Mixdown’s 2020 Christmas Gift Guide: Accessories

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Mixdown’s 2020 Christmas Gift Guide: Accessories

Words by Mixdown Staff

All the best accessories to buy this festive period.

Ho ho ho – where did the year go? All of a sudden, the festive season has snuck up onto us once again, and if you’re anything like us here at Mixdown, there’s a good chance that you’re probably incredibly disorganised.

To prevent you from having to endure the agony of Michael Bublé churning out another frostbitten rendition of a Christmas carol down the aisles of your local department store, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide of all the hottest musical gifts to keep your eyes peeled for this festive season.

If you’re on the hunt for a last-minute stocking filler, you can’t ever knock an accessory. Be it an instrument lead, book, capo, power supply, strings, hats and beyond, we’ve got something for everything in this year’s accessory gift guide.

Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers

Distributed by: Ableton | Enquire for pricing

Recommended for: Those in need of some creative production inspiration or who require an esteemed hardback on their coffee table. 

Features: There’s an infinite amount of resources that cover all the technical elements of music creation, ala how to use a compressor, EQ a vocal, create a send and return for a reverb or side chain and kick and bass, but few (if any) such resources cover the actual process of making music. In Dennis DeSantis’ “Making Music – 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers”, the delicate, often frustrating and sometime even intimidating process music creation is thoughtfully broken down, where problems (or roadblocks) are presented, and accompanying solutions or patterns are laid out to help overcome these creative barricades.

This can vary from the starting of a project, bringing organisation to piles of existing material or providing solutions in completing a project. What can be quite elusive concepts, Dennis breaks down in a clear and concise way, coming from decades of experience, learning and music creation.

Primarily aimed at musicians making music electronically with machines, this book provides real life scenarios that all musicians will be relate to in some way or another, opening up the conversation and delivering solutions for when the creative juices dry up and need a serious shake up!   

Overall: A well thought out, detailed and solution based read that is both informative and inspiring. A book for all musicians, but especially those who create electronically. Who doesn’t need a hardback to impress the guests with?

Markbass Strings 

Distributed by: CMC Music | Expect to pay: From $69.95

Recommended for: Adventurous bassists looking to experiment with the different techniques and tones afforded by a fresh set of strings.

Features: Markbass continue to expand into the broader world of musical instruments with a range of Markbass Strings. With an assortment of nickel-plated, stainless steel, round-wound, flat-wound and nylon strings available in a range of gauges for four, five and six string basses, it’s suffice to say that Markbass have well and truly got all basses covered – pardon the pun. 

The eco-friendly Longevo series will appeal to players who dig the feel and lifespan of nano-film shielded strings, while the ever-reliable Groove series provides an optimum solution for bassists hunting the warmth provided by nickel. Meanwhile, the bright-sounding Energy series is extremely resistant to corrosion, and for bassists who prefer a soft feel and touch, the nickel Ultimate series and stainless steel Advanced series will be be a perfect pairing.

For something a bit different, Markbass also offer the Balanced series, designed in conjunction with bassist Paolo “Pi” Costa to combine nickel and steel for an amazing tonal balance. If you’re after a classic tone, the Vintage series flatwounds will be right up your alley, and there’s even nylon sets for double basses.

Overall: With so many different options on offer and a price-tag that’s near impossible to say no to, you really can’t go wrong with anything from the Markbass bass string range.

Kyser Quick-Change Capo Neon Collection 

Distributed by: CMC Music | Expect to pay: $44.95

Recommended for: Need we explain? A capo should be a gig bag essential for any guitarist, especially those who need to quickly transpose a song in lightning speed.

Features: If you’ve ever had the pleasure – or misfortune – of playing guitar, then there’s a fair chance you’re already acquainted with the humble Kyser Quick-Change. Assembled in the company’s factory in Texas, these capos are considered to be the industry standard for electric and acoustic players alike, providing both optimum performance and sheer simplicity. 

