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The Real Economics of Beginning on Guitar

My favourite sorts of hobbies are those where there are initial low start-up costs, after which point the ongoing maintenance falls off considerably. Chess, for instance, costs ~$20 for a decent chess board that comes with a travel canister to roll the board into along with the pieces. Aside from that, a chess clock for less than $100 is the only other necessity once a player reaches that stage. So, for $120 it is possible to be fully equipped as a chess maestro. I knew beginning on guitar was going to run up a higher tab, but exactly how high?

Beginning on Guitar: Acoustic vs. Electric

As you know from my 2016 Goals, I’ve recently taken up playing the six-strings and I have to say the upfront costs have been relatively substantial. My acoustic guitar ran me for ~$330; I picked this up in late March and have been playing virtually every morning and night. This purchase came with a two-year warranty and the shop has also offered to check the guitar over twice per year to ensure it is in good working order. Not a bad deal, I feel, and certainly not an over-the-top purchase.

However, I’ve enjoyed the acoustic so much that I decided to add an electric guitar to the mix. This past Sunday I took the trip to Ottawa to see what I could find. In today’s article I’d like to detail some of the costs of guitar ownership given my experience yesterday.

Electric Guitar Costs

The first thing anybody needs if they’re getting started on playing the guitar is, obviously, a guitar. From the outset, I knew that I ultimately wanted a relatively plain-looking black guitar. I’m not much for frills or excessive flash. I’d already looked online and knew the Les Paul Special II by Epiphone was right up my alley.

I was also aware that the Long & McQuade shop in Kanata had one in stock, but I figured I’d see what Best Buy had to offer as well since it was on the way. It seems they’re trying to break into the guitar scene, but they had two key problems:

  1. Their staff weren’t knowledgeable about the instruments.
  2. They didn’t have much of the requisite paraphernalia aside from the guitars themselves.

The salesman wasn’t even able to tell me exactly how much one of the guitars on the wall cost since it didn’t have a tag on it. He estimated “between $1,000 and $3,000 based on the other guitars on the wall”. Needless to say, he didn’t close a guitar sale with me.

With that said, the Best Buy visit wasn’t entirely fruitless. I did purchase a Music Stand for $16.99 and an extra set of Gibson Electric Guitar Strings for $5.99 since it never hurts to have a backup.

Beginning on Guitar Can be Expensive

Finally arriving at Long & McQuade after some oddball shopping in between, the guitar I was after was there hanging on the wall. While I do tend to research products online in advance of purchases, I knew once I got my hands on this piece that it was exactly what I was looking for. The guitar itself cost $259.

I’m a novice when it comes to amps, but I knew I wanted one that wasn’t simply for beginning on guitar. I was looking for something I could also grow into without needing to shell out additional cash in the future. I finally settled on the Roland Cube-20GX which came up to $289, though I had also considered a Fender offering 40 Watts.

The Roland Cube-20GX seemed better for two reasons:

  1. Better durability.
  2. More controls to adjust settings.

I’ve been happy with the purchase thus far.

A hard case for the guitar came up to $83.50 and the Patch Cable another $19.99. I purchased and installed Strap Locks so my guitar strap won’t come loose and send the guitar crashing to the floor. The locks themselves cost $27.75 and the leather guitar strap notched an additional $56.50. A Kyser brand Capo tallied $24.50.

All-in with taxes I came up to ~$900 for this guitar purchase. It will still run a tad higher when I add a Guitar Stand with room for five to seven guitars. That may happen sometime next week as I do have a marathon to run on Sunday.

How to Save Money Buying a Guitar

My main focus with buying my electric guitar was to get exactly what I wanted. For someone looking mainly to get playing without spending a lot, it would be possible to do so.

Top 5 Ways to Save Money Buying a Guitar:

  1. Buy a second-hand guitar. Pawn shops have tons of musical instruments.
  2. Join a co-op for sharing or swapping items.
  3. Borrow from a friend.
  4. See if a local music store rents guitars so you can try it out before buying.
  5. Negotiate. There is always room to haggle, even if it just means getting some extras thrown in.

