#1
I'm looking to surprise my son with a new (to us) electric guitar for Christmas. He is 13 and is currently playing on an Ibanez gio mikro. But it is getting very small - he is 5'6" and 101lbs (hand size is 8in).

He loves the feel, shape and weight of the Ibanez. He does not like crazy shaped guitars nor does he like the Epiphone shape.

I'm looking to spend under $250 but I want something he can play through high school. He likes black, silver, silver burst, red/black or red burst colors (which are important to him).

What guitars do you recommend? He plays all types of music (Thunderstruck, Wipeout, Lindsey Stirling, Twenty-One pilots and will use it for Rock Band camp and Jazz band next year).

Please give suggestions and model numbers as I am a clueless mom when it comes to music equipment.

Thank so much!

For reference, my son is on the right with black guitar in this video and his twin bro is drummer on silver kit:
Last edited by twinrockerz at Nov 2, 2016,
#2
honestly the best suggestion is to give him a little plastic guitar for xmas with a gift card to Guitar Center or whatever you have in your area. let him pick out the guitar he wants and feels comfortable playing. I know not as fun for you but in the end he will get a guitar that he s happy with and that is what counts. I'd also look at used guitars for more bang for the buck. $250 for a guitar that will get him thru high school may not be totally realistic but if you find a good deal on a used guitar can be done.

hope this helps
#3
monwobobbo I'm looking to buy used which is why I am asking for suggestions. I will take him to guitar center to try some out but honestly don't know what brands might be a good fit. I want to make sure I'm letting him pick from something that is realistic in price. I also don't know which guitar is best for a wide style of music. I also don't know what are key items that I should be looking for in a guitar.

Any help or direction would be fantastic!
Thanks!!!!
#4
Well, his amp is going influence the sound more than the guitar. That said, for flexibility, the pickup arrangement is key. The two types you'll run into most are Humbuckers and single coils (abbreviated H and S, respectively). A Fender Stratocaster (and it's clones) are frequently equipped with 3 single coil pick ups. Ibanez RG line (including the GIO) follow the Stratocaster body design, but tend to employ at least one humbucker (it's two single coils in one package that fight the hum of single coils). These are examples.

Common pickup configurations are SSS, HH, HSS, and HSH. With the goal of flexibility in mind, something with an HSS, or HSH configuration is your best bet.

The other major thing I would point out is the bridge types: Individual saddle (like on a Stratocaster) or Tune-O-Matic (TOM, like on a Gibson Les Paul). There is the double-locking systems like Floyd Rose, but these are more complex and generally not advised for less experienced users.
Guitars:
Squire Bullet Strat, Schecter Damien 6, Washburn WG-587 & RX10
Amp/Effects:
Peavy Vypyr 30, ISP Decimator

Quote by dannyalcatraz
Understood- I waste money on amps*, too.
#5
bjgrifter Thanks for that great information. Can you tell me what brands/models offer the pick-up set up that you recommend so I can have him look at them at the store?

Does an Ibanez Art 100 have the pickup arrangement you suggest?

Thanks again for your advice!
#6
No it does not. It has 2 humbuckers. (HH) In all honesty, there are so many guitars out there, so here's what I would do as a parent: let them look at the new guitars and get a feel for what they offer based on what he likes after a few trips--don't be afraid to let him try out higher priced guitars. If it doesn't feel good in his hands, it really won't matter if you paid a million dollars for it. Have him try several brands. He likes Ibanez, but what about ESP, Jackson, Schecter or Epiphone? The end goal is to give him something he wants to play. Pickups are important, but are ultimately worthless if he won't want to play it, thus wasting your money. I would make at least 3 separate trips to the same store before you pony up.