To celebrate the festive season, Kyser have produced a collectable new range of Quick-Change capos dubbed the Neon Collection, with four luminescent colours to choose from. Players can now pick from Yellow, Green, Pink and Orange variants, putting a unique twist on the tried-and-true capo you all know and love.

In operation, these capos are a pure joy to use. Contrary to other units which are overly stiff, buzzy or require two hands to operate, the Kyser Quick-Change is swift and simple to use. The classic trigger action ensures that a one-handed grip is all you need to open and close its rubber-padded clamps around your fretboard, and the ergonomic design makes it all too easy to move up and down the neck of your instrument without causing grief. 

Overall: You know them, you love them – now, you can get them in a wild palate of colours! The Kyser Quick-Change Capo is a classic for good reason, and these special Neon units are just the epitome of cool.

Klotz Cables 

Expect to pay: CMC Music | Expect to pay: From $35.95

Recommended for: Anyone. These cables are the real deal, and once you replace your old worn out instrument leads with a Klotz, I can guarantee you’ll hear the difference. 

Features: Klotz, the self-proclaimed ‘signal masters’, are considered as royalty within the world of cabling. Of course, this mightn’t sound like much to the average punter, but most musicians who’ve been fortunate enough to use a Klotz will speak volumes of their sensational quality. These instrument cables are constructed in Germany using premium components and enhanced shielding to minimise signal interference, providing an ultra-clean, ultra-quiet sound for use in the studio or onstage.

For those who like a bit of variety, there’s a broad range of Klotz cables on the market to suit different applications and budgets, starting from the entry-level KIK and 59er variants and going all the way up to the premium quality La Grange and Titanium Walnut leads. The range also features a signature guitar lead for virtuoso Joe Bonamassa for instrumentalists who pride themselves on their tonal clarity, while the ProArtist lead provides a solid middle ground for the average punter.

Each lead in the Klotz range is flexible enough to withstand all the wear and tear of a live performance, with a range of straight and right-angled jacks being present across the range to suit different guitar and bass types.

Overall: It’s a small and rather dull investment, but once you’ve had a Klotz in your life, you’ll never look back.

Ernie Ball Accessories 

Distributed by: CMC Music | Expect to pay: From $9.95 

Recommended for: Anyone and everyone – even your non-musical mates will surely find a purpose for Ernie Ball’s range of accessories. 

Features: When Christmas comes a knocking and you’re in the market for some little goodies to bust out on the big day, who do you call? Ernie Ball of course! With their huge range of accessories, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes down to the wire during the last-minute rush, with a bevy of picks, strings, cables, straps, capos and much more proving to be the perfect stocking stuffer for this silly season. 

Ernie Ball are world famous for their guitar strings, and their Slinky range will cater for any kind of guitar or bass player, be they specialising funk, punk, country or anything in between. Similarly, Ernie Ball’s nylon straps have been long considered an industry standard, and their wide range of picks – from the standard Everlast style to the jazzy non-slip Prodigy plectrums – are also in the same boat. 

For something a bit different, the Axis Capo is a contemporary offering to suit electric and acoustic guitars alike, and their cables are pretty tidy too. There’s even a range of guitar maintenance products, patches and badges to choose from, and if you’re so inclined, Ernie Ball’s range of effects pedals are pretty damn good too.

Overall: For last-minute gift ideas, Ernie Ball’s range of musical knick-knacks will be sure to put a smile on the dial of any musician these holidays. 

1 Spot 9V Power Adapter

Distributed by: EGM Distribution | Expect to pay: $54.99

Recommended for: Electric Wizards, Pedal lovers, the Utilitarian in all of us.

Features:  With a reputation for whisper quiet performance, bombproof build quality and with the ability to convert international voltage automatically (without the aid of a transformer), the classic 1 Spot 9v power adapter is in a league of its own, being the perfect stocking filler for anybody who likes their music electrified (which is basically everyone). 

Featuring a reinforced power cable, 1U footprint and with a triple-filtered output for clean daisy chaining, the 1 Spot is anything but your generic power supply, providing good clean power to your synths, pedals and more. There’s always room for another one of these bad boys in your kit, whether you’re in the studio, onstage or even just running pedals in your bedroom.

