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The best guitar gifts for Christmas 2016

Squier Affinity Telecaster in Competition Orange

It's Halloween Day 2016, and you know what that means. The time has come to get your Christmas shopping done now. Why? To avoid being the fool that didn't shop early and miss out on stuff while it was still in stock.

I thought about what to feature here, and figured the best thing to do is show off the classic designs for the low and high price ranges.

But before I get into that...

Quick link for those that want an all-in-one beginner pack right now...

...my pick for that this year is the Orange Guitar Pack:

Orange Guitar Pack

This, like other guitar packs, comes with everything you need to plug in and go. Guitar, amp, tuner, pick, gig bag, and so on. Everything comes in one easy-to-gift-wrap box. Very convenient.

This is the absolute easiest solution if buying for a beginner, whether the beginner is a child or an adult.

Now on to the guitar-only choices.

Stratocaster

Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster in Vintage Blonde
Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster in Vintage Blonde

Fender American Special Stratocaster in Sonic Blue
Fender American Special Stratocaster in Sonic Blue

The Squier is the lower price and the Fender is the higher price, however neither is at the extreme end of the price spectrum (the Squier model is not the cheapest nor is the Fender the most expensive model).

These two Strats have what I believe capture Strat vibe better than most other models. Both are "workhorse" style guitars that are easy to set up, easy to play, have great feeling necks and pickup sets with real "bite" to them.

Telecaster

Squier Affinity Telecaster in Competition Orange
Squier Affinity Telecaster in Competition Orange

Fender American Standard Telecaster in Natural
Fender American Standard Telecaster in Natural

Again, the Squier is the lower price and the Fender the higher price, but this time a bit different.

The Squier here is the one shown at top, and the lowest-priced model offered, but definitely in a cool color. And I can honestly say it does play well.

The Fender is the standard American model, but for the moment comes in a very nice natural finish with one of the best Telecaster headstock logo treatments I've ever seen. It's a very "woody" Tele but it just looks fantastic and the hardware it comes with is amazing.

Les Paul

Epiphone Les Paul Special I P90 in TV Yellow
Epiphone Les Paul Special I P90 in TV Yellow

Gibson USA Les Paul Studio in Vintage Sunburst
Gibson USA Les Paul Studio in Vintage Sunburst

On the low end is the Epiphone and yes, the TV Yellow finish is back! This guitar is typically offered in 3 colors, and the TV Yellow version is by far the best of the lot. It's a diffused/dulled finish, but still a great look, and those P90 pickups absolutely sing.

On the mid end is a Gibson Les Paul Studio. This is the kind of Les Paul players appreciate the most. No "robot tuners", no signature on the headstock, and a plain but elegant "Studio" on the truss rod cover. Also, the vintage sunburst finish - which does not appear that often - is something you can stare at for days. This is complemented with the tried-and-true pickup combo of 490R neck and 498T bridge pickup. In other words, yes it has "the tone".

SG

Epiphone G-400 in Cherry
Epiphone G-400 SG PRO in Cherry

Gibson USA SG Standard in Vintage Sunburst
Gibson USA SG Standard in Vintage Sunburst

Both these SG guitars deliver some serious goods. The Epiphone features AlNiCo magnet pickups with coil tapping and a "fast" neck, the Gibson has yet again an amazing vintage sunburst finish and comes loaded with a '57 Classic pickup for the neck and a '57 Classic Plus for the bridge.

Both guitars, thankfully, receive the full proper trapezoid inlay treatment and "pineapple" inlay in the headstock. With either guitar, you've got a winner.

V shape

ESP LTD V-50 in Black
ESP LTD V-50 in Black

Gibson USA Flying V Pro 2016 T in Wine Red
Gibson Flying V Pro 2016 T in Wine Red

Where a V shape is concerned, the V-50, while an older model, just can't be beat. Thin neck, hot-output pickups, everything you need, nothing you don't, great low price.

The Wine Red Gibson Flying V... whoa, nelly, what a guitar. And not too bad of a price, either. This is the Flying V most Gibson guys want. The red treatment with gold knobs and the zebra humbuckers absolutely and totally works. This is that awesome guitar you used to see in the '70s and '80s, and Gibson is making it again. It will sell out fast if you don't get it now, that I'm sure of.

6-string acoustic

Yamaha FG800
Yamaha FG800

Martin D-16RGT
Martin D-16RGT

What we have here are two full size dreadnought acoustic guitars.

Yamaha is well known to build great acoustics even for low-priced models such as the FG800.

The Martin is an interesting one. This particular model, the D-16RGT, does have the look and tone of the upper-end models, but at a lower price. Lower for Martin, that is. It's almost priced reasonably. Almost. If you ever wanted a new Martin, this "D" model is a great introduction to the brand.

12-string acoustic

Oscar Schmidt OD312
Oscar Schmidt OD312

Gretsch Rancher Falcon in White
Gretsch Rancher Falcon in White

Chances are you probably don't own a 12-string acoustic but always thought about getting one. If that sounds like you, the Oscar Schmidt is exactly what you want. It's cheap and good - which is what you want since you probably won't be playing it all that often.

The Gretsch looks like a really expensive guitar. It surprisingly has a nice price. Awesome Gretsch looks, nice clear projection of sound, and yes it is electrified. I ordinarily don't like electric-acoustic instruments, but I make an exception with this one because the guitar is just plain cool - and very resonant.

Happy hunting

Remember, now is the time to buy. Whether buying for yourself or someone else, make the purchase as soon as you can. If you don't, stock will run out and you'll be left with no new guitar at all.

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