If you’re shopping for a guitar player this holiday season, then you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options available to you when shopping for electric guitars, acoustic guitars, guitar amplifiers, and guitar accessories.
In this holiday buyer’s guide, we’ll give you this year’s best guitar gear recommendations for the discerning guitarist on your nice (or naughty) list!
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*This article contains affiliate links, which means we might earn a small commission from the product seller if you make a purchase. For more info, check out our privacy page.
We’re kicking off this guide with electric guitars because it’s probably the most confusing of the categories. Electric guitars come in a wide variety of body styles, pickup configurations, scale lengths, and price points. Ultimately, one style of guitar isn’t better than another and it just comes down to personal preference and preferred music styles.
We’ll give our recommendations for the most popular styles at every price point so you’re sure to find something your guitar-playing friend will love no matter what your budget is. Here is a quick way to identify the differences between the electric guitars in this buyer’s guide.
Body Style: The quickest way to tell different electric guitars apart is by their body style. Stratocasters, Telecasters, Mustangs, and Jazzmasters all come from the same company but have totally different looks. Les Pauls and SGs are also from the same company but offer different aesthetics from one another. Choosing the best body style is like choosing the best pair of shoes – everyone is going to have a different preference.
Pickup Configuration: There are two primary categories of guitar pickups – single coils and humbuckers. Single coil pickups are half the width of humbuckers and have a brighter, more articulate sound. They sound great for country, blues, pop, soul music. Humbuckers both sound thicker and are physically thicker than single coils. They are the go-to pickup type for rock and metal guitarists.
Scale Length: Did you know that some electric guitars are longer than others? Fender (and Fender-style) guitars are actually slightly longer from the saddles to the nut. This creates a small increase in string tension when tuned to pitch that can be desirable or undesirable depending on the guitarist. Keep in mind that scale length does make a slight tonal difference – guitars with a shorter scale length (Gibson-style guitars) tend to sound darker while the guitars with longer scale lengths sound brighter.
Budget: Last but not least, we need to talk about price point. In this guide, we’ve included guitars that fit into every budget. Keep in mind that construction quality, electronics, playability, tone, finish quality, and resale value are all noticeable factors and can be affected by how much you spend. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a great guitar for a great price – but sometimes spending a little more is worth it.
The Stratocaster really is the swiss army knife of guitars. A true classic found in the hands of legendary players from every genre imaginable and a million and one options to adapt to any player’s needs.
Squier Fender Bullet Strat – An amazing entry-level Stratocaster with all the features and options you could ever hope for in your first guitar. This guitar features a 5-way switch and 3 single coil pickups for nearly every Strat tone you’d ever want. It’s also offered with a humbucker pickup in the bridge position as the Squier Fender Bullet Strat HSS. – $189.99 USD
Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster – The Squier Affinity Stratocaster offers a step up in performance from the Squier Bullet Strat. It includes 3 single coil pickups, a 5 way switch plus a robust vibrato/”whammy bar” for all of your Van Halen needs! This is also the most varied guitar in the Affinity lineup in terms of options. It’s offered with two humbuckers as the Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster HH, a versatile humbucker and double single coil model as the Squier Fender Affinity Series Stratocaster HSS and the Squier Fender Affinity Series Stratocaster HSS Pack with a Fender Frontman 10G amplifier, cable, carrying bag, strap and guitar picks. – $249.99 – $349.99 USD (based on model)
Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V – The Pacifica sits proudly alongside some of the most expensive instruments in many players’ collections and not just out of notalgia, but because many years on it’s still an amazing guitar! It features a 5-way switch, a humbucker in the bridge, two single coil pickups in the middle and neck positions, two knobs (as compared to the usual 3 found on Fenders), a sturdy vibrato, and an incredibly small nut-width that makes playing a breeze. The Pacifica has truly stood the test of time and has found a place in the hearts of players of every level. – $309.99 USD
Fender Player Stratocaster – The newest version of the beloved Made in Mexico Strat bridges the gap between the Squier Series and American-made Fender guitars beautifully with all the trimmings of an American Strat strat and a boost in quality across the board compared to the Squier series! It’s also available in HSS as with most Fender/Squier Strats! – $799.99 USD to $829.99 USD (based on pickup configuration)
Fender American Professional Stratocaster – This is the most feature-packed Stratocaster Fender has ever produced and not a single one of these features goes to waste. On the surface, this may appear to be just another high-quality Fender Strat, but under the hood you’ll find a gorgeously assembled modified electronics set-up that’s wholly unique to this strat. The tonal variety offered from the V-Mod pickups, vibrato, five-way switch, and push-push tone knobs set this guitar apart from any other strat and offers a range of sounds that most players could only dream of! It’s also available in an HSS configuration. – $1,499.99 USD – $1,549.99 USD (based on pickup configuration)
The stylish little sibling of the Fender/Squier lineup may look small and unassuming, but it packs a huge punch in all of its variants! Its smaller size and shorter 24” scale length offers smaller guitarists an easier playing experience compared to Fender/Squier’s standard 25.5” scale length.
