7 March 2017

Buying Guide + Gift Guide

Have you got yourself wondering “which guitar should I buy” or perhaps another instrument? Instruments are everywhere. From Ukuleles and Keyboards in Kmart and Aldi to Guitars and Violins Toys R Us, to brick and mortar mega-stores like Allans Billy Hyde to an array of online stores. They’re easier to buy than ever before. Yet most of us have little to no knowledge and end up picking up something that feels like a good deal. So often people get duped.

Stores don’t make this easy either. Spec sheets have terms and material qualities listed with an array of extras or often termed ‘necessities’. It’s hard to know where to start. At Ace Music, we’ve sampled a mountain of offerings, and purchased just as many, and have collated this insight to help you make an informed decision.

Golden rule #1: Do not buy from a department store (i.e. Aldi, Kmart, Target, Big W, JB HiFi)

While department stores can often slim their profit margin due to large sales volume; it’s rare they actually do. What we’ve found is most often, they think about instruments like any other product and are not concerned with quality or the long haul. You will almost definitely walk away with either a lemon or rip-off.

We recommend…

We wholeheartedly recommend the Australian-owned Artist Store for almost all instruments. They have hit a sweet spot that seems too good to be true, but has proven such. Time and time again, they have proven their brilliance in terms of quality of construction, value, cost & customer experience. We love our own Artist products and have recommended them for years.

 Jump to an instrument:

 

UKULELE

Our favourite ukuleles:

Beginner UkuleleArtist UKB1 Soprano Student Ukulele
$55 
free postage
13 Inch scale. Good solid quality beginner Ukulele with a carry bag. A great place to start.Why we love it: natural wood/white binding will keep it from chipping like painted Maholo standard ukes.
Premium UkuleleArtist UKT200CEQ Tenor Ukulele
$219 free postage 
17 Inch scale. Electrics for amplification & solid wood for superior sound and quality. Includes bag, add a hard case for $30. Why we love it: Build is stunning. Great sound/tone from the solid wood top.

 

ACOUSTIC GUITARS – CLASSICAL / NYLON STRING 

For Young Beginners or Classical Players

“Which guitar should I buy?”

Don’t buy good looking garbage deals. You will often you have to buy a case, strap, plectrums, a tuner & extra strings which can quickly add up to another $80-100. Artist’s beginner value guitars include all of these items to save your time and money.

For most young beginners, we recommend the quality CL range (better than industry standard Valencia, plus extras). The CL is the ideal beginners’ guitar for children due to the nylon strings which are softer on your fingers and hands than steel strings. The best guitar bags we have seen included are here, are padded, durable especially compared to industry standards. The added extras are hard to ignore.

If you’re taking your classical playing seriously we’d recommend upgrading to the more premium makes here.

AGE-SIZE
Typically a student:

1.) Starts in Kindergarten get a UKB1, then in
2.) Late year 1 / early year 2 will move to CL12, then in
3.) Late year 3 / early year 4 will move to CL34, t
hen in
4.) In Year 5, will move to a Steel String guitar.
It’s worth considering the longevity of a premium model, particularly for older or more advanced players who will be performing.
Note: don’t buy a size bigger to grow into. You can play a smaller one with little hands but a bigger one will stunt development.

ROTATE ME on MOBILE

Beginner/Budget & Premium Classical Guitars
13+  (165cm+)
ACE RECOMMENDED
★★★★☆(4.0/5)

Artist CL44SPKAM Full Size Classical Guitar Pack, Nylon, Slim Neck

CL44
$115

Full-Size Classical guitar pack
+ built-in tuner you won’t lose
+ Back-pack style bag
+ strap pins
+ spare set of strings
+ 2 picks
+ Great build quality
& value for money
+ Low action for easy playability
+ great after sales support
+ free postage
ACE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
★★★★★

CS100CEQ+B
$329

Classical Guitar
Solid 
Top with Cutaway
+ Solid Spruce wood top for clearer,
brighter tone
+ Superior wood quality and build
+ Pick-up EQ/tuner
+ High-grade bag
ACE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
★★★★★


