Mixdown’s Instrument Gift Guide – Part Two

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Mixdown’s Instrument Gift Guide – Part Two

Words by Mixdown Staff

Our picks for all the best guitars and other instruments to get these holidays.

It’s that time of year already, where did the year go? We say that every year don’t we, but it’s suddenly the festive season 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 gifts to keep your eyes peeled for.

If you’re planning to make these holidays one to remember, there’s nothing that beats the experience of receiving a brand new instrument. Whether you’re after a travel-sized guitar for a beginner, a new bass, a saxophone or even something totally different, we’ve put together a guide to all the best musical instruments to consider in-store or online this month – dive in!

If you’re interested in any of these products, enquire to the respective distributor for pricing!

Peterson StroboClip HD Clip-On Strobe Tuner

Distributed by: Amber Technology.

Recommended for: Obviously guitarists, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t utilise the Peterson StroboClip HD Clip-On Strobe Tuner on a cello, violin, mandolin or even an Oud or any other kind of pitched or stringed instrument.

Features: With 50 sweetened tunings and alternate temperaments to suit an array of string and wind instruments, Peterson’s HD Clip On Strobe Tuner sets a high benchmark for the clip on tuner market. The rotating strobe allows you to tune your instruments within +/- 0.1 centimetre – which equates to 1/1000th of a fret, which is incredibly accurate for a tuner of any kind, let alone a clip-on tuner. If you’re picky about pitch, then this is the tuner for you.

The ‘Sustain’ mode, which holds the display of your tuning image for three seconds, is also suitable for tuning instruments with a short decay, such as banjos or ukuleles.

The soft rubber-lined jaws provide a nice snug grip on your headstock while protecting your instrument’s finish while simultaneously providing maximum signal tracking for optimum tuning performance.

Overall: Everyone needs a tuner and it’s often said that once you go Strobe, you never go back to Chromatic. Peterson’s Strobos HD Clip on Tuner is the quickest and simplest method of getting your strobe on while keeping your stringed friends singing like a choirboy from hell. 

Find out more.

Chateau Chenonceau CAS-80 Alto Saxophone

Distributed by: KJ Music.

Recommended for: Jazz cats, orchestral types, serious saxophonists.

Features: One of Chateau’s more premium offerings, the limited edition Chenonceau 80 is beautifully crafted and machined, following a specialised process in which each instrument stays with one of Chateau’s master craftsmen from beginning to end, thus eschewing the kind of line assemblage so prevalent in the instrument making business. Rest assured the level of TLC and quality control on these instruments is second to none.

This also means however, the construction process can be quite time consuming so numbers are limited. Best to get in quick!

Boasting a high quality chassis made of 85 per cent copper, complete with a luxuriant full body engraving on the body adding a sense of regal class to proceedings. Mother of pearl finger buttons are another classy touch, keeping your fingers cool and comfy for whenever you decide to take it for a walk!

Internally, the Chenonceau CAS-80 Alto also boasts the ever-reliable Pisoni pro pads to prevent air leakage, and Italian blued steel springs, thus ensuring attentive responsiveness from note to note.

It also comes with a zippered backpack case, a mouthpiece, ligature, and cap.

Overall: This Alto sax will be the perfect gift for the intermediate saxophonist in your life or anyone looking to invest in a quality, durable instrument that will give you plenty of joy for years to come. Its luxurious aesthetic matches its terrific sound quality, boasting great response from low to high and excellent intonation, all to go with its impressive durability.

Find out more.

Black Mountain Ring Slide

Distributed by: Amber Technology.

Recommended for: Slide guitarists, those complaining about bulky and loose slides! 

Features: The Black Mountain BMSR-50 Steel Slide Ring features a spring fit that keeps the slide securely on the finger, giving the normal feel of the slide and allowing the slide to be used at any time in between. The spring clamps the slide around the player’s finger, creating a perfect balance between comfort and stability, fitting comfortably on any size finger with small, regular, or extra large options. 

A common problem with slide rings is that there isn’t enough weight so the Black Mountain Slide Ring has an egg shape with extra mass on the top of the finger to add that weight. 50 grams of metal, depending on the size, offers as much weight as a bulkier and looser slide.

Meant to be worn on the middle segment of your middle finger, the Black Mountain ring slide enables you to take full advantage of being able to play normally with four fingers, but with the option to play both conventional voicings or slide run, depending on the intended effect.

Given its unique shape and the interesting resonances it brings with it, the Black Mountain is an awesome gift for any slide completists out there, or for anybody looking for an array of textures from which to draw from. 

The Black Mountain BMSR-50 Steel Slide Ring is the ultimate slide guitar companion for guitarists with fingers of any size! It’s stylish and affordable, featuring two arm colours of red and black.

Overall: The perfect engagement ring, if your engagement is playing slide guitar.

Find out more.

Numark Mixstream Pro

Distributed by: Electric Factory.

Recommended for: DJ’s, DJ enthusiasts, music streaming gurus, DJ party fanatics.