For reference,
Humbuckers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humbucker

Single coil
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_coil_guitar_pickup

I would encourage him to try out a variety of models through the same amp, so he can hear the difference. $250 can buy a nice used guitar, and if my kids want an instrument, I would definitely encourage used. If he's used to restringing it, budget $5-10 for a new set of strings.
Guitars:
Squire Bullet Strat, Schecter Damien 6, Washburn WG-587 & RX10
Amp/Effects:
Peavy Vypyr 30, ISP Decimator

Quote by dannyalcatraz
Understood- I waste money on amps*, too.
#7
bjgrifter Are Jackson and Schecter's good guitars? Out of Ibanez, Jackson and Schecter which one is the lightest? Weight and thickness of body are his major concerns. He likes a narrow body and light-weight guitar best.
#8
I'm with monwobobbo on this, give him a token and a promissory note of some kind. The IMO strong argument in favour of this is that he is in a transitional stage in both his playing and his mental and physical maturity, and, with all the best intentions in the world, might be hard to please in the medium term. - You've already noted that he has strong opinions on colour for example. - Whatever you choose, he might outgrow it before not too long. At least if he chooses it himself, he can only lay it at his own door. He also might get more pleasure from being actively involved in the choice than from having a Christmas surprise.
#10
Quote by twinrockerz
bjgrifter Are Jackson and Schecter's good guitars? Out of Ibanez, Jackson and Schecter which one is the lightest? Weight and thickness of body are his major concerns. He likes a narrow body and light-weight guitar best.

You cannot make any generalizations of what brand is good and what isn't. It entirely depends on what particular model you're talking about.

The only way you can make an informed decision on what exactly he wants is getting your kid to a guitar store and getting him to play as many guitars as he can.

A couple of other major things to consider are neck feel and pickup configuration. Does your kid want single coils, humbuckers, or a compromise of both? What neck profiles does he like? Younger players generally prefer thin necks because of their smaller hands.

If a major concern of his is getting something very light and ergonomic then Ibanez is probably going to give you the most options. The S series in particular. But many S Series guitars come with Floyd Rose style bridges which are not recommended for beginners at all. They're a lot of fun when you do get them working, but the cheap ones are a nightmare to set up and do not stay in tune, which will totally frustrate your little lad. Stick with guitars that have fixed bridges, like Tune-O-Matic bridges (the sort you'll find on Gibson-style guitars) or string-through hardtails (the kind visually not dissimilar to a Telecaster bridge). They are far cheaper and far easier to set up, especially for alternate tunings.

Have a look at the Ibanez RG321 or RG421 and ask your son if that might be the sort of thing he's looking for. I know that ruins the surprise, but the right guitar for a particular individual is a very personal choice. So if you buy a guitar without his direct input, you risk buying him something he'll end up not liking.
Quote by Axelfox
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#11
Quote by twinrockerz
bjgrifter Are Jackson and Schecter's good guitars? Out of Ibanez, Jackson and Schecter which one is the lightest? Weight and thickness of body are his major concerns. He likes a narrow body and light-weight guitar best.


Depends on the model; should I get a Ford F-150 or a Fiat 500? Like, when I go to buy a used car, I up and down refuse to buy any Chevy (or affiliated brands) sporting the 3.4L engine. That is going to rule out certain vehicles, but not the entire line. Narrow and light-weight are subjective as are how the neck fits in the hand. There are a lot of things that are personal preference. I used to think Les Pauls were kinda heavy, but now (and I've only played for about a year) not so much.
Guitars:
Squire Bullet Strat, Schecter Damien 6, Washburn WG-587 & RX10
Amp/Effects:
Peavy Vypyr 30, ISP Decimator

Quote by dannyalcatraz
Understood- I waste money on amps*, too.
#12
Based on what you have listed as his musical interests, especially that he is going to be playing in Jazz band you want something that will give him a nice clean sound - I would stay away from anything with active EMG pickups.