If you do what I did and know exactly what you want, be prepared to pay up for that luxury.

Conclusion

Getting started playing the guitar can be costly. When you add up all of the extra gear in addition to the guitar itself, it’s not hard to get in the $500-$1000 range. Still, don’t rule out some of the ways I mentioned to keep costs down. The main thing is to get started with your strumming. No time like the present for that.

Given that I keep the things I own in exceptionally good condition, I have no doubt I’ll be using everything I bought on Sunday for years to come.

Going forward, I don’t plan to make any expensive musical purchases. What I have will last me for quite some time as I gain proficiency and learn my instruments.

Thank you for reading.

Ryan

What instruments do you play?

50 thoughts on “The Real Economics of Beginning on Guitar

  1. MusicEnviro says:

    This is awesome, everything you write here is true and amazing. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

    1. Glad you enjoyed, MusicEnviro.

      Ryan

  2. suraj says:

    Decent post for guitar amateurs. In spite of the fact that I purchased Squier by Fender Standard Stratocaster which is for all intents and purposes in a similar value range as your Les Paul.
    Keep on the great work!

    1. Hey suraj,

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Sounds like you’ve got a nice piece as well.

      Take care,
      Ryan

  3. MusicRG says:

    Wow, Thank u so much. it was very useful to anyone, who are very beginners at the world of guitar. really we are very grateful to you.

    1. Hey MusicRG,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Ryan

  4. Clinton Ghosh says:

    Even the best paid bands in my area – the ones who’ve been at it for years, slogging away building a reputation are lucky to earn half of this figure. Drunk people like music, and 99% of the time that is a good thing, but 1% of the time they like it a bit too much. We’ve had folks with out-of-tune guitars and screaming voices come up and join us on our original songs.

    1. Hey Clinton,

      Yes, it can be a challenge to earn money at an artistic venture such as playing in a band.

      Thanks,
      Ryan

  5. Chhayrath TAN says:

    Perfect sharing this post. It will encourage more people to learn the guitar. Lovely Post.
    Chhayrath TAN recently posted…Top 12 Best Aerobic Stepper Reviews in 2020My Profile

    1. Hey Chhayarth,

      Glad you enjoyed the read.

      Take care,
      Ryan

  6. Matthew says:

    Thank you for sharing this article with us. Hopefully the $900 was worth spent 🙂 The Roland Cube-20GX is a great amp!
    Matthew recently posted…The 13 Best Piano Apps for AndroidMy Profile

    1. Very well spent, indeed, Matthew.

      Yeah, I haven’t been using it much lately (more playing acoustic), but the amp was definitely worth getting.

      Ryan

  7. Laura says:

    As always, the information you deliver is gold. Thank you for sharing this amazing article with us! I truly appreciate the work you do.

    1. Hi Laura,

      Glad you’re enjoying the posts.

      Ryan

  8. sachin kumar says:

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi sachin,

      You’re quite welcome,

      Ryan

  9. Diksha Sharma says:

    Thanks for sharing this amazing post with us. I have read your article and found very important information.

    1. Hi Diksha,

      I am glad you enjoyed the post.

      Ryan

  10. Ronald Enos says:

    Thanks for the informative post. This post is very helpful for beginners. I will regularly follow this type of blogs to learn some new things. Keep posting. Please let me know for the upcoming posts.

    1. Hi Ronald,

      Thank you—I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Feel free to subscribe to our E-mail list to get regular updates.

      Take care,
      Ryan

  11. David says:

    THANKS FOR THE IN-DEPTH REVIEWS & INFORMATION… IT’S DEFINITELY HELPFUL!
    EASY TO READ AND UNDERSTAND.
    THANKS A LOT FOR SHARING THIS WITH US
    David recently posted…Best Beginner Electric Guitar PackagesMy Profile

    1. Hey David,

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Thanks,
      Ryan

    2. Hey David,

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Ryan

  12. Leontine D. Farrell says:

    May I simply just say what a relief to discover someone that actually knows what they are talking about online. You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people ought to look at this and understand this side of the story. It’s surprising you aren’t more popular given that you definitely possess the gift.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Leontine.

