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A friend of mine came into the lab yesterday with his water samples and asked me to recommend a guitar for his teenage son for around $100.  I told him the whole deal about "buy the second guitar first" and action and finger pain and solid tops and "is his son serious" (yes) - he told me "they have them advertised for $99" - well, yeah, but...

So anyway, I'll see him again today (see him 4X per week...) - I've already recommended used but - I just want to ask - does anyone think there is a guitar under $200 with a solid top that is any good?  And how about a laminate top one - if he wants to go and buy a $100-$150 "full laminate" gem (over my strenuous objections), are there any worthy of consideration?  As far as I know, the common 1.68" nut would be fine...

We may need our thinking caps for this one - or not - the answer is probably a resounding "what?"

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I know my fancy EJ-200 is solid, and I really don't know either on this one; but the thing sounds as good it does and I play this one and my other EJ more than any of the other guitars that cost way more than they did.  Love both of them, and for $149 that's hard to pass the thing up regardless of solid vs laminate.  It sounds beautiful.

According to the Epiphone website, the EJ-200 is solid top while EJ-200 "Artist" is a laminate top.

I just looked at mine even with a mirror and looked at the grain into the sound hole, etc and mine on the artist is a solid top, also.  I know there are people questioning it, but everyone who has somewhat knowledge on how to check are stating solid even though they are actually saying laminate on the web site.

 

This thing can be heard down the street, it's so loud and just booms sounds out of it.  I did have to shim the saddle just a hair and I put Medium strings on it, and the thing is a joy to play.

One of the things I think I remember reading in one of the reviews on the Musician's Friend site was that production moved from China to Indonesia, and that the quality improved with that move.  I think there was speculation that the top may have become solid after the move to Indonesia - if true, that would mean one should get one of these before they realize the "mistake"...and raise the price...

I agree about picking one up.  I had played them every chance I got because I like the souped up model, and was sitting in GC one day and was playing around with everything and watched how many people came in and played just the Artist Model compared to every other in the store and watched how everyone who played it loved it.  Some of the guys coming in were serious musicians here in NOLA, and all loved it.  I had them go get one out of the box and fired it up and it was a keeper.  The price is amazing for what you get on this thing.  It may not be as fancy as the regular model, but plays and sounds as good.  It's just a little lighter than the regular one.

Hey!  I trust your judge-ment ... (See what I did there?)

If you can look closely at edge of the wood around the rim of the soundhole and see the same grain on top as on the underside, then it's solid wood. 

I had a Epi PR-150 that is definitely laminate top, but it has no lack of volume and sounds pretty good too.  The 1.69 nut width didn't suit me though.  I love the 1.8 inch on my Gulls!

 

Yeap Jud, there is grain on around the rim and underside.

I believe the idea of buying a good quality guitar used is the best way to go for a beginner, especially kids.Check out Craigs List and see all the 'I bought it and never use it, I paid 300.00 will take 150.00'. There are a lot of good guitars available in your local areas on Craigs List.Ebay is ok but then you'll spend your money on shipping.Local Craigs list items can be held and played before you buy Ebay is a roll of the dice and usually less than expected.I like to web search guitars for reviews and value information to help me buy, you can avoid some real nice looking guitars that have bad reputations for quality or value.I suggest going in low at first to test the water then if it works out jump in with both feet and buy that Godin 5th Ave :-)

Yep ... I have gotten some terrific buys recently on local Craigslist.  Bought two of my Gulls and my acoustic amp this way.  I'd be hesitant to buy any acoustic guitar through the mail sight unseen, but being able to inspect and play these apparently high-quality, bargain-priced guitars before buying provides a great deal of confidence.  Especially once you gain enough knowledge to know what to look for and what to avoid.  I watch Craigslist everyday.  A lot of fun even though it does produce a pretty constant issue with GAS ...

If there is a music store in your area that specializes in used instruments, you might check that out.  I bought my S6 at such a place and the price was right.  Also, of course, regular music stores usually have several used guitars on consignment.  Granted, the price may not be as good as Craig's List because of the store's commission, but it still might be reasonable, and at least you have some recourse to a reputable dealer if there are issues.

Everything that I have to add has already been said, but I think it is helpful to have supporting viewpoints.

 

What's that line from NPR's Car Talk?  I think it is "the cheapskate always ends up paying the most."  That is definitely true in guitars.  You might get a great deal for under $100, but you have a much greater chance of getting an inferior instrument.

 

A lot of people are very happy with their laminate topped guitars, and they are more durable than solid wood guitars.  If price is a consideration, I would opt for a name brand laminate, like a Yamaha or Alvarez, over a solid topped off-brand.  You need a good guitar, not an excellent one.

 

Resale value is a myth for most instruments, and guitars more than most.  Think of any guitar as a consumable item.  If you buy it and play it, you'll get your money's worth.  If you don't play it, you'll never get your money back.  If you buy a guitar that is difficult to play, you will not enjoy playing it and the money you invested is wasted.

 

Used guitars that have been played regularly and maintained are great.  If you find someone on Craigslist that is selling a guitar because he/she has bought a better one, then you should take it seriously.  If the seller bought the guitar but never used it, chances are it will look very nice but have some repair issues.  Unlike most things, putting a guitar away and never using it can really damage it.

 

If you buy the guitar from a retailer, ask if they will include a free setup.  If they won't, go somewhere that will.  If you buy online or used, take the guitar in and see if it needs a setup or repairs.  Playing the guitar is hard enough, don't make it harder by having a guitar that isn't in proper working condition.

 

And consider some lessons too.  Even just a few lessons can really accelerate the learning curve and make playing more enjoyable.

Just to end this discussion, my friend came in today and told me that his son now wants an electric guitar - they took him to the shop to look around, and that's what he wants...

Thanks to everyone for their input!

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