Overall:  A wise man once said, ‘you can never have too many power supplies’, and this more than rings true, especially when they can boast the kind of sound quality and impressive trickbag as the classic 1 Spot 9v.

Sturdy, functional and useful as anything, the 1 Spot 9v power adaptor is the kind of gift that will never disappoint. Designer socks and jocks for the MI/Audio world, these are an essential for anybody even remotely serious about their (musical) rig.

1 Spot 9V Power Supply Combo Pack 

Distributed by: EGM Distribution | Expect to pay: $89.99 

Recommended for: Guitar players, Accessories lovers, Power hungry hounds, 9V supply backup bandits.

Features: It’s Friday night, the band room is packed full of adoring fans, waiting in fervent anticipation for you to walk out on stage and strike the first chord. Pedalboards are flashing impatiently as you reassure yourself that “everything looks good; the pedalboard hasn’t let me down before.” As you grace the stage, the once furiously flashing pedals slowly begin to fade to black. 

If ever there was a time to have a 1 Spot 9V power supply Combo Pack on hand, it would be a scenario such as this. Not only packing the industry standard 1 spot 9V supply, this combo pack has a wealth of nifty accessories including a multi plug 8-way cable chain for connection of up to 8 pedals (with potential to daisy chain more if required), two battery clip converters, two 3.5mm converters and a L6 converter for any Line 6 modelling pedals in your pedal chain.

The 1 Spot provides a whopping 1700mAs of power, more than enough juice to power most pedalboards entirely on its own. And the best part of all, the 1 Spot’s automatic voltage converter allows those touring around the globe (not this year sadly) to simply plug and play, no need for a separate voltage converter here folks. 

Overall: A no brainer accessory pack for every guitarist. 

Truetone 1 Spot Pro 12 Multi Voltage Power Supply

Distributed by: EGM Distribution | Expect to Pay: $449

Recommended for: Stompbox Fanatics, Pedal Wizards, Shoegazers.

Features: Power is a vital component to electrified music and carrying multiple power supplies around is no fun at all. Thankfully the legends at Truetone are back with an affordable, versatile power brick for the modern instrumentalist or audio buff.

Featuring 12 isolated outputs for buzz free, clean power, and with five switchable voltages (only clocking up more in the way of versatility points), the Truetone 1 Spot Pro 12 Multi Voltage Power Supply is the all purpose solution to your power needs. 

Just when you think it can’t get any more handy, they go and include mounting brackets that allow the Truetone 1 Spot Pro 12 to fit Pedaltrain branded pedalboards-allowing for easily while on tour. What more could you ever need? 

Overall: Handy is the name of the game for this years gift guide and the Truetone 1 Spot Pro 12 Multi Voltage Power Supply might just be the handiest of the lot.

With 12 isolated high quality outputs all boasting Truetone famous circuitry, any gearhead/musician worth their salt would be stoked to see this one under the tree.

Voodoo Labs Dingus ¼” Feed-Thru

Distributed by: EGM Distribution | Expect to pay: $79.95

Recommended for: Anyone who owns a Voodoo Lab Dingbat pedalboard who wants to integrate easy-access audio cable connectivity for mono and stereo setups onto their board.

Features: The Voodoo Lab Dingbat pedalboard is one of the most popular boards on the market today, with its nifty dimensions, solid construction, light weight and sweet looks helping to highlight its formidable reputation. As easy as it may be to use, any musician can agree that there’s always a way to make things easier, and Voodoo Labs know this all too well, creating the Dingus ¼” Feed-Thru to offer a perfect pairing with the Dingbat pedalboard. 

In a nutshell, the Dingus ¼” Feed-Thru can be connected to your pedalboard to help streamline the connection between your amp, pedals and guitar. It’s an add-on that provides both mono and stereo connections, and can be easily mounted underneath your Dingbat pedalboard courtesy of pre-drilled holes on the left and right of the unit for sheer convenience.

