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Ultimate Garage Band

Money vs. value

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Let’s talk about guitar budget. Have you ever purchased a digital camera? If you have then you know if you set a budget of $200 for a camera and SPEND $200 on just a camera, you’ve got about another $100 to spend in STUFF to make the camera do what you want it to do. A camera bag, rechargeable batteries, battery charger, bigger/2nd media storage card, and on and on. The same holds true with guitars. If you budget to spend $200 on your first guitar, don’t forget you’ll need something to carry the guitar around in, a bag or case, a tuner, and quite possibly a stand, an amplifier, chords, pedals, a metronome, a footstool, a music stand, books/dvd’s, picks, strap, and on and on. Often times guitar companies will assemble much of these items into ‘Starter Packs’ and market them as an all inclusive purchase.

Personally, I don’t offer Starter Packs through my retail guitar business because I find them to be a poor value. Let’s look at how the business of guitars and retail sales approaches the new player.

The specific guitar that companies tout as the ‘best’ for a new player is the cheapest and poorest performing guitar in the product line up. Think about that for a moment; if company X offers 45 different guitar models, THE CHEAPEST ONE is the one they say is ‘perfect’ for the new player. This will be the one guitar, out of all 45, that will have the cheapest quality hardware, the cheapest quality wood, the cheapest quality finish, the cheapest quality fretwork. In other words, out of all 45 guitar models, IT’S THE HARDEST GUITAR TO PLAY WELL. So, does this sound like the ‘perfect’ guitar for beginners? The perfect guitar for beginners would be the top of the line, easiest playing, best performing guitar, BUT new players aren’t going to spend that kind of money and companies AND retailers know that. Their solution? To package ‘all in one’ starter packs for a quick and easy sale KNOWING the player has an inferior instrument/gear and will probably never make another guitar related purchase again. Who cares? They got your money for this purchase and there’s another newbie just like you every day.

THERE ARE SOME THAT BUY THESE STARTER KITS AND DO SUCCEED IN LEARNING TO PLAY, HOWEVER, THE MAJORITY FAIL.

This is also not to say that ALL starter kits offer ALL inferior products. I’m a Washburn dealer, for instance, and an electric guitar they currently offer in some their starter kits is the very same model I stock and suggest for a first electric guitar. However, everything else that comes with it will be replaced inside a year if the player keeps playing, so why not go ahead and put that money towards gear that will last more than a year?

So, when thinking about your budget you should plan for accessories and look beyond the starter packs for the best value in performance.

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For electric starter packs the amp is usually the weak point. In fact many companies put such an insubstantial amp in the starter pack, you can't even BUY that amp alone!! It's lower than the lowest model one can purchase individually!!! Typically 6-8 watts with a 4"-6" speaker. There's only two amps I'd spend *my* money on in that power/price range, the Roland Micro Cube and the smallest Orange Crush.

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bluesguy    0

IMO: A new guitar player would be better off buying the best guitar they can afford and one of those small battery operated minature amps that both Fender/Marshall sells ($30). Then save their $s for a better amp.

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I'm gonna chime in on this now that I've had my 'starter' guitar for a month. I have 5 friends who all play guitar; and 3 of them own a real strat. Not one of those friends has had a bad thing to say about my guitar other than the fret-ends need a little filing. I spent $100 on the starter pack, and I've spent about $30 on stuff for it since then. I mean, I know my guitar isn't the rule, it's the exception, because most starter guitar manufacturing plants are very inconsistent with their work. You can pick one guitar up, and be horrified... Then you pick up the same exact model, from the very same batch, and be completely surprised that it actually feels like a solid guitar.

The thing you have to remember about buying a starter pack... test the SPECIFIC guitar that you are attempting to buy before you take it home. Every single store will allow you to take the guitar out of the box and get a feel for it if the manager is around to witness it.

Like I said... I've spent a total of $130 on this thing, and I am a 100% satisfied customer.

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krissovo    0

Nooooooo to starter packs!!!!!!!

Mr Experiment, you must be the first person in history to get a decent starter pack and be happy with the result. I started with a Fender Squire starter pack and it was truely cr@p, however once the guitar was setup correctly and through a semi decent amp (roland cube 30) it was ok. You can get away with a cheap guitar through a good amp but a cheap guitar and a cheap amp no way!

The ideal starter pack would be a Squire or epiphone axe and one of the following:

Roland cube

Vox valvetronix

Line 6 spider

Any one of those amp's will have a decent variation in tone to keep a newbie playing and interested longer.

