The Best Musician Gift List You'll Ever Come Across

Yes, you read that right. If you're gift shopping for an absolute geek of a musician, you've come to the right place. As a non-musician, shopping for music nerds can be a serious challenge. There's an entire world of gear and tools that musicians drool over, but if you're not familiar with the craft, it can be hard to even figure out where to start. Or, perhaps you do know where to start, but you're not shopping for your run-of-the-mill musician. They've already got a loop pedal, and a reverb pedal, and a delay pedal, and a distortion pedal. You would get them a keyboard, but it probably wouldn't do anything better than the one they already have. If you buy them a digital VST plugin, they'll tell you they torrented that one last week. Yes, yes, we've heard it all before.


What you need is no ordinary gift list -- you need the obscure, the complex, the fantastic. Well, here it is: the ultimate gift list for musicians who think they already have it all. While it may not be long, this list has gifts for all kinds of musicians, from guitarists, to pianists, to bedroom producers. You'll also find options for budgets of all sizes, but all of the gifts on this list will impress their recipient all the same.


1. Roland TR-08

To start off the list, we're naming an innovative remake of a classic drum machine: The Roland TR-08. This is a professional piece of gear, so it's on the pricier end as far as gifts go, but you can find one between $300 and $350 new or used.


Roland has been an industry-leader and a key component in the evolution of electronic music since the 1970's, introducing countless sequencers, drum machines, and synthesizers that have literally shaped the path of pop music over the decades. The company even played a role in the development of MIDI, the universal digital music language that is implemented in almost every single piece of electronic music gear made to this day.


With so much under their belt, it's a challenge to say what Roland's most iconic release has been. However, we'd argue that it's the TR-808 rhythm composer. This drum machine practically introduced a new genre of electronic drum beats and is featured in everything from Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak to Talking Head's Psycho Killer. Gifting a TR-808 would be mind-blowing for any music nerd, but like all vintage music gear, you'd be hard-pressed to come across one in good shape, and you'd better be prepared to fully empty your wallet.


Instead, get the next best thing: a TR-08. This is a miniature version of the 808 that sounds identical to the original and is fitted with all of the same controls. This portable drum machine can be battery powered and has all the charm of its vintage counterpart while still delivering the same boomy kicks and sizzling snares that we've come to know and love.


2. Hologram Electronics Dream Sequence Pedal

This one is for the guitar pedal lovers. If you don't know much about pedals, it can be difficult to understand the difference between them, and why some guitarists need to use ten at once. Allow us to break the knowledge barrier. This is a great option for guitar players who seemingly have every pedal in existence, because they probably don't have one that sounds like the Dream Sequence.


Hologram Electronics offers a humble but incredibly unique pedal line. Their pedals are designed for guitarists looking for something different and unexpected. Musicians who love experimental genres like new metal, noise rock, shoegaze, and psychedelic rock will fall in love with Hologram Electronics products.


Dream Sequence is the most affordable of the Hologram Electronics pedals, running at $250-$350. This programmable rhythm and octave pedal uses sequencing, pitch shifting, and envelope shaping to create totally unique distortion patterns and endless sounds to discover. With a digitally-controlled analog drive and tone and a rhythmic gate with dynamic ADSR shaping, guitarists can spend hours exploring the unique effects possible with the Dream Sequence.


3. ROLI Seaboard Block

If you're looking for a versatile option for music producers and electronic or digital musicians, the ROLI Seaboard Block is destined to be a hit. ROLI is changing the game of MIDI controllers with their innovative MIDI polyphonic expression (MPE) keywave controllers. The Seaboard line features controllers that function like a typical keyboard, but with added expression control that allows for multidimensional adjustment of digital sounds. This allows musicians to play digital instruments more like acoustic instruments.


ROLI is considered top-of-the-line in terms of MPE controllers, so their products can come with a hefty price tag. The Seaboard Block is designed to make this innovative technology more accessible; it's a compact 24-note controller that costs around $300-$400. While it doesn't have all of the same features as the larger Seaboards, it's a great introduction to MPE and a unique piece of gear for any electronic musician.


4. Mooer Mod Factory MKII Pedal

Finally, we move on to some more affordable products that can still find their way to a special place in a musician's heart. This Mooer guitar pedal features a whopping eleven award-winning effect modulations and can be purchased for $40-$50.


Mooer came into the gear industry in 2010 and has played a major role in supplying home-grown studios ever since, bringing highly capable and pro-sounding effects pedals and other products in small, affordable packages. Mooer pedals are not only one of the best affordable alternatives to big name pedal makers, but in many cases their products are directly based on the circuit architecture and functionality of more expensive pedals.


