THE MMM BEGINNER GEAR LIST
WHERE TO BUY?
For ordering instruments online, we recommend Sweetwater and Musician’s Friend. Sweetwater’s customer service is the best of any online store. However, as many options that Sweetwater has, they don’t always have everything. If that’s the case, Musician's Friend is another reliable company with more selection in terms of instruments. It may be a good idea to check the prices between these two companies as these can vary sometimes.
For in store options, Guitar Center and Sam Ash are both decent and local. Both of these stores have gear for all levels.
For used instruments, it’s usually best to try out in person. Good deals can be found on places like Craigslist, but buyer beware in these types of situations. Guitar Center’s online used site is also a good resource for looking for used gear as it has a large selection and a return policy. Before buying any instruments and especially used instruments, please do not hesitate to consult with your private lessons teacher!
For more advanced players, we recommend visiting smaller shops where you can have a more personalized experience and also support smaller businesses. Many of these shops exist in NYC such as Rudy’s, Matt Umanov, Ludlow Guitars, Main Drag Music. Other great NJ options are Golden Age Guitars & Guitars N’ Jazz. The majority of the items listed is what we consider the best affordable, beginner equipment.
BASIC INSTRUMENT TOOLS & ACCESSORIES
A metronome is an essential tool to help a musician build their rhythm and being able to “play with a click” is a must for musicians in this day in age. While you can get a variety of metronomes on a smartphone, we suggest investing in a self standing one to help the student’s practice focus.
Playing in tune is very important and clip on tuners are a really easy way to tune both a guitar and/or a bass. Snark clip on tuners are sold in most music stores.
It is really useful for singers to practice microphone technique. A good all around microphone is a Shure SM58. For a small monitor, the Kustom PA50 is a great deal. For a monitor and small portable PA, we recommend the Alto Trouper.
GUITARS & AMPS GUIDE
Yamaha makes the most affordable and quality beginner guitars. Acoustic is preferable over electric because of the ease of maintenance, and how much easier it is to set up to start playing (no knobs or controls). It also encourages better finger development.
For beginner ages 8-9 and under, we recommend a Yamaha Jr. acoustic.
For larger versions that are suitable to older students, the Yamaha APX500 and Epiphone EL-00 are good mid-size acoustics and the FG800 is a great full size dreadnaught option. Nylon stringed guitars are also really great for the beginner guitarist as the nylon strings are easier on the fingers than steel strings.
Yamaha also makes an acoustic package which includes some extra accessories like picks and a strap.
Other brands such as Epiphone and Seagull make slightly more expensive but make decent beginning acoustics.
The Yamaha Pac-112 is a great beginner electric guitar. We also recommend the Squier Beginner Electric.
Yamaha also makes an electric guitar package which includes all the necessary materials (picks, cables, amp, etc) to get an electric guitar up and running.
The best electric option, if possible, is a Fender Standard Stratocaster or Standard Telecaster. These guitars are affordable and will pretty much last forever. Both the Standard Strat and Tele are also great options on the used market as these instruments are consistent and durable.
For amps, the Orange Crush Series is a good start, as are some of the more affordable Fender amps. With these amp selections, you can choose a size (in general, larger wattage and size means louder) and also whether you prefer more of a traditional style amp with standard eq and drive settings or a slightly more expensive version with onboard effects and amp modeling options which give you more sound capabilities. Again, please do not hesitate to ask us any questions you may have!
For strings, I recommend d’addario extra light (EJ 15) or light (EJ 16) for acoustic and d’addario extra light (exl 120) and light (exl 110) for electric. The lighter the string, the easier it is to play. Guitar string changes are recommended at least 4 times a year.
BASS & AMPS GUIDE
The Yamaha TRBX is a good beginner bass series.
One more good option is the Epiphone EB-0
A more expensive option but an instruments that will truly last are the Fender Jazz Bass and Fender Precision bass, which are the next level up from the Squier series. Both the Fender Jazz bass and Precision bass are also great options on the used market as these instruments are consistent and durable.
PIANO & KEYBOARD GUIDE
Several options are available for affordable beginner pianos. We recommend 76 keys or more so students can get use to the range of an actual piano.
Our great piano technician, Bob Dowling, gave us the following advice. His website is bobdowlingpiano.com and includes a buyers guide and other piano advice.
01. In general, stay away from spinet pianos. A console or studio upright is a much better bet.
02. Newer is better, but in piano years, 50 years old is still considered newer.
03. Wait for a great deal on craigslist.org. A really decent vertical can be had for free or up to $1000 by a patient buyer. As mentioned before, buyer beware, and it’d may be a good idea to consult with Bob before purchasing.
04. Some brands that make great products are Yamaha, Kawai, Baldwin, Everett, Sohmer and of course, Steinway. There are other great pianos made by other companies as well, or by these companies but under a slightly different name.
DRUMS & CYMBALS GUIDE
Before purchasing an entire drumset, there are a few tools that are essential to helping a drummer learn fundamentals.
Though there are variety of different types and it is tempting to get flashier looking sticks that have rubber grips, light up when they strike a drum, or have plastic tips, the best sticks to use are good old fashioned wooden Vic Firth sticks. Vic Firth sticks are the most durable and also have the most balance which help create good technique.
We recommend consulting the student’s drum teacher if they feel ready for a drum kit, which can be a big investment and with a lot of different options.
For beginning kits, the Ludwig Breakbeats by Questlove is unbeatable in terms of price and quality.
For a kit that students will never grow out of, the Gretsch Catalina is a good, simple all around kit.
Kits do not include hardware, which hold the snare drum, hi hat and cymbals. PDP makes a good product for the money.
For a kick drum pedal, Yamaha makes one that folds up, is lightweight and reliable.
The drum throne is a very important part of the drums as it really relates to a drummer's comfort.
For cymbals, there are an abundant amount of options that can get really pricey. Most drummers claim that their cymbals are the defining part of their sound. A good place to start is a cymbal package, but acquiring cymbals are a never ending quest for drummers.