Features: The Mixstream Pro packs in the features both on top and under the hood. Immediately noticeable are the two 6” touch sensitive scratch wheels, which feature outside edge pitch bend control when nudged. The 7” hi definition touch screen gives crystal clear visual feedback and quick menu diving. A full suite of pro effects is included in the middle section including echo, flanger, delay and phaser, as well as dedicated filter knobs for each channel. Effective three band EQ as well as gain control is also included per channel. Performance pads control four unique modes including cue, saved loop, auto loop and roll function and when pressed a second time an additional 4 additional performance slots are made available. The built-in monitors are specifically designed for effective personal monitoring, great for smaller gigs or events, potentially alleviating the need to lug around another PA speaker to a gig. Connectivity is plentiful and includes balanced XLR outputs, unbalanced RCA outputs, 1/4″ and 1/8” headphone outputs as well as a 1/4” mic input with a variable gain pot. 

Overall: Mixstream Pro strikes the ultimate balance of professional features with intuitive functionality for an all-round DJ experience. The hardware is easy to use, nicely laid out and boasts modern features under the hood. A 3-month subscription for compatible streaming services gets owners off to a flying start and clearly stamps its place, ready for users in 2021 and beyond. 

Find out more.

Cort CAP810

Distributed by: Dynamic Music.

Recommended for: Introductory guitarists, trailblazers.

Features: The Cort CAP810 Trailblazer Acoustic Guitar Pack is the ideal starter pack for the beginner guitarist. It includes Cort’s popular & well made AD810 dreadnought acoustic guitar, gig bag, picks, a strap, and digital guitar tuner.

Cort’s ‘Standard Series’ defines superb performance and value for the money. The Standard Series guitars are affordable but offer good solid performance for beginners and hobbyists alike in a variety of models with different types of features for any playing situation. The AD810 boasts a spruce top providing an ideal balance between strength and flexibility, the mahogany back and sides gives it that bright yet natural strong and warm midrange, with a merbau fingerboard, and advanced X-bracing.

The 25.3” scale length contains 20 frets and dot inlays, with a high-quality coating on the strings boasting humidity, dirt, and sweat resistance for long string life and improved playability. 

The gig bag allows your budding guitarist to transport their guitar safely and efficiently between their lessons or between their jam sessions once they indulge in all the fun they can provide. 

The strap is a nice touch so they can show off their newly-learnt song in the lounge room (remember, no ‘Stairway’), with the digital tuner saving everyone’s ears with its ease of use for beginners!

Overall: The Cort CAP810 Trailblazer Acoustic Guitar Pack is the ideal starter pack for the beginner guitarist with its handy inclusions of a gig bag, a strap, picks, and a digital tuner.

Find out more.

Warwick Professional Guitar & Bass Maintenance Tool Set

Distributed by: Amber Technology.

Recommended for: Gigging guitarists and bassists, more frequent guitar and bass players.

Features: The Warwick Professional Guitar and Bass Maintenance Tool Set comes stacked with all the necessities in a compact and easy-to-handle 90x50mm compartment to take with you to your gig, jam session, studio session, or to keep tucked away neatly on your coffee table!

The pack features a 60ml spray bottle of guitar and polish cleaner for cleaning, polishing, moistening, flavoring, maintenance, and strengthening the depths of the colour tone of wood. Made from natural ingredients it contains liquid silicone oil and natural orange oil with the latter acting as a natural cleanser and nourishing the wood. A polishing cloth will also be provided.

The pack will also boast a string winder and cutter for the on-the-fly repairs if required, along with a Rock’n Ruler string action gauge by Framus and Warwick for setting string action, neck relief, and string spacing.

Overall: Guitar and Bass Maintenance is an absolute non negotiable, which is what makes The Warwick Professional Guitar and Bass Maintenance Tool Set such an awesome stocking stuffer that the guitarist or bassist in your life will find use for a lot more than you think. There is something for every player in this pack from cleaning, to repairs, to adjustments, you can’t go wrong with this set!

Find out more.

UDO Audio Super 6 Synthesiser

Distributed by: Innovative Music.

Recommended for: Experimental synthesists, Sound Designers.

Features: Classically styled but with a forward thing th Super 6 is an instrument that is borne of a long-held passion for synthesisers and is somewhat reminiscent of the classic polyphonic Juno and CS units from the ’80s, boasting a rich sound with plenty of knobs, faders and buttons to interact with each parameter. Where it differs is in it’s crazy binaural routing abilities, perfect for Sound designers or those with an ear of the eccentric. 

Featuring 12-voice polyphony, this stereo analogue-hybrid synthesiser features a true stereo signal path in which the instrument’s 12 voices are then twinned to form six ‘super’ stereo voices. I guess that accounts for the name choice?

The sound engine of the Super 6 is also based around a state of the art hybrid FPGA platform with analogue voices, utilising 7-core super-wavetable oscillator with ‘Waveform Download’ as its main oscillator while a second DDS oscillator offers FM, sync, X-Fade, and sub-oscillator modes. 