Squier Fender Bullet Mustang – The Bullet Series Mustang is equipped with some of the best features and hardware available on a beginner guitar at this price point. The three-way switch and two humbuckers do everything from the twangiest of country tones to the heaviest of metal sounds with ease. As mentioned previously, the shorter scale length makes playing a breeze and the dual humbuckers recall a sound and feel that’s akin to a mix between a Strat and an SG. This is a small guitar with a huge sound! – $189.99 USD
Squier Classic Vibe ‘60’s Mustang – The Classic Vibe Mustang really lives up to its name with a classic sound that’s perfect for indie, country, rock, blues, and funk. It’s a very different beast from the Bullet offering that stays much more true to the original Mustang’s “vibe”. This guitar offers two single coil pickups, a floating vibrato, and a massive variety of switching options that make this aesthetically simple guitar a distinguished and complex force to be reckoned with. – $449.99 USD
Fender American Performer Mustang – This is Fender’s American-made Mustang offering and it truly earns its place in the Performer series. It offers a simplified two single coil and three way switch set-up with a vintage-style vibrato. It plays and sounds as great as you’d expect an American Fender to (which is to say very well). – $1,299.99 USD
The alternative hero of the electric guitar world! This is a truly unique looking, sounding, and feeling guitar that’s fit for nearly any scenario! Despite its name, this guitar has been most prominently played outside of the bounds of jazz, although it suits that style of playing as well. It found a home early on in the hands of the surf and rock innovators of the 60s and today, it’s used by legends from all walks of music.
Squier Affinity Series Jazzmaster – The Squier Affinity Series Jazzmaster acts as the perfect counterpoint to the more traditional Strat while retaining some of its best features like the Strat-style vibrato/whammy bar. This is a more stripped back, no-frills iteration of the Jazzmaster with two huge (and huge-sounding) single-coil pickups, a three-way switch and some of the best hardware found on an entry-level guitar to date! An awesome take on a truly classic guitar for a great price. – $279.99 USD
Squier J Mascis Signature Jazzmaster – This is a Jazzmaster designed and approved by one of the Jazzmaster’s most prominent players. The J Mascis Jazzmaster (affectionately dubbed the “JM JM” by its many fans) is a fantastic take on the classic Fender formula that stays true to the original with a few modifications to some of the less popular aspects of the original design. The pickups, while Jazzmaster sized, are actually gorgeously articulate and higher output P-90s. The bridge pickup can drive nearly any amp into a crisp overdrive and the neck pickup is as clean as clean gets while keeping the fuzzy warmth of a classic Jazzmaster tone intact. It features a faithful recreation of the Jazzmaster’s floating vibrato, a modified bridge for extra stability and the traditional wiring of a three-way switch plus a dedicated “rhythm circuit” for a great variety of tones. This is one of the guitars on this list that really punches above its price point. – $499.99 USD
Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster – The Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster may be the most complete and well-rounded Jazzmaster Fender has produced to date. Just like the American Professional Stratocaster, this guitar is a gorgeously realized and tasteful update to the guitar in question. It really brings the Jazzmaster into the modern guitar world with grace. There’s a laundry list of features hidden in the wiring including the “bridge tap” function that allows you to select between a beautifully delicate vintage Jazzmaster sound and a driving modern tone akin to the growl and bite of a P90 pickup. Every aspect of this guitar feels, plays and sounds great! – $1,599.99 USD
The most classic of Fender’s guitars. The Telecaster shares quite a bit in common with the Stratocaster in terms of versatility and tonal variety, but make no mistake, this is a guitar without rival in terms of its feel and sound. Since its introduction in 1949 as the “Fender Esquire” (the very first solid-body electric guitar ever sold), the Telecaster has seen countless updates to fit the needs of players from every genre. This guitar has remained a staple of stages across the world for over 70 years and for good reason. Nothing can really beat the feel and sound of a good Tele.
