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Old 11-26-2012, 10:32 AM   #1
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Buying a guitar - need some info

My teenager has decided she would like a guitar for Christmas. She just wants to play around on it for fun - nothing serious. I know nothing about guitars!

My biggest question is as I'm doing some research, it seems like there are "classical" guitars and "acoustic". Can someone explain the difference to me? Is one easier to play than the other?

Would appreciate any advice! Thanks!
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Old 11-26-2012, 10:48 AM   #2
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I'm by no means an expert, but I can tell you a few things:

Classical and acoustic serve different purposes. Classical guitars are used for instrumental music where fingers are used to pick the strings. Think "Christmas guitar", "Elevator" , Flamenco, some folk, or just plain Classical type music. Strings are made of nylon, have a softer sound, etc.

Acoustic guitars have steel or nickel strings and produce a louder sound. These strings are typically played with a pick (or fingers). Think Simon and Garfunkel, Taylor Swift, pre-electric Dylan, 12-year-old YouTube Justin Beiber, etc.

Here's a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS8fpgZbFKA

I would assume your child wants an acoustic or maybe even electric guitar. Not classical.
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Old 11-26-2012, 10:50 AM   #3
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If she is into Pop or Rock music, I'd suggest an acoustic over a classical. The differences are many, for example on a classical guitar the strings are farther apart, but the main difference is in their purpose. A classical guitar would be fine for someone who wanted to seriously study music, specifically classical.

You can find some great buys on beginner acoustics at Guitar Center and Musician's Friend. Just be sure not to get her anything too poor in quality, because she may get discouraged and want to give it up.

The guitar I received as a teenager from my parents is still my favorite Christmas present of that I've ever received.

Good luck!
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Old 11-26-2012, 11:10 AM   #4
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For what it's worth when my son took a guitar class in school last year they required a classical guitar.
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Old 11-26-2012, 11:19 AM   #5
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I'm joining in on the thread, as I am also having to buy a guitar for my dd. She has started lessons, and is playing very enthusiastically! She is borrowing a friend's guitar (the friend now owns five of them) for now. I'd like one that is pretty decent so that if she continues, I won't have to buy another. The music store is suggesting a Bedell, but I really know nothing about price range, or what to look for. I'd say I have a tin ear, but I sure can tell when a guitar is out of tune, and the one she's using only satays in tune for about three minutes.
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Old 11-26-2012, 11:39 AM   #6
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I'm not sure how guitar enthusiasts feel about them, but I have a Daisy Rock guitar that I love. My teacher recommended it because I have short fingers and they are built for girls with the neck a bit smaller and body a little easier to manage. They also come in girly colors and shapes (although my husband has one that is suitably cool for a male). check out their website, really cute stuff!

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Old 11-26-2012, 12:35 PM   #7
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My DD got a guitar a few years back, I got her a Daisy Rock guitar because she has small hands, wanted acoustic and wanted a purple guitar. The DR has been great.
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:49 PM   #8
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My oldest son got into guitars several years ago and we've had excellent luck finding good instruments at local pawn stores.

He actually found his instructor there too because once we started buying him guitars he started talking to the guy selling them and found out he offered lessons.
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:37 PM   #9
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Accoustic would be what I'd get a beginner because metal strings really hurt my fingers when I was starting. I now play an accoustic and so does my son. Later, if the player excels, better and more diverse guitars can be added to their collection. Most guitar players have several guitars.
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Old 11-26-2012, 04:08 PM   #10
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It quality of the guitar does make a difference on how easy or not it is to play. Personally, I've had good luck with Fender guitars both acoustic and electric.
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Old 11-26-2012, 11:45 PM   #11
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A $3000 Fender, Gibson, or Martin certainly isn't necessary, but it does pay to pay a decent amount for a guitar. The cheap junk is a big factor in the fact that many people pick up a guitar to try and then just give up.

Certainly don't waste your money on anything sold in a store such as Target or Walmart. The guitars in Target even have the Fender name on them, but they are junk and unplayable.

It will be difficult starting out with painful finger tips because the finger tips need to begin to develop a callus on them. That and eventually learning the proper techniques for fingering the fretboard eventually makes it easier.

An electric guitar is a bit easier to learn at first because the strings are generally thinner and don't have as much tension as on an acoustic. It can also be practiced without making a lot of sound because it can be practiced unplugged. That saves a bit on the rest of the family.

There are tons of free resources online to learn a good bit on the guitar from forums, sites, and youtube videos.
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Old 11-27-2012, 12:17 AM   #12
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If you go to a music store they generally have some decent quality, relatively inexpensive (~ $150) "starter sets" that include a guitar, a soft case and some picks. (Electric includes a small amp.) Both of my kids started off with those (acoustic and electric), along with lessons. The thing is, you don't want to break the bank if they're not going to stick with it, at least at first. But as pp's said, you don't want to get totally cheap to start, either.

Last year for Christmas we got DD15 got a nicer Yamaha acoustic electric (her preference after trial and error) at one of the music stores we go to. It's a really nice guitar with beautiful sound. It was around $400. We wouldn't have gotten one that nice had she not shown she could stick with it and appreciate and care for it. (The beginning guitars got pretty banged up when they were younger, though it was good they were used every day.)

One thing I didn't realize at the outset was that strings have to be changed often. You also need to pick up a digital tuner (I think there's a tuner App on some of the smartphones now). Good luck, let us know what you get!

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Old 11-27-2012, 05:41 AM   #13
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I vote acoustic also. It is what I learned to play on. I have had several throughout the years, all Gibson. But that is my preference. A guitar around $150 is a good place to start.

But if she is just going to play around for fun, no lessons, then the classical will be less painful to play at first. But teachers say not to start on those because it is hard to make the transition from classical to acoustic.
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