Shopping for the perfect holiday gift for that special musician in your life can be a surprisingly difficult task. You’d think that anyone as gear-obsessed as they are would have a perfectly clear list of the latest must-have items ’round industry gossip circles, but all the options out there can feel paralyzing. Well, fear not! We’re here to help with our ultimate holiday gift list for the musician or music appreciator on your list.
But first, let me start off with a plug for our own Soundfly’s premium courses. Are you drowning in your loved one’s addiction to gear? Stop being part of the problem! Instead of more stuff, give them an experience that will help them use that gear to finally finish that musical masterpiece they’ve been putting off!
Get them the gift of a Soundfly subscription!
Surprise and Delight
Barbara Streisand Night Light and Prince Tree Topper — $27 and $39
We couldn’t decide between these two creepy and delightful offerings from Etsy vendor Kitsch Culture Canada. With light-up options ranging from the Spice Girls to Dolly Parton to Grace Jones to David Bowie, the whole shop is really worth a visit.
For that one friend who constantly — and I mean constantly — needs to be practicing, encourage their pursuit of the craft with this playable bathroom piano mat. It comes complete with a built-in speaker and a songbook for inspiration in those moments when you need a little help to loosen up — compositionally, of course.
Washboard Tie — $20
The natural evolution of the classic piano tie, this wearable and playable fashion statement is just what your one and only Zydeco-loving friend needs.
Wu-Tang Mad Libs — $5
Amazon reviewer Vanessa said it best: “There doesn’t need to be a review. It’s mad libs x wu tang. It’s perfection.”
Take your favorite song, sound, or voice and turn it into a T-shirt! This Etsy store will print custom sound waves on T-shirts, mugs, and more, but we’re actually pretty sold on some of their in-stock offerings, which include tracks from Cardi B, Post Malone, Kodak Black, and Kendrick Lamar.
Bowie changed outfits and characters more times throughout his career than any of us can even keep track of. Test your fellow bandmates’ memories of his famous outfits with coloring challenges to see who which one of you knows the Thin White Duke better than the rest with this embarrassingly enjoyable adult coloring book.
This music improv card and dice game offers the perfect set of constraints to help you get out of your own head and start creating. The cards feature compositional and improvisational prompts, and the three 12-sided die provide the notes you need to use in your creation. Use it on your own to bust through writers’ block, or shake up band practice and play with friends.
Brandnewnoise’s Wooden Boxes — $50-240
Brandnewnoise’s online store is actually an entire gift guide on its own. Their series of wooden box music makers are some of the quirkiest and most fun music toys out there. The Zoots is a thumb piano with recording functionality, a loop switch, pitch control, and an 1/8″ output. The charming Lil’ Mib is a countertop voice message box with pitch control. And the Frankie is is a monster-themed voice recorder with a built-in delay to get things sounding freaky.
Theremini — $319
I honestly don’t know anyone whose life would not be made better by having a theremin that looks like a space ship from the future.
Soundbrenner — $99
Ever wish you had a better natural sense of tempo and rhythm? Well, if you don’t want to put in the practice hours to get there, you can now fake it with a pulsing metronome watch! It’ll even sync with your DAW to help make your home recordings that much smoother.
Xaphoon Pocket Saxophone — $65
For the sexy sax man or lady in your life, this tiny instrument packs all the punch of a full-sized woodwind in a recorder-sized body. If you want to see the Xaphoon in action, this video is a delight.
For the Gearhead
Korg’s Volca Keys — $150
Korg’s Volca series is a great way to get into synths, and the Keys in particular makes the perfect entry synth for anyone comfortable using a piano keyboard. The Volca Keys features a 27-key keyboard and an analog sound engine to help you transition seamlessly from tickling the ivories to making “pew pew” laser sounds in no time. (And be sure to let your giftee know that we have a totally free series of courses on everything you need to know about synths to get up and running!)
Make Noise’s O-Coast — $499
This is a synth-heavy gift guide and we’re not making any apologies about it. When you’re ready to graduate to a more modular-style synth, this is a pretty cool little toy to play around with. This portable unit can be connected via MIDI to a keyboard or DAW, making it a really useful synth for touring electronic musicians.
Soundtoys 5 — $299 on sale from $499
This plug-in pack is a favorite of Soundfly Mentors and students alike. Combining all 21 of Soundtoys’ plug-ins into a single Effect Rack, Soundtoys 5 is like having a whole studio’s worth of gear in a single panel that will provide a full year’s worth of tinkering. If you don’t want to shell out for the full pack, though, Microshift and Echoboy each got specific shout-outs from Soundfly team members.
This cool-looking modular sampler can play samples you upload onto its microSD card, or record 8-bit samples using its internal microphone. In other words, it’s a completely playable granular synthesizer with a ton of exciting MIDI and audio functions. Give this to the most creative person you know.
Akai MKP Mini Play — $129
A staff favorite, the MPK Mini got an upgrade just in time for the holidays, with 128 sounds and speakers now built right in. Super lightweight and battery powered, this is a great gift for touring musicians.
Akai Fire — $199
This one is very specific to the FL Studio users out there. The Fire is the first dedicated hardware controller for FL Studio, and all the Fruity Loopers we know are very excited to get their hands on it.
Teenage Engineering’s Metal Pocket Operators — $89 each or $319 for a set of all three, along with cables and cases
The Pocket Operator is a perennial favorite for music lovers’ gift lists, and this year is no different. With their new “Metal” series, Teenage Engineering has added a vocal synth and sequencer (with built-in mic), a micro sampler, and a drum synth to their already awesome lineup of bite-sized music toys.
The “In Their Dreams” Presents
These speakers, which are newly both WiFi and Bluetooth enabled, are beautifully reimagined versions of Stig Carlsson’s 1970s classic OD-11, a.k.a. the “Carlsson Cube.” The speakers are designed according to Carlsson’s theory of “ortho acoustics” — which argued that speakers should be designed and tuned for the rooms they’d be used in, not for an acoustics lab. He angled his speakers within the box so that the sound intentionally travels in all directions, bouncing off furniture, walls, and ceilings. The sound is as lush as the price tag, though… these beauties will run you over a thousand dollars.
Moog One — $7999
If you’re considering proposing to a member of the Soundfly team, save your diamond money and bring home one of these babies instead. Each Moog One needs to be special ordered and is made by hand at the company’s factory in Asheville, NC. According to the company, the One is a “tri-timbral, polyphonic, analog dream-synth designed to inspire imagination, stimulate creativity, and unlock portals to vast new realms of sonic potential.” Swoon.
The Gift of Learning
If this list has inspired you to work on your own musical chops, join the Soundfly subscription! We just slashed the price of our annual subscription so that you now get 6 months FREE when you sign up. It now costs only $19/month for access to both all our premium, creative music courses, and our online Slack community of musicians where you can get feedback, ask questions, find collaborators, and get inspired!
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!