#1 Edited by BombKareshi (1042 posts) -

Hail duders.

It's my sister's birthday soon and I was hoping to maybe get her an electric guitar. She's only a beginner when it comes to playing, but she's been practicing on-and-off using the same two-decade old acoustic guitar, and she's expressed interest in going electric. Problem is, I don't know a lot about musical instruments myself (despite mashing around with sequencers a lot), so I'd like some advice with regard to what to buy. It has to be a surprise, so I can't consult her directly, though I know Sis not to be very picky.

In summary, it should be:

  • Cheap, or moderately cheap.
  • Suited to beginners.

Anybody got an idea of what I should be looking out for? Like, any specific brands? Or is this altogether too crazy an idea?

#2 Posted by GalacticGravy (664 posts) -

Fender has a starter set that comes with a "Starcaster" guitar which is a cheap version of the Stratocaster. It works fine and is for beginners. Yeah it's a shitty guitar, but it'll get the job done fine.

#3 Edited by jking47 (1266 posts) -
#4 Posted by Jaytow (750 posts) -

A cheap epiphone guitar would do a beginner well.

#5 Posted by SpaceDandie (269 posts) -

Squier has really impressed me lately. They're very affordable and are well made for the price. I recommend any in the Classic Vibe series, specifically the Telecaster.

#6 Posted by Patman99 (1642 posts) -

You can never go wrong with the off brands. Squire (the cheap version of Fender) makes some decent beginner electric guitars. You may also find a fairly cheap Epiphone. Although I have never owned one of these guitars, I have doodled on them and they are both alright. Now there are a bunch of different models within these two brands, but I would suggest going into the music store finding on that is both the price you want and the brand you have decided on and buy that. Also any music store with its weight will give you far better advice than most people and will probably even give you a beginner amp for a discount price. I guess there are also Yamaha guitars but those seem like absolute pieces of shit, but then again, that may be what is best suited for her.

I cant really say which brand (Squire or Epiphone) to get because I am a Fender fanboy so I am automatically predisposed towards Squire but both seem like solid brands. I think Epiphone has a better reputation because they do make some top bar guitars that are actually really decent. My suggestion is to go into a music store and ask one of the people. Your idea is not crazy, it's a really awesome idea especially if it is for a person who doesnt really know guitars that well.

#7 Edited by Hamst3r (4894 posts) -

The Starcaster w/ amp

The Squier w/ amp

For a beginner, really any ol' guitar will get the job done. Buy anything. Well, except that one guitar made entirely out of oatmeal. Don't get that one.

#8 Posted by Hizang (9359 posts) -

The cheapest on you can find, your first musical instruments should be the cheapest because you may give up and not take to it.

#9 Posted by fox01313 (5177 posts) -

Another thing you could always try is a bass guitar as I've read tons of interviews of people getting into bands easier as a bass player as guitarists were all over for them. Just go with a simple boxed guitar that retail shops might have that are the basics then easy to upgrade for later depending on what they're after. Another alternative too would be the Rocksmith game, friend has it & quite informative at learning the guitar as well as plenty of pedals/amps to play with to see what kind of gear they like the sound of.

#10 Posted by Little_Socrates (5834 posts) -

A Mexican Fender (read; at Guitar Center, they call it the "standard" Fender Stratocaster) is probably the best; a big thing about buying someone a cheap guitar is that they're waaaaay more willing to just give up because it wasn't a huge investment. While I'm not saying you need to drop $1500 on a guitar, it might not be a bad idea to drop $400-500 on the guitar and $100-200 on the amp. You can get pretty nice Epiphones for that price as well.

A guitar that is clearly a "cheap" guitar won't produce good sound to begin with. That means your sister, if she ends up actually playing, will be stuck buying a much better electric guitar in the next year or two. Or she'll just give up because nothing she can play on the damn thing will sound good. I know I gave up when I had a near bottom-line Squier Stratocaster, but my brother ended up with a studio Gibson Les Paul and I've actually picked it up and started playing again.

#11 Posted by CosmicBatman (322 posts) -
#12 Edited by JigsawIntoSpace (48 posts) -

You could also try buying at a pawn shop if you are okay with getting a used guitar. You can get some nice stuff really cheap. Otherwise, yes, Squires, Epiphones, and lower end fenders will work. You can get some alright Ibanez guitars for cheap as well I'm pretty sure. The kind of guitar you get does somewhat depend on what kind of music she's going to play. Blues/country/jazz/indie musicians generally use fenders, and metal/hardcore/heavy musicians usually use Gibsons, although that's more of a generalization than a rule. Oh, and shedders use Ibanez for the most part. Shred brah.

Edit: The amp is very important as well, but you could probably start off with just a small solid state practice amp. Amp lust can set in pretty quick though when someone falls in love with the electric guitar.

#13 Posted by Jimbo (10271 posts) -
@SpaceDandie said:

Squier has really impressed me lately. They're very affordable and are well made for the price. I recommend any in the Classic Vibe series, specifically the Telecaster.

