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Gibson Les Paul Standard - the standard by which many guitars are judged

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Buying Guitars

There are some things which are worth remembering when you start looking for a guitar. The regular players know what they want and generally know what to look for . However, if you are starting to play guitar then you might want to consider a few things when you go looking around the guitar shops.

What do you want to do?

1. Strum along with songs that you like and play for your own amusement?

In this case you might consider buying an electro-acoustic guitar from such brands as Yamaha, Dean, Tanglewood, Takamine. Some produce inexpensive package priced guitars in this series for under 200 euros. While they may be good to get you started they can sometimes arrive in not so good condition and need some set-up work to make them playable. Spending around 300 euros or more is  likely to buy a guitar that will last longer, play better and be more a pleasure than a pain to play. You can take an electro acoustic anywhere and play it any time, plugged in or not.

The Takamine EG440SC electro acoustic with built in tuner. Smaller, comfortable body for easy playing.

2. You want to play electric guitar but not too worried about lead playing?

Starter packages from various manufacturers will get you a guitar and a small amp and a bag and strap all at a bargain price. Some of these instruments play reasonably well but can sometimes arrive poorly prepared and need work to make them adequately playable. Again,the price may be under 200 euros. Spending closer to 300/400 euros usually obtains a better instrument that will last longer and produce a much better sound and feel when played. Small amps don't cost a fortune and there are quality choices which provide more range of sounds than the budget all in packages. Look at guitar models from ESP Ltd (especially for those into rock), Blade, Vintage, Squier, Ibanez, Epiphone, Wasburn and Tokai. The higher up the range, the higher the price but quality rises with the price.

Squier Fat Strat - Fender sound with rocky edge

3. You want to play electric guitar and to play lead?

Most of the guitar brands above in (2) will be fine to get you started and you may use the same instrument for some years if it is set up well and looked after. Serious players would be advised to look at the higher end quality models of the brands. Small amps are fine and there are loads of choices to be had. For home use, even a 10 watt amp can be quite loud.

ESP Ltd M-100FM - good budget student rocker guitar

More expensive ESP Ltd 401VF big on quality and sound

Younger learners?

The age at which a student can start learning guitar depends on the individual and their ability to concentrate over longer periods. From the point of view of physical development, small model guitars, often soft nylon strung, can be the best choice for very young beginners. As they grow up the instrument can be changed for something more relevant later on.

Yamaha CS Classical guitar - good child starter guitar depending on the child's size and reach of hands.

New or secondhand?

There is always a thrill in buying a new guitar. If you buy well established brands at a good market price the instrument should be good to play and last some time. At the top end of the ranges in guitars, where you can spend easily over 2000 euros and a a lot more in custom shop models, the thrill of the new guitar is perhaps not so big. Guitarists can be very critical of what they are buying because the expectations of the instrument are very high.

Epiphone Les Pauls may sell at around half price when used


I have found secondhand guitars from leading brands to be available at very good prices and often in fair condition. A little attention in the workshop and these instruments play really well and are as good as more expensive new guitars. Finding these can be a little demanding and if you are not sure what you are looking at then there is a risk that you are buying trouble. As guitars don't appreciate in value unless they are collectible models, used guitars can be bought for a lot less than new ones and are often great value for money. I have found some superb instruments sitting on the clearance shelves of dealers and a little work has brought them back to first class condition.

The Fender American Standard Strat can be bought secondhand at fair prices - a great all round guitar which will hold value if cared for.

 

Can I find you a guitar?

I do provide this service where there is some flexibility on what can be supplied. Sometimes there can be discounts for certain models but this is secondary to buying a guitar that does the job required of it. When you are thinking about buying a guitar just tell me the details and I will find out more about the model and the reviews that are relevant. It may be that the very same model has been in the workshop for a common fault or has a good history among users.

 

School instruments and amps

Schools have budgets to spend where they can obtain good discounts from suppliers who deal with them. However, in today's competitive market, it can be better to look around at the alternatives, especially if a music department wants to have instruments that are strong, good quality and have long life expectancy. I don't recommend budget packages for schools due to the nature of the product quality being inadequate for school use. I can audit your music department equipment and see where there may be gaps in your instrument and equipment stock and then advise on the possible choices for purchase.

Tokai Love Rock guitars - well made, strong, great sound and well priced - and quite wanted!