Used to work for Washburn. We did some market research and found that 70% of guitars purchased by beginners ended up under the bed gathering dust by the end of 6 months. A very sad thought.
These days you can get a reasonably priced guitar that isn't actually a cheese grater in disguise for about $400 US.
For acoustics, try to get a solid top guitar as the sound is much improved over a laminate top. For electrics, avoid the "Made in Indonesia/India/China" products. US made guitars wsill be expensive, but there are some very good Korean and Japanese products out there. Try not to limit yourself by the kind of electric you get. Some electrics are designed for pure thrash and are limited in tone. Try to find something that offers a variety of pickup settings (three single coil, or two humbuckers with the rear pick up splitable). This wayyou can experiment over time and find your own style and tone.
For acoustics, I suggest:
Tacoma's Olympia series
Washburn D 21s
Check out Korean or Japanese made Fender strats, (Squier strats in many cases), Ibanez, . The only reason I wouldn't recommend a Les Paul for a beginner is the weight of the instrument.
The unexamined life is unworth living - Aristotle
i have to disagree with the statement above.
i have a very nice guitar made in indonesia,
but the point is that every single guitar made reguardless of "where" is an individual instrument.
to avoid guitars simply based on where they are made is a luxury of the rich imo and cutting out a huge supply of posibilities.
i'm old enough to remember when japanese and korean guitars were also considered mostly "junk".
now they make many models that are widely used by many pro muscians that could easily afford anything they want.
play everything you can get your hands on and don't be pursuaded by the "made in" decal
i've yet to see a decal that affected tone :wink:
I too am old enough to remember that Samick and "ick" were similar (korean made).
What I have found,however, over many years of playing and working on the manufacturing end is that the countries of origin that I have mentioned with respect to quality have a much higher probability of producing a guitar that you will not be happy with long term. That is not to say that good guitars cannot come from there, it is that there is a higher probability of getting a problematic instrument.
I have seen a higher incidence of twisted necks, immature woods, poor tuning machines, and flawed finishes. It is not the decal that I am concerned with, it is the quality and playablility of the instrument. Any potential purchase from any country should be inspected. I have seen some amazingly poor US made products come out as well, but again it is the higher incident rate that has me concerned.
That is not to say that the quality will not improve over time. It did in Japan, and then Korea, and now China; but I have visited some of these factories looking to source instruments. Some of the factories have no environmental controls at all. Some are open air, one had a sewer stream running through it, one had no roof and it rained one evening and the next day they continued to build the instruments as though the water wasn't present.
There are quality makers of instruments all over the world. As a beginner, though, it is tough to know what to look for and if I was going to bet my money, I would look for a lower rate of defects and a better probability of getting a good instrument.
I find it somewhat ironic that the signature of TwistedLefty is a decal. He has a good point, play them all, just a caveat emptor.
The unexamined life is unworth living - Aristotle
thanx for clarifying what you "meant"
i was remiss in not stateing that i "respectfully" disagree.
btw. it is no secret as i have posted in detail here i believe. but more to the point on the FDP (fender disscussion page) that i had to return 4 of the anniversary strats before i found one suitable to purchase. my experiance altho limited i'm sure when compared to jbrownstein was that i only returned one of the made in indonesia variety.
also i might add i was remiss in not stating that forum signatures also do not affect tone :wink:
I agree with TL, the name doesn't seem to guarantee either that the quality is always better, or that the particular instrument suits the buyer.
I think the point here is that Hilch is asking the question as a beginner - so he is unlikely to yet have the skills to tell the difference between a really good guitar for him, and one that will ultimately prove disappointing.
American gear is very expensive by the time it's sold in Australia, so I wouldn't recommend buying any instrument just on price, or based on country of origin either. Wait until you're confident that you can actually hear, see and feel any quality differences that may or may not be there.
I spend a little time each week drooling over 'dream guitars' but until I'm confident that I can really pick all the differences in quality then I'm not lashing out. The anticipation is nice though.... :D
On the subject of "Country of Origin":
I have a Yamaha Strat copy. Yamaha is a Japanese company with a good reputation to protect. Some of the design elements of that guitar are Japanese. However, it's a copy of a design that was originally American. The various timbers and other components used could be sourced from any number of countries. It may well have an electronic component or two that was made in China or the Philipines The guitar has a "Made in Indonesia" sticker on it.
So is it Indonesian, Japanese, American or what? :D
The point is that it's an excellent guitar. It's well made, plays beautifully and sounds great. If it has faults I haven't found them yet. It was a fraction of the price of a "real" Strat.
I also have a Johnson electric. American company, guitar made in China. Quality control seems not as good as on the Yamaha, but in terms of what I use it for, it's fine. The main thing is that it plays OK, and the modest flaws I've found don't affect how I use it.
I agree with Chris and Lefty, the assumption, from your post, is that, if it's made in the US it's going to be better than anything out of Asia. This is simply not true - you're far more likely to have a disgruntled/hungover/"mad-at-the-wife" employee in the US than in Asia. The reason that most budget instruments are built in Asia is because labour is cheap - it does not make the Asians sloppy or incompetent - they build to the specification of the (very often US) guitar "manufacturer". If that manufacturer refuses to pay for rigid quality control and good materials, you lay the resulting schrott at his door, not the people who are fulfilling his tightwad order.
