Tons of parents have kids in my program who are flourishing at guitar, and they come to me asking for advice on what second guitar they should get for their child. I’ve advised soooo many parents, it’s time to write it out once and for all!
If you are thinking about getting a second guitar for your child, here’s everything you need to know.
First: my company sells a standard Classical Guitar by Washburn for our students’ first guitar. (I wrote another blog here as to why we love this guitar). I’m proceeding under the assumption that this (or similar) is your child’s first instrument.
I recommend spending between $300-$500. If you want to spend less than $300, you’re kind of just getting the same quality guitar as their first one (if you recall, our beginner guitar is priced at $145).
I recommend getting an electric guitar for the sake of variety. (If he/she insists on an acoustic, get a steel string acoustic). I do not recommend getting a classical guitar as a second guitar unless your child specifically wants to study classical guitar music.
Well, there’s two main options as to where you can purchase from: Retail and Online. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, here we go!
Music instrument retail has greatly suffered via the triple whammy of cheap Chinese gear, online shopping, and Covid… not to mention Guitar Center sucks.
This being said, there is an advantage to shopping for a guitar in person. There are still smaller stores and even pawn shops that offer a retail experience… And when there are economic hard times, there are guitars in pawn shops.
If you can find a retail space with selection, here is my most important advice: Surround the kid with a bunch of guitars in your price range, and just see which one he/she gravitates toward. Try to wander around the store and observe out of the corner of your eye which one he/she likes the most when playing with no one listening.
Music is a very emotional experience; you want to find something he/she has an emotional connection to. In this case the brand doesn’t matter. If an instrument has the right feel to your child, that supersedes brand.
Note: music retail is kind of a scam: you have to haggle over the price. Go online and try to find a similar instrument for context on the price and ask for a lower price.
You can also ask them to throw in accessories: The things that you’ll need are (in order): 1. Case (soft case is fine), 2. Tuner (little cheap clippy tuner is fine), 3. A bag of picks (any medium picks will do) 4. Guitar strap, and 5. Music Stand. DO NOT let them sell you on a humidifier or any other ridiculous accessories I’ve seen kids come home with. (Obviously for an electric you’ll need a cable and an amp.)
Assuming you use best practices when buying online: Buy from a reputable source; and buy something that has a lot of good reviews… you’ll probably get the best price this way.
But your child won’t be able to play the instrument before you pay for it, which is a big minus. Alas in the age of both Covid and the demise of all retail, this may be the best choice.
In terms of brand here is what I think:
- Yamaha: Specializes in educational instruments, thus they give the best quality per dollar at this price point. Will you see a lot of their instruments in studios? Probably not. But will you get tons of value for an advanced education guitar? Yes.
- Fender: Not only is Fender from Fullerton, it’s the most iconic guitar brand on Earth. More well known for their higher end guitars, their “Squier” sub-brand will do fine as a second guitar.
- For the adventurous: I recommend having a look on Craigslist for a used Mexican or US made Fender Strat or Tele in your price range.
- Other brands that I like
- Epiphone (Gibson’s affordable brand)
- Acoustic (Steel string)
- Sigma (Martin’s affordable brand)
- Taylor (if you can find one in your price range)
A Quick Note About Guitar Amps
Since I’m advising you to get an electric guitar, that means you’ll also need an amp. My advice is to get a cheap Fender (or any brand) practice amp; There are some complete packages that include these with a guitar. Don’t worry about the bells and whistles here; Invest later in a nice amp if your child continues to grow in the instrument. Don’t forget to get a cable too, a cheap 10 ft. cable will do.
Thanks for reading, and happy hunting.