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maybe that's because I took the advice I gave and actually tested the one I was buying right there on the sales floor??????? I took it home, adjusted the truss rod to get the neck dead straight, dropped the strings lower in the saddles. Then I intonated it... Mind you, this is my first guitar, but it came with step-by-step instructions on how to do all of this... My action plays just as nice as my neighbors, he got his done at a local shop. It isn't that difficult IF you take your time.

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lunchbox07    0

sup everyone, ive been plucking on a guitar for awhile now, but these past couple weeks i realy got into it. i started to play for like 30-45min a day. i never started out on a "starter kit" the first guitar was a shecter diamond series acustic/electric. my mom got it for me when it first came out and i never played it much. to tell the truth it sounds better and plays better than the fender squire starter kit that my aunt got for me and my new ibanez guitars that i have. i think the schecter cost like $300-400. i think that a starter kit is a great way to start out but should realy invest in a better piece.

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maybe that's because I took the advice I gave and actually tested the one I was buying right there on the sales floor??????? I took it home, adjusted the truss rod to get the neck dead straight, dropped the strings lower in the saddles. Then I intonated it... Mind you, this is my first guitar, but it came with step-by-step instructions on how to do all of this... My action plays just as nice as my neighbors, he got his done at a local shop. It isn't that difficult IF you take your time.

You have 2 exceptions in your circumstance:

1. The store actually let you take the guitar out of the box and play it. Many, if not most, won't. "It's just like this one but it's blue; if you want a blue one it's in that box your holding and that one's red, that one's black, but they're all just like this one that's already out of the box."

2. You set up the guitar yourself. Most don't. They think it should be perfect out of the box, even though a first time player can't really have a true understanding of what 'perfect' is on a guitar ;) , and if the guitar fails them they don't blame the guitar, they assume they don't have the ability to play guitar. Any guitar.

I'm glad it worked out for you :) ; like the original post says, it does work for some but not most. Of the 5 guitar playing buddies, did you take any with you when you went shopping? Did they give you an opinion?

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Matty22    0

I agree with UGB, i didnt buy a bass starter pack, but i spent a bit more on the Bass, and got an amp chucked in... which is utter crap, it was crap the moment i took it out of the box.

That being said, i havent replaced it yet.... (but i got dual 18" subs i can play thru :P)

My thoughts on starter pack guitars and amps are pretty much the same. but i havent tried any of the higher end starter packs, like the squires.... mine was a "legend" and a friend brought a "sx". I think your better off with a cheap name brand guitar, than a starter pack.... My ESP was a huge eye openner to play after playing the strat copy, and the consequent reason the strat sits there collecting dust.

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allthumbs    8
What do you guys understand under a "cheap" guitar? :brickwall:

What about a guitar for a beginner of about 250$ ?

Depends on the guitar. The quality of the neck, hardware and pups tends to be where the costs are cut as well as whether the body is a laminate with a plywood middle. It also depends on how upgradeable an axe is. Throwing on 100 buck pups that will only pull up the tone 20 % or so is not worth it. On other guitars, it can make a huge difference. IE. The Agile LPs can be upgraded to get very close to an LP Gibson tone. Just my 2 cents worth.

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scott58    0

I've been playing for about 6 months now myself. I got lucky in my first purchase and got a really nice used guitar (electric), but my second guitar was a package (electric/acoustic). The question of value (for me anyway) wasn't just about the guitar, but the instruction that came with it. It was the style i really wanted to learn how to play and that was priceless. I have to agree though that if i hadn't had a good guitar to fall back on, this may have not gone as well as it did. i basically used the cheap guitar as a handicap to practice something for 2 nights and on the 3rd would try the same lesson with my good one. The leap in improvement was very noticable (like running a mile with a 40lbs weight on your back, then running it again with nothing). In my opinion the best value out there is the used market. Any time you can get a $1000 guitar for $300 or so you owe it to yourself to do so and I think this is especially true for the beginner. The quality of your guitar can make or break you and had i started out with the package guitar I don't think my results would have been as good as they are. I'm really happy with my progress in the way I've set up my practice sessions with both guitars and friends who have been playing for years are starting to scramble to keep up with my picking and I'm real happy about that.

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P-90    1
It was the style i really wanted to learn how to play and that was priceless.

On a related note, I think it's very important that the guitarist really LOVE their instrument, at least in terms of what's available at a price they can afford. If an inexpensive Squier, Epiphone, Dean and Washburn all played and sounded exactly the same, a given guitarist might do well on one and badly on another, just based on how they felt about their instrument. And of course they never will play and sound exactly the same. A tele pickup isn't quite like strat pickup, which isn't the same as a P90, which isn't like a humbucker. Taste will play a giant role, as it should.