My mind goes to a nice Tele (telecaster) type guitar preferably with a humbucker in the bridge and a single coil in the neck. It would give him lots of versatility and definitely would work for jazz band as well. A HSS strat would also work, I personally like the look of a Tele more than a strat. I would look into a used Squier Classic Vibe.
#13
Your best bet is going to be, as suggested, letting him pick his own guitar while you may lose the excitement of watching his surprise when he opens his new guitar (if he loves it) you will most certainly avoid making him fight the urge to cringe if he don't like it.

Musical instruments are very personal and it is best if you can choose your own.

Find a fun gag gift to give him then take him to pick one out himself if you can hold off untill February you can get some killer deals at tax sales.
"A well-wound coil is a well-wound coil regardless if it's wound with professional equipment, or if somebody's great-grandmother winds it to an old French recipe with Napoleon's modified coffee grinder and chops off the wire after a mile with an antique guillotine!"
- Bill Lawrence

Come and be with me
Live my twisted dream
Pro devoted pledge
Time for primal concrete sledge

#14
The Soiled Dove in Lowry? I'm thinking yes...
There's a Soiled Dove in San Francisco, which is an entirely different (but fun!) experience: http://www.thesoileddove.com/

For what it's worth, the name Soiled Dove is taken from a famous speech studied even today in Law Schools. It's considered a near-perfect close. An attorney named Temple Lea Houston spoke on behalf of a prostitute who was decidedly guilty and got her off (legally speaking, that is). Worth a read, and available on wiki.

Your best guitar value is going to be in the used market. You can poke through eBay or the local Craigslist for likely candidates, and don't be afraid to...uh...negotiate. And by that I mean viciously lowball when you can.

Your second best guitar value will come from those online vendors who are NOT connected with retail (brick and mortar) stores, such as Guitar Splinter. My favorite is Carvin (which is, quite honestly, out of your price range) dot com. Great guitars, tons of options, each of them a personal one-off. A company that has guitars more within your budget would be RondoMusic (dot com). They put up on the website only what they actively have in stock (or what they've pulled off the container most recently). That stock changes weekly, if not daily. Their house brand is Agile, but you'll also find values in their SX and Hadean lines. I'd suggest looking for used Agiles, but honestly most Guitar Centers and personal sellers put their used Agile prices very near to the new prices listed.

If I'm understanding you correctly, he's not particularly interested in Les Paul-alike guitars? That's too bad, because the Agile AL 2500 is a very solid example for right around $250. It *will* be a heavy guitar. You'll hope that he does not stop growing . But it would definitely carry him well past high school (I'm a bit (*cough*) past high school, but using three Agile AL2000 and AL3000 guitars reguiarly for gigs). In any case, turning him loose on the site might get you closer to knowing exactly what he likes.
#15
You can take a look at Epiphone guitars as well, I personally like humbuckers mich more than single-coils and most Epi's are equipped with hummies.
#16
You don't choose a guitar the guitar chooses you. Take the kid out guitar hunting until he finds the one he likes. He needs to play it first as well and I mean the one he buys not one that looks the same - because it's rare that two guitars are going to be the same off the shelf.

Also budget for getting the guitar setup for him as well as a case or bag is he doesn't already have one.

Which guitar ? Fortunately, with modern manufacturing and competition being so strong pretty much all guitars these days are of a good standard even those under $200.
#17
I'd suggest reverb.com if you have access..... they have top brands lower models in the 200 range and they should be built good enough that something like pick up upgrades down the line wouldn't be a waste of time.
#18
tdunster my personal opinion, and not knocking your opinion, is it's not so much the guitar picks you as you get used to it. I started on fenders because my buddy owned one and let me use his and his practice amp. Loved it at the time. Seen a Jackson I loved, bought it, got so used to the feel of it that when I went to play another fender it was horrendous and I now avoid fender like the plague. That said no opinion is wrong and everyone is different.... just my two cents
#19
Quote by tdunster
You don't choose a guitar the guitar chooses you. .


