Check the How-to-Buy guides if you’re interested in gifting drums, keyboards, a guitar or bass.

#2: Gifts Under $500

Zen Tambour or Hapi Drum – $345 to $435

Zen Tambour

The Zen Tambour and HAPI drum are tuned, steel tongue hand drums that are easy to learn and fun to play.  Inspired by the hang, they are a lot less expensive, and you don’t need to buy a ticket to Sweden to get your hands on one.

They are typically tuned to a pentatonic scale, so there are no “wrong notes.”  Since the drums don’t require any previous playing experience, they make the perfect gift for your favorite sister, brother, or significant other.

The Zen Tambour is available in multiple finishes and can be custom painted. Check out our handpan review to hear how it sounds.

HAPI Drums lined up at the 2010 NAMM Show

HAPI Tones has a wider selection of drums, including the least expensive model, the HAPI Slim.  Head over to hapitones.com to play a virtual HAPI drum and find the one that’s right for you.

These drums are hand-tuned and produced in limited quantities, so get your orders in soon for Christmas delivery.

Beatles Stereo Box Set – $129.99

You can pay $149 to download the digital bits from iTunes, or have Amazon deliver the atomic version to your door, to have and to hold, with better quality and all the trimmings for $19.01 less. That’s 50% off the list price of $259.98.

Here’s what you get with The Beatles Stereo Box Set:

  • Hard black glossy lift top box with magnet clasp
  • CDs packaged in three panel digi-pak with digital mini documentaries
  • All 13 Studio remasters plus Past Masters
  • DVD of all 13 mini-documentaries (Running time: 40 minutes)
  • //

    If you want to be more selective, Amazon recently lowered the price on the remastered single disc albums to $7.99, and the double disc albums are now $11.99 and $12.99. Thank you iTunes!

    The Beatles Box Set - The Beatles

    Sony PCM-M10 Portable Digital Recorder – $199

    If you want a simple way to make high-quality recordings of lessons, practice sessions, rehearsals and gigs, get the Sony PCM-M10portable digital recorder.  The PCM-M10 is a 96 kHz/24-bit capable recorder with electret condenser stereo microphones, 4 GB of internal flash memory and a microSD/Memory Stick Micro Slot for expanded memory.

    The PCM-M10 includes both digital pitch control and key control. Digital pitch control maintains pitch while slowing down or speeding up playback speed. Key control allows changing the pitch while maintaining playback speed.

    There is a standard tripod mount on the back of the unit, which makes it perfect for use with the Joby Gorillapod.

    Audio Technica ATLP120 Professional  Turntable with USB – $199.99

    Got vinyl?  The Audio Technica ATLP120
    can not only turn it into mp3 or FLAC files, it can play it the way it was meant to be played – analog all the way!

    Most A/V receivers and amps no longer have a phono input, but this unit allows you to switch between USB and a built-in stereo phono pre-amp, so you can use the line-level inputs on your current gear and enjoy the best of both worlds.

    Audioengine A5N Bamboo 2-way Powered Speaker System – $449

    With solid bamboo cabinets and a hand-rubbed finish, the Audioengine A5N powered speakers are iPod-friendly, wireless-ready, eco-conscious and panda-safe.

    The amplifier and all the action happens at the left speaker.  There is a volume control on the front, and a USB charging port and audio input on top.  Turn it around and you’ll find another audio input, line outs, an AC outlet, and more.

    Although it can be fun reading about them (no, really), MMT advises that you make your final choice in speakers by listening to them.  If you buy from the audioengine site, there is a 30-day money-back audition period.