Searching for the perfect gift for the little in your life? Then check out Sweetwater’s guide to gear and gifts for young and fledgling music makers. Whether your youngster has some musical training or none at all, gifts in this list are guaranteed to fuel inspiration, feed creative appetites, and instill in your student what we hope is a lifetime of music appreciation and enjoyment.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones
Understanding sound is fundamental to a young person’s music and audio education. Audio-Technica’s flagship ATH-M50x headphones produce a flat, enjoyable soundstage courtesy of their closed-back design and supersized 45mm full-range drivers. Not only do they sound great, but their comfortable headband and modern white aesthetic mean your little music maker will love wearing these headphones at home and in public. Conveniences include a space-saving collapsible design, swivel earcups for one-off DJing and tracking applications, and a detachable (and more importantly, replaceable) cable — because, after all, kids will be kids.
Bose BOSEbuild Speaker Cube
File this one under “things we wish they made when we were kids.” Bose’s DIY speaker kit, BOSEbuild, walks your child through the physics of sound and the technology of a transducer, with extreme hands-on project building and a companion iOS app. All necessary cables and connectors are included. Once it’s assembled and tested, your young builder will have a real Bose Bluetooth speaker for daily music, podcast, and gaming consumption — one they’ll be thrilled to show off to all their friends. Customizable LED lights produce a spellbinding array of colors. Recommended for ages 8 and older.
BOSS Katana 50 Combo Guitar Amp
Whether your student plays electric or acoustic guitar, blues or shred, this 50-watt pint-sized powerhouse is sure to please. Onboard you’ll find five amp voices, a wide gain range, and 15 BOSS effects (from a bank of 55) just ripe for the plucking. Unlike others in its class, the Katana 50 features a 12″ full-range guitar speaker to yield traditional electric sounds to full-voice acoustic tones. Tweaky players can dive in and create custom patches or import artists’ presets using the free BOSS Tone Studio editor software. Though it’s got the horsepower to keep up with a club trio, this amp also features a direct output for silent practice, recording, and performance — which is invaluable when inspiration strikes late at night.
IK Multimedia Uno Synth Analog Synthesizer
If your youngster has expressed an interest in creative soundscaping, the Uno Synth is the simplest and most affordable entrée into the world of analog synthesis. Its dual-oscillator, all-analog audio path is sure to please fans of the fat bass and unwordly leads pioneered by the likes of Moog and Oberheim throughout the 1970s and ’80s. With 27 touch keypads, rather than traditional keys, the Uno Synth’s footprint is nice and tight. But onboard you’ll find 100 presets for instant inspiration and all the controls necessary — filter, envelope, LFO, tuning, and more — to dive in and get messy. MIDI ports allow the Uno Synth to be controlled from an external keyboard controller or sequencer. Power is delivered over USB or via four AA batteries (not included) for on-the-go or desktop use. A free IK software librarian is available for patch creation and set management.
Jackson JS22 Dinky Electric Guitar
Sonically and visually, the JS22 Dinky scratches an itch that traditional electrics have a hard time reaching in younger rock, metal, and fusion guitarists, all for an irresistible price. Its twin high-output humbuckers deliver endless punch and gain for everything from chordal crunch to laser beam leads. A blistering maple speed neck with compound-radius fingerboard, topped with Jackson’s iconic shark fin inlays, gives your student or child the agility and authority to keep up with their peers. A feature we like in the JS22 is its expressive 2-point trem system, capable of subtle texturizing to wicked dives and squeals. All finishes on this guitar look great, but we especially like the satin natural and black-on-black models.
Kala KA-15 Soprano Ukulele
The ukulele is fun to learn and fast to pick up. But more than that, it’s a complete music education — rhythm, melody, and harmony — unto itself. Your young learner will love writing songs and accompanying themselves on this tiny traditional island instrument. The KA-15 is built from tonally rich, instrument-grade mahogany and features modernized traditional appointments: including a Graph Tech nut and saddle for enhanced vibrational transfer (thus sustain) and stock Aquila Super Nylgut strings for long-lasting great performance.