Squier Affinity Telecaster – This Squier Affinity Series model is worthy of any blues, indie, country, or rock guitarist’s collection. It gives you all the simplicity and tonal variety of a true Tele with the classic layout of a three-way switch and two clean and articulate single coil pickups. This guitar packs all the twang and bluesy warmth you could ever need in an affordable package. A modernized dual humbucker deluxe version is also available for players looking to play their Tele in a rock or metal setting.- $249.99 USD – $279.99 USD (based on pickup configuration)
Squier Classic Vibe 70’s Telecaster Custom – Squier’s take on the 70’s Telecaster Custom really demonstrates the huge array of options available for the Tele. With a Les Paul-esque 4 knob layout, single coil in the bridge and a Wide Range humbucker in the neck, it’s difficult to get a bad sound from this guitar! – $479.99 USD
Fender Player Series Telecaster – Fender’s Player series has long been the perfect choice for players who want the quality of a Fender guitar without the higher price tag. The Mexican Tele has been the flag bearer for the performance and value of the Made in Mexico line for nearly thirty years. It has stayed true to form with its vintage Telecaster stylings and has earned every bit of acclaim it has received. Every year the Fender Mexico team seems to up the level of performance while staying true to their low price point and this guitar puts those qualities on full display. – $799.99 USD
Fender American Professional II Telecaster – Every offering from the American Proffessional II series really brings its all in terms of innovation, value, versatility, and performance and the Tele Pro II is no exception. With a push/push control on the tone knob that allows you to switch up the wiring with one click, it’s practically two Teles in one. In addition to this, Fender offers a ‘72 Deluxe inspired Tele Pro II with two awesome-sounding Tim Shaw V-Mod Wide Range humbuckers. This is a nearly flawless modern Tele that lives up to the promise of the rest of the Professional II lineup. – $1,499.99 USD – $1,549.99 USD (based on pickup configuration)
Gibson’s tried and true classic may be the most iconic guitar in rock n’ roll history (and that’s saying a lot). There have been many iterations of the Les Paul over the years and the selections on this list really stand out for offering their own unique takes on Gibson’s classic formula.
Epiphone Les Paul Melody Maker – The least expensive electric guitar on the entire list makes a huge splash with a stripped-back layout that harkens back to the intent of Gibson’s original beginner-centric model. The Melody Maker was introduced in the late 50’s as an inexpensive student variant of the Les Paul that offered new players all the features they’d need to start learning and gigging. The new Epiphone Les Paul Melody Maker truly carries on that long standing tradition. Featuring a three-way switch and two single coil pickups, this guitar is a great learning platform and it’s bound to become a staple in the world of entry-level guitars. – $159.99 USD
Epiphone Les Paul Studio – This may be the most bang for your buck found in an Epiphone electric guitar! The Epiphone Les Paul Studio offers all of the trimmings of a classic Les Paul with two vintage-voiced alnico humbuckers, individual tone and volume controls for each pickup, high-quality hardware, carved maple top and a lightweight mahogany body that resonates for days. – $499.99 USD
Gibson Les Paul Special Tribute Humbucker – Gibson went back to basics with this stunning and simple Les Paul. The Tribute Special features the standard two humbucker, three way switch, and individual tone and volume control layout of a Les Paul with a thinner body that lacks the carved top of the more expensive offerings in the line. This lends the guitar a sleek look and feel akin to the Melody Maker series in a much more premium package. Gibson set out to make the best guitar they could with as few frills as possible and they succeeded with flying colors! A P90 version is also available. – $999.99 USD
Gibson Slash “Victoria” Les Paul – On the complete opposite end of the premium Gibson Les Paul spectrum from the Tribute Special is the Slash “Victoria” Les Paul. A stunning signature model from Slash that brings the sound and feel of a true vintage 1950’s Les Paul into the modern day. This guitar borders on being a custom shop offering with its hand-wired electronics and custom pickups. It’s as much a work of art as it is a beautifully performing instrument. – $2,999.99 USD
The SG started life as the Les Paul’s little brother but quickly grew to become a staple of the Gibson lineup on equal footing with its older sibling. The small body and unmistakable tone of the SG earned this guitar a well-deserved place in music history.
