guitar for a beginner: save them some money or get them a better instrument?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by BigSB, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. BigSB

    BigSB Member

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    I often read, and have heard many people say, that a good idea for a beginner guitarist is a cheap guitar and a tiny, cheap amp.

    I don't understand... music teachers on other instruments, like violin, brass, etc, will always tell students to buy as quality as can possibly be afforded. Everyone knows how dung-awful most FeeBay "student" instruments are.

    You wouldn't tell a student in culinary school to buy a set of knives from the flea market. you wouldn't go buy a kid's first car because it was the cheapest you could get away with just to see if they had any interest.

    I've always told students to buy something that you don't need to make excuses for later, like "cheap tuners that don't hold" or "amp too small and caca-sounding for anything but an amplified noise".

    Resale value is tough to assess even on better instruments. The resale on the off-off-brand St*t-ish thing with the amp the size and quality of a shoebox? they sit on CL for weeks at $50 and no one wants them.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. EricPeterson

    EricPeterson Member

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    You can get a really decent quality acoustic or electric guitar for 200 bucks anymore, I dont think a beginner needs to spend more than that. Really at any price point there are pretty decent options. There is certainly crap out there, but you dont need to spend a lot to get a decent guitar to learn on.

    Even better, I would just direct them to get a used guitar from a decent brand that has resale value. A decent squier or epiphone on the used market will hold its value.

    I agree staying away from off brands for beginners, odds are they wont stick with it and will get hurt on resale.
     
  3. S1Player

    S1Player Member

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    You can get a very nice 90's era Peavey Guitar for $300 or less. These can play almost as well as any of the more expensive guitars I have.

    A used Roland cube isn't that too bad either.

    So, a full set up can be had for a reasonable price.
     
  4. A-Bone

    A-Bone Montonero, MOY, Multitudes Gold Supporting Member

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    I agree with Eric.

    Unlike when I started playing in the 80's, now there are all sorts of playable quality instruments at different price levels. Gone are the days when entry level guitars had inch high strings, no ability to intonate, lousy sound quality, etc. Now strikes me as a great time to be starting out.
     
  5. BigSB

    BigSB Member

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    Agreed. I've gigged with the $200 guitar before. I was really just reacting to the metric ton of crapola off brands I see for sale locally, with mom n dad trying to recoup their overpriced "investment" from some chain store.
     
  6. JZG

    JZG Member

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    Agreed. I would often tell potential students/parents to set a budget of what you want to spend and go from there. Just get a REAL instrument. Too many times I would have parents buy a $30 "guitar" from Target or Costco and expecting their kids to learn to play on them, when you couldn't even get them in tune.
     
  7. ronmail65

    ronmail65 Supporting Member

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    I always advise people of 2 directions on and let them decide...
    - Buy a reasonable quality, low cost instrument for $200-$300 ish. The downside is, it probably has zero resale value so if you don't stick with it - then it's money down the drain.
    - Or buy a higher quality instrument on the used market with good resale value in the $800-$900 ish range, such as a Les Paul Studio. The downside is parting with a lot more money. The upside, is learning on what is probably a better instrument and, if you don't stick with it but take good care of it, you may very well get most or all of that money back.
     
  8. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

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    I think most of the starter guitar kits out there are actually fine for people to learn on. The overall quality has gotten better over the years, I think. I've played some cheap Squiers that would work perfectly fine. As far as other instruments, I think most students start out on rental instruments unless you're talking about kids who are being groomed to be prodigies.
     
  9. TheClev

    TheClev As seen on TV

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    When recommending a starter guitar, the most important thing to me is tuning stability. I've seen a lot of people quit because their guitar didn't stay in tune and they hadn't developed an ear to properly tune it yet.
     
  10. markjsmith

    markjsmith Member

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    As long as it's playable and will stay in tune it'll work!
     