The Dingus works with both mono and stereo TRS connections, and can be used alone or combined with other Dingus units for more complex routing configurations should you please. Obviously, it’s not the most exciting piece of kit, but any certified pedal head can spout the benefits of employing such a setup – it really, really does makes a difference. 

Overall: An all-too-useful utility for Dingbat pedalboard users, the Voodoo Lab Dingus will work wonders for your pedalboard workflow. 

Ulbrick Music Systems – NRS Model 1

Distributed by: EGM Distribution | Expect to Pay: $249

Recommended for: Single coilers, Hum haters, Noise suppressors, Tone purists

Features: There’s nothing like the sweet, delicate, yet screaming tone of the single coil pick up from a Fender Strat, Tele or other such delectable single coil guitar. But with such dulcet tones dripping from ones’ finger tips there comes an inevitable trade off, noise.

This, for as long as most of us can remember made for a continual headache, with very few, if any real solutions that didn’t involve serious overhaul, complete pickup replacement (ah, we think not!) or without hindering that single coil magic. 

That was of course before electronics wizard, guitar tech, handcrafted amp builder and musician Dave Ulbrick defied the laws of electronics and brought the world the NRS Model 1.

An un-intrusive, easy to install (guitar tech and/or soldering experience recommended) and marvellously simple device, the NRS Model 1 effectively eliminates single coil noise and hum for good, all while retaining all the tones of those beloved single coil pickups without having to rip the guts out of any guitar of which it is installed. Sorry Newton, guess the Laws of Motion just don’t apply here.   

Overall: If ever there was an elegant, effective and simple solution to solve those noisy single coil woes, it is without doubt the Ulbrick NRS Model 1. For those sporting a single coil guitar, ala Strat, Tele, Jag and alike, this is indeed the perfect gift. Wail on friends! 

Fender Scrambled Eggs Hat

Distributed by: Fender Music Australia | RRP: $45 

Recommended for: Fender devotees, cap lovers, truckers, high ranking officers.

Features: Oh captain my captain, prepare for a scrambling as Fender sail in with the “scrambled eggs” hat sure to impress with its “high-ranking” emblem and classic American styled badging. Boasting the Fender “West Coast” patch up front, “scrambled eggs” patched bill and yellow cord stretched across the bill.

This definitive Otto trucker hat is an absolute standout and must have for Fender fans, lovers of a classic trucker cap or those who hold reverence to the “scrambled eggs” insignia. There’s never been a better time to deck out one’s noggin in true Fender style.

Overall: A quality Fender accessory that barks authority and leaves no doubt of who’s in charge. A must wear for playing battleships.

Soundbrenner Pulse

Distributed by: Innovative Music | Expect to Pay: $199

Recommended for: Those who want to feel the rhythm without an intrusive click in the ear. 

Features: Probably one of the most exciting and innovative music tools to come out in recent times, the Soundbrenner Pulse is a smart, vibrating metronome watch that allows musicians to feel the rhythm they set, without the annoyance of a metronome click causing one’s ears to bleed. 

The 7G ERM vibrating motor keeps the vibrating pulse precise through the Haptic Driver, a new patented technology for more precision and accuracy with each vibration. Double tapping the front face plays and stops the metronome, whilst three taps enters tap tempo mode, with the watch instantly picking up on the set tempo. For more precise adjustments turning the wheel left and right dials in the exact tempo required. 

The “Companion” app allows for more exact user requirements. Here one can change time signature, sub division, varying intensity of accents and more, and with the ability to save all the settings, making changes quick and easy. Change the LED colours or turn them off completely in discrete mode. 

Where things get even more pro is Soundbrenner DAW tools, allowing the Soundbrenner Pulse to integrate with any DAW for seamless integration with live sessions. What’s more, multi player synchronization allowing multiple Soundbrenner Pulses to be connected and synced to one device, allowing for all members of an ensemble to feel and play to the same rhythmic pulse simultaneously. 

Overall: A truly innovative and thoroughly thought out bit of kit that is designed by musicians for musicians. 

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