I originally wrote this a couple years ago. I thought it was time to bring it back to the front, tis the season :-)
Christmas is right around the corner. It always brings back memories of the first guitar I got back in the early 70’s. I really don’t remember what kind of guitar it was but I do remember how excited I was when I unwrapped it. I couldn't wait until everyone was done opening their gifts to mess with it, so I race off to my room and started digging into the package. Opening the items that came with the guitar I found a tuning pipe and a 10 page book that told me how to tune the guitar plus the notes and chords to “hits” such as Down in the Valley and On Top of Old Smokey.
After spending the rest of the morning tuning the guitar I was ready to learn the chords and notes to the songs that were in the book. The chord shapes weren’t too hard to make but man, pressing down hard enough to make the guitar sound the chord when you strummed it sure was tough. Long story short, I played that old guitar for many years. I had no idea that it had an extremely high action, was probably made out of ply wood and couldn’t hold a tune for more than a half hour. I didn't care at all, I had a guitar. My parents, when they bought it, probably had no idea what the difference between buying a guitar at the Gibson Discount Store and buying a Gibson Guitar was.
Which brings me to the point of this post.
With Christmas coming up there is no doubt many young and inspiring musicians are about to receive their first instrument of their lives this year. Here’s some thought to help you Parents, Uncles, Aunts, Brothers and sisters out that want to give the gift of a music instrument this year.
We all know you don’t want to spend a small fortune, unless you want to, to find out that your little musician isn’t interested in the guitar after a month of playing with it and now would like to play the trumpet, piano or drums. Or worse yet they just don’t have the interest any more. But, there is something to be said about buying a decent starter guitar.
Buying a guitar on eBay for $4.95 plus $45.00 for shipping is definitely not the way to go. You end up with 50 bucks wrapped up in an instrument that is more times than not, hard to play, hard to tune and is of extremely poor quality. The ability to play an instrument is of high importance for the new musician. It’s going to be tough enough for them to learn chords and notes so give them a break and make it as easy for them as you can. When looking for a guitar keep in mind that there are many beginner acoustic and electric guitar starter packages out there starting for about $100.00 or not much more than that, put out by well known companies such as Epiphone, Squier, Ibanez, Washburn and Fender just to name a few. They also come with some better essentials than a pitch pipe and a 10 page book. Many of the starter packs will come with extra strings, an electronic tuner, strap and what is becoming even more important these days, an instructional video or DVD. The instructional end of the package is important because even if you don’t know a lick about music, you can still sit down with your child and help them understand some of the basics of playing the guitar. Heck who knows you may even find yourself picking it up and playing.
Don’t get me wrong about the story of my first guitar. If I still had that old guitar today I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But I would trade the frustration and the unknown that accompanied it. Finding a starter guitar with the right accessories and learning aides would have made all the difference in the world.