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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Anybody know of a good but inexpensive electric guitar? Asking for a friend

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groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/08/2020:  13:11:57

My daughter and her son suddenly decided they want to play an electric guitar. I went over there to see the ones she's trying to decide between, but I don't know anything at all about electric guitars or which brands would be trusted yet inexpensive. Any helpful hints would be welcome and if I get any I will pass them along to help them make their choice.
Thanks...I'm hopeful fiddlers might know about electric've made some real mistakes I regretted after just buying acoustics that I thought I knew something about.

DougD - Posted - 09/08/2020:  14:07:02

How much is "inexpensive" and what are they currently looking at? I think there are Squier "mini strats" that might be easier for young people to handle.

DougD - Posted - 09/08/2020:  14:14:08

This is what I was referring to:
I have several electrical guitars and I'm always surprised how heavy they are. Don't forget they'll need an amp of some kind.

ChickenMan - Posted - 09/08/2020:  14:26:44

Epiphone makes a good entry level guitar. What kind of music do they want to play?

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/08/2020:  14:31:49

Thanks, guys. I think her price range would be under if she could squeeze an amp in there without going too much higher she'd like that.

I don't know what type music they are wanting to play...I think maybe old pop rock type songs or something.

One more question. She has a thing like a presonus...some type recording box...if they couldn't afford an amp at first, could they just plug into that and play off the computer speakers without having to use an amp?

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/08/2020:  14:35:22

Thanks for the link, Doug...I sent that to her to look at.

DougD - Posted - 09/08/2020:  14:45:41

There is a Squier outfit almost in that price range:
If the input on the interface is "Hi-Z" (for instrument) you probably could make it work. It might be fun to blow up some computer monitors that way!
Main drawback is it ties up the computer and tethers you to it. With a real amp grandson can go somewhere and bang away to his heart's content.

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 09/08/2020:  14:59:40

Yeah, I like Squiers.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/08/2020:  15:24:54

Thanks for that link too, Doug. Appreciate the input, everybody!

farmerjones - Posted - 09/08/2020:  19:48:46

Squiers here too. Couldn't decide between a Telecaster or a Stratocaster, so i got both.
Can't really tie into a Gibson/Epiphone for as cheap. I really want something with a humbucker pickup(s). Maybe someday.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/09/2020:  00:48:23


Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

One more question. She has a thing like a presonus...some type recording box...if they couldn't afford an amp at first, could they just plug into that and play off the computer speakers without having to use an amp?

Yes, that is possible. Most consumer interfaces such as your presonus allow for an electric guitar to plug directly in... (Hi-Z). They also make inexpensive ($30) USB interfaces for just guitar/instrument.  The advantages of going thru the computer are that you have enormous amp modeling and effects. The only caution, there can be slight latency; you strum a chord, but sound doesn't come out for a few milliseconds later. How much depends mostly on the computer.

Some interfaces are designed for guitar... have some amp modeling/effects (DSPs) built into the interface. As well they make pedals that have the amp modeling/effects which could be sent to the computer, or to an amp.

Of course, nothing like the sound of an actual amp; many inexpensive small guitar practice amps; for a little more can also have modeling/effects built in. (some have usb out).

Hoodoo - Posted - 09/09/2020:  03:08:14

I used to have something that was very similar to that Squier package when I was a teenager, now many more years ago than I like to admit.

It actually might be the same thing. It came with the guitar, a small amp and a gig bag and cost about the same thing, even 17-18 years ago

I liked it and this friend of mine who played in a professional touring heavy metal band told me that he liked those guitars a lot for beginners, which was enough of an endorsement for me

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/09/2020:  11:14:29

Well I never heard of squiers to see so many have had good experiences with them. I'll pass it all along to Annie and she and her son might have a little easier time deciding what they want. Thanks, everybody!

DougD - Posted - 09/09/2020:  11:47:22

Squier was once a separate company, but now its the name Fender uses for their least expensive instruments made in Asia. Epiphone is somewhat the same for Gibson.
You can probably buy similar Asian instruments under different names, but I suggested Squier because I think you have a better chance of getting a well designed instrument, built and set up with decent quality control. These are commodity items, and I don't think you'll find much difference in price, so I'd suggest buying from a reputable dealer, or maybe even locally. I happen to like Sweetwater, but there are others.
I think that little amp looks fine for a young beginner. I doubt your grandson is much interested in amp modeling plugins! As a matter of fact, we have a Roland Cube Street amp that has eight COSM amp models, and I've never explored them much either.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/09/2020:  12:01:19

I don't even know what an amp modeling plugin So yeah...he tried a little violin and fiddling before but that didn't really go very far. I don't know how much interest he'll end up with in music, but guitar is probably a better choice for him at this point.