Epiphone SG Special Satin – Epiphone’s “Special” series has long been a standard for entry-level guitarists looking to get into the world of Gibson-style guitars. The quality offered by these budget guitars has increased exponentially since the early days of the Epiphone Special series. The simplified two-knob layout and dual humbucker pickups make this a worthy guitar for anyone looking to learn the raucous rock n’ roll of AC/DC or the dynamic jazzy proto-rock of Sister Rosetta Tharpe at a fraction of the cost of what Angus or Rosetta would have paid for their SGs! – $199.99 USD
Epiphone SG Standard – This is a gorgeously crafted SG with alnico humbuckers, deluxe tuners, and a classic four-knob layout for a more than reasonable price. The SG Standard lives up to its name as a true trendsetter for budget SG models. It really holds its own in terms of playability and sound when put against most other SGs. – $499.99 USD
Epiphone SG Classic Worn P-90 – This unique take on the SG is absolutely worth a look for players that are wanting something a little left of field compared to the traditional SG offerings. This SG is equipped with two single coil P-90 pickups and a natural wood-stained body and neck for an alternative sound and feel compared to the SG Standard. It really stands out and holds its own amongst a sea of great SGs. – $429.99 USD
Gibson SG Standard Tribute – Much like the Les Paul Standard Tribute, Gibson put the full power of the SG on display with none of the aesthetic bells and whistles to distract from this guitar’s raw performance. The SG Standard Tribute stays slightly more true to the classic SG layout and design than the Les Paul Standard Tribute as it keeps the classic bevelled edges of the SG body shape. This is a great balance between value and performance! – $1,199.99 – USD
Gibson SG Standard ‘61 – An amazing replica of the much sought-after 1961 Gibson SG. This guitar looks, plays and sounds the way a classic 60’s Gibson should. From its Burstbucker pickups to its vintage-influenced nitro-finish, this guitar really is the best Standard SG that Gibson has to offer. – $1,999.99 USD
If acoustic guitars are what you’re looking for this holiday season, then we’ve got you covered. Choosing an acoustic guitar is a little easier than choosing an electric guitar because you aren’t inundated with options. Body sizes vary, but ultimately, the differences between acoustic guitar models are small. Here are a few to look out for.
Body Type: Acoustic guitars come in numerous shapes and sizes. On the larger side, you’ll find dreadnoughts and jumbos. These guitars have a full and rich sound with a big bottom end. Parlor, 0, 00, and 000 guitars are smaller and have a more pronounced midrange with less bottom end.
Woods: In more affordable guitars you’ll find laminated woods and in more expensive guitars you’ll find solid woods. Spruce is a common top wood and for the back and sides, you’re likely to see either mahogany or rosewood. Every wood combination has a different tone and listening to some playing samples online will help you find your tonewood preference.
Scale Length: Just like electric guitars, acoustic guitars come in various scale lengths. The shorter scale lengths tend to come on smaller-bodied guitars and are easier for beginners due to the lessened tension. On the larger guitars, you’re more likely to find longer scale lengths which can be a little more challenging to play.
Budget: You can find a killer acoustic guitar for a few hundred bucks or a few thousand and setting a budget will allow you to get the most for your money. Just keep in mind that there are diminishing returns as guitars increase in price and the sweet spot is usually in the $1000-$1500 range. If you spend more than that you’ll surely end up with an incredible instrument, it just won’t be significantly better than something hundreds (or thousands) of dollars cheaper.
