

Distributed by: Yamaha Music Australia
Expect to Pay: $279

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Players who need a fix-it-all solution to be freed from the tyranny of guitar cables in an uncomplicated wireless guitar package.

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

We’re long past worrying about loss of sound quality when it comes to wireless guitar systems. The Relay G10 produces unimpeachably clear, frequency-agile, multiple-redundant, 24-bit digital audio. The ¼ transmitter works with pretty much all guitar types too, and will switch between instruments hassle-free.

 

USABILITY:

Usability was often what held most wireless guitar systems back in the past, but not here, as the G10 is almost as intuitive as an instrument cable. Simply plug in the transmitter and the receiver will automatically find the best channel. The transmitter is rechargeable via a simple charge dock, providing eight hours of play-time before conking out.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

All components of the G10 relay system are ultra-compact, and fit easily within a travel bag. The receiver dock is a simple black chassis, with the Line 6 label on top.

 

OVERALL:

Wireless guitar systems are no longer the domain of the rockstar; they’re within reach for you and your pub band with the Relay G10, with sheer ease of use, versatility and transportability.

 

Electronic Music Inventor Kit

 

Distributed by: littleBits

Expect to Pay: $179.95

 

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Creative kids (and adults who are young at heart).

 

SOUND/VERSATILITY:

This has to be one of the most versatile products you’ll and, given its ability to morph into whatever instrument you desire. The Electronic Music Inventor Kit allows users to customise a set of electronic building blocks, creating everything from a synth-guitar to hands-free air drums.

 

USABILITY:

The Inventor Kit is simple to put together and an enjoyable experience for kids and parents alike. It’s a refreshingly educational, yet simultaneously entertaining gift to give this Christmas, bringing imagination to life through tools that allow a child to invent the musical world they want to live in.

 

CONSTRUCTION:

Budding inventors can build their instrument of choice from a selection of materials, including an accelerometer, micro sequencer, synth speaker, keyboard, and proximity sensor. Instructions are easily accessible via the littleBits app to help you start creating right away.

 

OVERALL:

If you’re looking for a truly unique gift to inspire creativity this Christmas, the littleBits Electronic Music Inventor Kit could be the perfect choice.

 

Mixdown's Christmas Gift Guide 

Amps

Drums 

Guitars 

Headphones

Keys & Synths

Microphones

Pedals

Studio Gear

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