In fact, any number of Mooer products would make for a great gift, so check out their other effects pedals, multi-effects units, audio interfaces, wah pedals, or even amplifiers. In addition to a wide variety of guitar effect pedals, they have some unique loopers and drum machine pedals.


5. Source Audio Hot Hand 3

Experimental guitar and bass players will probably already be familiar with Source Audio. They are responsible for some of the most advanced guitar effects units to hit the market in recent years. However, we're not talking about pedals with the Hot Hand 3. We're talking about something much more unique.


Hot Hand 3 is a wireless universal effects controller that is designed to work with all kinds of electronic gear, from synthesizers, to sequencers, to workstations, and even some guitar pedals. Any piece of equipment that has a quarter-inch stereo expression input is compatible with Hot Hand 3. So, what is it? Well, it's an expression controller. And it's a piece of jewelry. Stay with us.


Slide the Hot Hand 3 on like a ring and wave your hand around in the air to watch musical magic unfold before you. The Hot Hand can be set to control any effect parameter, just as an expression pedal would. The only difference is that instead of adjusting the effect with a pedal, Hot Hand translates motion into a dynamic and precise expression signal. You can literally control sounds with a wave of a finger, like a musical wizard from the future. This product offers a completely unique experience to playing music that any musician is sure to appreciate, and you can get one for under $100.


6. Onkyo IE-FC300 High Fidelity Earbuds

This is a failsafe gift option for any musician or music producer. Most musicians take their headphones seriously, and for good reason. When it comes to sound design and song composition, accurate audio playback is of the utmost importance. If you have spent hundreds of dollars on gear and pedals, you want to be able to fully hear the sounds that they are producing, so you need a pair of headphones that doesn't hold you back.


Now, when it comes to high fidelity headphones, bigger is usually better. In fact, if you try to gift an audio engineer a pair of earbuds, they may giggle. But you should urge them to take a second look at the Onkyo IE-FC300's. These earbuds feature 14.3 mm high performance drivers for a crystal clear dynamic range with deep, powerful bass and detailed treble.


Onkyo is a long trusted company in the world of hi-fi speakers, so they brought the best technology in the industry to these in-ear monitors. Whether or not they can replace a pair of professional over-ear studio monitor headphones is debatable, but any musician will be impressed by this lightweight and comfortable alternative if they want a break from bulky headphones or for on-the-go use. We stock these Onkyo earbuds here at Selby for only $149.


7. Otamatone

If you're not already impressed with the number of unique products on this list, this one takes the cake for the most niche -- and perhaps the most impractical. Whether or not they actually find a good use for it, any musician is bound to fall in love with the Otamatone almost instantly. This tiny creature-like product serves not only as an instrument, but takes on the role of a musical friend.


Otamatone is a small ribbon synth encased in silicone that takes the shape of a musical eighth-note -- or maybe a tadpole. Its name comes from the Japanese word for the latter. Users can play Otamatone by sliding their finger along the neck and squeezing the creature's mouth (gently, please) to add a wah-wah effect. The electronic tones that ensue make for one interesting jam session. This endearing, one-of-a-kind instrument is the perfect gift for any playful creative, and will cost you $40 or less.


8. Reverb Gift Card

Now, we know that there is no possible chance anyone made it through this entire list and didn't find a suitable gift option. But, for the sake of the argument, let's say you did. Or maybe you want to let the musician choose the right piece of gear for them, but you don't just want to hand them a wad of cash. This one's for you.


This is the musician's version of a cop-out gift, or as we like to call it, the do-it-yourself gift. If you haven't heard of Reverb before, it's an online marketplace for all things related to music gear. In other words, the gear-head's eBay. A Reverb gift card is a great way to tell a musician that you understand what they want, but not quite enough to get it for them. Perfect for the picky pedal addict or the overeducated synth geek. Sometimes, giving the freedom to choose is the best gift of all.


Need Cables? We Got 'Em


Many of the gifts on this list require various cables to be powered and connect to other gear. If you want to give a truly unforgettable gift, you should make sure that your recipient can plug it in and start using it right away. When you buy a product new it will probably come with all the related cables, but shopping used is a different story, and there's nothing worse than feeling the excitement of opening a brand new drum machine or MIDI controller only to realize that you need to go buy a cable before you can use it.


So, make sure you have all the necessary cables, and if you don't, check our selection here at Selby. Cables also make a great bonus gift for active musicians, as they are the bread and butter of the craft. If you're looking for a quick stocking stuffer, we point you in the direction of MIDI cables, 1/4" and XLR audio cables, and USB cables.