Korg microKEY2 49-key Keyboard Controller
Virtual instruments are so good today that any player would be foolish to dismiss their power and versatility. And who has more time to dive in and learn the ins and outs of these robust tools than younger musicians? The microKEY2 49-key compact controller is reduced in size and streamlined in features. Just plug into your Mac/Windows laptop or iOS mobile device, instantiate your favorite VI (sold separately), and this compact controller provides everything a player needs to craft professional-grade compositions. At 49 keys (4 octaves) wide, the microKEY2 gives jazz players and traditional pianists access to those coveted spread voicings. Yet its compact size — just 27″ x 5.5″ — comfortably fits on a desk or workstation to control virtual instruments in a DAW environment. Keys have a quick organ-like action and short travel that’s suitable for speedy leads and even drum programming.
Martin Ed Sheeran ÷ Signature Acoustic-electric Guitar
Ed Sheeran may be the great equalizer of the music industry. Show us a person, young or old, who hasn’t shed a tear to “Perfect,” and we’ll show you someone who hasn’t truly experienced the transformative power of music. Onstage, Ed is as known for his tiny guitars as his winsome voice and thoughtful lyrics. His latest Divide Signature Little Martin, with its comfortably reduced scale length and full, punchy voice, is sure to awaken the soul and creativity in any young guitarist. Superb tonewoods and a soothing black-and-blue color scheme make this guitar a winner in our books. Onboard Fishman electronics ready this guitar for the stage and studio.
Roland TD-1DMK Electronic Drum Set
The TD-1DMK is easily one of the most feature-rich and competitively priced V-Drums kits we’ve seen. It has all the teaching tools a fledgling drummer needs to groove, fill, and play in time. And it’s packed with 15 ready-made kits to awaken an appreciation for rock, EDM, jazz, and more. Whisper-quiet tunable mesh heads that rebound like acoustic heads will prepare your student for any drumming medium. An extra-wide kick pad readies the TD-1DMK for double-kick pedals — an essential for heavier forms of music. And simple audio outs and USB over MIDI give your young player recording convenience and hands-on control over virtual drum libraries. Meanwhile, 15 included jam tracks and an 1/8″ auxiliary input ready this kit for quick jams and shareable drum covers.
Taylor GS Mini-e Bass
The GS Mini-e Bass’s shortened scale length, effortless playability, and enveloping unplugged tone make it the perfect starter instrument for any eager learner. A few moments’ experimentation is all your little Lemmy or wee Wooten will need to start exploring the neck carefree. The reduced sapele-on-spruce Grand Symphony body is full, punchy, and clear, with big bass notes to round out its sweetened top end. Onboard electronics give it a great direct tone into an amp or PA for bluegrass, folk, and acoustic sets.
Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator PO-35 Speak
The calculator-sized PO-35 Speak from Teenage Engineering encourages play and experimentation with its onboard drums, effects, and sampler engine. Users can punch in beats using the lower keys and integrated sequencer, then layer in their own samples — shouts, finger snaps, whistles, keyboard sounds, phone audio, and more — using the onboard microphone or 1/8″ input. Samples can be further manipulated using eight vocal effects, or even transposed and scaled to build melodies. Sampled audio is automatically quantized to time, giving each addition a professional polish. It’s all powered by two AAA batteries (not included) for on-the-go convenience.
Westone TRU Universal WM25 Full-frequency Earplugs
If you really want to invest in your kid’s musical career, protecting their hearing is critical. These Westone earplugs not only reduce unsafe listening levels to a manageable level, but they also manage to do so more or less evenly across the entire audible spectrum. The result is a “turned down” sound without the muffling effects and discomfort of lesser earplugs, allowing your musician to perform and enjoy concerts without the harmful effects on their ears. Each set includes several sizes of eartips to promote a custom fit, a cord for “stereo pairing,” and a carry case for protection and sanitation in transit.
Yamaha Pacifica PAC112J Electric Guitar
Based on what could be the best-selling guitar the world over, the Pacifica PAC112J offers a timeless quack and cluck that will be instantly recognizable to any young country, rock, or Texas blues fan. This guitar is sure to meet and exceed the needs of any beginning and intermediate player. A buttery-smooth maple “C” neck with real rosewood fingerboard — quite the commodity in lower-end guitars anymore — gives this S-style comfort, speed, and sustain up and down the neck. Meanwhile, a versatile trio of pickups, inset in an all-alder body, inject Texas twang, Hendrix howl, and Sunset Strip sugar directly into any amp. A high-output bridge humbucker with adjustable pole pieces and vintage-style tremolo system complete the package.
We hope you’ve discovered some great Sweetwater gifts for young and beginning players. If you have questions about any of these items, or if you need help choosing the perfect gift for your child or student, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Sweetwater Sales Engineer at (800) 222-4700.