That's exactly what I went for (Vintage Blonde Tele). I probably wouldn't know a good guitar from a bad one, but it seems fine to me.
All depends what the OP means by 'cheap' I suppose.
#14 Posted by liquidmatt (244 posts) -

Personally I had a Les Paul Epiphone copy (http://www.epiphone.com/Products/Les-Paul/Les-Paul-Special-II.aspx ) for my first guitar and found it fine, I still use it at points ten years later.

I think as long as the action isn't painful to the point of putting her off playing due to the difficulty, I wouldn't worry much about many other things. It's more to just develop technique than anything.

That said, if she's played guitar before, then it might be worth going for something a bit better, especially if you're sure she'll stick with it. Maybe try extending your budget by splitting with someone else? If not, then do your best but understand it's not overly important in terms of quality - just comfort.

#15 Posted by bereft (11 posts) -

Squiers and epiphones are pretty good for a beginner - you could also maybe try a PRS SE. Though more expensive than the Squiers, you do get a much more balanced instrument and one which you potentially won't need to upgrade further down the line.

Bear in mind that going too cheap is probably not the greatest of solutions primarily because as you get better you won't get the equivalent performance out of your instrument.

Acoustic and classical guitars are a different story however.

#16 Posted by Falx (366 posts) -

I suggest having a look at the Epiphone dot, I've not had one but i love the gibson 335 style body and that it's semi-acoustic. My first electric guitar was a yamaha telecaster copy that i hated so i ended up just going back to playing acoustic. My bass is a squier and it's not bad at all really. I recently got a 335 copy made in Japan in the 60's that i'm in love with and has got me playing again after i stopped for three years.

#17 Posted by Jrinswand (1745 posts) -

Like a couple of other people have said, it doesn't really matter what kind of guitar you get for a beginner. Pretty much anything will get the job done. I know that I had a complete piece of crap for my first electric and it's a good thing, too. Since I started playing when I was too young to be responsible, I beat the ever-living shit out of my first guitar. I banged on it, used screwdrivers as an experiment in attack, covered it with stickers and generally just treated it like shit. I still learned how to play on it though. Then, when I got a nice Les Paul, I knew what to do and what not do with it. And I appreciated it all the more for having learned to play on a POS.

#18 Posted by BombKareshi (1042 posts) -

Wow, thanks for the many responses, guys! Took me a while to read 'em all. 
I appreciate the advice and the warnings. I'm leaning towards the Fender Starcaster at the moment (the price is about right), I just hope I can find something like that locally. I hadn't thought about the amp that much, so thanks for reminding me not to skip on the quality there... It's true, if I go too cheap and buy something crap that isn't really going to inspire her to keep learning, is it? :-)
I think I'll ring some shops lunchtime tomorrow; see how they can help me out. At least now I've got a starting point.

#19 Edited by ZombieSpace (286 posts) -

Get a fender classic vibe series guitar. They are fantastic for the price you pay and i wish i had the chance to get my hands on these guitars when i was starting out back in the day. You should rather pay a little more for the classic vibe guitars than some cheap ass store guitar because they are built to last and feel good in your hands. If your just starting out that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the learning process. They are also in the same price range as the cheap epiphone guitars but they are wayyy nicer as far as build quality goes.

#20 Posted by csl316 (11111 posts) -
A cheap epiphone guitar would do a beginner well.
Yep, I still have mine for the occasional practice a decade later.
#21 Edited by CheapPoison (830 posts) -

There really are a lot of good starter guitars. They have been improving for years now. Generally there is still a difference but you can normally get quite a bit of guitar for it's price.

Any idea what genre she plays, or what model she likes? She might be more into a les paul or a strat shape or of a super strat kind of thing or telecaster. And maybe something to consider, how big is your sister and does she play standing up.

Also ever considered trying to see what you can find on the secondhand front. I generally find that people take good care of their instruments ( not sure with beginners models though, they might have some trouble but i guess that is more duo to lack of knowledge) A lot of starters get sold cause people want to ditch em for somethiing better or people don't stick with it. You might be able to land yourself quite a deal. Or start out with a middle tier model for the price or a starter guitar.

#22 Posted by nintendoeats (6144 posts) -

@Hizang said:

The cheapest on you can find, your first musical instruments should be the cheapest because you may give up and not take to it.

I disagree. Playing a really terrible instrument can put you off the hobby. I don't know if you've ever played one of those cheap plastic things from Wal-Mart, but there is literally nothing enjoyable about trying to use one of those things. If my dad had bought me one of those when I was a kid I probably wouldn't have guitars hanging on my wall right now.

That said, don't spend TOO much money either because you won't notice the difference until much later in your playing career. It's better to learn what what you like in a guitar before spending real money on it.

And that I know from experience >_>

#23 Posted by Mystyr_E (1358 posts) -

I have an Aria strat. It's not bad but 3 of the pickups create a buzzing noise when I select them.

Used to have an Epiphone Firebird SG but it got stepped on. I can wave it back and forth and it was like I Red Green'd a whammy bar