Eugene Weekly : Gift Guide : 11.23.11

Eugene Weekly’s 2011 Gift Guide

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Great holiday gifts for musicians of all skill levels

Musical gifts have a reputation for being expensive, once used and quickly discarded. This simply isn’t true. Sure, you might not want to go out this winter and buy a baby grand before you’re certain the recipient is 100 percent serious about becoming a lifelong pianist. But there are options that come at a much lower price, and they aren’t hard to find.

A spirited hop, skip and jump down to 11th and Ferry will get you face to face with the Buy and Sell Center, or if you’re a little further west, try McKenzie River Music on 11th and Washington. Musical knick-knacks are never in short supply, and they’re greatly appreciated by all musicians, from veterans to musicians-to-be.

Try a handmade Guatemalan guitar strap on for size. The Buy and Sell Center is stocked up with these beauties; they’re comfortable, adjustable and the stitch work on each is completely unique. Running you $36, it’s slightly pricier than your typical cheap-o strap, but distinction and quality are definitely something to be revered. Think of these as that crusty holiday sweater you love to wear and everyone loves to see you in.

It’s often forgotten that capos are awesome, and they can greatly expand the limitations of any fretted instrument. Kyser makes a great, low-priced beginning capo that will fit any fretted instrument with ease. Kysers go for $24, and the chances of you ever needing a nicer capo are pretty low. As cliché as it sounds, this is a gift that can actually last a lifetime if proper care is taken.

Chromatic Snark Tuners are some of the best I’ve ever come across. With a light up screen and a simple interface, they make the accurate tuning of stringed instruments a hell of a lot easier. The clamp mechanism means that it’s really difficult to misplace, too. This’ll run you $16 and it’s unlikely to break unless you decide to go Pete Townshend on the thing.

If you want to go balls to the wall and find a really basic beginning guitar, it’s not going to be cheap. But if you’ve got a case of heart-set-on-guitar on your hands — and the magic of Christmas has you feeling generous — you can typically pick one up for a little over $100. At Buy and Sell they’ve got Austin AA25Ds, which are pretty sweet considering they typically cost $125. They play nicely and are easy to learn on.

You’ll probably want to keep that guitar safe, by the way: Used hard cases are normally super cheap, but you don’t want your instrument landing in the snow (or puddles, as the case may be) because the hinges are coming apart. A reasonable quality protective case is $40 at Buy and Sell, and it’s worth the investment. Cold and damp is bad for instruments; warm and encased is good.

Happy Holidays and happy playing!  

Buy and Sell Center is located at 410 East 11th Avenue, more info at; McKenzie River Music is located at 455 West 11th Avenue, more info at

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