Are Guitar Starter Packs Worth It? (Pros & Cons)


Once I decided I wanted to learn the guitar I had a decision. Similarly, beginners will have the same decision as I did many years ago.

That is…should you buy a guitar starter pack. Or instead, should you purchase the guitar, amp, cable, tuner, and strap separately?

In this post, I’m giving you the full lowdown on guitar starter packs in terms of price, quality, and value.

At the end of this post, you will be able to decide if a guitar starter pack is worth the money and is one the right choice for you? Let’s dive in!

Are Guitar Starter Packs Worth Buying?

A guitar starter pack is worth buying for beginners as it provides all the gear (guitar, amp, lead, tuner, and strap) in an affordable bundle so you can learn right away. Some starter packs include better quality gear than others. However, some starter packs do not include the best quality gear compared to buying gear individually.

What Is a Guitar Starter Pack?

A guitar starter pack is a package with all the desired gear for beginners to learn right away. The usual gear includes a guitar, practice amp, lead, tuner, strap, guitar picks, and a gig bag.   

These bundles are available for electric, acoustic, electro-acoustic, and bass guitars.

When it comes to price, they can range anywhere from $150-$300 depending on the amount and quality of gear provided within the bundle.  

A starter kit is a convenient method saving beginners buying all the gear separately and an affordable solution to provide all the gear required for learning right out the gate. 

Buy An Electric Starter Pack or Buy Separately?

This question can depend on many factors and can change depending on your preferences, budget, and tastes.

First of all, you need to decide your available budget and think if it is possible to save up more money.

If you can’t save up more and you just have $100 – $250 available, then a starter pack is more or less the only choice that you have if you want to start playing immediately (especially if you want to play electric guitar with an amp.)

After all, a guitar (even a low-quality one) is arguably better than no guitar at all.

Reasons to Buy a Starter Kit (Pros)

1. Ideal Solution For Beginners on a Budget

The most common selling point of guitar starter packs is that they have an excellent value factor, regardless if it is an electric or an acoustic instrument kit.

Usually, they sell for much cheaper than the price of all the items offered separately, being a good way to save up money and have everything that you need in order to start playing right away!

2. Includes Everything Needed to Get Started

Usually, a bundle can be as low as $150 for an acoustic or electric pack. It includes all the gear, electric guitar, amp, strap, picks and gig bag. You can not argue, a starter bundle is more convenient and removes the need to hunt down all the required gear separately.

3. Higher Priced Kits Offer Better Quality Gear

It has to be said though, that not all guitar starter packs are made of low-quality parts, as there are some that are carefully selected to fulfill the needs of a beginner while at the same time offering decent quality and price.

These packs though tend to be quite pricier, usually costing $300 +, but usually, they are worth every single extra dollar, as they offer a much better playing experience.

4. Ideal if You are Inexperienced with Guitar Gear

A guitar bundle can also be extremely useful for new players, as they have virtually no experience with all the different things that they might need, or even for parents that want to gift this starter pack to their children. 

Although some beginners want to be involved with the gear they choose a bundle that can remove the need for hours of research and just get a beginner playing and learning

Reasons to Buy Guitar Gear Separately (Avoid Starter Kit)

1. The Guitar Included is Low Quality

One of the most common complaints that people have about cheap guitar starter packs is the guitar included is pretty poor in terms of quality and playability.  

They usually have the questionable build quality, as brands will use their lowest quality instruments in order to create a low-cost offer that will lure more customers.

This might not be as important for items like a gig-bag or a guitar stand, but it is extremely important in the case of the amp and the electric guitar.

It is almost always the case that the instrument and gear included in the bundle, will be manufactured in the Far East.

Or other areas that usually have lower construction cost, but also subpar quality compared to European and American instruments.

Some common problems with the guitar included within the kit are…

  • Low-quality wood and materials
  • Cheap electronics & hardware
  • Poor build quality
  • Not intonated correctly
  • Action is too low or high
  • ‘Fret Buzz’
  • Sharp-edged frets
  • The guitar won’t stay in tune

Obviously, your first guitar is not going to be the best guitar you will ever own. However, you want to ensure your guitar is playable and the best quality you can afford which brings me to reason number 2.

2. You Should Invest more money into a Better Guitar 

When buying a first guitar for a beginner, I recommended you spend all of your budget on a better quality instrument than buying a cheap starter pack (as tempting as it is.)

The reason being you want to provide a guitar that is good in terms of playability and overall quality.

Instead of buying a low-grade instrument from a $200 starter pack. It would be better to buy a $200 electric guitar separately which will higher quality than from a starter pack.

Go without an amp for a while until you can get your hands on the rest of your gear.  

