Saturday, March 12, 2011

Guitar Conundrum

Yet another week passes and we still haven’t gotten A a new guitar. This process, like many things in life, is not an easy one for me, exacerbated of course by the fact that guitars are not cheap, and the issue of choosing between quality and economy is something I continually wrestle with.

While my first inclination is to go cheap, this is different than buying a screwdriver or hammer. For my applications, buying a cheap hammer will do the job, though for the record, I went quality in this area and got a Estwing. My Mentor and JH and his magic bag of tools would approve, though I have to confess, one of the hammers I use most was given to me by my Mentor (an Estwing)

My thoughts on A’s guitar is that it’s something that she’ll play for years to come, and I’d like to get her something decent, if not nice. The problem is, even cheap guitars will run you around $200. As you go up the scale, the sky is the limit. I am not a musician, either, so I can’t go into a music store and talk the talk, and consequently, have to rely on their wisdom and advice to guide me. This is not an ideal situation because I don’t like being in the dark, and hate the feeling of vulnerability.

I could ask opinions, I have several good friends who are accomplished musicians, but when you talk to serious artists, they’re like serious contractors, they don’t go cheap and will promote quality. Hmm, maybe they are telling me something.

Either way, I’ve done a little research, and have come up with some thoughts. I would like to avoid buying a cheap, made in China guitar, even though A would not be able to really tell the difference. It can’t be too big, like mine, which is a standard dreadnought, which has a big frame. If it’s too small, she’ll outgrow it and she’s big enough to have a standard size guitar.

There are two places to consider, Hanover Strings and Blue Mountain Guitar. Both have a decent selection of good guitars, and both have great guys working there. I think of Blue Mountain as more of the working man’s guitar store, a wider selection and better prices (i.e., cheaper). Hanover Strings, being in Hanover and all, has higher quality and thus more expensive, and seems to cater to the Hanover crowd. Since A takes lessons at Hanover Strings, her teacher promotes it, which is a double-edged sword because I trust this guy, but of course I assume he’s being biased.

I find the whole process intimidating, though the guys are more than happy to talk about the instruments and give you any advice. All the esoteric talk, however, is like listening to Latin. I have a longer standing relationship with the Blue Mountain guys, and am a relative newcomer to Hanover Strings. I just assumed that since it’s Hanover, it’s beyond my means. This, however, is not necessarily the case. Sure, they have high end Martins that will cost you thousands of dollars, but I don’t even like looking at those instruments. They scare me.

In the end, after browsing around just a bit, I have to confess that there is a guitar that I am leaning towards, and it is sold at Hanover Strings. A got to play one during her lesson and she loved it, but you have to take the impressions of a 9 year old (soon to be 10) with a grain of salt. Yes, I may very well have fallen for the sales pitch, but it is a nice guitar. It’s made by a company called Seagull, and I’d never even heard of this brand before, but it’s made in North America, in one of my favorite countries, no less: Canada. If that’s not enough, the company has a branch in New Hampshire, so it’s a locally made guitar, as well.

The guitar costs about $400, which is maybe a tad bit higher than I wanted to pay. However, when you really get down to it, getting even a cheaper import will run you about $200, at least. We are not going to get this instrument at Walmart, so whatever choice we make, we’re in this ballpark. With this in mind, $400 is not such a stretch. Plus, it’s an instrument she can play for the rest of her life, and one she can cherish.

So that’s where I currently stand, and this could very well change from week to week. Whatever be the case, A needs a new guitar, and that’s not going to change. I know what I’d like to get her, it just may take some effort to convince R that it’s worth it. While it’s out of character for me to push and promote a higher priced item, I’m not a cheap scoundrel with everything, especially when it involves the kids. Stay tuned for more.

Until then, thanks for reading.

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