The author is a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
Choosing a starter pack is a smart decision if you are thinking of learning to play the electric guitar. Beginners can grab their first guitar, amp, and all the accessories they need in one handy, affordable package.
Because these starter packs are made by big names like Epiphone and Squier, a newbie can start out with a quality setup from the beginning. It’s a cool concept, and the easiest way for a beginner to jump into the world of guitar.
If you’re buying the first electric guitar for yourself or a child you want to give the newbie guitarist the best chance at success. But, you don’t want to blow too much cash on gear that could end up collecting dust. So, where do you draw the line between purchasing a quality first instrument and not killing your budget on something today’s wannabe guitarist might not care about in six months?
Fortunately, the top guitar companies realize the dilemma you’re in and have put together these smart starter packs for reasonable prices. They generally consist of a guitar and amp, a strap, picks, cable, and accessories, and often an instruction book or DVD.
In this review, we’ll take a look at three of the best electric guitar starter packs for beginners.
Squier by Fender Stratocaster Starter Pack
Fender guitars are among the best in the world, and the Fender Stratocaster has been played by countless rock, pop, and country icons dating back to the ‘50s. Of course, a new guitarist isn’t likely to start out with a Fender Strat. However, Squier is a company owned by Fender and licensed to make budget guitars to Fender’s specs. This means Squier also makes some of the best Stratocasters for beginners.
You can start out with a no-name guitar from a big-box store if you really want to, but choosing a guitar with a respected brand on the headstock is a better idea. Plus, if the new guitarist decides the instrument isn’t for them, a guitar from a well-known manufacturer will have better resale value.
In this starter pack, you get a Squier Stratocaster, one of the top guitars a newbie can start out with. It has two single-coil pickups which will mean brighter, twangier sounds, plus a humbucker for heavier rock sounds. The Squier Strat is a great choice for beginners who are into blues, country, and rock. However, the Strat has been used successfully in just about every genre. There really is no limit to what it can do.
The Squier Affinity Special Strat has all the attributes of a real Stratocaster because it is a real Stratocaster. Starting out with a guitar like this is the perfect springboard to higher-end Fenders like the professionals play. But, just going by looks alone, it might be tough for some people to tell the difference.
As cool as the Squier Strat is, it’s not the best thing about this pack. It’s only a matter of time before a new guitarist outgrows a first guitar. However, the amp that comes with the package is a Fender Frontman. This is plenty of amp to get a new player going, but more importantly, it can serve as a solid practice amp even after a guitarist has moved on to a more powerful main amplifier. That means this package potentially has value for years to come.
Squier Stratocaster HSS Starter Kit
The Stratocaster is a great guitar for rock, country, and blues. However, many players who are into heavier rock or metal need something with a little more power. Those players may wish to instead consider the HSS version of the Squier Stratocaster starter kit.
The difference is the pickups. The basic Strat design features three single-coil pickups (SSS), where the HSS version has two single coils one humbucker. This provides a heavier sound, though it is a bit different than the classic Stratocaster vibe.
It is a matter of preference. Personally, I own Strats with both SSS and HSS pickup configurations and find plenty of uses for all of them. For beginners who aren't yet sure, I suggest making your decision based on the type of music you wish to learn.
I also suggest taking some time to learn more about the difference between single-coil and humbucker pickups.
Epiphone Les Paul Player Pack
You may not have heard of Epiphone, but you’ve probably heard of Gibson. Along with Fender, Gibson is in the upper echelon of American guitar manufacturers. They’re responsible for some of the most classic guitar models in history, including the Flying V, Explorer, SG, and of course the famous Les Paul.
Epiphone is owned by Gibson and licensed to produce affordable guitars based on Gibson’s designs. This means any Epiphone product you buy has the Gibson name behind it, and you can expect quality. But Epiphone also stands on its own reputation. They make some of the top electric guitars for beginners and intermediate players, and starting out on an Epiphone guitar is a smart decision.
The star of this starter pack is the Les Paul Special II LTD guitar. This instrument is a cut above what most newbies start out on, and, if cared for correctly, can meet their needs for a long time. While it doesn’t have the same carved top and thick body as a Gibson Les Paul, it does have a similar vibe.
With two humbucking pickups, the Les Paul Special will have a thicker sound than the Stratocaster above. This is true of humbuckers vs single-coil pickups in general, but the choice of woods used also plays a factor in the differences between these two guitars. Les Pauls generally used deeper-sounding tonewoods, where Strats employ brighter-sounding woods.
For newbies, it means this guitar may be more appealing to players who think they are interested in heavier rock music. The Les Paul vs Stratocaster debate has been going on for decades, but the good news is there is no wrong answer!
The amp is more than enough for a beginner, but will likely be the first piece of gear they eventually upgrade. Fortunately, there are some awesome practice amps on the market today for around $100, so, if a new guitar player saves their pennies, in a year or so they can significantly upgrade this kit for not a lot of money.
Trying to learn on a cheap guitar is frustrating since they often aren’t made very well. Choosing a brand like Epiphone from the beginning means less aggravation, more enjoyment, and, hopefully, more practice!
Choosing the Right Starter Pack
You may be tempted to grab some super-cheap, no-name guitar package you find in a big-box store or online. You may get lucky and end up with a decent guitar, but more than likely there is a reason the kit is so cheap.
With the three options above you have the power of major guitar brands behind the products, and you can expect good things. Plus, if a new guitar player suddenly realizes they were meant to be a drummer instead, a guitar with a well-respected brand name on the headstock will have better resale value than some no-name guitar.
So how do you choose which of the three options above is best for your situation? Here are a few points to think about:
- All three come with great guitars, but the Epiphone may have a slight edge.
- All three come with solid amps, but the Fender is the best of the lot.
- The Epiphone or HSS Fender may be the better choice for players who want to play metal and hard rock.
- The SSS Stratocaster may be a better choice for players who want to play blues or country.
Squier and Epiphone are among the top electric guitar brands for beginners. But, really, you can’t go wrong with any of these three packages.
Hopefully, this article has been helpful. Good luck on your quest to find the best electric guitar starter pack for beginners.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.