As a teacher I often get questions from guitar students and parents about choosing an appropriate beginner instrument. However, I’ve noticed that I rarely get questions about upgrading instruments and often see students playing on instruments they have outgrown. It’s important to understand that as a student grows musically through regular lessons, practice, and performance, that they have an instrument is not only the correct size, but also allows them to continue to progress and grow as a musician. This is where upgrading instruments comes in.
I like to think of instruments in 3 categories: beginner/starter instruments, intermediate instruments, and professional level instruments. Beginner instruments are great for students in their first year or so of lessons, who are still discovering their love for music, and are still learning the basics of their instrument. Guitars in this category are usually factory-made using inexpensive materials, have a decent sound, and cost anywhere between $100-$250. Intermediate instruments are great for those who have outgrown their starter instrument and/or have shown an enthusiasm for learning and growing as a musician. Guitars in this category will have a noticeably better sound, better playability (easier on the fingers), usually stay in tune much better than beginner instruments, and can cost anywhere from $250-$800. For those experienced students who have an undeniable love for music, practice, lessons and performing, I always suggest looking into purchasing a professional level instrument. Guitars in this category will stay in tune the best, are made with high quality materials, have superior playability, and can cost anywhere between $800-$2000+.
Choosing an instrument that is appropriate for a student’s experience level not only goes a long way in encouraging them to keep practicing, but also makes practicing much easier and enjoyable because of the increased playability that goes along with upgrading instruments. So, are you a guitar student who has been in lessons for three years but are still using an undersized beginner guitar? Great news, it’s time for you to upgrade instruments! Have you been in lessons for 4 years but are still using the intermediate level instrument a family member let you borrow? Guess what, it’s time to start shopping for your own professional level instrument! Rest assured, you’ll be surprised how much more fun practice is when you have a shiny new upgraded guitar in your hands. Happy practicing!
-Jake Ramirez, M.M., Guitar Instructor