Yamaha FS800 Small Body Acoustic Guitar – The quality of Yamaha’s guitars always far exceeds their price point and their acoustic offerings are no exception. Yamaha’s acoustics are some of those rare guitars that you’ll start learning on and find yourself returning to time and time again long after you’ve played your first chord. My Yamaha acoustic feels like an old friend over 12 years later and I always find myself picking it up whenever I just want to relax and strum along. The tonal clarity, quality hardware, and ease of playability are astonishingly great in the FS800 particularly. This is a lifetime’s worth of music for the price of a few months’ worth of eggnog lattes (or in my case, two weeks worth of eggnog lattes). – $219.99 USD
Yamaha CSG103 Classical Guitar – Classical guitars can be a good place to start as the nylon strings and wider string spacing typically make playing easier for beginner students. This said, the world of classical guitars offers its own subset of musical possibilities and they shouldn’t be disregarded as just a beginner’s instrument. The delicate and rich sound of a classical is something that’s impossible to replicate on any other instrument and it’s a perfect platform for guitarists looking to play folk, indie, singer-songwriter, soft rock, jazz and, of course, classical! Yamaha’s CSG103 packs all of that into a high-quality, inexpensive package that performs well beyond its price point. This is the 3/4 scale version of this guitar, but there’s also a 1/2 Scale Version and Full-Scale Version. – $129.99, $139.99 or $159.99 USD (based on size)
Yamaha GigMaker Standard Acoustic Guitar Pack – This is the best possible budget package to start learning the acoustic guitar. This pack includes a great full scale acoustic, a tuner, strap, picks, and a carrying bag. It’s essentially everything you’ll need to start playing to the best of your abilities! The Yamaha F325 Acoustic is another amazing budget offering from Yamaha and not too dissimilar to the first acoustic linked. This said, the F325 is a larger-sized, full-body acoustic that offers incredible resonance and a darker tone while retaining the clarity and ease of playability Yamaha acoustics are known for. I’ve owned one of these guitars since Christmas 2010 and it’s yet to do me wrong. – $189.99 USD
Epiphone Dove Studio Acoustic-Electric Guitar – It’s hard to find an affordable alternative to the large-body Gibson acoustic guitars used by the likes of Tom Petty, Elvis Presley, and Keith Richards. Thankfully, Epiphone offers up a guitar that doesn’t sacrifice the timeless looks and playability of its significantly more expensive Gibson step-brother. Featuring a solid spruce top and an Indian laurel fretboard, this acoustic delivers maximum vintage vibes and is the perfect partner for any budding songwriter. – $449.00 USD
Taylor GS Mini Mahogany Acoustic Guitar – Don’t ever think that small guitars are any worse than big guitars. The GS Mini sports a short 23.5” scale length and a scaled-down Grand Symphony body giving it a rich and balanced tone with no boomy low-end. If you’re into recording, then a small-bodied acoustic will sit brilliantly in any mix and if portability is at all important to you, this guitar is a must-buy. Taylor guitars are notorious for feeling like an electric guitar when you play them. This makes them amazing for beginners or players that struggle to make clean chords on the acoustic guitar. – $549.00
Martin 000-15M Acoustic Guitar – Even in our most expensive category, this guitar punches well above its weight class. An all-mahogany body gives the Martin 000-15M a distinctly warm characteristic that is near impossible to match. If you’re looking to play folk, indie, or soft fingerpicking, then this is YOUR guitar. The craftsmanship is incredible and means this guitar will live on for generations. – $1299.00
Taylor 214ce-K Deluxe Acoustic-Electric Guitar – We’ve already mentioned Taylor guitars on this list and it’s for good reason. Taylor guitars are expertly built and are known for their top-notch playability. A sitka spruce top and koa back and sides will give you a bright and resonant tone. The built-in ES2 electronics system makes this guitar the ultimate gig machine – just plug it into a DI box and you’re good to go! – $1599.00
Boss Katana Mini 7-watt Combo Amp – This is a great, inexpensive beginner amp. This small amp features a volume, gain, treble, middle, bass, tap tempo delay and three channels for “clean”, overdriven “crunch” and a “brown” sound that emulates Eddie Van Halen’s huge amp sound in a tiny box. It also has a headphone output for quiet practicing and an aux input for plugging in your phone, tablet, or computer to practice along to tracks. On top of this, it’s completely portable and allows you to use either a power supply or batteries. The whole Boss Katana series is worth a look! – $99.99 USD
