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I’m a university student taking a creative writing module, and I am currently conducting research for a story that I intend to write about a musician. I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to find the name of an appropriate make and model of guitar to fit his economic background/character, but I have not had any luck, and I was hoping that someone here would be kind enough to advise me.

The guitar would need to have been available circa 1995/6 ish in the UK, and it would need to be ‘affordable’ -- something that a lower-middle-class family might buy their teenage son for Christmas (I’m thinking less than £100/$150). It does not have to be something that a ‘serious’ musician would choose (i.e. it can be a bit of a rubbish one: in fact, the more rubbish the better). Also, if possible, it would be great if someone could recommend me a guitar by a brand that would be recognizable to a musical ‘layman’ that fits all these criteria, but I am open to any suggestions.

Ideally the guitar would be an electric one.

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    I'm not familiar with UK pricing so I'll leave this as a comment rather than an answer, but Fender Squire's are low-end guitars. Basically, if you've ever seen an autographed guitar in a charity auction, 99 times out of 100 it's a Squire. You can get them for under $200 anywhere in the US. And Fender is probably the most recognized guitar brand outside of Gibson. You can also get a Kramer Pacer for around $400US; Kramer is what Eddie Van Halen used to use. – Johnny Bones Dec 10 '15 at 16:49
  • Thank you very much: you have been incredibly helpful! – Izzy Dec 10 '15 at 17:34
  • Chris Squire on the brain. :o) – Johnny Bones Dec 10 '15 at 19:01
  • Maybe it's just because I personally had a Fender Squier in the mid 90's but that definitely sounds like the "right" answer to me. However, I'm in the US, not the UK. – Chris Sunami Dec 10 '15 at 19:49
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https://issuu.com/retromash has Argos catalogues for that period.

if you go to virtual 'page' 404 of the 1995 superstore catalogue, http://issuu.com/retromash/docs/argossuperstore-1995-springsummer (actually page 586 of the magazine), you can see guitars. We have an Encore strat style electric guitar for £109... A Hohner "Sunburst" electric lead guitar for £159.99... and even an Encore 6-string electric lead guitar in your price range : £89.99! Including the all-important flyspeck headphone amp!

(After all, with only £10 change from your £100, you won't be able to afford a real amplifier...)

Argos Guitars 1995

  • @WheatWilliams the catalogue doesn't go up to a real Fender, not even a MIM one - no one would be able to afford it! – user16 Dec 10 '15 at 23:59
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The best way to answer your question, if you are in the UK, would be to go to a well-established guitar store yourself, find a manager or owner who has been in the business for the past 25 years, and ask them what guitar they would sell to such a family to give as a Christmas gift in 1995. Make sure to explain that this would be a first guitar for a teenage boy.

What kind of guitar? Electric, acoustic, classical? What kind of music does your character play? This will determine the answer.

American-brand guitars have always been subject to high import tariffs in the UK, so while an Epiphone (Gibson's budget brand built in Asia) or a Squier (Fender's budget brand built in Asia) would be an acceptable choice, I think the prices would be significantly higher in the UK compared to the USA, where I live.

Squier is only known for electric guitars, not acoustic guitars. Epiphone is known for both electric and acoustic guitars.

I think it would be better to choose a guitar marketed by a British brand (and built in Asia) or another brand within the Commonwealth or the European Union. The prices would be lower.

British designer and builder Trevor Wilkinson has created a number of lines of electric guitars.

Wilkinson brands include Encore, Vintage, Italia, and Fret-King. I do not know what models were for sale in the 1990s; you will have to look that up.

Current Wilkinson models, including all the brands I've mentioned, can be found at the John Hornby Skewes & Co., Ltd. website.

You would also not go wrong with a Yamaha guitar -- they are a Japanese brand but they are the world's largest brand of beginner, low-budget guitars and they have a large sales presence in the UK.

  • Yamaha is a great choice. Lots of name-recognition around the world, but you should describe it as bring used or a low-end model because they also made some models of very good quality that are not cheap. – Mike Dec 11 '15 at 2:41

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