HG39303CEQ+B

$349
Classical Guitar
Solid Cedar Top Cutaway
+Ultimate mellow Spanish tone.
+ Superior wood quality &
traditional Spanish heel build

+ Pick-up EQ/tuner
+ Bag
 + Solid cedar top
+EQ&tuner for amplification
+ High-grade bag
12yrs+ (165cm+)
ACE RECOMMENDED
★★★★☆(4.0/5)

Artist CL44SPKAM Full Size Classical Guitar Pack, Nylon, Slim Neck
CL44S
$115

Full-Size classical guitar pack
+as CL44
+Slimmer neck for easier playing
& smaller hands.
  
8-13yrs (125-165cm tall)
ACE RECOMMENDED
★★★★☆(4.0/5)

CL34
$105

3/4 Size Classical guitar pack
+ as CL44
  
6-8yrs  (<125cm tall)
 ACE RECOMMENDED
★★★★☆(4.0/5)
which guitar should I buy?
CL12
$99

1/2 Size Classical guitar pack
+ as CL44
3-5yrs not recommended for our students: CL14 $99
  
Gift ideas /Add-ons

CLASSICAL Guitar Accessory Pack
$45
+ Precision Tuner
+ Guitar Stand
+ CLASSICAL Guitar Capo
+ Strings
  
MUS004
 – $39
Strong, supported & seamless 
 
MUS006 – $21
Light & portable

 

ACOUSTIC GUITARS (STEEL STRING)

For continuing players or older beginners

“Which guitar should I buy?”

Steel-string guitars are harder on hands so they are not usually recommended for young players if you’re just starting out. These guitars are recommended for upper Primary, High School and Adult students, but younger students can still go steel string.

As with all guitar, regular practice will make the pain go away in a matter of weeks.

ROTATE ME on MOBILE

Beginner and Premium Steel String Guitars
15+/Adults (165cm+)
ACE RECOMMENDED
★★★★☆(4.0/5)

LSPCEQ Natural/Blue/Black
$179

Full-Size “Dreadnought” Acoustic-Electric
with Cutaway guitar pack

+ Pick-up EQ/tuner
+ Padded bag
+ Strap & picks
+ 1 set of spare strings

Also in:
LSPCEQ Utimate Pack Black $200
LSPCEQ Utimate Pack Blue $200
+ Capo
+ Guitar Stand
+ 5 sets of strings
ACE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
★★★★★(5/5)

which guitar should I buy?
DS120CEQ
$349 ($319 no bag)
Solid top full-size Dreadnought
Acoustic guitar. Spruce top and big
body give it a bright yet deep tone.

+ High-grade bag
+ High-level pick-up EQ/tuner
+ Quality build & sound 
 
ACE BEST OF THE BEST
★★★★★
(5+/5)

OMS7SEQ

$868 ($799 no case)
Worth around $1500+ in our opinion.
Solid wood top & back
+ Hard-case
+ High-end Pick-up EQ/tuner
+ Top quality, tone and sound
 
 
12-15+/Adults (120-165cm)
ACE RECOMMENDED
★★★★☆(4.0/5)

LSPSCEQ pack (also in Natural Colour)
$169 Black
$179 
Natural
Small body Acoustic Electric with Cutaway pack
Good quality, great sound.
+ Pick-up EQ/tuner
+ Padded bag
+ Strap & picks
+ 1 set of spare strings
ACE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
★★★★★
which guitar should I buy?
OMC200CEQ
(Link broken, copy the code, then search here.
$349
Solid top, OM smaller body size.
Beautiful depth of tone and clarity.
Not as loud or chunky as a Dreadnought.
+ High-level pick-up EQ/tuner
+ Quality build & sound
 
5-12+ (100-120cm)
ACE RECOMMENDED
★★★★☆(4.0/5)


LSP34EQ Ultimate Pack
$205 (no pack: $169)
Standard pack not available.

