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Thread: Need help for 15 yr olds first guitar purchase.

  1. #1
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    Need help for 15 yr olds first guitar purchase.

    Background:
    My daughter has gotten pretty deeply into music and has an amazing voice. We stopped the equestrian lessons and she’s been taking voice lessons for about two years. She’s been wanting to learn to play music as well so we bought her a keyboard. She taught herself how to play piano and decided she’s a rocker. I have a Hohner acoustic and a 74 Japanese Squire Strat. I’ve been working with her for about a year now and she’s at the end of what I can teach her as I’m a drummer that self-taught enough guitar to decently play rythm and simple riffs. She’s added guitar lessons from School of Rock to the vocal lessons and has been performing at their concerts, about two quarterly. So down to the question.

    She has decided that she wants to purchase her first electric guitar. I flippantly told her to start saving her money and forgot about it. She’s a huuuge money saver and when she mentioned it again I told her guitars were expensive. Guys, she’s saved over $1000! That’s discipline, folks. I offered to have my Strat gone through and made nice again, but she just wants a special purchase for herself. Also, she thinks she wants to try another model/sound, and quite frankly, sees it as a way of starting a collection as she plans on reappropriating my Strat anyway.

    I took her to a Guitar Center and she connected most with a Epiphone SG.

    Over to the hive mind. What’s the best way to shop for a decent first instrument? I’m wanting her to stay away from the cheapo entry level BS and purchase a by-God instrument. Any value in checking out local pawn shops? I’m feeling she’ll get the best values buying used and we both love the idea of used guitars having stories and character. I don’t really know anyone around that plays, though. What brands are offering a good value? Any to stay away from?

    Price is definitely a factor as, while she has saved a chunk of cash, she’ll be turning 16 soon looking for a car and all that that entails. And quite frankly, I like the idea of her covering a large purchase. It should hurt a little bit; that helps kids learn and appreciate the value of money.

    Ancillary equipment will come later. Right now, she’s still learning how to play and she’ll have a while before she grows out of the modeler and practice amp. She does most of her playing in her room. For the concerts, she uses the school’s stacks.

    @Bucky, @Totem Polar, @Duelist, and anyone else I forgot. Thanks guys, long post, I know.
    Last edited by TOTS; 08-21-2022 at 10:48 PM.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2011
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    SATX
    What style does she want?

    You mentioned the Eppy SG

    what about Tele, Strat, Les Paul

    Personally, I think the Tele has a lot of versatility.

    IMO, she needs to test drive a few then work from there. If she has a guitar teacher, they can usually make decent recommendations as well. No matter what she ends up with, it's a good idea to have it set up by someone who knows what they're doing.
    Last edited by Redhat; 08-21-2022 at 10:56 PM.

  3. #3
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    An Ephiphone SG can be a really good guitar. My personal electric is an Ephiphone Les Paul. I mostly play acoustics, so I don’t have a need for a higher-end electric.

    For $1K, I would probably get a base American Strat or Tele, or a Gibson Les Paul Studio.

    I would personally not mind shopping at a pawn shop, but I have enough experience with used guitars to be able to pick out where a Les Paul headstock has been broken off and repaired, or where a top or side on an acoustic has been damaged and repaired (or not repaired properly or well).

    Guitar Center can be a good place to go, depending on who works at yours. My son grew up playing my guitars, and is now a music major and works at a Guitar Center near his school. Before he went off to school, he asked me if he could have one of my recording guitars, a Taylor 314ce. I told him no, but that he could buy it from me for $1K (they sell new for about $2K). He saved and saved and worked his butt off, and paid me cash for it. I wanted him to have an idea of just how much that thing is worth, and have an investment in taking care of it. It’s paid off - he bought a weather-proof case for it when he started going to the studio to record because he couldn’t trust the weather to let him keep it safe from heat, cold, and wet.

    He just switched from Guitar Performance to Commercial Music as his major. If he is your salesman, your daughter will be well taken care of for this purchase. If it’s the electronics guy, or the drums and keys guy, or the dude who just needed a job and spends it all on THC vape oil, it may not be as good an experience.

  4. #4
    Site Supporter orionz06's Avatar
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    Looking at that price point, and the guideline of SG, I'd look to some of the new SG's they have. Epiphone has been punching above their weight recently with the Prophecy stuff.

    https://www.epiphone.com/en-US/Elect...ger-Aged-Gloss
    https://www.epiphone.com/en-US/Elect...Vintage-Cherry
    https://www.epiphone.com/en-US/Elect...ans-Black-Fade

    I'd also look at their Les Pauls in the same line, killer specs:
    https://www.epiphone.com/en-US/Elect...ger-Aged-Gloss
    https://www.epiphone.com/en-US/Elect...herry-Sunburst

    And the Emily Wolfe signature is pretty damned good too:
    https://www.epiphone.com/en-US/Elect...ack-Aged-Gloss
    Think for yourself. Question authority.

  5. #5
    Arma Cameleón Totem Polar's Avatar
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    If she connected with the SG, may as well start there. You can get an idea of what’s out there by searching reverb, eg.

