San Diego

The SoundDiego Holiday Gift Guide

With the holiday season upon us, here's our official guide to the must-have gifts

With the season of giving currently upon us, it’s nigh time we deliver to you our very own SoundDiego Black Friday Guide. We gathered ‘round and brainstormed some items that’d make any San Diego music fan tingle in their stockings. Got some suggestions, let us know in the comments!

Beer 'em: What’s better than listening to Western Settings, one of San Diego’s best pop-punk/rock bands? Drinking their very own Amplified Ale Works Western Settings Hazy IPA while you’re at it. The extremely crushable 6.5 percent ABV brew packs Cascade, Amarillo and Columbus hops together for an extremely crisp and refreshing finish (and that ain’t some tag line -- we’ve drank a couple and they’re totally killer). Unwrapping a four-pack of these should get anyone pumped. Get ‘em at Amplified Ale Works' brew pub in Pacific Beach (4150 Mission Blvd, #208) or their Miramar tasting room (9030 Kenamar Drive #309) while supplies last.

Bet on Swami: Hot Snakes, San Diego's own recently reunited post-hardcore legends, just signed to Sub Pop and announced vinyl reissues of their three albums: 2000’s “Automatic Midnight,” 2002’s “Suicide Invoice” and 2004’s “Audit in Progress.” Go ahead and pre-order them all here, while we wait for the band’s new record in 2018. Perfect gifts for the Swami John Reis fan in your fam. 

Lessons: Wish you could sing more better? Us, too. Why not get some vocal lessons by one of the best in the biz? Shelbi Bennett, chanteuse in the Midnight Pine, offers those inclined and interested the opportunity to harness and refine their pipes for very reasonable prices. Perfect for the burgeoning singer in your camp. Hit her up at shelbibennettsings [at]

Make a record: Trying to figure out what to get your musician BFF? Grab a couple of their tunes, and send ‘em to the bad boys of Petra-Fi Records to get them pressed onto actual vinyl records! This’ll take a little planning on your part (since it takes time to press records and all that) but pricing isn’t exorbitant -- they actually specialize in one-offs and small runs -- and your buddy will be extra stoked to hear their own music on wax. Thank us later.

Memorabilia mania: Instead of buying the latest fidget spinner or boring Starbucks gift card for friends/family, head over to eBay and bid on memorabilia from local legends -- like a guitar pick from Santana's 1999 Supernatural Tour; a 1958 high school yearbook featuring Frank Zappa; a first-edition of Tom Waits' "Seeds on Hard Ground" book of poetry; a rare Blink-182 Christmas sweater; a Jason Mraz-signed guitar; or a Jewel Kilcher-autographed microphone.

Rock the Casbah: Know someone who maybe has an particular affinity for the world-famous rock club that resides on the corner of Kettner Boulevard and Laurel Street? Set your browser to the heart of the Casbah website and snag a pre-order of one of their 25th anniversary hoodies designed by none other than Shepard Fairey. What better way to let people know you’re into local music? And if you're feeling extra generous: Purchase a couple tickets to the club's New Year's Eve extravaganza with one of our local faves the Donkeys and make a great gift even better.

Shop local: We recently published two lists of great local record labels and San Diego musician-owned/operated businesses, and if you're looking to support your music scene while doing some holiday shopping, they'd be a good place to start. For example: Little Dame, a boutique located at 2942 Adams Ave. in Normal Heights (and co-owned by Big Bloom's Katie Howard), has an entire shop full of rad, creative gift options ranging from buttons to ceramics to clothes and a whole lot more.

Shredders unite: Know a special person suffering from GAS (gear acquisition syndrome)? Maybe you’ve got some money to burn on a favorite musician? There are a few big-name local music instrument manufacturers in town (Taylor Guitars, Deering Banjos, Carvin, etc.) but some of our favorites are off the beaten path a bit -- take a look at the six-string offerings from Madrid Guitars (see right) and High Spirit Guitars, and browse the effects/amplifiers (and now guitars) of one of the most highly regarded manufacturers in the music world, Satellite Amplifiers. All local and all great!

Space out: For the ultimate Tom DeLonge fan, the truth is out there and it comes in the form of investing in his recently announced To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science that'll hunt for aliens using "exotic aerospace technologies" (that everyone involved is all a bit mum about). Sounds like a bunch of hogwash, you say? Tell that to the folks who've pledged nearly $2 million to the project thus far. It's no laughing matter and for your UFO-obsessed/DeLonge-sympathizer pal, it could be the ticket to a great gift: Buy shares for $5 a piece ($200 minimum investment) here.

Wax: If you’re a Secret Santa for a music lover, chances are they’re into vinyl. So do ‘em a favor and instead of striking out with a selection of your own that they may not actually want (let’s face it, you probably have suspect taste) -- get a gift card to one, or several, of the awesome record shops around town including Re-Animated Records, Lou’s Records, M-Theory, Red Brontosaurus, Normal Records, Spin Records, Folk Arts Rare Records, Record City and Feelit, among others.

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