Pros: Great for parents forced to use their shoppers' card...
Cons: Nowhere near as good as similar pawn shop products...
Rarely has a musical product been more aptly named. The First Act Electric Guitar is a generic instrument that comes with a 20-watt amplifier that barely cuts the cheese. It's an ideal gift for a youngster who has never played an instrument and won't be able to tell the difference between a good guitar and a conveyor belt knockoff. Caveat emptor: when the kid brings the guitar to his first jam session, he's gonna come home screaming for his next guitar.
Basically it's not a bad guitar, and the packaging goes a long way in misdirecting the inexperienced eye. The shiny black body with the white pickguard has the Stratocaster look, and the action on the neck isn't bad. The guitar comes with an average set of medium-gauge strings meant to carry a few tunes. It's not too light or heavy, about what you'd expect from a beginner guitar. It comes with a whammy bar, which I would remove to avoid having it go out of tune any more than it should.
The amp is where they're getting over on this deal. It jacks the price by fifty percent and is nearly useless in most situations outside of playing quietly at home. Junior will either be laughed out of his first jam session or asked to plug into another amp. If you take it anywhere for a trade-in you will be shocked when they offer you five dollars. If he doesn't turn it up all the way when he practices it will sound like he worked his guitar jack into somebody's cheap stereo. If a friend comes over with a distortion box he will probably turn everything up all the way to blow its speakers and put it out of its misery. Unfortunately, it's built well enough to make this likelihood unsuccessful.
Your best bet is to take the money down to the local pawn shop and get a used guitar. At that price, you are likely to get a brand name (like Squier or Peavey) that plays just as well or better. If you buy a guitar and amp you just might luck out on a good 40-watter if you can cut a deal with the store manager. There's also a chance you can find a regular guitar store that will cut you a similar deal. Most guitar players avoid the $100 rack like the plague, which results in bargain prices. It's not the quality, it's the make and model that sends them running. Since you're reading this article, it's not anything you'd be concerning yourself with at this stage of the game.
The bottom line is that this is the kind of product Supermom gets on the way home to microwave dinner, or Dorky Dad buys to hedge Junior's bets against having to push a pencil for the rest of his life. It's nicely packaged, new as opposed to used, durable, and can't break windows or even rattle dishes. On the other hand, if you or Junior have an inkling of a game plan, break him in at the pawn shop or the local music store. He'll make friends there that will help him along for a long time to come.