    Gibson:

    https://reverb.com/marketplace?query...ectric-guitars

    Epiphone:

    https://reverb.com/marketplace?query...ectric-guitars

    Honestly, there’s 2 sides to this SG thing. One is that the Gibson name still makes for a more heirloom type instrument. The other is that our resident kydex wizard, above, is right about the Epi stuff. I know some *serious* working musicians who buy the Epiphone versions, and just upgrade the pickups with something killer. TBH, that’s what I’d do if I was looking for a Gibson design.

    I also think you might have your advocate with @Duelist’s son. GC’s can order from any GC, and ship store-to-store. At least, they used to be able to do that. It might be well worth a quick PM to see if there’s a chance of having someone from the P-F family act as the sales person. I’m not trying to put @Duelist on the spot, but… oh, hell, yes I am. But only because I know that a GC is a GC, and he’s spot on about finding a salesperson with a quality background.

    JMO.

    Enjoy the search!
    ”Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.”
    -Dwight D. Eisenhower

  6. #6
    Site Supporter Joe in PNG's Avatar
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    And don't discount makers like Yamaha, Ibanez, ESP, Schecter- there's a lot of decent stuff out there.

    We started my younger nephew out on a Yamaha Pacifica PAC012 HSS in violin sunburst.
    "You win 100% of the fights you avoid. If you're not there when it happens, you don't lose." - William Aprill
    "I've owned a guitar for 31 years and that sure hasn't made me a musician, let alone an expert. It's made me a guy who owns a guitar."- BBI

  7. #7
    If she connected with the SG, then that's the guitar. The "right guitar" is the one you want to play. And the Epiphone SG is a great guitar that will serve her well. Epiphones, particularly the mid and upper tier models, are very well made and I'd have no concerns about longevity or performance provided the guitar wasn't defective out of the box.

    One consideration with the SG, and most Epiphones (as well as the Gibsons from which they derive), is that the junction between the angled head stock and the neck is a well-known breaking point--most commonly when the guitar falls backward off a stand. And because the neck is set in the body, that junction must be repaired in the case of a break and that is skilled (and costly) work. A Fender (or other bolt-on neck guitar), by contrast, can be repaired simply by installing a new neck which is not a particularly difficult task. This is not a reason to not buy an Epiphone, but it is something to keep in mind. A good padded gig bag that has an internal divider supporting the neck at the headstock junction would be a great addition to an Epiphone SG. A hard case isn't really needed, and they're cumbersome and expensive.

    Looking back on my guitar/amp buying while in high school (in the 1990s), I really wish I'd saved up and bought a Martin D-28 or 000-18 acoustic guitar back before prices got crazy. A classic, American, acoustic is easily a lifetime guitar, and buying one at 16, 17 or 18 would be a great start to a musical career.

  8. #8
    Site Supporter Joe in PNG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oregon45 View Post
    Looking back on my guitar/amp buying while in high school (in the 1990s), I really wish I'd saved up and bought a Martin D-28 or 000-18 acoustic guitar back before prices got crazy. A classic, American, acoustic is easily a lifetime guitar, and buying one at 16, 17 or 18 would be a great start to a musical career.
    Buying a Steinberger XL-2 bass in 1995 when it was valued at $800 used was one of my better financial decisions. Sadly, I should have worked out how to keep the Ric 4001S I traded for it.
    "You win 100% of the fights you avoid. If you're not there when it happens, you don't lose." - William Aprill
    "I've owned a guitar for 31 years and that sure hasn't made me a musician, let alone an expert. It's made me a guy who owns a guitar."- BBI

  9. #9
    I started with an Epiphone SG (specifically a G-400). Two decades later, it still punches far above its weight class and is one of my favorite guitars.
    cornmeal and gunpowder and ham hocks and guitar strings

    (formerly known as WeepingAngel)

  10. #10
    Site Supporter Elwin's Avatar
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    I’d stay away from new Gibsons due to QC issues. Buying a used one you can play first is a great bet. Before I sold all my stuff and had to start over recently, I had a used LP Studio and Explorer that I loved.

    The PRS S2 line and the higher end SEs are where’d I’d look if I was buying used and had $1000 to spend. They will have some of the great handling characteristics that may be what she likes about the SG and they’re super high quality, versatile, and “pride of ownership”-qualifying instruments.

    What does she have/need for amp and effects? A $1000 guitar going through a $100 amp isn’t getting you anywhere close $1100 worth of performance. Obviously like the guitar this depends on the style she’s playing. For blues and lighter classic rock, a good 50w or so tube amp and a small collection of basic pedals will cover it. For heavier rock and getting into metal, not so much.

    I’ve had great success with the recent generations of modeling pedals. I used a Vox Tonelab LE back in the day and recently bought a used one for super cheap, but they’re a bit outdated and Vox only offers gimmicky entry level modelers now. I’d look really hard at something from Line 6 as a very versatile bang for buck option. A good modeling pedal from them will stick with her through any genre changes or exploration, and for playing live they can be fed straight to the house without an amp or played through a neutral amp like a keyboard amp.

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