First Electric Guitar--Advice needed


I will be purchasing my soon to be 14 year old son his first electric guitar. I have looked at a Squier Strat Pak for $280 and have been told it is a decent beginners package. However, someone suggested it would be better to purchase a used guitar and a new amp as this would be an upgrade to the guitar in the Strat Pak. My budget is around $350 and there is a local music store chain that sells used equipment with extened warranties. I don't know which way to go and any advice concerning new/used and brand would be appreciated.

Thank you

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What will he be using the guitar and amp for? How big is the amp?

I would say that a used instrument is usually a better choice if you know what you are looking for. A used mex Fender guitar or a used Epiphone can be pretty good instruments and can be bought pretty cheap.

Where are you in MA? I am in Boston. Daddy's in Dedham has a used Mex Strat for $249 and a used Mex Tele for $249. They won't have cases. I am not sure whether they'll throw in a gig bag. You should be able to cop a decent practice amp for $100. I'm planning to sell my Epiphone LP Special (not the special II that is currently available but the original Special from the mid 1990s) with HS case for ~$200. So you should be able to get an Epiphone LP used for a decent price as well.

I would certainly go for the used guitar option, amplifiers are pretty reliable these days, so i would buy a used amp too, you will get a lot more for your money, go for a guitar he likes the look of, nothing like being a metal head and your dad gives you a paisley telecaster for christmas, find out what he likes and go for a used model in the most popular colour and model, if he gives up playing you will find it easier getting rid of a cherry sunburst epiphone les paul, than a sparkly purple one with a chrome look headstock. Epiphone and fender squier do very good starter guitars, and yamaha and Ibanez too, but for the price of a brand new chinese squire, you may be able to get a used mexican one, the mexican is a lot better player than the chinese. Also you wont lose large amounts of cash on a good used Fender/Epihone/Yamaha should you sell it. Amplifiers? well a used Marshall, this:
is a great little amp for the money, or something like it, they good reliability and great tone and features, Guitars?? how about these?
if you need more advice post back to us.
good luck.

My son will be learning guitar on this instrument. He is musically inclined, has played piano for 7 years and loves the bands Metallica and Slayer. I know he wants a red/white or black/white guitar with a smallish amp that will be used in our house.

I was planning on purchasing this at Daddy's in Dedham which is a short distance from my house and will certainly look at the guitars mentioned.

As far as a used amp goes, I know the electronics are reliable but isn't there a risk with the speaker?

Thanks MJW

No risk with the speaker MJW, they are usualy rated above the output of the amp so there is no risk (only to your eardrums).
Guitar wise he sounds like a metal head, Kirk from Metallica has been known to use a Les Paul, so maybe a black Epiphone Les paul would be good for him? but i think the best guitar that Epiphone do for the money is the SG, have a look at this Gothic model
its on budget and new as well, it has a set neck and the newer Epiphones have potted pickups which gives the guitar a far better sound, 2 humbucker pickups and it looks so Metal too. Ask him what he thinks, it would also be a good guitar to learn on too, its nicely weighted and has a slimish neck. If not then search ebay for 'Epiphone SG' but try and go for one with 2 pickups (humbuckers) a set neck, and try and get one later than 2003, which is when they upgraded their pickups and hardware. you might want to consider a multiFX unit as well at a later date.
Good luck.

Let us know what you got and how he liked it.

Went to Daddy's and purchased a used Yamaha Pacifica with a new Roland Cube 15 AMP for $210. A two year extended warranty is available on the guitar for $20. The saleperson said that both the amp and guitar are good for playing the Metallica sound. Also, that this model Yamaha is better than the guitars included in both the Squier Strat Pak and Ibanez starter packages. I will have to add a Monster cable that is also better than the cable included with the packs.

These items are on lay away and won't be picked up until June 11. They can both be changed so any comments, postive or negative are welcome

Thanks again

Excellent choice, you had some good sales advice there, you will indeed get a good representation of the metal sound on that package, the Pacifica has won awards for being an excellent entry level instrument, value for money, and to get a used one is an inspired choice, hope your son likes the look of it too cos for a beginner that is important too, the amp is another brilliant buy, and a great price too, over here (UK) a new one will set you back £70 ($125) and it has all the features needed for a young beginner, i know a few people that use them as practice amps too, you also have some distortion effects on the amp by Boss (sister company of Roland) so you realy cant go wrong for the money, one thing i would suggest is forget about the $20 insurance, guitars dont breakdown, they go wrong through abuse and age, it has passive components and is 99% fail proof. The amp should be bullet proof too.
Great buys, i hope he enjoys it.

Lee UK,

Thanks for your insight. The only concern I have about the guitar is the looks, it is solid black and maple. Not the cool looking black/white or red/white he wanted but again, the salesperson assured me for the price I paid for the used gear available, there was not a better choice. I just hope my son realizes the value and can get buy the looks which I think is pretty cool but I'm "old".


At least you had the insight not to buy him a Sunburst six string accoustic with the legend 'The olde Roy Rogers Trailblazer' blazened across the front of the body with a picture of trigger doing his 2 hoofs in the air thing.
I bet there are a few dads that have bought totaly uncool guitars for their sons/daughters for presents.
Im sure he'll be ok with the shape.

The Yam Pacifica is a fine guitar for its price range. The only thing I would say is "hold on the Monster Cable". Absolutely no need, MJW, really. They cost a fair amount of money and are well-made, sturdy things. They are also totally unnecessary for starting out. A reasonable cable is fine, even if the one coming your way has a nasty, moulded plastic plug.

A bad cable crackles, a useful cable doesn't, and an expensive cable doesn't crackle even when run over by a drummer carting his gear onstage. A cable that 'sounds better' is a different point; it may take a dog's ears to hear it. Before I get beaten to death, most would hopefully agree that the money is better saved for (eg) replacing the pickups at some later date. There are solid, theory-stuff, reasons why the guitar-amp lead is one of the worst places to blow $30 on improving a starter pack.

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