Swing Guitar Blog Xmas Gift Guide

Since it's almost that time of year, here's a list of some great gear, music and books. The books and music are essential basics, and the gear is bunch of favorite stuff. Everything can be found on amazon.com for easy Christmas shopping. Enjoy. 


K & M Heli Multi-Purpose Instrument Stand
I think these fold-flat guitar stands are the best around. They are very light, and since they fold flat, they take up less space. Lastly, and most importantly, they are the most sturdy and supportive stands I've seen.

Snark SN-8(B) Super Tight All Instrument Tuner
For under $20, Snark tuners are plenty accurate, and more sturdy than the generic "Intelli" ones I used before. You'll probably lose it before you break it, and while it's not as accurate as strobe tuner (Peterson SC-1 Strobo Series StroboClip Guitar Tuner ), it's also not $70. And with how often I lose my tuners, I can't afford to spend that much one. That said, it's well worth buying the $10 Peterson Strobe Tuner App for iOS for home use (https://itunes.apple.com/app/istrobosoft/id308296029?mt=8)

Rode Microphones NT3 Hypercardioid Condenser Microphone
This is the microphone I've been using life for probably 8 years. It sounds really fantastic, and because it's internally shock-mounted, its far less susceptible to bumps and stage rumble. Also, because it has it's own 9V battery, it can be used where phantom power is not available. It sounds good on almost anything, and, in a pinch, I've used it pick up my entire big band when a promoter didn't bring any mics to a gig once.

George L's Pre-Made .225 Cable 10 Foot (10 Foot)
Although it's sometimes an afterthought, a bad cable can ruin your tone. While you can spend hundreds of dollars buying boutique cable, Guitar Player magazine did a huge shootout, and this reasonably priced cable kept up with even the most expensive cables. I recently picked one up and it sounds incredibly natural. If you need to fatten-up your guitar tone, another winner is the Spectraflex Fatso Flex Right Angle Instrument Cable, 10 Foot, Tweed.

C2G / Cables to Go 14719 18 AWG Universal Power Cord (IEC320C13 to NEMA 515P) Black (25 Feet/7.62 Meters)
One of my favorite finds of the last year, these cables are the perfect replacement for any cable that uses the standard PC power jack. Those cables are usually way too short - the cable that came with our JBL Eon PA speakers barely reaches the ground when the speakers are up on a speaker stand, necessitating an extra extension chord. Great for guitar amps with detachable cables, powered PA speakers, and some mixers.

Manhasset M52C Voyager Concertina Stand
Manhassets are the gold standard of professional music stands. Because they are foldable and detachable, the Voyagers are the most practical. The Concertina version is the short-to-medium one, which is ideal for sitting while playing rhythm guitar. The regular one is fine for standing, but when you're sitting it keeps the audience from seeing most of you. Also, the perfect accessory is the Manhasset Voyager Totebag, so you can keep the shelf and base from getting separated.


Martin MSP4200 SP Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Medium
My favorite acoustic strings are great sounding and long lasting. After some testing, I'd skip the coated version. They don't sound great, and are expensive enough that I'd just rather change my strings more often. You may also find the Martin Tony Rice Monel Strings sound good on your guitar, but might not sound good on others. While I think there is something to using Monel, I think the fullness and volume of bronze is more practical.

D'Addario EPN22 Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings, Jazz Medium, 13-55
My favorite general electric guitar string. Unless you have a pickup/amp combo that can benefit from the imbalance between the wound and unwound strings, I'd skip the new Martin Tony Rice Monel Strings for electric.

Savarez 1610MF Argentine Acoustic Jazz Guitar Strings, High Tension Ball End
The only serious choice for Gypsy Jazz Guitar strings. Every other gypsy jazz string is a mediocre copy. At times plagued by consistency issue, I haven't had any problems with them for a couple years.


Swing and Big Band Guitar: Four-To-The Bar Comping in the Style of Freddie Green
Although it's description of the sound and time-feel of rhythm guitar is incorrect, the chord shapes and voice-leading lessons are the best available resource on swing rhythm guitar. While I argue that 1930's-40's Freddie Green

Mel Bay Swing to Bop: The Music of Charlie Christian
While there are a ton of Charlie Christian transcription books, and most of those have tab, this is still the essential book. It has by far the most tunes/versions transcribed, and Stan Ayeroff's transcriptions are flawless. 

Mel Bay's Music of Django Reinhardt
Again, Stan Ayeroff does a fantastic job - defintely the largest collection of transcribed Django solos. 

Mel Bay Masters of the Plectrum Guitar
For Swing-Era Chord Melody playing, this is probably the best resource. The Carl Kress and George M. Smith tunes are very much orchestrated pieces, but the chord shapes and patterns are great ideas for chord-melody soloing. 


Hittin' on All Six (A History of Jazz Guitar)
An essential, concise history of Jazz Guitar on 4 CD's. Everything from the earliest jazz guitar from Eddie Lang anf Lonnie Johnson, to the second generation of players, Carl Kress, Dick McDonough, George Van Eps, Allan Reuss, and all of the other rhythm/chordal players, to Charlie Christian and the early electric players. The fourth disc is mostly bop, but the first three are filled with essential playing. 

The Genius Of The Electric Guitar
Not only is this a convenient packaging of everything Charlie Christian recorded in studio with Benny Goodman, but it's also a fantastic box set. The liner notes are fascinating and the discographical info is exhuastive. Lastly, the fact that the box looks like an EH-150 amp is so awesome. 

Swing to Bop: Guitars in Flight 1939-1947
Another collection of guitar rareities, there's several tunes on this disc that aren't found on other collections. Specifically the Mary Osbourne version of "Rose Room" slays me, as does the Carl Kress/Tony Mattola duet on "Davenport Blues" and all of the George Barnes tunes, and lastly the two early Les Paul tunes. 

Guitar Rarities, Vol. 1: 1934-46

Guitar Rarities 2
Both collections feature mostly chordal style playing along with some acoustic single note playing. Most of this stuff is in between the influence of Lang/Kress/McDonough, but before the Charlie Christian electric revolution. 

The Engine Room: A History of Jazz Drumming from Storyville to 52nd Street
I suppose it's odd put a history of jazz drumming on a guitar blog, but understanding the history and evolution of jazz is essential for understanding the guitar's role in various jazz styles. This collection draws from so many different bands and players that it serves a great survey of jazz styles and evolution, without being so overly focused on "hits" or otherwise standard showings on jazz history sets.