ChickenMan - Posted - 09/09/2020:  14:35:00


Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

I don't even know what an amp modeling plugin So yeah...he tried a little violin and fiddling before but that didn't really go very far. I don't know how much interest he'll end up with in music, but guitar is probably a better choice for him at this point.

Modeling = software that makes the amp sound like different types/signature sounding brands of amplifiers.

Kids often don't latch onto anything their parents toss their way when they are young. I've never had a child student who was ever really into music. It has always been their parent's idea. I can usually figure that out by the second lesson and on the 3rd I ask, "Is this your idea, playing (whatever instrument), or your parent's?" The answer has always been "parent's." Jr. high and high school students who were taking lessons because they wanted to take them inevitably made progress enough to begin their self guided musical journey. And to be honest, that's my goal, learn until you are ready to fledge. 

That said, why not get him playing on a nice soprano ukulele? Waaay easier on the tiny soft child fingers, and easier in general than the guitar. For 125 you can get an above average entry level soprano uke. 

Edited by - ChickenMan on 09/09/2020 14:39:31

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/09/2020:  18:34:37

Interesting...I'll run that idea by them and see what they think.

bwright - Posted - 09/09/2020:  20:16:45

Squier is a good way to go, I just swapped out the electronics in my squier strat. Plus side, they are light, thinner body, and cheap. Lots of models to choose from, bullets being the low end, affinity then classic vibe, the classic vibe is better than the mim fender strats. When it comes to the affinity strat, the best came out of the indonesia plant 20 years ago.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/10/2020:  00:24:36

Not sure how old or big your grandchild is... but point out that they make "short scale" and mini electric guitars that sound and play really good. Might be easier on small hands.

I've tried the  Squier Jazzmaster HH and the Fender Mustang 90, both are pretty good. The Mustang has P90 pickups, which is between humbuckers and single coil sound.  Electric guitars have different sound qualities, pickups are big part of the equation.

There are also packages that have guitar, amp, strap, cord, tuner, picks, and learning materiel.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/10/2020:  00:35:40

Modeling. It's about the color of sound.

A plain inexpensive electric guitar, just ran through through something like a stereo speaker (or low end solid state amp)... can make it louder, but not much color; can sound a little thin, dry, and limited. A big part of the classic electric guitar sound qualities is from the amp... transformer, tubes, tone/eq..  Affects the sound, amount of distortion, compression, sustain; from clean, bright to warm to little edge, to overdrive. Amps were noticeable different, and good sound was expensive; especially inexpensive solid state amps. 

Digital modeling they can inexpensively simulate those amp sounds to a reasonable degree; and give lots of choices. Similar is effects, like reverb, chorus, tremolo, compressor, phase shifter, delay and many many other various pedal effects;  they can now digital model those effects... adding more choice of color.

Most DAW like Studio One should have many of these type plugins.

Important?... perhaps not. But the thing to keep in mind, while a parent or grandparent might not "get" these sounds... (what's wrong with just plain sound?) -  the student might... and reason wanting to play electric... the quality of sound "can" play a role in how inspired they are to pick it up. Can encourage students to explore playing with these different sonic tools can also be inspiring.


Originally posted by ChickenMan

That said, why not get him playing on a nice soprano ukulele?. 

A ukulele is not an electric guitar. If going that direction, where students interest is unimportant, why not the recorder, or tin whistle, or harmonica... they are way cheaper, easy on the hands. Or get a inexpensive keyboard to plug-in to the computer?




ChickenMan - Posted - 09/10/2020:  03:56:55

Because I know close to how old the child with the soft fingers is and she already said he's not all that focused. Uke is fun and easy to get started.

FWIW my guitar playing Hawaiian uncle (who can play circles around most people) says, with only a small bit of hyperbole, every kid who wants to learn guitar in Hawaii starts on ukulele because they share the same finger positions and are easy on the fingers.

Good luck Peggy. 

Edited by - ChickenMan on 09/10/2020 03:58:50

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/10/2020:  05:09:24

Thanks guys. He's 10. I was 10 when I started on guitar...I had a small acoustic and I played until my fingers bruised up, blistered up and I don't see him with that kind of motivation at the moment. Still...I'm just happy he's been asking for one...I've conveyed a lot of stuff to consider along to daughter and she's thinking about it all. She wants to play it too, with him, so they'll decide together. Whatever they get, I hope they'll let me play it some I appreciate the help.

