How to Buy A First Guitar or Bass

One of the questions we get most often at School of Rock is which 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!

How To Buy A 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 your kid is ready for something a little more serious, there are a lot of possibilities for her/him, too.

Important note about affordable instruments: One of the ways that guitar manufacturers save costs 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. School of Rock in Ballwin, MO is hosting a Free Setup Day on Saturday, January 3 from 2:30-4:30. You can also set up a tour at the School of Rock in your community and ask for help getting your guitar or bass ready for lessons.

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, such as 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 if you'd like input – we don't sell instruments, but our teachers have seen it all!

If your kid wants to start 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.

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.

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 total beginners and within a few short months have them performing on stage, going on tour, building confidence, and making lifelong memories and friendships with kids that love the same things they do.

-Original post by Jordan Heimburger, GM School of Rock Ballwin

Jordan is a guitarist extraordinaire and passionate music teacher who has toured locally and nationally since the early 2000s in original rock groups The Incurables, The Feed, and The Cree Rider Family Band, and lends his talents to tribute bands Celebration Day and Street Fighting Band. A St. Louis native, Jordan brings more than six years of teaching experience at local music schools and summer camp teaching groups and individuals to perform.

Up Next: How To Buy A First Guitar Part 2

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