The best music-making gadgets for Christmas 2012
Fender Squier USB guitar
GarageBand on the iPad and iPhone has made it easier than ever to put a tune together. Now Fender's created this Squier guitar that plugs into your iThing via USB, letting you play straight into the app (though be warned – it uses the 30-pin connector instead of the new Lightning connector). Despite its entry-level price, the Strat got a thumbs-up from Stuff's resident guitarists – and its extra functionality makes it perfect for laying down a few tracks.
Numark iDJ Pro
Vinyl is enjoying a bit of a revival and probably always will – but you can ditch the past in favour of the future with Numark iDJ Pro. This professional-grade DJ controller lets you mix beats, adjust EQ settings and loop beats – only instead of CDs, you do it via an iPad (bear in mind it uses the old 30-pin connector, though). Combined with the required Djay app and you have a 21st century take on the disc jockey with all the latest digital trimmings.
Guitar Hero's plastic fantastic controller was all very well, but it always felt a bit daft mastering Buckethead tracks on expert when you could be spending that time learning how to actually play a guitar. Rocksmith combines the arcade play of Guitar Hero and Rock Band with an actual six-string guitar – any axe will do, using the enclosed Real Tone Cable – training you up from beginner-level notes to full-blown shred wizardry. You can thank us when you're standing on the stage at Wembley.
Teenage Engineering OP-1
Cramming a world of electronic sounds into one perfectly balanced slab of metal and plastic, the OP-1 gives you a synthesiser, virtual four-track tape recorder, sampler, FM radio and internal sequences. Sure, it looks like 'My First Synth,' but this clever music-making gadget takes the emphasis away from your standard keyboard-based setup, inspiring a different approach to your creations – particularly with its unique accessories.
The Mackie DL1608 may look like a typewriter from some angles but this music-oriented gadget is a powerful mixing tool. It includes 16 boutique-quality mic preamps, 24bit Cirrus AD/DA converters for top-top sound quality, eight balanced outputs, 4-band EQ compression and gate plug-ins, supports up to ten iPads at once and boasts wireless functionality, thanks to the use of an iPad. Sure beats lugging around a lot of equipment and wires.