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Buying An Electric Guitar For Your Child This Holiday Season

Guitars For SaleWith Christmas is approaching the time is near to find something awesome to put under the tree for the little Little Johnny's and Debbie's of the world. It isn't the toys you dread so much as the dreaded pony, or that other elephant in the room, the electric guitar. So you want to be hip and cool and you get some cheap, bargain model, only to see it end up in the garage or attic where all the other outgrown toys go. Is there away to avoid this fate? I have some serious knowledge to drop on you.1. Steer clear of starter and student models!These seem harmless enough with a price point a few cents or a few dollars below $100, but be warned. One, you are almost guaranteeing that that guitar will only get limited play time at most. Two you aren't going to be getting hardly any of that investment back if you decide to sell this guitar back to the shop or on Craigslist, eBay or some other consumer sales website . So why are these student models so dangerous to invest in?For starters, the quality is a serious issue. The electronics in many of these models not well made. they used cheap wiring harnesses, rapidly soldered together, pickups that are rapidly wired and may or may not be what you are told they are( I had a Saturday Night Special that looked like it had a Humbucker, but it was a 12 pole Single coil). The neck is another issue. poorly crowned and set frets that bite and dig on the hands of a young player, can turn that passion into a passing phase toot sweet. Even worse, cheap moods that aren't quartersawn, Cheap metals used for truss rod, can make sure that that neck never stays true. Nothing worse than a bowed neck. and cheap tuners, nuts and bridges will only insure that you can not tune let alone keep the guitar in tune.To make matters worse, cheap guitars like this will not retain any of the value you put into it. you try and sell it for your full $100, good luck on that one, pal! If you can not afford anymore than this $100 bucks, here are some things you must consider.a)What upgrades and or maintenance are involved? Upkeep on a poorly built guitar is a nightmare. Go to a reputed repair person or luthier and see what options they have. get them frets filed down and hammered in better. New tuners, nut and filed bridge saddles will make the guitar tune better. As for the neck and electronics...b) Consider RTO. (Rent To own)2) Get an expert and bring along a guitarist.So I take it that buying a bargain basement guitar no longer seems like such a bargain after all? Good! Now we can move forward. Look to your friends and family for someone who has some knowledge about guitars to help deal with Music Stores. Read up in guitar buyers guides and learn the lingo. At the big stores, the sales people are not your friends. They are trying to separate your wallet from your hard earned pay. That is their job. So if you do not know your way around a show room or sales floor, bring a buddy with you. Local independently run music stores are much more consumer friendly, but may lack in equipment that you want. However, they may be able to cut you a deal and order equipment for you. Still even in these cases, take a buddy with you that knows guitars. More important is that he knows what our kid wants ( and doesn't want). most important though is he or she knows how to haggle for the best deal.3) $500 vs $300I know these numbers seem rather high but consider that I myself own $3000+ guitars in my dojo(wht I named my studio). You can see that those numbers are a drop in the bucket compared to what I and other pros and collectors spend. Think more like a collector purchasing an investment over a mom and/or dad getting a rather expensive and potentially neglected toy. What am I going to get back if I have to sell this? Well for starters, the chances of you having to sell it drop substantially when the quality is ramped up considerably. It may not be a great or perfect guitar, but a good guitar will be less likely to go underplayed or be unplayable. Furthermore, it will be far cheaper to maintain.So what are the differences between the average $300 dollar point guitars, and $500? Quality of materials get ramped up about every $100 bucks, and craftsmanship likewise goes up. So basically you are getting a guitar that has had one or more inspectors and was fussed over a few hours more here and there. Also they put a little extra money into the materials. Woods were cut different and chosen from better stock sources. Metals were machine made rather than just smelted together. A $500 dollar guitar is gonna fetch you a lot more if you have to do the walk of shame back to the guitar store( or the good ol' fashioned garage sale. A $300 dollar guitar will fetch you about $100-200 back if you are forced to sell, where as a $500 dollar guitar will get you closer to $350-475 back.4) Watch Out!!!One, you do not want to get fleeced (hence why you should take a friend with you and get an education) and two, you want to see what sales are out there ( a $700-$900 dollar