It ensures you have a good professional instrument straight out the gate instead of a cheap starter pack guitar that will throw up a bunch of problems in the near future.

It is a common problem that instruments in a starter kit will have little quality control and be poorly setup from the factory, something that a new player might not even realize and struggle in order to understand why everything sounds wrong.

3. You Can Test the Guitar and Gear First Before Buying  

When buying a guitar separately, you can go to a guitar store and test the guitar you are considering purchasing.

This is important as you will want to test how the guitar plays, feels, and sounds which is not an option when buying a starter kit. 

Likewise, when it comes to buying an amp you will also be able to test out the guitar amp and hear for yourself how it sounds. This will not be possible if buying a starter pack online. 

4. You Can Hand-Pick The Gear You Want

Although a starter kit is a convenient option, there’s something personal when choosing your first guitar and gear.

When buying separately, you can choose the gear that appeals to you the most. 

You are limited to the choice of the guitar and amp when choosing a starter kit.

Therefore, it’s fun when researching the right guitar for you based on what genre of music you want to play the most. 

Best Recommended Starter Packs

It has to be said I think both options are totally viable your choice depends on personal preference and your circumstances.

If you are convinced to purchase an electric starter pack, always go with the established brands, some of my recommendations are….

  • Squire
  • Fender
  • Epiphone
  • Ibanez
  • Dean
  • Eastcoast Guitars
  • Yamaha
  • Orange

Should You Buy an Acoustic Guitar Starter Pack?

The answer to this one is a definite no in my opinion!

Again, acoustic bundles are great value for money and ideal for beginners getting started so I can see the temptation.

However, I would advise to avoid cheap acoustic starter packs and pay for a good quality acoustic separately around $250-$500 for many reasons….

Your Acoustic Will Not Be Playable

A cheap and low-quality electric from a starter pack can certainly be playable but not perfect.

Whereas, a cheap, low-quality acoustic without a proper-set up coming straight out the box of a starter pack can be totally unplayable!

There are many reasons but the main culprit is because of the ‘action.’ The ‘action’ is simply known as the height of the string from the fretboard.

An acoustic with a high action is considered hard to play as it takes more pressure from the fingers to press on the strings to fret notes and chords.

With a cheap and low-quality acoustic manufactured from the Far East usually in acoustic starter packs.

The acoustic will be produced with cheap parts, no quality inspection and, no proper setup to maximize the instruments’ playability providing the smoothest learning experience.

Why Acoustic Starter Kits Should Be Avoided

A beginner without calloused fingertips combined with an acoustic with steel strings will be very uncomfortable to fret notes being very difficult to play.

Leading the player to quit from lack of progress, discomfort, and frustration and leaving them with the notion that ‘guitar is not for them.’

Secondly, an acoustic is known to be more difficult to play compared to electric because the body is bigger, the neck is thicker, and takes more fretting pressure to fret notes.

Therefore it is important you have an acoustic that is of decent quality and is of good playability.

The Bottom Line on Acoustic Starter Packs

So if you or someone else wants to learn on an acoustic guitar, I would strongly advise to buy the acoustic separately and set aside a budget of somewhere around $250-$500 on an affordable entry-level acoustic.

But most importantly, purchase it from a guitar retailer that provides a set-up from an experienced guitar tech to ensure the best playing experience.

Is Guitar Quality Important For Beginners?

For some people, it is quite reasonable that a beginner will start playing with a lower quality instrument, without this meaning though that one shouldn’t aim for the best possible choice within the available budget.

Ideally, one should always get the best possible gear for the money and it might be a good idea to save up a bit more if it is possible, because especially in the budget category even $50 can mean a great difference in quality.

It has to be said though, that not all guitar starter packs are made of low-quality parts, as there are some that are carefully selected to fulfill the needs of a beginner while at the same time offering decent quality and price.

Most of all, people need to understand that beginners deserve a good quality instrument if it can be afforded.

As it drastically enhances the initial experience and it can make the difference between becoming a lifelong player or a 6-month quitter.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind, either option comes down to personal choice and your circumstances. I hope this post has shed some light on guitar starter packs and assisted you with a future decision when buying a first guitar for yourself or for someone as a gift.

Check Out My Next Post

If you are still unsure whether to lean on electric or acoustic?

Then you have to read my long and awesome post “Electric or Acoustic as a Beginner? (14 Vital Tips.)”

It provides crucial tips and solid advice on whether beginners should choose electric or acoustic guitar as a beginner.

Adam

Adam is the founder and author of Tone Topics and dedicated to providing the best guitar content for like-minded gear nerds. Please enjoy all the content on the site and support us by sharing these posts with other people. It would really help us out!

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