Ukulele players have a very specific set of toys and goodies they might want for the holidays. If you’re not a part of the uke world (or maybe you’re just stumped), it can be confusing to choose something appropriate.
In this guide I’ll share some of my top picks for getting the uke player in your life a perfect gift.
Gifts Under $25
Pretty much every ukulele player already has a tuner. But an upgrade or different option (or even a spare) is always exciting.
The most classic ukulele tuner is probably the Snark ST-2. Great for general-purpose tuning.
Ukulele strings wear out over time. There are tons of options, but – as long as you get the right size – any pack of strings will be a fun, refreshing adventure and will give a uke a new flavor of sound.
Here are some tenor size strings to try (be sure to get the right size for your uke!):
- Aquila Nylgut – a classic, warm sound
- Martin fluorocarbon – a modern, bright sound
- D’Addario Nyltech – a round, warm sound
Tuning by ear is a fun challenge that a tuning fork will encourage. Set it ringing and then try to match the pitch with your uke!
Ukulele players will appreciate an A=440 tuning fork since it corresponds with the open A-string on the ukulele.
A strap helps support the uke while playing. There are several types that help hold the instrument in various ways.
A Uke Leash doesn’t require any strap buttons and is plug-and-play.
Other straps require strap buttons, which are drilled and screwed into the uke, but often provide more stability. Ernie Ball makes a classic, cheap, and light guitar-style strap that comes in many color options. There are also high-end leather straps and hand knitted versions you can find on Etsy for a more personalized gift.
A capo allows you to clamp down all the strings to a fret and instantly change the key using chord shapes you already know. It essentially raises the tuning.
Great for singers and playing with other instruments. It can also help with the understanding of transposing and keys.
I really like this one from Planet Waves.
Often an overlooked accessory, a safe place to set your ukulele down is a nice alternative to putting the uke back in a case.
Floor stands hold an ukulele upright on the floor or a tabletop. This one from On-Stage folds up for travel.
Wall mounted stands can serve dual purposes as a display piece and functional uke holder. I use a number of String Swing wall hangers for my video set (in the background):
Give the Gift of Learning!
The majority of my ebooks and video courses are under $25. They cover subjects from basic picking to advanced strumming technique.
*If you use the gift recipient’s email to register, they WILL receive a welcome email and receipt. Feel free to use your own email and then you or the new member can reach out at a later date to get it changed over.
Uke Gifts Under $100
DIY Ukulele Kit
If your favorite ukulele player is the crafty type, perhaps they would appreciate a chance to try their hand at building a uke!
This kit from StewMac is one of many available, but contains everything you need to build an instrument from start to finish. Some woodworking experience and tools are probably recommended.
All four main sizes available.
In-Person Lessons – The Gift That Keeps Giving
Ukulele lessons are a hard thing to justify spending your own money on. But as a gift you can encourage the structure and discipline of a good teacher.
Teachers often work in 4-week chunks of time – a great gift certificate timeframe. Be sure to get referrals and solicit recommendations before you commit.
If you can’t find a local teacher, Neal Chin, Matt Dahlberg, Aaron Crowell, Kevin Carroll, John Nash, and Bryan Tolentino do wonderful lessons via Skype/Facetime.
If your uke player performs and has a pickup in their uke, odds are an extra instrument cable would be much appreciated.
There are tons of cheap cable options but for something special, there’s nothing quite like a good Mogami cable. I’ve been using my first Mogami Gold for over a decade now with no problems.
They will last for many, many years. They’re not cheap, but with a lifetime warranty you can’t really go wrong. The 18′ length will work for almost any situation.
A metronome is a powerful practice tool that instills a more solid sense of rhythm.
There are lots of free apps you can get on your phone, but I like having a dedicated unit like the BOSS Dr. Beat DB-30.
Recording yourself playing has never been easier, but it helps to have an external mic to capture the clearest sound.
A USB mic like the Blue Yeti Nano makes it really simple to plug into your computer and capture clear sound.
Gear Gift Card
If you’re looking for a gift for a performing musician or a hobbyist who loves playing with pedals and amps, it can be hard to know what they need.
Sweetwater carries such a huge selection of live sound and recording gear that it will be easy for anybody to find something awesome to spend a gift card on. This is what I want for Christmas! ;-)
Remember that material things are just material things. The greater gift is human connection, which is what music does best.
For me, a song is the most special gift somebody could give! And songs are free for the taking. Just reach out and grab it!