Great quality and small 3/4 body
and scale for small hands
or travelling. Great deal with the bonuses:
+ Pick-up EQ/tuner
+ Padded bag
+ Capo
+ Guitar Stand
+ Strap & picks
+ 5 sets of strings
Also available with no pack: LSP34EQ $169
ACE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
★★★★★

Little Artist

$277 (RRP: $449)
no bag: $249
Perfect traveller. Solid spruce top for strength
and next level tone/sound.
Great deal for this level of quality.
+ Quality build & sound
+ High-level pick-up EQ/tuner
+ Tuner
+ High-grade bag
 
 
Gift ideas/Add-ons

ACOUSTIC Guitar Accessory Pack
$39
+ Precision Tuner
+ Guitar Stand
+ Steel String Capo
+ Strings  
  

MUS006 – $21
Light & portable
 
MUS004 – $39
Strong, supported & seamless 

 

ELECTRIC GUITARS

 

Artist LP60PK Electric Guitar Range Plus Amp
An excellent variety of electric guitar packs are another thing you can find at the Artist Store.
From $180 +$60 for an amp


BASS GUITARS

Artist JB2PK Electric Bass Guitar + Amp and Accessories
The Artist Store also sell an especially good mix of bass guitars, we own one and love it.
From $170 +$50 for an amp

 

VIOLINS

Artist SVN116 Solid Wood Student Violin Package 1/16 Size
If you need a good beginner Violin, the Artist Store has you covered.
From $120

 

DRUM KITS

Artist ADR522 5-Piece Drum Kit + Cymbals and StoolNuX DM3 - 8 Piece Electronic Drum Kit
Love loud drums? Or maybe a silent electric drum kit? Artist Store has unbeatable value drum kits.
Junior from $240
Full size from $380
Electric from $500


MICROPHONES

Takstar TA55DPK - Vintage Dynamic Vocal Microphone + Stand and Cable
Find great microphones at the Artist Store.

PIANOS

Which piano? While they start at about $130 for a very basic 61 key “keyboard”. You can opt for a more piano-like “electric piano” keyboard which starts around $300 for 61 keys, this will aid the development of expression and technique much more quickly and more effectively.

Furthermore, $550 will get you a long-lasting, good quality full weighted 88 keys that really does everything you will ever need. You can move to $1000s for a high-end electric piano or traditional upright or grand piano which lifts the whole experience significantly. Unfortunately, Artist doesn’t offer much in the way of pianos so we’ve put together the list below.

UNDER $150

Casio LK-120 Key Lighting Keyboard
Casio LK-120 61 Key Keyboard – $128 (
from JB HiFi)

Electric keyboards are maybe the most affordable way to start learning. But we recommend upgrading to a weighted piano keyboard as soon as possible. Probably the only exception to the department store golden rule.

UNDER $300


Yamaha NP12 61 Key Weighted Piano Keyboard – $299 (from Better Music)
Possibly the best for a budget with its reliable quality and a more natural feel for playing but still limited in size, and extra $100 will get you to the 76 keys, which is probably an even better deal.

UNDER $600

Casio CDP 130
Casio CDP-130 full 88-Key Digital Piano – $549 
free delivery to many Australian locations (from Sydney Piano Centre)
While you can get started for less than $550, the high quality, excellent key response and the beautiful sound make this segment a real sweet spot for learning the piano. It will go the distance too with its full 88 keys.

OVER $600

Yamaha G2 Grand PianoIrmler P132E Professional (Assembled in Germany)

Upright and Grand Pianos

Finally, if you’re looking for an excellent range of premium pianos, Sydney Piano Centre is worth an online or in-store visit in Parramatta NSW.

If you would like to see something else included or have any questions please contact us at hello@acemusic.com.au.

All prices were accurate at the time of publishing and may change without notice.

Are looking for lessons? Get in touch with us at hello@acemusic.com.au and register here.

We hope you found our guide helpful.
Ace Music Academy Team