Here's the perfect starter pack for any aspiring musician
man playing guitar while singing

Every musician had a first time they picked up the guitar, bass, keyboard, etc. And as a professional musician, I can tell you that there is nothing more satisfying than creating music in your own home. Whether it is just picking up an acoustic guitar or producing your own original ideas, this list should help you get budding musicians of all ages well on their way.



1. Fender FA-115 Dreadnought

An acoustic guitar is an instrument you can bring anywhere. This Fender FA-115 Dreadnought comes complete with everything you need including a soft guitar case (gig bag), tuner, strap, string and guitar picks. Fender has been around forever, and for around $200, this is bundle is everything you need to get started.


$199.99 on Amazon


2. ChromaCast Upright Guitar Stand

One item the Fender bundle does not have is a guitar stand, and the ChromaCast Upright Guitar Stand is solid inexpensive option. Not only is it easier than taking the guitar in and out of the case, but there is no motivation like an instrument sitting on a stand staring back at you, wondering why you aren't practicing. The easy access coupled with the security of keeping your guitar upright is well worth the the $10. Leaning your guitar up agains the wall tells everyone, most importantly yourself, that you aren't taking it seriously. Especially when you hear that clang after it falls over.



$10.98 on Amazon


3. Ibanez bass guitar

Bassists and drummers are always the most sought after components to a band. And unless you have a big house with sound proof rooms and lot of patience, the bass is the obvious gift. This Ibanez is a perfect first bass. Ibanez basses and guitars sound great and are underrated, in my opinion. I have a bass and guitar from Ibanez, and have never had the need for anything else.



$179.99 on Amazon


4. Ampeg BA-108v2 20-watt Bass Combo Amplifier

If you decide to gift a bass, you will want to include a bass amp. Ampeg is one of the top bass amp manufacturers in the industry, and the Ampeg BA-108v2 20-watt Bass Combo Amplifier is a fantastic choice to start out with. It has a great tone for the money and won't shatter the windows in the process.



$149.99 on Amazon


5. YUWAKAYI 10 foot guitar cable

Unless otherwise specified, your guitar does not come with an instrument cable. There is no need to break the bank for a beginner, as some cables can be in excess of $60. The YUWAKAYI 10 foot guitar cable is $9 and is more than sufficient for those just starting out. When you start gigging and recording, you might want to look into upgrading, but for now it does the job just fine.



$8.99 on Amazon


6. Fender Squire Package

If you ask any guitarist what their first guitar was, they will most likely tell you it was a Fender Squire. This package comes with a guitar, amp, strings, tuner, chord, strap, picks and gig bag. For $370, you will be hard pressed to find a better deal than this.



$299.99 on Amazon


7. VOX AP2AC amPlug 2 AC30 Guitar/Bass Headphone Amplifier

If noise is an issue, VOX AP2AC amPlug 2 AC30 Guitar/Bass Headphone Amplifier is a beautiful thing. Vox makes great amps, and this little guy has a surprising sound for its size and price. Plug it into your guitar or bass and then plug headphones into the Vox. Then rock out without disturbing the neighbors, or anyone in your own house for that matter. It takes two AAA batteries that should give you anywhere from 7-11 hours of life.



$40.77 on Amazon


8. The Midiplus, 32-Key Midi Controller

If you have a Mac, then you have Garage Band, and The Midiplus, 32-Key Midi Controller is an inexpensive way to access sounds from Apple's free recoding software. Garage Band has tons of software instruments from drums to cello, bass to guitar and way too much more to mention. Just plug the midi controller into the USB port on your Mac, and when you select an instrument in Garage Band each keystroke mimics the chosen sound. After a short learning curve, you can be producing full compositions in no time. Don't get suckered in to buying keyboards with a lot of useless buttons. Midi controllers like this one are simple and easy to use, especially since everything you need is in the Garage Band program on your Mac. Not all iPads have USB ports, so be sure your computer has one.


$34.39 on Amazon


9. Shure SM58

Eventually, you will want a condenser mic to record vocals, but they are fragile and can stop working after they hit the floor even once. The Shure SM58 is the most trusted microphone out there, and has been used to record a bunch of hit records. It is widely used as live performance mic, but it does just fine in the studio, as well. Not to mention, you can run it over with a truck and it will still work. I have had the same one for as long as I can remember, and it has endured more than you can imagine. If "They don't make 'em like they used to" the SM 58 is the exception to the rule.



$90.99 on Amazon


10. Tripod Boom Microphone Stand

You will need a mic stand. Whether you are recording, rehearsing or playing live, there are very few situations that don't call for one. And besides, you can't truly achieve proper rock stance without it. No need for anything fancy here. For $25 the AmazonBasics Tripod Boom Microphone Stand will do the trick.



$17.54 on Amazon


11. M-Audio Midi Interface Recording Software

Finally, if you want to record guitar, bass or vocals into Garage Band or any other recording software, you will need an interface to plug into. An interface is a small box where you plug in an instrument or mic cable, and then in turn plugs into your computer. Once plugged in, you can access what ever guitar/bass sounds your software offers, along with effects like delay, reverb and compression to put on your vocals and instruments. M-Audio is my pick for an interface that you won't outgrow for some time, and is just over $100.



$149.00 on Amazon


These are just some of the gift options for those people in your life curious about trying the music thing out. If it takes, then you can upgrade as they grow as musicians. These are just a few ways to get them started with decent gear that won't drain your bank account. If you can afford a little more, there are certainly a bevy of other options. If finances are tight, this is a good list to go on.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.