Buying Your First Guitar or Bass

How to Buy A First Guitar or BassWritten by Jordan Heimburger, Ballwin School of Rock

One of the questions we get most often at School of Rock is what guitar or bass parents should buy for their child who wants to start learning to play. Here are a couple of pointers to help you find your way. Once you’ve put a sweet guitar or bass into your kid’s hands, come to School of Rock for a tour and free trial lesson and we’ll help them love playing it!

Note:  Just in time for the holidays Metro DC Music will be selling some excellent first guitars at significantly reduced prices on SAT December 6th from 10AM to 2PM at the Vienna School of Rock located at 111 Center Street South, Vienna, VA 22180.  Also, if you sign up for our Rock 101 or Performance Program before 12/19/14 you can get an awesome guitar or bass FREE!  Call any of our  DC Area Schools of Rock for details!

Buying That First Guitar or Bass
There are lots of great options for a first guitar or bass that are inexpensive and totally decent. If cost is your main consideration, you can still give your budding musician something they’ll feel good about bringing to band practice. If you are looking for something a little more serious, there are a lot of possibilities for that too.

First A Word About Affordable Instruments…

One of the ways that guitar manufacturers save cost on their affordable models is by saving labor on the final setup of the instrument. Often the parts are quality and assembled fine, but the fine-tuning that makes an instrument play well and sound its best is left to the consumer.   The set up can be done locally in our area at a number of shops and in case you are not familiar with some of what’s involved, here’s a handy set up guide from Fender.   The two biggest names in guitar manufacturing have affordable sub-brands that are an easy go-to choice – Fender makes Squire instruments and Gibson makes Epiphone. Both brands have a range of options for first-time players, including starter packs that include a guitar or bass, amp, cable and all the trimmings that will get your kid plugged in and ready to shred the classics for a couple hundred bucks and change. There are other guitar and bass makers competing at the same price point, and many are making instruments of comparable quality. Read up on online reviews and feel free to give us a call here at School of Rock if you’d like input – our teachers have seen it all!

If your kid wants to start on an acoustic (we get a lot of Taylor Swift fans showing up with acoustic guitars), there are acoustic starter packs, too. Yamaha, Fender/Squire and Epiphone offer these and they should be good enough instruments to get started on the path to writing a thousand variations of the same breakup song… not that your kid will do that.

A lot of parents ask about the difference between starting on acoustic versus electric. Here’s the answer: They’re the same instrument, and electrics are usually a little easier to play as a beginner. One of the most important concepts behind the success of School of Rock, though, is that if kids love picking up their instrument they’ll get better that much faster. So if your kid will be more excited to pick up an acoustic than an electric, or won’t be able to take their hands off of one of those crazy-shaped heavy metal looking electric guitars, that might be the thing that gets them playing the music they love the fastest.

Intermediate Level Instruments
If you take a step up the cost scale, there are enough options to make your head spin. There are nicer Squires and Epiphones, affordable Fenders and guitars made by a lot of other brands that are totally cool. Bear in mind that if you move up in price point, you’ll be buying each piece of your kid’s first rig separately. Is the increase in price worth it? Yes, it almost always is, but if the goal is to get your kid playing, a starter guitar will get the job done.  You can always upgrade the instrument when s/he is demonstrating commitment to learning down the road.

The important things to consider when buying an intermediate priced instrument are the same as the entry level ones. Does it have a pretty good reputation online? Can I picture my kid holding it? Is my kid going to think it’s cool? Do the people at the shop have good things to say about that brand/style of guitar?

How The Heck Do I Play This Thing?!
The last thing you want, once you’ve picked out the right guitar or bass for your kid, is to have it sit untouched for the rest of her/his childhood. At School of Rock, we focus on teaching students to enjoy playing their instrument first and build the broader concepts of music on top of that foundation, using performance as the motivation and the payoff.  When students know that they’re going to walk out on stage in a real rock venue and play a legit concert, the practicing tends to take care of itself.

We would love for your child to have all of the pieces in place the second they get their instrument – guitar lessons, bass lessons, a beginner or intermediate/advanced winter day camp, a concert to start rehearsing for. At School of Rock we take kids from total beginners to performing on stage, going on tour, building confidence and making lifelong memories and friendships with kids that love the same things they do

Call us today to schedule a free trial lessons and  let’s get that new instrument rocking!

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