      Ryan

  13. Aaron Hollister says:

    Thanks for sharing this post . I am very interested in this topic . I would like to sharew my opinion on this One of the simplest ways to analysis that is to learn the feedback from on-line retail websites. The suggestions from mother and father on this space is invaluable, and the worth distinction between tuned and un-tuned is negligible.Lastly, my favourite percussion instrument for youths is the Kalimba. The Kalimba is an African instrument that’s performed by plucking the tines or keys with the thumbs. It is usually known as a Thumb Piano or Mbira.
    Aaron Hollister recently posted…Best Volume Pedals 2019My Profile

  14. tushar says:

    thank you very much for this best idea.i enjoyed the article

    1. Hi tushar,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

      Take care,
      Ryan

  15. very inspiring and true fact !!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the article, Sanjil.

      Take care,
      Ryan

  16. Josh Graham says:

    Great advice for the beginner. Keep up the great work.

    1. Hi Josh,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Take care,
      Ryan

  17. This is a really great idea that you have described on your website. thank you very much for this best idea

    1. Hi Jesmin,
      I am glad you found this article useful.
      Take care,
      – Ryan

  18. oldschoolguitarist says:

    informative article for the beginners.
    oldschoolguitarist recently posted…Additional ResourcesMy Profile

  19. oldschoolguitarist says:

    Informative article fr the beginners, can plan journey to music more organized way.

  20. Kyle Alm says:

    The best money a beginner can spend is on a professional setup. For $40, or probably $50 on a Stratocaster or more for Floyd Rose, your guitar will be much easier to play and you will have more fun.

    I bought my first guitar in 2001, at a garage sale I was just walking by, for $150 with a small HiWatt practice amp. Ibanez Road Star II, barely played, and I still have it. Music is something that everyone loves and guitar is pretty easy to learn a few simple chords and strum some songs. Singing on the other hand…..

    1. Hi Kyle,

      Guitars are pretty amazing. As you said, after just playing for a month or two, I’m able to play a huge variety of songs based off of just ten or twenty chords along with some strumming work. Great instrument!

      Take care,
      – Ryan

  21. RBoone says:

    Nice post for guitar beginners. Although, I bought Squier by Fender Standard Stratocaster wich is practically in the same price range as your Les Paul.

    Keep on the good work!

    1. Hi RBoone,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Music is a great way to spend time and broaden the mind. Hope you’re enjoying your pieces as much as I’m enjoying mine!

      Take care,
      – Ryan

  22. John says:

    I really enjoyed the tips will help me very much and congratulations on site !!

    1. Hi John,

      Thank you for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Take care,
      Ryan

  23. Millo Lailang says:

    Wow that’s a lot of money for my budgets.
    I only have a takamine guitar which cost around $450. That emptied my pockets and since that purchase, I have never bought another one 😀

    1. Hi Millo,

      There’s no doubt that guitars can get costly. The range on them from low-end to high-end is astronomical. The great thing is the accessibility for someone who just wants a used acoustic… it certainly does not need to cost the figures I’ve quoted.

      Take care,
      Ryan

  24. Even the best paid bands in my area – the ones who’ve been at it for years, slogging away building a reputation are lucky to earn half of this figure. Drunk people like music, and 99% of the time that is a good thing, but 1% of the time they like it a bit too much.We’ve had folks with out-of-tune guitars and screaming voices come up and join us on our original songs.

    1. Hi Jared,

      I agree that it’s no easy feat to make a living with instruments. For me it’s a great hobby and that’s how I plan to keep it.

      Take care,
      Ryan

  25. Lora says:

    Thanks for great share

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Lora.

      Take care!
      – Ryan

  26. Samuel T.Cummins says:

    Great post I like your title that you have posted the economics of beginning on guitar.
    Thanks for post.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read, Samuel.

      Take care,
      – Ryan

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