  11. Gotham City Blues

    Gotham City Blues Member

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    I see what you're getting at but these aren't valid comparisons IMHO. Culinary utensils have to be of quality for reasons pertaining to health and safety, so using cheap knives to prepare food is not only a bad idea but may be a health code violation.

    Buying a cheap car is also loaded with risks, not the least of which are to one's life.

    By comparison, a cheap guitar is not that critical. I do agree with getting the best instrument that you can afford. A beginner fighting with high action, warping necks or an instrument that won't stay in tune will be less inclined to stick with it. Fortunately we're in the true golden era of instrument manufacture, where inexpensive gear is often to a professional standard.
     
  12. Grainslayer

    Grainslayer Member

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    Buy a used Mexican fender strat for 250-300 bucks.decent guitar for the money.you could re list it tomorrow or ten years from now for the same amount and sell it.ive had mine for a few years now and I can't complain at all with it.another good thing about a fender strat is that scratches/dents and wear don't diminish the value.some people are really attracted to "reliced" guitars.
     
  13. arthur rotfeld

    arthur rotfeld Member

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    The budget models from Fender, Yamaha, Ibanez—all fine. File the nut properly, lower the the saddle, adjust the truss rod (all likely to be required) and the instrument will be good for any beginner.

    I use an Fender cheapo for drive around lessons. Bought it used for $50 and after I set it up, it's quite playable and sounds fine. My other guitars aren't 20 or 40 times better, like the price might suggest.

    If you don't do setup work yourself, figure it into the price.

    Here's an electric I got for $85 on sale from MF a couple of months ago. Pretty good guitar. I could use it as a backup on a gig.

     
  14. RLD

    RLD Member

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    When dealing with inexpensive guitars you have to be able to tell a decent one from a piece of crap.
    Most beginners can't.
    Take someone who can when buying.
     
  15. Bankston

    Bankston Member

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    I started out on very cheap guitars. The first one, a POS acoustic I got when I was 8 was impossible to play and I quickly got frustrated and quit. Years later, I got the bug again at age 13 and my parents got me a cheap LP copy.

    I got bored and frustrated with it quickly as well but had such a desire to learn that I bought a better guitar.

    There are plenty of good quality guitars at lower price points these days. The key is to buy a good enough instrument that it will reward the beginner as he progresses and it will make him or her want to keep playing it.
     
  16. ModdersAnon

    ModdersAnon Member

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    Bingo!
    As long as it can stay in tune and the intonation isn't terrible, it's good for a beginner.
     
  17. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Member

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    "Tuners that don't hold" are very rare these days outside of the lowest level, undersized, kids guitars. The problem is almost always with the stringing/tuning technique, the nut or bridge or neck adjustments. A simple setup will make a cheap guitar very playable in most cases. Also, most $800+ factory line guitars will need a setup.

    I do agree that ignorant parents are sold overpriced guitar packages for their kids. For example, a Lyon beginners pack for $349 that a local store that specializes in school band instrument rentals. I've helped several friends and neighbors save money and get better cheap gear for their kids from Rondo or MF. I'd also do a basic setup on it for the price of a set of strings.
     
  18. standard24

    standard24 Member

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    I think a beginner can benefit from a "better than basic", guitar & amp. I think they help train the ear, and the lighter touch can help a player develop a smoother technique.

    A Mexican Strat or a PRS SE, can easily be found for less than $300. An amp, for way less than that.

    That said...... My daughter is now learning on a half-assed Alvarez I bought for $20 at a garage sale. (We have much better guitars available, but for some reason, I think this is the one for her.)
     
  19. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    Cheap electrics are a completely different thing from cheap acoustics. $400 +/- is the bottom for an acoustic anything - guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle. Get something below that (unless it's used) and it's usually like fretting a damn fence.
     
  20. cadduc

    cadduc Member

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    what ever you buy have it set up properly,

    my friend john, still agonizes over that 56 strat he threw across the room, calling it a piece of xxxx
    he traded it plus cash for a casino I am guessing that strat only needed a set up, and today, it would be worth in the 50k range
     

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