I have to say I don't share this sentiment, either.
A great proportion of the guitars I own were purchased sight unseen (well, except for a good set of photographs). I'd often tried similar or identical guitars, but the one I actually purchased was none of these. A great initial setup (whatever that entails) by a good tech was usually enough to make the guitar a stellar player, and after a while, you learn to make it sound like what you want.

A lot of this goes for guitars that you can pick up in a store as well. Often folks will bypass a really good guitar at a great value because it isn't set up well.
#20
dspellman

I have used the analogy of arranged marriages in this context. - You commit, then make it work.

I've often wonder how much of this tactile thing that guitarists go on about so much is indeed just about set up.
#21
Quote by kramer242
tdunster my personal opinion, and not knocking your opinion, is it's not so much the guitar picks you as you get used to it. I started on fenders because my buddy owned one and let me use his and his practice amp. Loved it at the time. Seen a Jackson I loved, bought it, got so used to the feel of it that when I went to play another fender it was horrendous and I now avoid fender like the plague. That said no opinion is wrong and everyone is different.... just my two cents


I bought one guitar sight unseen - spent six months trying to get used to it - ended up selling it because I never got used to it.
My two strats - I loved as soon as I played them, same with my telecaster,.
My LP and acoustic I sorta like but at no stage have I ever loved them.

My telecaster I will keep for life same with the two strats - I would never consider selling them.

The Acoustic and the LP are not for sale but I wouldn't hesitate to sell them if someone makes a good offer on them.

This is why I don't buy anything before I play it extensively first nor do I assume I will eventually like it given enough time.

There is a plethora of research out there as well confirming that first impressions are stable.

Given what we read on this forum that may not apply to guitarists.
#22
tdunsterwell then in your cased it worked out that way.... lol in my case like I said since the move to Jackson I could no longer stand the strats. Which I initially loved.... been nothing but Jackson and schecter since
#23
[
Quote by kramer242
tdunsterwell then in your cased it worked out that way.... lol in my case like I said since the move to Jackson I could no longer stand the strats. Which I initially loved.... been nothing but Jackson and schecter since


I thought exactly the same way - until I got my hands on a Strat with a 12" radius and Classic C neck profile.

99% of Strats I dislike as much as you do.

I'm a bit of a Jackson fan as well - great guitars.
#24
tdunster yeah I'm in a pinch....shopping and debating, either a sustainac mod or preloaded....i begrudgingly threw out both Jackson's that were on the mix..... the soloist wouldn't be cost effective considering, and the slatx.... well cost effective to its cheap body so that got tossed..... down to a Keith merrow schecter km fr s 7 or modding an Ibanez iron series 7 with a sustainer..... both would come to 1100-1200.... only thing, do I want more active or passive and do I want to have to wait on sustainac to do the mod...choices suck
#25
Quality versatile guitar under $250? Agile is a good choice as is a used Fender Tele (made in Mexico). Both will be solid gig quality guitars that he can keep forever or trade up as his tastes change. I would pick out a nice one and he can decide if he likes it over time.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis
#26
Quote by Tony Done

I've often wonder how much of this tactile thing that guitarists go on about so much is indeed just about set up.


I think setup is certainly one facet. Also balance, neck width, fretboard radius, scale length, control layout, pickup arrangement. All of these things affect how we perceive a guitar when we hold it in our hands. I have several guitars I love to play but over the years have owned guitars that never felt like home to me. Two of them were Les Pauls and one was a vintage Fender Duo-Sonic. All were carefully set up by me or a trusted guitar tech. Neck width, balance, scale, and radius were deal-breakers. I certainly *could* play those guitars effectively if I wanted to, I just don't like em.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis
#27
Cajundaddy

Yeah, fine points of neck design don't really go with my musical interests, - fingerpicked blues and slide, and I only play slide on electrics. - I never have got the hang of string damping to get decent fretted sounds. The big necks on early resos don't bother me, but fretboard radius did defeat me once - a really nice Tokai strat, one of the Japan-market models, but it had a 7.25"radius on which I couldn't do slide barres on the low frets. My favourite, because of long acquaintance, is a 1932-ish L-00 with a V-neck, but I had a thinner board put on it to make it less clubby.
#28
Cajundaddy I personally prefer the Mexican strat, but you pose a good point.... even cheap fenders are pretty decent
#29
In Australia we pay $1500 rrp for a made in Mexico Standard Strat and about $950 street price - which is around $US1125 and $US750 respectively.