Like for like quality, a US guitar will cost 3 or 4 times what an Asian guitar would cost.
As to China, producing rubbish, many Epiphones are produced in China as, I believe, are the Agile and SX guitars, that everyone finds such good value for money. There certainly seems to be no lack of quality there.
Oh, and my Washburn HB-35 was made in Korea - and there is no lack of quality in her - I would defy a US guitar builder to put that quality of guitar together at a price that the average person could afford.
you're far more likely to have a disgruntled/hungover/"mad-at-the-wife" employee in the US than in Asia.
:shock: :shock: :shock:
I think it ALL comes down to the QC inspection, NOT the above.
I am the lead internal auditor of my company (amongst many other duties) and find many mistakes are found in the QC process BUT, the lack of training plays the big role as well.
You can't diagnose every aspect of the subject unless you are trained in every aspect of it!
If that manufacturer refuses to pay for rigid quality control and good materials, you lay the resulting schrott at his door, not the people who are fulfilling his tightwad order.
Agreed. :) Manufacture and supply in a big range of products has now become a truly global affair. The chain of ownership, design, supply and assembly can be a real puzzle to accurately track. Neither brand name nor apparent country of assembly are particularly reliable quality indicators any more.
I think it ALL comes down to the QC inspection
For this reason I tend to favour Japanese owned companies for their quality control record. The better Japanese companies have earned a good name for thoroughness and pride in maintaining their reputation for quality.
I have two Yamaha guitars. An electric made in Indonesia and an acoustic made in Taiwan. They are both excellent instruments. They seem to combine the best elements of Japanese design, QC and manufacturing knowledge with the cheapness of labour in the country of assembly. :D
Do NOT buy an Ashton!!!!!!!!!!
I bought a cheap Ashton acoustic as my first guitar (2 years ago for au$200) and it is absolutely horrible, even picking & strumming my first notes & chords I could tell it was bad. When my brother brought around his cheap $300 acoustic I realised it was even worse than bad. I then had to save up au$650 to buy a decent mid-range acoustic. Now if I had've saved that first $200 imagine what I could've got?
Then to prove I don't learn lessons, my 8 year old wanted to learn electric guitar 6 months later so rather than wasting a fortune on a passing fad I bought him the au$300 ashton guitar & amp package. What a piece of ****. Nothing I did to that guitar made it sound any good & I tried everything believe me. I took the neck off to see if there was a problem there as it was not straight & sure enough there were great chunks of cardboard stuffed in there, but taking them out made the neck even more out of line. It still sounds like someone has stretched elastic bands over a broom handle. Now the amp is another matter entirely. it's even WORSE. I'm sure a $5000 guitar would sound terrible through it. I can actually get a better sound plugging the guitar into a very old stereo than using that piece of junk.
So my point is that if you think you (or whoever) is going to stick at the guitar buy something in the mid range price (around $500) to start with because you are only going to want to upgrade later anyway so you've wasted your money on that first purchase. If you aren't going to stick with it buy the mid-range anyway, at least it will have a resale value on ebay. My son gave up after a few weeks probably because he couldn't get a decent sound out of it & now I'm stuck with a guitar & amp worth nothing.
As someone also pointed out, if the guitar sounds like rubbish you are less likely to stick at it anyway. My playing improved out of sight after I got the decent acoustic because I wanted to play it all the time.
So my point is that if you think you (or whoever) is going to stick at the guitar buy something in the mid range price (around $500) to start with
I'd agree entirely with that. In Australia a budget of Au$500 gives you a choice of guitars that will include some genuinely good ones. It's the price target I've bought my guitars at and they have proved more than adequate for my current skills. They have also been played, approved and praised by professionally skilled friends who own much more expensive guitars. You still need to assess each one individually, but at least you have a good chance of finding something that's good value for that sort of money. :)
Well to the original poster read this
As far as cheap acoustic goes, I'm gonna give Ed this. The Olympia are cheap and the setup blows chunks even after they set them up but the sound is great. They are MIJ for Tacoma and QC'ed by Tacoma. I own one and it sounds way better then my old Fender.
Sorry guys, A bit into the should I drink and play thread tonight :P
If Money was no object to me..... A custom shop Jackson would be on order.... But then again I don't have $7,000.00 for a guitar, yet.
I agree with the LP being somewhat too heavy for a beginner. It IS a lot of Axe.
I started with an el-cheapo Yamaha. While I later discovered that it suffered from serious set-up issues, it still would not have been a good choice. I do OK with it now though.
I vote for ease of play. I went to an Ibanez GAX70 with it's nice wide fretboard. Outstanding. Got an RG afterwards, but I would not suggest that to a beginner because of the Floyd Rose.
The GAX70 was playable, somewhat versital and easy to hold. All the charactaristics you want from a beginning guitar. To top it off, it was only $180. (Note: I found out that GC makes a killing off of these. You should be able to talk them down more than the $10 I did.)
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin