How to Buy A Guitar For Your Lessons

8 great guitars for kids: acoustic and electric guitar options for children  | Guitar World

So you’ve made the joyous decision to pick up the 6 string, congratulations! Thanks to its portability and sonic versatility the guitar is one of the most popular instruments in the world . 

Guitars can be acoustic, steel or nylon string, dreadnought, hybrid, electric with single coil pickups, electric with hum buckers, hollow body, semi-hollow body, and that’s not even getting into the endless world of guitar effects and amplifiers! 

The Guitar And It's Family Around The World (1967, Vinyl) | Discogs

With so many options, how do you know which type is the right fit? 

Have no fear! This article is here to help explain the differences, benefits and drawbacks of each kind. So dig in, and happy picking! 

Acoustic Guitars 

Acoustic guitars are the natural version of the instrument. A sound hole in the middle of the wooden body acts as a resonance chamber for the strings to be heard. 

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Steel string acoustic guitars employ 6 metal-wound strings for a bright and exciting tone. They are most often played with a plectrum (guitar pick), though some players perform finger style with them as well. 

The differences of steel string guitars mainly have to do with the size and shape of their bodies.

The Acoustic Body Shapes You Should Know — Get to know the most common  acoustic body types and what makes each uniqu… | Instrumentos musicales,  Guitarras, Musicales

Each shape has a different sound and is often associated with a specific genre; the Parlor with old blues, the Triple-O with acoustic rock, the Concert as a general instrument across all styles, the Dreadnought with bluegrass and the Jumbo with country and western. 

Acoustic guitars (steel string and nylon) also vary in size. This is a consideration that mainly applies to younger students. However, professional guitarists do play smaller scale guitars at times, mainly as a live instrument due to their small size and ease of travel.

Here is a chart showing the ages best suited for each size:

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Pick up a steel string acoustic and get your MTV unplugged on!

Benefits: 
  • Steel strings provide loud and clear sound 
  • Offer versatility regarding genre 
  • No need to plug in to an amplifier, can be played anywhere. 
Drawbacks: 
  • Steel strings can make bending and fretting difficult, especially for new players 
  • Certain sizes can be quite big for tinier hands

Here are a few models to take a look at:

Epiphone DR-100 $199

Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar Review | Kid Guitarist

A great beginner steel string, the Epiphone DR-100 is all you need to start your musical journey!

Simon and Patrick Songsmith $479

Simon And Patrick Songsmith Dreadnought - Faded Bourbon Burst - Long &  McQuade Musical Instruments

A Canadian made quality guitar perfect for intermediate players who are starting to get serious.

Martin HD-28 $4,339

Martin Guitars 2018 HD-28 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar W/ Case - Long &  McQuade Musical Instruments

The Rolls-Royce of acoustic guitars, Martin is a legendary brand famous for their top quality craftsmanship.

Nylon String/Classical Guitars

Yamaha C40 - Classical Guitar - Long & McQuade Musical Instruments

Classical guitars are still acoustic, but use strings made of nylon for a different sound quality and type of playing. Nylon string guitars are generally associated with mellower sounding genres such as classical, jazz, bossa nova and folk music. They have become increasingly popular in recent history with indie stars like Jose Gonzales favouring them. 

Nylon strings are easier to bend and fret because they require less tension to stay in tune. Thanks to this, they are often easier for beginners to play as their fingers don’t get the intense workout steel strings require. They also sport a wider neck, which benefits the single note playing associated with the genres it is used in, and subsequently helps beginners with the visual aspect of the instrument. 

For these reasons, we recommend nylon guitars for children and adults new to the instrument.

Benefits: 
  • Mellow sound 
  • Flexible strings make bending and fretting notes easier 
  • Wide neck provides visual aid
Drawbacks: 
  • Volume is noticeably lower than steel string acoustics 
  • Wide neck makes playing barre chords difficult 
  • Notes are difficult to play past the 12th fret (no cutaway) 

Here are a few models to take a look at:

Denver Classical Guitar $140-160

Denver Classical Guitar - 1/2 Size - Natural - Long & McQuade Musical  Instruments

The perfect beginner guitar! This Denver model ranges in size from 1/2 to full.

La Patrie Etude $519

La Patrie Etude QIT Classical Guitar - Semi Gloss - 045419 – Fleet Pro Sound

This is guitar takes a massive jump forward in tone and playability while remaining relatively inexpensive.

Yamaha GC32C $2,349

YAMAHA GC32C MADE in Japan rare beautiful vintage popular EMS F / S -  $1,920.99 | PicClick

This top of the line Yamaha provides unparalleled sonic beauty.

Hybrid Acoustic-Electrics

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Hybrid acoustic-electrics are acoustic guitars fitted with electronics. This gives the player the option of plugging into an amplifier, perfect for playing live! 

Benefits: 
  • Can be used for live performance or recording purposes 
  • Often have a built in tuner, making life easy 
Drawbacks: 
  • The fitted electronics affect the natural sound quality  
  • More costly than a comparable quality acoustic 

Here are a few models to take a look at:

Fender FA-125CE $250

Fender FA-125CE Dreadnought, Natural - Tundra Music INC Vintage Guitars  Store & More Toronto

An introduction to the acoustic electric world, this Fender model features a Fishman pickup and a cutaway to reach those high notes.

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro $529

Epiphone Hummingbird PRO Acoustic-Electric | Riverside Music

Epiphones version of the Gibson Hummingbird; a great rendition of a classic guitar for a fraction of the price.

Taylor 327e $3,099

Guitar Spotlight: Taylor 327e Acoustic Guitar | Taylor Guitars

Taylor is the top company when it comes to acoustic electric guitars, offering a plugged in sound that is natural and pure.

Electric Guitars

The world of electric guitars is much more varied than that of acoustics. This is thanks to the sound of the strings being amplified by something called pickups instead of a sound hole.

Pickups are metal coils wrapped around magnetic poles which “pickup” the vibrations of the strings. These vibrations are then transmitted through an instrument cable into an amplifier where the sound can be boosted to a volume of the players choosing. 

Types of Guitars (What Types and Kinds Are Available)

Since it is not a sound hole but pickups that catch the sound, tons of body shapes exist, from classic Stratocaster’s to Flying V’s! 

There are two pickup types used in electric guitars; single coil and humbucker. Single coils are most famously seen on Fender guitars whereas humbuckers are seen on Gibson’s.  

Single Coil vs Humbucker Pickup Tone Comparison - YouTube

Single coil pickups tend to produce a bright, clean and thin tone, perfect for pop, funk and country styles of playing. Humbuckers in contrast produce a thick and warm tone, and are thus more associated with rock and jazz.

Solid Body Electric Guitars

 In the world of electric guitars there are many types, the three most popular of which are solid body, semi hollow body, and hollow body. 

Solid body guitars are the most common. Thanks to their lack of a resonance chamber they offer long sustain and the ability to be amplified at loud volumes without running into feedback issues, making them perfect for loud rock music!

Benefits: 
  • Long sustain 
  • Come in many shapes and styles thanks to lack of resonance chamber 
  • No feedback issues 
Drawbacks: 
  • Tone is thinner and lacking in bass 
  • Amazing for processed sounds, but not as great for natural ones 

Here are a few models to take a look at:

Fender Squier Bullet Stratocaster $249

Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster Rosewood Fingerboard - Brown  Sunburst (569) - Tundra Music INC Vintage Guitars Store & More Toronto

An introduction to the Fender world, Squier is the brands beginner line to get you rocking on a budget!

Danelectro 59DC $685

Danelectro 59DC Double Cutaway Electric Guitar with NOS Lipstick Picku -  The Guitar World

A great midrange choice, Danelectro is a popular brand played by many professional players. Plus, they look amazing!

Gibson Les Paul Classic $2,649

Gibson | Les Paul Classic

A legendary model, Les Pauls are known for their sustain and thick and creamy tone.

Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitars

These types of guitars meet in the middle of solid and hollow bodied models. The semi-hollow body offers a warmer and fuller tone than that of a solid body while still minimizing feedback issues. However, what the player gains in thickness of tone they lose in sustain. 

The popular semi-hollow Gibson ES-335 was famously the main guitar of B.B King.

Benefits: 
  • Warm tone 
  • Lighter weight that solid bodies, great for live playing
Drawbacks: 
  • Lose some sustain 
  • Wide body awkward for smaller players 

Here are a few models to take a look at:

Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster $629

Squier Classic Vibe '70s Telecaster Thinline MN Natural | Keymusic

Step into the world of semi-hollow body guitars with this beauty!

Gretsch G5655T $1,099

Center Block :: G5655T Electromatic® Center Block Jr. Single-Cut with  Bigsby®, Jade Grey Metallic

Gretsch are famous for their semi-hollow and hollow body guitars, and for good reason! They are works of art, and most come stock with a Bigsby, which allows for classic vibrato effects!

Gibson ES-335 $4,799

ES-335 Dot 2019

It’s the model B.B played! An icon in the history of guitars.

Hollow-Body Electric Guitars

Hollow body guitars are most often heard in jazz and blues music where a natural sound is desired. They provide pure bass tones and clear mids and highs. However, their design makes them ripe for feedback issues even at medium volumes. 

Check out Joe Pass rip on one!

Benefits: 
  • Natural, pure tone 
  • Look great 
Drawbacks: 
  • Don’t take well to effects or loud amplification 
  • Narrow in what they can do sonically 

Ibanez George Benson Signature Model

GB10EM George Benson Signature - Jet Blue Burst

Ibanez and jazz guitar legend George Benson worked together to create this, so you know it sounds amazing!

Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor $999

Joe Pass Emperor Pro in Vintage Natural

This guy was designed with Joe Pass, who you can watch a video of above!

Gretsch Brian Setzer Signature Model $3,899

G6120T-HR Brian Setzer Signature Hot Rod Hollow Body with Bigsby - Extreme Coolant Green Sparkle

Another signature model, this one comes in a crazy green and fitted with a classic Bigsby bridge.

Amplifiers

If diving into the world of electric guitars you’ll also want to know a bit about amplifiers! 

There are three types of amplifiers used for electric guitars: solid state, modeling and tube. 

Solid State Amplifiers

Solid state amps can be found for the cheapest price. They tend to be the most reliable of amplifier types but lack a certain warth in their tone. Solid state amps are perfect for beginners and musicians who consistently gig and haul their own gear. 

Roland - JC-40 | Jazz Chorus Guitar Amplifier
Benefits: 
  • Reliable and solid build 
  • Low price point 
Drawbacks: 
  • Lack a warm tone 

Tube Amplifiers

Tube amps are titled as such because they contain vacuum tubes in their build. The guitar signal passes through these tubes before amplification, resulting in a saturated and slightly distorted “warm” tone quality. 

Fender '57 Custom Champ 1x8" 5-watt Tube Combo Amp | Sweetwater
Benefits: 
  • Great tone 
  • Classic looks 
Drawbacks:
  • Expensive 
  • Tubes can blow and require repair 
  • Volume needs to be pushed high for warmth to happen 

Digital Modeling Amplifiers

Modeling amps digitally emulate a bevy of amplifiers, microphones and effect signal chains. Getting one of these is like getting a room full of gear! They are a great option for beginning and gigging guitarists alike.

Spider IV 120 - Line 6 Spider IV 120 - Audiofanzine
Benefits: 
  • Multiple tones and styles easily accessible 
  • Include tons of onboard effects 
Drawbacks: 
  • Digital tone can be heard as cold by purists 
  • Not an easy repair if something goes wrong due to complex digital circuitry 

Check this comparison video out and see if you can hear the differences!

The world of guitar gear is never ending. While it can be fun to head down the wormhole, it is important not to be intimidated by it as well. Remember, all the greats ever needed were 6 beat up strings and something to say! 

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Good luck and happy picking! 

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