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While childhood is an impressionable time for any person, it’s the teenage years that carry some weight. It’s during this time that emotions become more complex, usually with the growing pains of looming adulthood fast approaching.
A guitar can be an incredibly valuable tool that can help any 15-year-old through life on a stable footing. The following guitars are optimal for complete beginners as well as those with some experience.
Yamaha FSX800C – Best Overall
While the acoustic guitar might be older technology compared to the electric guitar, it’s just as versatile. Depending on the acoustic, the guitarist will be able to play anywhere, including the stage for professional performances.
The Yamaha FSX800C (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is an exemplary model primed for any 15-year-old guitarist. This guitar has what it takes to stay relevant as they transition into their 20s and possibly 30s.
Most 15-year-olds will find the FSX800C quite comfortable to play, thanks to its smaller concert-sized shape. Compared to a typical dreadnought acoustic, concert-sized guitars fit a little more discreetly and snugly to the body.
The guitar itself features a body crafted of Nato and Okoume with a Spruce top for a bright, balanced tone. Its Nato neck and Walnut fretboard are comfortable in the hand, with the string spacing not too large or small.
Because the guitar has a cutaway body design, all of the 20 frets are accessible. This means that the 15-year-old can play the entirety of the neck without the restriction of non-cutaway guitars.
And while everything already mentioned makes the FSX800C interesting, it’s Yamaha’s electronics that put the cherry on top. A pickup and preamp system will allow the 15-year-old to plug into any mixer or amplifier for acoustic-electric performances.
This preamp provides massive conveniences, including:
- Volume knob
- 3-band EQ
- Frequency bias
- Built-in tuner
If you suspect that the 15-year-old has the inclination to become a professional performer, this is a perfect starting point. The guitar might be pricey for complete beginners but it’s still well within the range for a competent budget guitar.
At the end of the day, the FSX800C has everything a young acoustic guitar player could want. Classic aesthetics with excellent performance and comfort coalesce here.
Squier 40th Anniversary Gold Edition Telecaster – Best Premium
There’s always something to be said about the Fender Telecaster, one of the most iconic guitars ever made. The guitar is one of the first solid-body electric designs and has been in some of the most historic recordings.
If you have a little extra money to splurge for a special Telecaster, you’re in luck. The Squier 40th Anniversary Gold Edition Telecaster (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is unlike any Telecaster you’ll ever see again.
When Squier announced its line of commemorative 40th Anniversary guitars, it took the guitar community’s breath away. Squier went the extra mile in providing something beyond the basics of what is already on the production line.
This is especially evident with the 40th Anniversary Gold Edition Telecaster, which has some noticeable aesthetic features. At its heart, it is still very much a Telecaster despite having a body made of Nyatoh.
As such, this commemorative Telecaster has a traditional C-shape Maple neck with an Indian Laurel fretboard. The big thing here is Squier’s inclusion of Pearloid block inlays, which is not a traditional feature on Telecasters.
A pair of single-coil pickups designed by Fender delivers that signature chime and bite a Telecaster is known for. Plus, all of the hardware is of top-notch quality, including features such as:
- Bone nut
- Vintage-style 3-barrel saddle/bridge design
- Vintage-inspired tuners
Aside from the block inlays, the entire pickguard, as well as all metallic surfaces, are covered in gold coloring. White binding along the side of the neck (at the edges of the fretboard) gives that chef’s kiss final touch.
At its core, this is a pretty standard Telecaster in comparison to something from the Classic Vibe series. The aesthetic touches just give the 40th Anniversary Gold Edition Telecaster extra head-turning power.
Having this guitar is like the equivalent of wearing a shirt you know you look good in. You’ll have to act fast though, as these guitars are not in permanent production and will not be available forever.
Jackson Dinky JS11 – Best Budget
Many people are drawn to the allure of the electric guitar by way of metal music. After all, few things are more awesome than an infectious guitar riff that pummels your soul.
If the 15-year-old in your life is drawn towards metal, consider the Jackson Dinky JS11 (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon). This guitar is incredibly affordable for any budget and has all of the metal music necessities.
The Dinky JS11 boasts a double-cutaway Poplar body, with a Maple neck and an Amaranth fretboard. 22 frets give a range for just about every metal song that doesn’t require a full, 2-octave range.
Speed is often a necessary facet for players to possess and the Dinky JS11’s neck is smooth to play. Traditional dot inlays provide fret position guidance without being overly gaudy.
A pair of Jackson-designed humbuckers are wired hot to provide that heavy punch and plenty of squeals. Standard 1-knob controls are provided for both volume and tone, along with a 3-way pickup location selector switch.
The eyes of young players are often drawn toward established industry brands specific to their favorite genres. Jackson has been a well-known metal music guitar manufacturer for decades and this is an affordable entry to that world.
Not only are those classic aesthetics on tap, but so are small appointments, such as its tremolo bridge. This is a necessity if the guitarist ever wants to incorporate the essence of dive bombing in their playing.
Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster
Hollowbody and semi-hollowbody guitars are desired for their warm charm and hefty sustain. The Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is a unique semi-hollow guitar putting a twist on tradition.
In a way, the Classic Vibe Starcaster is a semi-hollow version of a signature Fender offset design like the Jazzmaster. It’s almost what you would get if Fender produced a Gibson guitar without breaking trademark and patent laws.
The body itself is comprised of laminated Maple, featuring an Alder center block inside the body. A pair of ornate F-shaped soundholes allows the guitar to breathe with distinct resonance.