Hoodoo - Posted - 09/10/2020:  06:28:16

Maybe this can help as well :

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/10/2020:  07:35:54

Soft fingers - electric guitar strings can use pretty light gauge strings, require light touch; way easier on fingers than typical steel string acoustic. 

I'm not anti uke... but IMO experience, not convinced that "adult" theory of easy learning works...  but depends on the kid, age/maturity; teacher... and cultural exposure, how the child sees the instrument.

Just pointing out had many experiences, that for older child who really wants to play guitar, esp electric... a uke can be let down, killer of inspiration, motivation. Uke is not part of or on the radar in many households; in many places was never taken very serious; more like a toy, part of a routine (Tiny Tim)... not something to make real music.

Some grade school music teachers use ukes in class perhaps with some similar easy concept, like those music classes using flutaphone/recorder. .. as far as I can tell, NO kid learns to actually really play music? (not sure the teachers really see these as real instruments?).

Is different if the child is in a culture that sees the uke commonly used as real instrument, good role models, and is interested in playing it.

I've never had a child student who was ever really into music. It has always been their parent's idea.

I have known plenty of children who were really interested in music... IMO,  parents (and teachers) goals or dreams, sometimes get in the way; don't channel interest properly, wrong instruments, wrong goals... seems kind of set up for failure as more likely outcome. Getting into perhaps a thread drift.

FWIW, I've probably had more success with students (of any age) learning electric guitar than about any other instrument; including uke.  There are some great advantages.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 09/10/2020 07:36:49

Hoodoo - Posted - 09/10/2020:  07:45:30

Yeah, I was forced into piano lessons as a kid. I didn't really like it. I was around 14 or 15 when I picked up an electric guitar, so older than 10, but even though I completely sucked at it, I practiced nearly every day, while the piano was always a chore.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/10/2020:  08:22:46

I like the line  from the GW  about what guitar to get...

"The simple answer is any that keeps them playing and keeps them enthused about the instrument."

 and agree with the advise

ultimately it comes back to what we are looking for in any instrument for children: what is going to keep them enthused and keep them playing the longest. 

In my experience that really is about most important factor for many... and worth a involving the child in open discussing of what tastes and inspirations they already forming; listen to them; involve them in the process, including the look/design/color of the instrument, sometimes the "image" can be part of inspiration.


DougD - Posted - 09/10/2020:  08:43:53

Regarding the ukulele, here's a little story. All my life I wanted to play the guitar. My Mom told me that I would stand up in my playpen and play "air guitar" along with music in the radio. Eventually my parents decided to get me an instrument as a birthday present - a plastic ukulele. I eagerly unwrapped it, took one look, handed it back and spat out that horrid word "uke." I knew it was no guitar!
Later on I made peace with the uke when I came across a really nice one at an antique show.
Peggy, an electric guitar doesn't necessarily mean heavy metal shredding. Here's a recent YouTube with some nice, gentle playing on a strat style instrument:

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 09/10/2020:  13:58:40

Not that it is a make-or-break issue, but I've found that guitar players that start on an electric seldom ever get truly fine on an acoustic. Players that start on acoustics, by contrast, manage the switch much better.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/10/2020:  18:01:11

Well I don't know what my grandson has in mind, exactly. But if he likes whatever he can learn to do on it I'm sure it'll be worth it.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/10/2020:  19:36:05

DougD brought up good point...

"an electric guitar doesn't necessarily mean heavy metal shredding."

Lot's of awesome country players (the telecaster has that classic sound IMO) and folks like Chet Atkins (I could imagine peggy with his Gretch sound); and of course blues players getting that warmer sound.

Which brings up the other point to maybe consider, since your daughter and perhaps your self might want to also play it... what guitar setup would suit you or daughter better... and perhaps maybe worth buying better instrument?

I have used that to decide what model/style/quality to get my children, that if they change direction, or give it up... I still have an instrument I will get use of.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/11/2020:  04:04:42

I could end up with a hand-me-down I'm sure with my Presonus at hand I could find some use for it.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 10/07/2020:  14:26:46

they got their squire guitar today. i went over and held it...strummed lightly but shucks, i still can't eventhink about playing.

DougD - Posted - 10/07/2020:  14:41:11

What color is it? That's one of the most important things.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 10/07/2020:  15:55:35


DougD - Posted - 10/08/2020:  09:05:37

Did they get the mini or the full sized one?

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 10/08/2020:  11:25:29

It's small. They have a litte amp too...gets a lot of volume though.

DougD - Posted - 10/08/2020:  11:43:42

Sounds perfect for him. Bet you can't wait to join him on some blues harmonica!

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 10/08/2020:  18:48:32

hopefully i can keep

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