Maybe the guitar which comes in a starter pack is one which the novice guitarist could easily fall in love with, but quite possibly it's not. If they won't look forward to playing their guitar, it doesn't matter much that, technically, there's nothing wrong with their instrument.

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one method a friend of mine tried was , getting the best guitar he could afford and a multi fx that had a variety of amp models.

he claims that the headphones were good enough to get started, and it narrowed down the types of amps/effects he liked.

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KCMike    0

I know the last post is a bit older, however I had the same question and didn't wanna start a new thread.

I'm a complete beginner, have wanted to learn to play the guitar for a while now (my dad has played for years), and wanna get something. I found the following starter pack and thought it looked decent. I don't need to rock the house down so I thought this amp would work. Also, b/c my dad has a studio and plays he has alot better amps available I can use down the road.

  • Epiphone Les Paul Special II Electric Guitar and Amp Pack Features:
  • * Basswood body
  • * Bolt-on neck mahogany neck
  • * Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays
  • * 2 open-coil humbuckers
  • * 24-3/4" scale
  • * 1-5/8" nut width
  • * Tone, volume, and pickup switch
  • * Hardware: chrome (black on wine red finish)
  • Studio 15R Amp:
  • * 8" speaker
  • * 15 watts
  • * Reverb
  • * 2 channels
  • * FX loop
  • * Headphone jack
  • Gig bag
  • * Quartz digital tuner
  • * Premium strap
  • * 20' premium cable
  • * Headphones

I thought this would be a nice start @ $250.00. The reviews look pretty good.

Thoughts?

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starsailor    20
I know the last post is a bit older, however I had the same question and didn't wanna start a new thread.

I'm a complete beginner, have wanted to learn to play the guitar for a while now (my dad has played for years), and wanna get something. I found the following starter pack and thought it looked decent. I don't need to rock the house down so I thought this amp would work. Also, b/c my dad has a studio and plays he has alot better amps available I can use down the road.

  • Epiphone Les Paul Special II Electric Guitar and Amp Pack Features:
  • * Basswood body
  • * Bolt-on neck mahogany neck
  • * Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays
  • * 2 open-coil humbuckers
  • * 24-3/4" scale
  • * 1-5/8" nut width
  • * Tone, volume, and pickup switch
  • * Hardware: chrome (black on wine red finish)
  • Studio 15R Amp:
  • * 8" speaker
  • * 15 watts
  • * Reverb
  • * 2 channels
  • * FX loop
  • * Headphone jack
  • Gig bag
  • * Quartz digital tuner
  • * Premium strap
  • * 20' premium cable
  • * Headphones

I thought this would be a nice start @ $250.00. The reviews look pretty good.

Thoughts?

Hi KCMIKE, I' m not a great fan of packages, I prefer to go to a shop and check a few out but that's just a personal opinion.

I don't know if you're buying from a shop or online, if you're buying online checkout www.samedaymusic.com, they're selling this package for $199.00 and I think post is free, there are also some reviews of the package which are worth reading as well, ask your Dads advice if you want to buy just to see what he thinks.

Hope this helps.

Cheers

Chris

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Stratrat    0

If your dad will allow you to use/borrow his amps, I'd put the whole $250 into a guitar - you'd end up with a better guitar, and would probably like his amps much better than the one that came with the starter package.

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fly135    5

"one method a friend of mine tried was , getting the best guitar he could afford and a multi fx that had a variety of amp models.

he claims that the headphones were good enough to get started, and it narrowed down the types of amps/effects he liked.

"

I've adopted the attitude that if you have an FX modeling unit that you can use your stereo and you don't even need an amp for practicing at home.

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Dewy    0

I recommend playing several of the $99 guitars... picking the one that feels best, spend $99 on a modeler to get nice sounds and be flexible when recording and practicing... and a $50-$100 amp... something small and plain, to run your modeler through.

And, as the post says... assorted cords, straps, strings and such... comes out to a much better value for under $350.

That said... there is something to the fact that there is a tuner in each starter pack that I want to salute.

:yeahhh::claping::yes:

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PepticDust    0

My starter kit was something the store made for me. Guitar, strap, cord and extra set of strings. The guitar is sitting in my corner with a broken tremolo, 2 broken strings and 1 pickup that doesn't work. The amp I no longer use. The cleans sound dull, there is no distortion. It's now an ottoman for when I play Xbox. The cord I still use but it's held together by electrical tape. That's the cat's fault though, not the store's.

The guitar did hold together long enough for me to decide I want to stick with it and buy a new one at least.

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