Who has the best starter guitar pack for beginners?
A starter guitar pack means you get a guitar, an amp, gig bag and accessories, and it's usually all in one box. These packs are designed to give the beginner guitar player everything they need all up front so that nothing else needs to be bought.
Currently, these packs have a price range of $200 to $350, so you won't spend too much. And, fortunately, just about every classic electric guitar shape is available.
I'm first going to list 5 starter packs, from least-to-most expensive, and give my opinions on each. At the end I'll say which I think is the best for the money.
Click any photo below to see the price.
- Guitar in vintage sunburst looks cool
- Guitar is easy to figure out. One volume, one tone, 3-way pickup selector.
- The guitar has humbuckers in it, meaning no hum and good for rocker type of players.
- No vibrato (meaning no "whammy bar") means better tuning stability for new players.
- 3x3 tuners are something new players will find annoying to deal with, and some are guaranteed to install replacement strings the wrong way because of it.
- The fact the guitar lessons are a DOWNLOAD is stupid. It should have come with a DVD instead. And I'm betting that "free download" requires you to sign up for something, which is also stupid.
- Classic Strat look. Can't go wrong with a black Strat.
- Comfortable Strat shape.
- The neck is more beginner-friendly because it's rounder. Good for playing chords, which is what all beginners start with.
- Comes with a pick sampler (meaning different thicknesses) instead of just picks of all one thickness.
- Has a real-deal instructional DVD
- Kid rockers won't like this because of the lower-output pickups
- The tremolo system ("whammy bar") is useless and will instantly put the guitar out-of-tune when used unless you know how to set one up - which no beginner knows how to do, and I seriously doubt the DVD will tell you how since it is advanced Stratocaster setup.
- It's most likely true the bridge pickup has no tone control, which is traditional Strat wiring. Many beginners would probably mistake this for something being "wrong" with the guitar when in fact that's how it's supposed to be.
- Without question, the best-built, best-looking guitar of 5 mentioned here. The sunburst version in particular is gorgeous. It's also the only guitar of the 5 here with a maple ("blonde") fingerboard. Oh, and guess what? Alder body, just like the American versions.
- This is the easiest guitar to set up and play. One volume, one tone, no vibrato (no "whammy bar"), 3-way pickup selector and six-in-a-row tuners make this guitar ridiculously easy to tune and strum on.
- If for whatever reason you wanted to sell this later, this guitar would command the most value.
- Has real-deal instructional DVD.
- Not for kid rockers. Very "twangy", but that's how a Telecaster should sound.
- Not everyone likes the Telecaster shape.
- The most-versatile guitar of the bunch. Good for kid rockers and those who prefer the softer stuff, as it has a humbucker in the bridge, and two single-coil pickups after that.
- Sunburst Strat + black pick guard looks cool.
- Comfy Strat shape, which most people prefer.
- Has real-deal instructional DVD.
- It's a Strat, so it has a tremolo system ("whammy bar"). Not good for beginners trying to set one of those up as mentioned before.
- Doesn't have as high of a resale value as the Telecaster mentioned above would.
- That's it. Everything else about this pack is 100% OK.
- Kid rockers love it because it's black and it's Ibanez, a known guitar played by many famous metal players.
- Dual-humbucker, good for distorted playing.
- Comes with headphones for the amp, which is a nice touch.
- Good for "modding" if you like to tinker with guitars, upgrade them, etc.
- Weakest amp of the bunch, yet is higher in price.
- No instructional video of any kind offered.
- This guitar basically has zero resale value because it's not a classic shape others would want. Once you buy it, you're basically stuck with it.
Which is the best?
The Squier Tele pack, no question. Best-made guitar of the bunch and easiest to set up and play. Looks fantastic and has actual resale value. Comes with DVD that obviously requires no sign-up for anything, so you can pop in a player and start learning guitar fast.
I also know from personal experience that the guitar does not feel cheap, even though it is cheap in price. Surprisingly good tuners, good feel and even the wiring is good in the Affinity Tele.
The runner-up is the Ibanez, but only for one reason. Kids like it better because it's a black Ibanez. Is the guitar better than the Squier? In terms of build quality, no. What kids see with the Ibanez is a "cool metal guitar". If you're shopping for your kid, know this when buying the Ibanez pack: Once you buy it, you'll never get your money back if the kid plays it for a few months then gives up guitar. At least with the Squier Tele (and the Strat) there are people on Craigslist who would be legitimately interested in buying it. The one major flaw of the Ibanez is that it has zero resale value. Other than that, it's a good kid rocker guitar.
Other stuff I recommend buying along with the any guitar starter pack
120-piece pick sampler - 120 picks for cheap. Real cheap. And they're made of delrin material which is easier to grab. If you don't know what that is, it's a mildly textured pick instead of a smooth surface. If your fingers sweat at all when playing, you'll like these a lot. Has light, medium and heavy thicknesses so you can mix-and-match. The best part is that it will take you a long time to go through these. And if buying for a kid, I guarantee the kid will lose picks ALL the time, so you might as well stock up.
Guitar polish cloth - Paper towels scratch guitar finishes. This doesn't. Get one. 'Nuff said.
Behringer UM300 Heavy Metal Distortion Pedal - This is for kid rockers. The first thing the kid will do is complain he hasn't enough distortion. The UM300 is the cheapest distortion pedal you can buy. It gets the job done.
Behringer VD400 Vintage Delay Pedal - This is for the adults. It's a cheap delay pedal, and delay is fun to play around with.
10-foot guitar cable - If you get a pedal, you're going to need another cable. This is another 10-footer. If you want something better and longer, get this 18-footer with the tweed jacket. Looks cool and you get an extra 8 feet.