Many semi-hollow guitars can feel a little cumbersome, but the offset design actually has a benefit. It seems to fit more snugly against the body, especially when in a seated playing position.
The Classic Vibe Starcaster’s Maple neck/fretboard is very comfortable and familiar thanks to the C-shape contour. Its Maple coloring helps to provide an aesthetic contrast to the ornate 3-tone sunburst.
This model has something unique that you won’t find on Fender-inspired instruments: wide-range humbuckers. These provide an incredibly rich tone, controllable with a 3-way switch and pairs of volume and tone knobs.
In terms of hardware, the Classic Vibe Starcaster has excellent features for its price point. This includes touches such as:
- Bone nut
- Vintage-inspired tuners
- Adjusto-matic bridge
The Classic Vibe Starcaster is an excellent modernization of an obscure 1970s icon fit for today’s players. It might be somewhat pricey compared to others but presents a unique opportunity compared to traditional guitar designs.
Epiphone J-45 EC Studio
The Gibson J-45 is one of the most iconic dreadnought guitars ever produced, famous for its affiliation with The Beatles. Unfortunately, these authentic models are well beyond the budget of most 15-year-old Beatles fanatics.
This guitar is highly appropriate for anyone looking for an everyday player that can satisfy any situation. It has a Mahogany body with a Solid Sitka Spruce top and a cutaway design for full fret-range access.
The Mahogany neck is ridiculously comfortable to play, thanks to its signature SlimTaper C contour. Indian Laurel is used for the fretboard, providing a softer platform in which to press the strings.
A Fishman pickup and preamp system is also stocked into the J-45 EC Studio, with features such as:
- Volume knob
- 2-band EQ
- Phase adjustment
Overall, this is just a solid acoustic guitar through and through that is easy on the pockets. This is a guitar that any 15-year-old could find themselves playing as an adult.
What To Look For When Buying A Guitar For A 15-Year-Old
If you’re reading this, there’s a solid chance that you’ve never touched a guitar in your life. For those wanting to buy a guitar (be it for themselves or as a gift), this only complicates things greatly.
You might be worried about buying something less than ideal and you may be wondering how to avoid this. Fortunately, there are only a few things you need to keep in mind when buying a guitar for a 15-year-old.
What Kind Of Guitar Is The 15-Year-Old Attracted To?
One of the first things you need to ascertain is the actual type of guitar your 15-year-old wants. Buying them an acoustic guitar when they are interested in music driven by electric guitars might be counterproductive.
Sure, maybe if they truly want to know how to play, they might stick it out before switching guitar types. However, this is a gamble as no person can truly gauge how much potential grit and determination might be present.
While there’s often a sort of divide between adults and adolescents at this age, try to breach the topic. See what they’re most interested in and go from there as this will narrow the selection you look at in-store.
How Much Should You Spend On A Guitar For A 15-Year-Old?
The 2nd biggest factor playing a part in a purchase like this is the overall budget you can spend. Every person deals with the battle between “how much you want to spend” and “how much you should spend.”
So, what should the proper budget be for a 15-year-old? The answer depends on whether they have any prior playing experience.
Absolute beginners are probably best to stay around the $150 to $250 area until they have some experience. This way, nobody is out a bundle if the guitar isn’t something they enjoy playing.
For those with some experience, venturing into the $350 range might be appropriate if dedication is demonstrated. If the 15-year-old is an advancing intermediate, even the $500 might be appropriate.
The guitar market is usually priced in accordance with projected skill level, as it is with any hobby. Shopping around on the used market will help you save some extra cash on both initial purchases and resell value.
How Do I Know If A Guitar Is Worthwhile?
The easiest way to know if a guitar is of quality is to try it out for yourself. Unfortunately, if you or your 15-year-old have never played before, this might seem like a catch-22.
With that being said, it is in everyone’s best interest to let them try the guitars out for themselves. Have them hold it, making note of its overall comfortability and how the hand feels on the neck.
Take some time to visually inspect the instrument for anything that seems obviously flawed. Do keep in mind that every guitar (regardless of price) plays better with a professional setup designed for optimal play.
Best Brands For Guitars Appropriate For 15-Year-Olds
When somebody is new to a particular market, they will usually look at products from established brands first. The following brands are extremely credible and have the highest recommendation for 15-year-old players of any skill level.
There is something undeniably hip about the timeless designs of Fender guitars. Unfortunately, a guitar with “Fender” on the headstock is usually priced outside of a 15-year-old’s budget.
That’s where Squier comes in to save the day, offering authentic Fender designs at a lower price. In the last decade, Squier guitars have become some of the most recommended guitars for any budget.
Any typical American without any musical experience would associate Yamaha with motorsports vehicles. However, Yamaha got its start as an organ manufacturer in the late 1800s, now producing the finest of pianos today.
Don’t let that fool you though, Yamaha’s line of guitars has some of the best reputations for any beginner guitarist. Yamaha guitars are noted for providing surprisingly exceptional quality and features for every budget level.
Top Guitars For 15-Year-Olds, Final Thoughts
If a 15-year-old expresses interest in playing the guitar, it’s in your best interest to facilitate the pursuit. Taking the proper measures while buying a guitar helps ensure that it becomes a lifelong study, regardless of intention.
No matter if they’re influenced by Black Sabbath or Soccer Mommy, the guitars on this list can fuel the inspiration. After all, facilitating this interest now is the equivalent of planting seeds for the next musical generation.