Parameters for both channels of each super voice may be independently controlled, allowing the player to create rich and unique stereo images. The effect ranges from subtle to extreme stereo movement, creating an enhanced sense of spatial positioning relative to “conventional” monaural signal-chains panned at their output.

Overall: UDO Audio’s Super 6 synthesiser is perfect for the experienced or budding synthesist in your life with an interface that is easy to read and navigate around once you get a feel for it. 

Think hyper-modern versatility and scopy, with an irresistibly cool retro sheen, and you’re in the ballpark.

Find out more.

Blipblox After Dark Synthesiser

Distributed by: Koala Audio.

Recommended for: Synth kid virtuosos, those with a synth loving inner child, Bop It nostalgists .

Features: Easy to use tactile controls safe for ages 3+ plus professional sounds to boot, the Blipblox After Dark Synthesizer is less of a toy and more of a legit synth, which the whole family can enjoy. Packed full of controls we’d expect, users can explore the 300 preset melodies packed inside, or alternatively dive right into crafting unique sounds. The two levers control tempo and filter, with sixteen oscillator modulation schemes (including wavetable synthesis) available, as well as two envelope generators and 2 LFOs. 

Adjustable multi-tap delay is also available, adding some time based depth and dimension to sounds if desired, whilst the hundred plus kick and snare samples are pitch adjustable. Stepping into pro synth land, 5-pin MIDI input port allows for keyboard, drum machine or DAW connectivity and a 1/4 inch output jack means you can connect the Blipblox to a speaker or PA if the built-in speaker just isn’t quite cutting it. 

Overall: Whilst it might present itself as a bit of a gimmick, the Blipbox After Dark is by no means a toy, but rather an impressive little synth.Its hands on tactility is great for the kids it’s clearly aimed at, but is also harnessed with features that even the most avid of synth heads will surely be impressed by. Perfect for living vicariously through your techno-offspring, or even integrating it into your own set up, for those looking for a left of center synth to keep the chin strokers engaged. Merry Christmas fam! 

Find out more.

Martin Luxe Contour Pick

Distributed by: Electric Factory.

Recommended for: Martin guitar enthusiasts, plectrum aficionados, lavish accessory lovers.

Features: A fancy pick indeed, the Martin ‘Luxe’ Contour Pick is by no means just your average plectrum. Designed and manufactured in-house by the same folks that bring us some of the world’s finest acoustic guitars, this luxury pick features an asymmetrical design, which appears slightly flared and wider at the top, not unlike a bass pick. The precision-machined contour bevels pair nicely with the polymer chosen for this lavish plectrum, bearing exceptional resistance to wear and warping, provides lower friction on the string, a pristine attack, reduced pick noise, and tone for days. The beautiful Martin logo all adoring fans know and love has been meticulously etched upon the front, providing additional grip (accompanying the carefully designed grip on the back) and a professional feel and look. Being a 1.0mm thickness, there’s a fine balance of flex and rigidity, feeling well balanced in the fingers and ready for long playing sessions. To complete the package, a pouch and pick tin are included. A perfect gift for any adoring Martin guitar owner or for those who appreciate luxurious guitar accessories. 

Overall: Whilst it might seem a little over board, there are certainly many who will appreciate the finesse and attention to detail that’s gone into this pick design and are sure to enjoy longer than average playing and enjoyment. The pouch and pick tin are a welcomed treat and complete this neat little accessory package nicely.   

Find out more.

Artiphon Instrument 1

Distributed by: Koala Audio.

Recommended for: Experimentalists, sliders, strummers, tappers, tweakers, lonesome travellers

Features: MIDI/audio connectivity, a 12 fret fingerboard with a total of 78 note locations, built-in arpeggiator, built-in capo are just a handful of features the Artiphon Instrument 1 has to offer. Not simply a MIDI controller, The Artiphon Instrument 1 is a tactile instrument that connects its user closer to their chosen virtual instrument, offering the ability to play a chosen software instrument in seemingly endless amounts of ways. String bends, hammer on/off just like one would on a guitar is easy and accurate, being able to strum, pluck, slide or tap for a variety of playing styles. Pressure-sensitivity makes modulating effects a breeze, even after you’ve triggered a note. Whether you’re a left or right handed player doesn’t matter as the orientation of the instrument is automatically registered or can be locked into either mode if desired. For those on the road, battery life can last a solid 4-6 hours (at 50% volume) and the built-in speakers make jamming possible, and the analogue 1/8“ headphone and microphone jack make for simple yet effective connectivity. Four factory presets for drums, guitar, piano and violin make getting started easy, with a further four customizable presets are available too. Being iOS, Mac and Windows compatible is great and can be used in Ableton and Logic Pro X with ease. 

Overall: Whilst at a glance, the Artiphon Instrument 1 may appear somewhat gimmicky, but in reality it offers up some real world production tactility, with an array of playing style versatility, with room for experimentation and DAW connectivity and useful virtual instrument control. 

Find out more.

Check out print edition #318 for our full gift guide!