Yamaha THR5 2×3’ 10-watt Modeling Combo Amp – Yamaha really knocked it out of the park with this affordable modelling amp! It packs a huge amount of features into its tiny enclosure including a pedalboard’s worth of great-sounding effects from phaser, flanger, chorus, tremolo to four selectable delays (all tap tempo) and reverbs. It also has 5-built amp models ranging from clean to modern metal sounds, which essentially makes it 5 amps in 1. It makes great use of two 3” speakers for a true stereo sound. There’s also an aux and headphone input in addition to the ability to power the THR5 by batteries or a power supply. On top of all of this, there’s a high-quality tuner with a digital display built right into the amp! In my opinion, this is the best beginner/practice amp on the market! Much like the Katana series, the entire Yamaha THR series is worth looking at. – $209.99 USD
Fender Blues Junior IV 1×12 15-watt Tube Combo Amp – The Blues Junior is one of Fender’s most legendary amps and that’s really saying something with their history of amazing amps in mind. It’s a loud all-tube combo that goes from clean to mean with ease and keeps up with even the loudest drummer. A simple volume control, 3 band EQ, fat and standard channels, and a built-in spring reverb with a master control makes this a great gigging platform. This was my first tube amp and it really held its own as a perfect platform to build my own sound around. – $649.99 USD
Roland JC-40 Jazz Chorus 2×10” 40-watt Stereo Combo Amp – This is the industry standard for solid state guitar amps, no doubt about it. Much like the Fender Jazzmaster guitar, the Roland Jazz Chorus is much more than its jazzy namesake implies. A highly versatile vintage solid state amp circuit that’s never really been outdone by any other amp in its class. The JC series has been on stage and in the studio with more acts than can be recalled and for good reason! It’s been a staple sound for everyone from new wavers like Johnny Marr, Robert Smith and The Edge to hard rock and heavy metal players like Joe Perry, Wes Borland, and Kirk Hammet. No matter the setting, the Roland JC-40 is the perfect platform for producing a huge range of sounds and its legendary built-in chorus, lush reverb, chimey clean tones and selectable distortion are just a few aspects of the many that make this amp great. The two 10” speakers create a beautifully vivid stereo experience no matter what setting or effects you’re running. – $636.99 USD
Orange Super Crush 100 Solid State 1×12” Combo – Orange’s newest amp offering is a huge leap forward for their solid state “Crush” series. The Super Crush packs all the features of their beloved Rockerverb series tube amps into a lightweight 100 Watt all solid state combo with a built-in 12” Celestion G12H-150 speaker, reverb, 2 footswitchable channels and a buffered FX loop. This is a great amp for anything from metal to pop and the speaker emulation allows you to plug directly into your recording set up making it a surprisingly great practicing and recording tool as well! – $699.00 USD
Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb 2×12” 85-watt Combo Amp – What can really be said about the Fender Twin that hasn’t already been said? It’s been the amp of choice for thousands of players for over 55 years! A true example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Its splashy reverb and versatility have defined generations of guitar players across genres. It does clean, crunch, twang, jazz, and with the right settings and pedals, it can even do some very pleasing and unique heavy tones. This is the amp that most people think of when they hear “combo amp” and for good reason. I’ve used it in a plethora of settings and I’ve never been let down. – $1,799.99 USD
Orange Rockerverb 50 MKIII 2×12” 50-watt Tube Combo Amp – The Rockerverb is a modern classic if ever there was one. An all-tube 2 Channel monster with all the clean headroom you could ever need plus more than enough gain from the dirty channel to beautifully drive the two 12” Celestion Vintage 30 speakers right into the heaviest of heavy territories. This amp really does everything you could ever want a tube amp to do and it does it so well. With its easy-to-dial-in spring reverb to its footswitchable channels you can go from surf rock to death metal in the tap of a footswitch with no compromise on either sound (or any of the sounds in between for that matter). You can also select between a 25 and 50-watt mode for your preferred headroom. Just an amazing amp all around! – $2,349.99 USD
There are so many great acoustic and electric guitar accessories out there that we decided they needed their own dedicated guide. Check out our 15 Best Guitar Accessories Of 2021. In this guide, we have links to the best tuners, capos, guitar picks, audio interfaces, cables, headphones, and more!
We hope this guide helped narrow down your search for the best gifts for guitarists this holiday season!
*This article contains affiliate links, which means we might earn a small commission from the product seller if you make a purchase. For more info, check out our privacy page.