So when I see people discussing them as a $250 or less guitar I kinda think my country is run by anti-guitarist commanazis.

We can buy the Classic VIbes for around $150 less - is that also the case in USA ?
#30
Quote by kramer242
tdunster my personal opinion, and not knocking your opinion, is it's not so much the guitar picks you as you get used to it. I started on fenders because my buddy owned one and let me use his and his practice amp. Loved it at the time. Seen a Jackson I loved, bought it, got so used to the feel of it that when I went to play another fender it was horrendous and I now avoid fender like the plague. That said no opinion is wrong and everyone is different.... just my two cents


actually once you get to the point where you have a good idea of what you want from a guitar they do indeed pick you so to speak. I tend to call it it "when it speaks to you" . sometimes you pick up a guitar and play it for a minute and just know it's one you have to have. this is pretty much how I buy guitars these days. I try tons of them every year but very rarely do I find one that I just have to buy. I know when I do though.
#31
I'm sure your intentions are good, but unwise, If the kid never played before that's one thing, Now that he does its a mistake for you to buy him one as a gift, He has to choose it, Its a guitarist/guy thing, Best bet here is to hand him a card with a note stating that you will put $250 toward any guitar he chooses, Never know Grandma may be gifting him some cash for Christmas this year (hint) giving him more options, Should you just give him cash for a guitar? I don't know your kid. I never did for mine though, Spend it on everything but a guitar, But again he was raised around guitars and such, This also gives him the responsibility to do his own research and leg work. In which case will make his new guitar all that much more special to him, He found it he bought it so to say. Besides you already stated you don't know shit about guitars, let alone play one, The kid I have that got the music bug at least had a dad that made him pick his own guitars, and leave mine alone, Problem is he's 25 now and really likes my guitars, Told him I was going to be buried with that FACS Lola, He told me I doubt that, as I'll be the one burying you and your going to the afterlife with that Ibanez Gio GAX30 I picked out and you bought me when I was 13, Nice guitar Pop your going to like it, Huh?
Last edited by nastytroll at Nov 7, 2016,
#32
#34
Quote by twinrockerz


Don't surprise him. Take your son to try it out and if he likes it then buy it. He needs to play it first. He will know if it's the right guitar for him - others like myself and everyone here can only guess what he wants.
Last edited by tdunster at Nov 8, 2016,
#35
dspellman Thanks for your input. He should keep growing as he just started. Doc says 6'2-6'3. He just hit 100lbs which was huge for him

Yes, they performed at the Soiled Dove in Lowery. Even parents have to pay a cover to see their offspring play
#36
Well I purchased the ESP F-50. I sent the link to his teacher and he thought it would be good for my son and was a good deal. It feels really nice when playing it and looks brand new (the mom said they wouldn't even let their son turn the tuning knobs) so it is really in as near new condition as you can get.

I know he will like it and it puts out pretty nice sound in his Fender Mustang I practice AMP.

Thanks again for all your help!
#38
Yes, please get back to us on whether he likes it. Those of us that provide advice in these fora really benefit from knowing how we did, and this has a flow-on effect to others seeking our opinions.
#39
Quote by Tony Done
Yes, please get back to us on whether he likes it. Those of us that provide advice in these fora really benefit from knowing how we did, and this has a flow-on effect to others seeking our opinions.


Will do! You'll have to wait till 12/26 to get an update