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Buying a guitar for a 14-yr-old: What do I need to look for?

Old 11-02-05, 08:32 AM
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Buying a guitar for a 14-yr-old: What do I need to look for?

My daughter is taking beginning guitar next semester in high school, and we want to get her one for Christmas.

How much should I spend? Where should I look?

Example, I saw The Eterna by Yamaha EF31P1 Acoustic Folk Guitar Kit at Amazon for $129. How does this rank as a beginner model? It's a name I'm familiar with, and the price is in the ballpark.

Last edited by Pointyskull; 11-02-05 at 10:20 AM.
Old 11-02-05, 08:32 AM
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Get her an air guitar - they're cheaper.
Old 11-02-05, 10:03 AM
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Warlock!

She can be the next Lita Ford!

Old 11-02-05, 10:10 AM
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Old 11-02-05, 10:51 AM
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monkey, does she want an acoustic? or electric? honestly for a first guitar, it doesn't matter that much. if she still plays it in a year, get her something nicer. here is a great site that has a good selection of cheap guitars and a lot of them are great quality for the money (some arn't, check out reviews on harmony-central.com)

http://www.rondomusic.net/
Old 11-02-05, 11:05 AM
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1. How tall is your daughter, and how large are her hands?
2. Ultimately, what does she want to accomplish with the guitar. Accompaniment for vocals, or playing in a band?

Electric guitars are in general easier to play, have lower "actions", narrower necks, etc. Because of those reasons they are sometimes more suited for children to learn on. However, you need an amp and they aren't suited towards vocal accompaniment.

Steel string acoustics should, all things being equal, be where you should start. A decent beginner model should cost $200 or so, last I checked. However, poorly made steel string models are difficult and painful to play, inhibiting practice. It depends on how big and strong your daughter is. At any rate, she'll eventually build up callouses on her fingers.

Nylon string classical models are easy to play, and sound lovely. However, they have wide, flat necks, which can cause problems for people with small hands. They also traditionally don't have fingerboard markings to help you know where your fingers are on the fretboard. Because nylon string guitars don't need the sophisticated internal bracing and support needed by steel string guitars, they are often less expensive.
Old 11-02-05, 11:26 AM
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Buying a guitar for a 14-yr-old: What do I need to look for?
Ear plugs.
Old 11-02-05, 11:31 AM
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thx for the link, moorehed

She's going to be taking a beginning class in high school, so I'm not really sure if it should be acoustic or electric.

Not sure what her long-range plans are other than an active interest today, and due to the fickleness of teens I don't want to buy something too costly if this is just a passing phase, nor do I want to go too cheap to make it a challenge to play. Her hands aren't overly large, but they're not particularly small. How's that for vague?
Old 11-02-05, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by cultshock
Ear plugs.
D'Oh! You beat me to it!

Old 11-02-05, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by cultshock
Ear plugs.
I survived 5 years of her sometimes squonky clarinet, so guitar should be a step up.
Old 11-02-05, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by 12thmonkey
thx for the link, moorehed

She's going to be taking a beginning class in high school, so I'm not really sure if it should be acoustic or electric.

Not sure what her long-range plans are other than an active interest today, and due to the fickleness of teens I don't want to buy something too costly if this is just a passing phase, nor do I want to go too cheap to make it a challenge to play. Her hands aren't overly large, but they're not particularly small. How's that for vague?
Well, roughly how tall is she, and will she get much bigger? I'm too old to remember when girls get their last growth spurt, so that's why I'm asking such pointed questions.

I would recommend you get her a 'folk-size' steel string (smaller than a 'dreadnaught'). Make sure it will stay in tune, the intonation is not off, and the action is low enough it won't be painful to play.
Old 11-02-05, 11:58 AM
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you need to get a spinal tap amp

Old 11-02-05, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by wendersfan
Well, roughly how tall is she, and will she get much bigger?
She's like 5' 4'' now, but I expect her to still grow.


Originally Posted by wendersfan
I would recommend you get her a 'folk-size' steel string (smaller than a 'dreadnaught'). Make sure it will stay in tune, the intonation is not off, and the action is low enough it won't be painful to play.
thx for the tip!
Old 11-02-05, 12:21 PM
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If you're getting her an electric guitar, I recommend a Squire Strat copy. You can get one for under $200 and they're decent guitars. My first guitar came from a pawn shop and you can get something a little nicer used for the same price... but it may need work (mine certainly did).
Old 11-02-05, 12:34 PM
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Let me add one last point, which I didn't state as explicitly as I should have. For a beginning guitar player, almost assuredly the most important thing is to have a guitar which is physically enjoyable to play, or they won't practice. Practice is they key component to improvement.
Old 11-02-05, 01:31 PM
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ok, i did a long stint working at a guitar store, and even longer as a guitar tech in nashville. Let me make some suggestions, and try not to break your bank. I wholeheartedly agree with you need something comfortable to her. Guitar practice makes your hands hurt, and for a someone just starting this is the main problem people quit. First off, stay away from the Fender Squier packs. its crap on top of crap. poor electronics in the guitar, even a worse amplifiar. I own over half a dozen fender guitars, and a few gibsons...no doubt the american made real deal stuff from them is the best, however the japanese squier kits are some of the most overpriced junk on the market.

washburn makes some nice cheap guitar for beginers. they have a shorter scale, and make it much easier for small hands to make chords. I will try to get you some model numbers to look for in the next few days. Ibanez also makes a series called the GAX70 It has a thin neck, and easily accesible for small hands. when your out shopping look for something with a shorter scale and thinner neck, it will make a world of diffrence to a starter. If you want to spend a little more, the fender mustang is perfect, they re-release them in the 90's and can be found from 350-500 bucks.

Stay away from pawn shops, the good stuff is to expensive, and everything else needs to much work. You'll get screwed if you can't fix them yourself. The chain stores can be a rip off to. guitar center's and the like. Browse some smaller shops around town, get model numbers and check online sources like musiciansfriend.com

the only other suggestion i would make is take 30 dollars of your budget to a set up after you buy the guitar. Take it to a guitar shop and pay them to adjust the neck, bridge, etc. New guitar out of the box are packed for shipping, and go out of tune quickly. A proper set up will help relax the hands, and make the guitar much easier to play.

hope that helps.
Old 11-02-05, 01:43 PM
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wendersfan and cameron - thanks for the detailed info!
Old 11-02-05, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by j123vt_99
you need to get a spinal tap amp

but you can just make 10 the loudest
Old 11-02-05, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
but you can just make 10 the loudest
But this one goes to 11.
Old 11-02-05, 02:30 PM
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For acoustic guitars, I am a huge Taylor fan. They are mainly known for their high end models but you should check out their Big Baby, 100 Series, 200 Series lines.
Old 11-02-05, 03:38 PM
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My wife bought a daisy rock guitar last year, and has been happy with it.


That's all I know about guitars.
Old 11-02-05, 05:00 PM
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you guys are slacking... a guitar thread and not one pic of this guy

Old 11-02-05, 05:03 PM
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Esteban!

Old 11-03-05, 04:03 AM
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loving the esteban

the daisy suggestion isn't bad...its a good way to start and they build them for ladies hands...cutesy pink and what not...just stay away from the odd shaped ones, more for looks than learning...run in the 250-400 range. No luck on the washburn model numbers...they seem to have discontinued the line, and all my back catalog is in storage, just look for a small scale guitar... wasburn, ibanez, daisy, danelectro all make them.
Old 11-03-05, 05:09 AM
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Believe it or not Best Buy has these sweet packages by Gibson. I've checked them out and they're both really good Beginner models.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1118839078699
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1118839078857

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