Something for the late-in-life guitarist, or a goof present?
June 12, 2018 10:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a second-to-last-minute father's day gift ideas for my dad, a late-in-life guitarist who likes Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and ZZ Top, to name three top picks for him. Alternatively, I'd take suggestions for a goofy present, like a life-size Shrek cardboard cut-out, but smaller and cheaper.

My dad started taking guitar lessons, so something for a new guitarist would be nice, particularly for someone into a range of classic rock sounds and bands. I don't play guitar, so I'm at a loss as to what a new player would even use or appreciate (I'm thinking of calling his guitar teacher to ask some questions, but I thought I'd query the hive-mind first), so my thoughts were more to the fun-to-silly end of things, like a Bob Dylan or ZZ Top bobblehead ... except they don't seem to exist. A good bio is also appreciated, as he really liked a bio of The Boss.

Otherwise, I'd take a strange or odd gift, less "gag gift" and more "unexpected thing." A life-size cardboard cutout of someone random is fun, but more expensive and larger than I'd really want to get him, because 1) that particular joke has already been pulled, and 2) one only has so much room for large goofy gifts.

Either way, I'm looking between $20 and $50 (more on the low end for less serious items, higher for something quality), probably via Amazon Prime because I don't have much time to ship it to him. Thanks!
posted by filthy light thief to Shopping (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One final thought: I mentioned Buckethead to my dad as a fun artist to name-drop with his guitar teacher, who is younger than he is, so I'll also add an unexpected guitar-related inspiration (including music) to the list of possibilities.

Oh, and Wayne's World. Also favorite.

Thanks again!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:47 PM on June 12, 2018

How about a Hal Leonard ZZ Top guitar tablature songbook with instructional DVD? It's $33 US, so in your range.

It lists "La Grange" as one of the songs on the DVD, and it's an easy chord progression and a good groove to learn that can be immediately satisfying!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:05 PM on June 12, 2018

Don't know how much guitar equipment he has already bought, but how about:
-a nice guitar strap
-a guitar stand or hanging hook
-guitar picks with fun designs?
-strings (D'Addarios are a popular choice)
-songbooks for music by your dad's favorite musicians
-posters of guitar chords

(other equipment that he might already have or not need:)
-a digital clip-on tuner
-a capo
-a guitar chord stamp

Of the above, I'd say the strap or stand are the ones that come in varying degrees of fanciness and customizability. You could combine a few items and make a special occasion package out of it.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 12:14 AM on June 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

If it weren't last-minute I'd propose getting a freelance graphic artist or someone with similar skills to mock up a rock concert poster or album cover or something like that featuring your dad.
posted by XMLicious at 12:14 AM on June 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I was thinking you could photoshop a picture of him (and another person maybe) onto a classic Rolling Stone cover, and get it framed.
posted by rollick at 4:09 AM on June 13, 2018

What about a guitar pick punch?
posted by machinecraig at 4:21 AM on June 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

I clicked through to suggest the pick punch. For a casual player it's a lot of fun to make picks out of anything. But if he has strong preferences about what kind of pick he likes (hi, right here), it won't get much use (plus a credit card pick shreds to pieces pretty quickly).

A clip-on tuner is also a great idea and an improvement from the standard kind (for me).

Depending on his rig, he might appreciate one of the many cheap and surprisingly good pedals that Joyo makes. Their "Vintage Overdrive" is a shockingly good $30 Tube Screamer clone, and the "Ultimate Drive" does a hell of a job at a thick Marshall-y overdrive. Unless he's gone full-on with the gear straight away, either is probably an upgrade (or at least a different flavor) from his practice amp's built-in. (They also make lots of other effects that can be fun, of course.)
posted by uncleozzy at 4:54 AM on June 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

ZZ Top is on tour this summer. Will they be near your dad?
posted by COD at 4:59 AM on June 13, 2018

Look at (sorry, not good with links). Lots of options. Timely shipping might be a challenge.
posted by John Borrowman at 5:43 AM on June 13, 2018

Does he like to read? If he does get him Springsteen's autobiography Born to Run.
posted by mareli at 5:57 AM on June 13, 2018

If he's interesting in working on finger/hand/wrist/grip strength as part of his playing, you could get him something like a gripmaster or a gyroscopic wrist exerciser.
posted by terretu at 6:01 AM on June 13, 2018

More of a curveball but if he enjoys Buckethead, Lord of the Harvest (the collab album he did with Bootsy Collins in the early 90s) is weird and good in equal measure.
posted by terretu at 6:03 AM on June 13, 2018

mandolin conspiracy: How about a Hal Leonard ZZ Top guitar tablature songbook with instructional DVD?

Thanks! It's also on Amazon, so it fits my requirements this time around.

And thanks to everyone else for good suggestions, which I'll file away for later.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:56 AM on June 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

ZZ Top beard.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:30 AM on June 13, 2018

Hercules GS414B Guitar Stand.

Everybody loves using this thing!
posted by artdrectr at 7:50 AM on June 13, 2018

The recent book Why Bob Dylan Matters is eccentric; you can probably tell from the reviews on Goodreads if it's something your father would be into.
posted by BibiRose at 8:21 AM on June 13, 2018

Introduce him to Bevis Frond.
posted by flabdablet at 8:30 AM on June 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Get him a Shubb capo.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:52 AM on June 13, 2018

Bob Dylan is a good choice for beginning guitarists since most are very familiar with his songs, they are usually in a singable key and the chords are easy. This book is one of my favorites.
posted by jabo at 10:16 AM on June 13, 2018

This guitar shaped pizza cutter? Or double your fun by adding the flying-v cheese grater!
posted by ZipRibbons at 1:14 PM on June 13, 2018

The Boss DS-1 is the classic rock guitar pedal, and runs about fifty bucks.
posted by whuppy at 3:04 PM on June 13, 2018

Hi filthy light thief - I wrote something for this thread a couple of days ago, but couldn't post it because MeFi errored out for me at the time. So, while I know this is now resolved for you (yay), I'll leave the comment here in case it helps in the future.


A little off on a tangent: Since you mentioned Dylan and Springsteen: harmonica holder and a harmonica (if your father doesn't have it/them already). It has been years since I shopped for harmonicas but if the advice from years back still applies, then a Hohner Special 20 or Marine Band model were common recommendations for beginners. Key of C or G should be fine to start, unless your father has a preferred key for the songs he might play with a harmonica. If you want to stay strictly in budget you could spring for a better harmonica and get a cheaper holder.

For more practical: if he plays electric, I highly recommend a heavy duty neoprene guitar strap. His back will thank you. I like the Neotech Mega strap. It seems it was recently redesigned but I *think* the reviews are about the change in the bass guitar strap dimensions -- if so, it shouldn't matter too much if using with guitar.

Another suggestion if he plays electric: an effects box! I usually prefer to invest in standalone effects pedals but if he's not likely to buy a bunch of individual pedals or some of the more expensive boards, then he might have fun with something like this Behringer V-Tone guitar amp modeler/DI box as an intro; it fits within your budget. It produces a lot of different sounds for an inexpensive model (it's in a plastic case, rather than metal; totally fine for casual use). YouTube has a number of videos that demo the various sounds you can get from it.

More inexpensive and still practical: a string winder for changing strings. There are various types -- if you'll pardon a link to a separate AskMe, I wrote more about the type of string winder I recommend over yonder (about halfway down the comment). And although that thread's about gifts for a teenage guitarist, you might find some more suggestions there too.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 10:37 PM on June 14, 2018

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