TIPS FOR BUYING INSTRUMENTS

Here are some tips if you have not yet purchased an instrument.

All Instruments

If you can buy it at Walmart, Costco, Best Buy, or the like, you do NOT want it! Go to a Pro Shop (such as Guitar Center, Sam Ash, or the like) and get an instrument that will allow you to succeed! They do not cost that much more. Family Music is NOT a pro shop in my opinion.

Guitars and Basses

Avoid anything that is billed as a "Student Model!"

I can not emphasize this enough... These are simply unplayable and will ultimately guarantee your failure unless you promptly upgrade!

Acoustic vs. Electric
I get this question all the time. Folklore would have you believe that beginning on an acoustic is better. The facts, however, may differ. You might consider issues such as hand-strength (particularly for young beginners) and musical interest.
Consider a Used Instrument
If you are concerned about making an investment in a more costly instrument, you might consider something used -- it will retain all or most of its value and in some cases will go up in value should you decide to sell it while a "student model" will be essentially worthless. That being said, there are many quality new instruments available for under $200 these days.
Keyboard
and Piano
Real vs. Digital Piano

A real piano is nice, however, not required. If you are considering a real piano, be aware of the disadvantages: Expensive maintenance, lack of mobility, volume (they are quite loud which might make early or late practice sessions impractical). A digital piano, on the other hand has a volume knob, is always in tune, and is easily moved.

Keyboards

At the very minimum, the keyboard must be velocity-sensitive and have at least 61 keys. Velocity sensitive means it is dynamic -- when you play soft, it is quiet and when you play hard it is loud. It is my advice to avoid "consumer" products.

Drums and Percussion
Electronic Drums

A drum set with a volume knob? Well, not quite like an acoustic drum set. Changing from an acoustic drum set to an electric drum set is not like changing from an acoustic guitar to an electric guitar. It is more like changing from a real guitar (acoustic or electric) to a guitar synthesizer. There are simply things that a guitar synthesizer can not do that a real guitar can. The same is true for drum sets. That being said, they are great for late-night practice or any situation that requires reduced volume. I strongly recommend an acoustic drum set as one's primary practice tool.

Ear Protection

Drums are loud! I have encountered countless number of drummers with poor hearing from years of a snare drum pounding their ears. I recommend ear plugs and/or rifle-range headphones while practicing. It will make a huge difference down the road!