What should I know to buy a guitar?

I’m buying an electric guitar for my girlfriend for Christmas. She doesn’t know how to play one, but she’s determined to start a band and become a rock star. (“If Avril/Lillix/etc. can do it, I can.”)

I’m trying to weasel my way into being purcussion on the band. I’ve had great success drumming on my jockstrap and singing kumbiya (sp?).

Back to the point: neither of us have any idea of what to look for in a good guitar and every store we’ve been to has that delightful, “helpful but sleezy” yuletide quality.

She’s five foot six and right handed, if that’s important.

Can any musical dopers help us out?

If she’s just starting out I would suggest purchasing a rather minimalistic and inexpensive guitar (which is not the same as “cheap”). Look at the recognized name brands, then choose one of the lower-end models. If a year later she’s still playing, consider upgrading. (At that point she’ll know what features she wants.)

Well there are 4, 6 and 12 string guitars and I advise strongly that you buy one with at least 6 strings unless she intends beinga bass guitarist, these usually have just 4 strings.
You will also require an amplifier, plectrums (picks in the trade) an electronic tuner, stand and beginners guide.
Seriously, I’d start out with a Fender Squier Strat 6 string job.
Not to expensive, my first cost me less than £120 about 6 years ago and from there I’ve progressed to a Les Paul (far superior)
Just don’t expect your g/f to pick up the instrument and start playing like Jimi Hendrix, it takes a whole lot of time and patience.
So long as she sticks with it, in about 6 months or so she should be able to pick out one of the easiest tunes such as “Yesterday” or “Beautiful Tonight”
A tutor is also a good idea just to get the hang of chords and general know how.
Best of luck buddy

A few Dopers, particularly WordMan, gave me excellent guitar-buying advice on this recent thread:


But since your girlfriend is new tp playing, she won’t want or need anything like that. Most big music stores like Guitar Center and Sam Ash sell a beginner’s pack with a Squier Stratocaster (the low-end introductory version of the famous Fender Stratocaster guitar), a small practice amp (usually around 15 watts), a cable, a case, and a few other items. This would probably be the best deal of all for a beginner, price-wise and value-wise.

It may help to know what kinds of music she’s into, though. You said she wants to be a rock star, but if she fancies a particular guitarist or band’s sound, that may influence your shopping.

Avoid Crate. For the love of og avoid Crate. They do an OK amp, but Ive seen better guitars made of pallet wood and chicken-wire.

Don’t get them a banjo instead.

As for the OP, get the cheapest thing you can find. Costco has them with small amps. I don’t remember the price. After getting one, take it to a shop and get it set up correctly.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to spend much. Chances are, the playing will last less than a year once she finds out how damn hard it is.

What would I need to get done?

A Danelectro can be a good starter electric guitar. It’s solid, pretty reliable, and won’t break the bank; you can get one for about $200. Do not ever, EVER buy one of their pedals, though.

For the record, I’d strongly advise that she start with an acoustic guitar. For one thing, she’ll learn the basics of playing guitar without having distortion, reverb, etc. to hide behind. For another thing, it’ll make her fingers stronger faster. It’s easy to switch from acoustic to electric, but not so easy to go in the other direction.

Is there anything I can say that will get your girlfriend to start on an acoustic? You’ll become a better electric player faster by starting on an

lol I’ll pass on the acoustic advice, but I think being noisy is part of the appeal.

Get the absolute cheapest pawn-shop guitar and amp that you can find as long as it:

  1. has a straight neck (sight down the front of the fretboard out from the body to make sure)
  2. doesn’t buzz too badly on any string or fret (can sometimes be tuned out by tweaking the neck or raising the action slightly).

It will sound like crap in comparison to something expensive, but there’s no point in buying anything valuable until she is sure she likes playing. Give it six months and then start upgrading whatever part of the rig is worst, or just chuck the entire thing and buy something decent. There’s no point in wasting money when probably 7 out of 10 “future rock stars” never make it past Stairway to Heaven.

You might even get lucky. My $40 Yamaha electric is still together and sounding fine (for a Yamaha) five years later.

Get the Fender Squier Strat w/ amp and everything you need to get started. It plays and sounds good and will last until she decides whether to stick with it or not. Not too big of an initial investment just in case. (Plus, it’ll get you a $100 in a pawn shop when you get in a bind)

I got my son one last year (X-mas sale) and it’s been a good deal. Less than $200 bucks total.

PS get extra strings :wink:

Got any mates who play well? Take them with you to the shop. (Don’t take someone who is still a beginner.) Individual guitars vary in quality (especially cheaper ones) and you need a bit of experience to spot a duffer.

like t-keela says get several sets of strings (009s) beginners tend to assume strings are OK until they break. No, they go dull and plonky after a while depending on how much and how hard you play. Change them when they no longer go twang.

If you buy knockoffs big-name guitars, be aware that not all cheap imitations are the same.

You can find lots of $150 Strat copies, or Les Paul copies that aren’t worth a tenth as much, some that are pretty decent…and some that are even better than the real manufacturer’s cheap line, like Squier or Epiphone.

For example, I’ve had a total of three cheap Les Pauls. One was a cheap knockoff brand, but I can’t even remember the name because it didn’t spend a week in my house before it went back to the music store. The second was an Epiphone LP Special II. That’s actually made by Gibson, and it’s part their low-end, affordable line. I was pleased, but not thrilled with it. I always thought it sounded flat and hollow.

Then one day, I saw an online store selling $200 Les Paul knockoffs made by a Chinese outfit called Essex that looked amazingly like the real thing. I did some research, and could only find positive reviews. I bought one, sight unseen. I got it, set it up, and was blown away. Having played on several of the real things ($2000 Gibsons), I could say that the Essex I bought a couple years ago is almost as good. The only major difference is that it has a bolt-on neck insteas of a set neck. Then again, so did the Epi. The only quality issue I had was that the stock tuning machines sucked, and they got upgraded quickly. I’d say I have about 90% of the quality and craftsmanship of a real Gibson for 10% the price.

I could tell a similar story about Strat-style axes I’ve owned. But the moral is the same: there are cheap knockoffs, and there are good cheap knockoffs. Shop around, and don’t pay too much.

I concur with what t-keela and spogga said. Get a brand new Fender Strat Squier package that includes amp, chords, pick, etc.

This is the guitar that i started with. It was my primary guitar for the first four years until the neck was so worn out from playing too many Floyd, Hendrix, and SRV licks.

I actually have a basic set-up that I don’t need right now. My wife got it some time ago but decided to stick with the acustic. There is a guitar, practice amp cords and a guitar stand. Give me an email and we can talk about it

How’s this for co-incidence!!!

I’ve just started to learn to play guitar after 10+ years playing bass. I’ve always used Fenders.

I was looking at buying a Squire Strat but my guitar teacher told me not to touch 'em as production has switched to a factory in China and the build quality isn’t as good as the original Japanese/American/Mexican/Can’t-Remember-Which build which were FAB!!

He recommended a Yamaha Pacifica which goes for around the same price.

All the reviews I have read about the Pacifica have been EXCELLENT!!!

Me? I bought a fender Strat…


I’ve been playing for years. My son has been practicing on my Gibson for a couple of years. I taught him to read music when he was six or seven. He plays several instruments including keyboard and sax. I got him a Fender acoustic first. Nice guitar, but he’s a teen now and I understand. But dammit I’m tired of trying to find MY axe and when I do it’ll have a broke string.

After nearly a year now of him practicing everyday on his own guitar. (cheap or not) He’s kicking ass pretty good. We were working out the licks on some Ozzy the other night. He sounded better’n me. I think it’s time for an amp upgrade now.