Christmas is the perfect time to fill the wishlist of the aspiring guitar player but knowing where to begin can be daunting. Where do I start? How much do I spend? What accessories should I include? these are just some of the questions you might be asking yourself so let’s take a look and see if we can make this a bit easier to navigate. Perhaps the most important thing to consider is what does your future Van Halen want? Knowing whether he wants an acoustic guitar to strum like his indie rock faves or she wants an electric guitar to shred like her metal gods will determine where to begin.
Modern technology has made it easier to produce top quality instruments with cheaper components that keep costs down and sacrifice very little in playability or tone. If your future superstar is looking for an acoustic guitar there are many affordable options available that are easy to play and sound good which is a key factor in maintaining interest in the instrument. Recent blogs have looked at some of these including the new Yamaha FG series of true acoustic guitars. These models have no electronic components at all and produce sound by internal resonance that comes out of the body via the sound hole so there is no need for an amplifier. These guitars can be picked up anywhere at anytime and played, in fact, my acoustic guitars still tend to be my go to for a quick fix and are regularly played. I learn songs on mine, I record with them, and I play live with them so there is a nice range of possibilities. Other good entry level guitars in the field are available from such luminary producers as Fender (and their sub brand Squier) and Gibson (as well as their sub brand Epiphone).
ELECTRIC ACOUSTIC GUITARS
If you want to get an acoustic guitar but also have the option of amplification then you need to look at the electric/acoustic models. You will find many options from the familiar names as well as brands like Takamine and Martin. They look and play exactly like a regular acoustic guitar but have an internal pickup that lets you plug into an amplifier as well. There are acoustic guitar amplifiers specifically made for this like the Roland AC-40 which I reviewed here. The price point for an electric acoustic can range anywhere from a couple hundred dollars well up into the thousands. For a beginning guitarist, there is no reason to spend that much as the entry level guitars are certainly adequate and won’t leave you bankrupt if your new guitarist decides that maybe the guitar isn’t for them.
Same general rules apply in this category as well. You can get a very solid and reliable guitar without spending 3 months salary. All the big players have guitars across the pricing spectrum. Packages like the Gibson Maestro Les Paul Pack or the Squier Start Playing Pack offer the best beginner pricing as they include the guitar, a carrying bag, a 1/4″ guitar cable, strings, picks, strap, and a small practice amp all in one. A great start for sure but if your guitar hero gets serious about their new endeavour, an upgrade will be in short order so you may want to keep that in mind.
AMPS FOR GUITARS AND MORE
Again, digital technology has made this an incredibly inexpensive category where for little money you can get an amplifier that will meet almost any sound requirement a new guitarist could want. Fender and Roland both make very good modelling amps meaning that within the amp itself are the sounds for rock, blues, indie, metal, and other effects. Gone are the days when you need an amplifier and a bevy of different effects pedals and patch cords to get a specific sound. As you get more in tune with your guitar and playing, you may want to get those as well, I have both at my disposal, but to get going, these modelling amps more than meet the requirements of any guitarist setting out on their musical exploration.
ACCESSORIES FOR GUITARS
To cap it all of you may want to throw some accessories under the tree or into a stocking. A guitar stand will prevent fall overs and protect the new pride from dings, scratches and chips. A tuner is a must have as making sure the strings are at the correct tension ensures that when you try to learn or play along with your favourite song that it actually sounds like that song. Grab some guitar picks for the stocking since, trust me on this, they tend to walk away so having extras is never a bad thing. Strings are obviously crucial as well and they do break so having a replacement on hand is a requirement. There are a myriad of other addons and accessories to consider but with the foundation in place your new rock superstar is good to go. Perhaps the most important part of starting out doesn’t even cost money. As they learn new techniques and songs, they will want you to hear them. You got the ball rolling by getting the gear they needed, now a little encouragement goes a long way in helping them reach the next step. Have fun and have a great holiday season!