Buying Your First Guitar

March 24, 2021

So you just started guitar lessons in St. Louis but have no idea what to buy. Don’t ‘fret’ about it! STL Rock School can help you find the perfect guitar for your budding rock star. Our owner Jared is happy to share everything he knows about buying your first guitar!

What’s Your Guitar Budget?

First things first: what’s your budget? Guitars can be found for anything from free to $4 million! STL Rock School recommends that you spend a minimum of $100 when you buy your first guitar, but not more than $1000. The sweet spot is in that $300-$600 range. Simply put, better guitars are easier to play. We know the temptation is there to get something cheap since you don’t know if your kid will stick with taking guitar lessons. The truth is that cheaper guitars often have intonation problems, meaning that it will be harder for your child to make a good sound, which often leads to frustration and the possibility of them quitting.

We are happy to look at whatever you’re purchasing so you can buy with confidence! Contact us HERE.

Buying Your First Guitar New or Used?

Once you figured out your budget, the biggest question is whether you want to buy new or used gear. You can often get good deals on used equipment, but it will just take a little bit more time to find everything you need. You can imagine the number of kids who get a guitar for their birthday or holidays, they never sign up for guitar lessons here at STL Rock School, and then the guitar is collecting dust in the back room of the basement a year later. We equate it to buying a car – once a new car leaves the lot, it immediately goes down in value. BUT, if you buy a used guitar, you can almost always sell it for the same price since it doesn’t continue to depreciate!

Guitar Brands

There are so many different guitar brands to choose from that it can often be intimidating! Here’s what we’d recommend:

Electric Guitars

Fender – the biggest brand in guitars. Their “Squire” line is the entry line that comes in starter packs. Great for smaller hands!

Gibson – the other big brand in guitar. Their “Epiphone” line is the entry line that comes in starter packs. A little bit thicker neck than Fender

Ibanez – used by a lot of metal guitarists. They have a great starter pack that any style can use!

G&L – the successor to the Fender brand. Owned by Leo Fender (of Fender guitars). Can get a great guitar in the $300-$500 range

Gretsch – known for their hollow body guitars. Great if you’re into jazz/blues

Acoustic Guitars

Martin – the top brand in acoustic guitars. Not the cheapest option, but you can’t go wrong!

Taylor – good acoustic brand. Can find some more affordable entry models

Yamaha – been around forever! Great brand for entry guitars

What Size Guitar Should I Buy?

In general, full-size guitars are made better than ½ size guitar or ¾ size guitars. We’ll always recommend a full size if your child can handle it. Not sure what the right size is? We have all three at STL Rock School for you to try out!

Where to Buy?

As a local business, who would we be if we didn’t recommend buying local? There are some pretty cool guitar shops in St. Louis. Their selection probably won’t be as big as Guitar Center, but I find the people working there to be a bit more knowledgeable. 

–Local Shops

Acme Guitar -smaller local shop. It might not have exactly what you think you want, but everything you need.

Killer Vintage -Very cool boutique shops. Lots of amazing amps. Similar to Acme Guitar

Eddie’s Guitars -fantastic selection. Probably St. Louis’s best independent guitar shop. Has a lot of high-end gear and everything in between.

Music Folk -Great place if you’re looking for acoustic guitars, ukuleles, banjos, & mandolins!

–Used Gear

If you’d instead buy used gear, we’ll have to find the amp & guitar separately. The best places to look for used gear online are:

Craigslist

Facebook Marketplace

Reverb

–Buying Online

We’d recommend Reverb, Sweetwater, or Guitar Center if you’re going to buy one of a starter pack. Starter packs will include a guitar, amps, cable, tuner, and strap. Guitar Center does have a couple of stores in St. Louis if you want to bring your child to a store to look at guitars. I wouldn’t discount your child’s opinion on what they think looks the coolest!

Buying Your First Guitar (in conclusion)

Buying your first guitar should be fun and not stressful! Please contact us with any equipment questions you might have when looking for a new or used guitar! You can contact the STL Rock school office HERE.


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