This obsolete cliché, like the chorus of a badly composed song, has rung in my ears since the time my own parents took to singing a few of its verses, determined by their understandable fear that a small boy, surrounded by a thousand distractions, would soon lose interest. In fact, there are many cases where a musical instrument has been buried in the cellar because the curiosity of its young learner has died a sudden death before exhaling its first chord. The parent’s regret is usually equal to their satisfaction in not having spent exuberant sums of money on their child’s passing whim.
However, the fact remains that a badly made instrument is no help at all to its study. Actually, it can often become an obstacle, making simple things difficult, and difficult things well nigh impossible. And so even the most dedicated students could give up at the first bar thanks to the physical pain and lop-sided pitching caused by cheap instruments. It’s true that not even plywood guitars can always hold talent at bay, but it’s also true that beautiful music is not necessarily only the gift of the most talented. Consequently, I believe that the possibility of success for every hand, even that of the least adept, should be protected by a carefully chosen first instrument and not by the obtuse purchase of any old guitar simply because it is the cheapest. I’m certainly not saying that a “practice guitar” has to be a first-class, handmade instrument but it is indisputable that the better made the instrument is that is used for studying, the better the student’s results will be.
On the other hand, there are those who think that a conspicuous investment always and without exception corresponds to the best instrument on the market. It’s hardly worth saying that this isn’t the case. More than once I have come across guitars with embarrassing names that have had more personality than famous brands.
The solution worth finding is a balance between the budget available and the quality of the guitar.