guitar going for $300- 500 may be in your future if you look around). Imagine the eyes on your kid pop out when they see a dream guitar that is just the poor mans side of $1000 under the tree. Imagine how happy you will be that not only will you not have to sell it, but if you did, getting more than the $500 you paid for it.As for the fleecing I mentioned first. Do not be a sucker or that well meaning grandmother you had as a child. You know the one that bought you something that sort of was like that Disney movie, but was a cheaper dollar store knock off, or worse, got you GOBOTS instead of Transformers and Robotech. There are knock offs, and cheapo brands that are wolves in sheep's clothing. Where was it made? Who "really" makes it? How was it made? What is it going to cost me in repairs and maintenance? Is that neck true or tilting one way or the other? These and many more questions are important. Not only do you want quality and better yet quality at a bargain but you want to know if you are going to get back your money if it comes to that unfortunate conclusion. Nothing is worse than dolling out $500 and expecting the better of $500 back and getting less than $200. Worse still, not being able to rid yourself of that bad guitar at all. Best try to give it to charity and hope you can get a deduction.5) So you bought the guitar. Now what?Please do not tell me you forgot the Amp? Strings(at least 3 sets)? Signal Cords? Books? Lessons, Effects and preamp pedals??? You thought you made out like a bandit didn't you. Well I got some bad news for you, sunshine. You bought an electric guitar and expect your kid to be satisfied playing it acoustically? One, that solid body ( unless you found a good hollow or semi-hollow body because that is what he/she wanted) isn't going to project hardly any sound. 2, it is an electric guitar. Plug it in. At least get a small used or tiny new amp. Do not, I repeat, Do not plug in to a stereo! Get an amp. Next Christmas if the kid is happy with the guitar, you may consider a Marshall Stack, but for now, just get him or her a little amp. ($25-100 depending on size and quality) preamp pedals and distortion is another issue. Do not waste money on one expensive pedal. Spend it on a few cheap one that compliment each other. What do I mean? I wouldn't spend $300 on one boutique pedal, unless I had a $3000 or better guitar. Besides it is only one pedal. You need a compressor, Wah, Fuzz/Overdrive/distortion, EQ, A Chorus and delay at least. It will set you back a good $200 for the cheapest pedal set up($125 for 4 pedals and $75 for the wah expression pedal). You can always upgrade later, one piece at a time as your kid develops his or her chops. Also pedals like guitars have good trade in value (unlike most cars). You may not get your $200 back, but you can sell them as a package with your guitar for a little more enticement. Get at least 3 sets of strings and have a new set installed before taking it home. Did your guitar come with a case? Buy one if it doesn't already come with a case or gig-bag. Protect your investment in your kids future. What about stands and cables? Ask. haggle and maybe get a cheap stand and a cable for free. Picks. Gotta buy 'em! they are probably the cheapest item on the list at around a $.25 to $1 dollar each. If you get a $500 hundred dollar guitar figure on paying close to a $1000. You will most likely get it back, and better yet, will probably not have to do that at all.6)Do not forget lessons.You bought all that for your child. Unless your child is a prodigy, do not expect the kid to teach him or herself. Get a teacher or 3. Yes I said more than one teacher. Shop around. Get introductory lessons, buy books that help you and your kid teach themselves. Get tuners and a metronome. Watch free lessons on YOUTUBE to get different points of view on same techniques/songs/exercises.I suggest one teacher who is focused on music theory as your primary instructor or only teacher. If you need help, get a tutor that is song and trick focused. Then, after a while, see how your kid progresses. Let your child choose whether to keep seeing one teacher over the other or continue seeing both.7) Be an active participant, but not too much.Lastly, you made a huge investment in your child's future. Do not be one of these showbiz mom and dads and be an ogre to your kids.Be an encouragement to them when they struggle. Be a willing audience (even if you aren't so willing). Play an integral role in them getting the most out of it. If they choose to move on to something different, do not get offended. Take it all in stride. If you followed these simple instructions one of two possible out comes will be in your future next year. One you will be seeing your kid at a talent show and be investing in more gear or two, you will be trading in that guitar for a drum kit!By Tommy Martinelli - Musician, writer, Jack of all trades if you will. I was Born and Raised in Napa, Ca. but I consider the entire Bay Area my home ( Go GIANTS). To those who know me have called me liberal, opinionated, well sp...  

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