3 Most Common Myths When Buying Your Kids First Guitar
Like most parents of young aspiring musicians, you probably aren't a professional guitar player and therefore aren't quite sure what exactly they need when they begin this journey. From your own research you may have already found there are many contradicting opinions on virtually every subject on learning the guitar. From the perspective of a professional guitar instructor who's worked with kids as young as 4.5 here's the 3 most common myths and their truth's when it comes to buying your child's first guitar.
You need to start on an acoustic guitar because its easier
The acoustic guitar is not easier to play and is often much more difficult. The large body makes it more difficult for your child to get his/her arm over to strum and pick the notes. This can cause a lot of problems with their technique and frustration from not being able to see what they are doing. Also, the strings tend to be a heavier gauge which makes it more difficult to press down and longer to develop calluses.
You need to start on a classical "nylon string" guitar because the nylon strings won't hurt their fingers
Yes, the nylon strings are easier on the fingers but there are a few other factors to take into consideration:
1. Classical guitars, also known as "Spanish guitars" or nylon string guitars also have a large body like the steel string acoustic making it difficult to get their picking hand in to position. But even more the neck is much wider and fatter making it very difficult for younger kids to get their little hands around the neck. This also means playing chords will be especially difficult.
2. Restringing a classical guitar is much more difficult than the regular acoustic as you have to tie the string in a fancy knot. The steel string acoustic strings just have a ball on the end that holds it in place. If you are not familiar with guitars or how to do this you probably don't want to have to deal with this.
** No, you can't simply use steel strings on a nylon string guitar as steel strings have much more tension than the nylon strings and the classical guitars are not made to withstand that amount of tension.
3. They will still need to develop calluses anyway. Regardless of the type of string they will still need to develop calluses and once they do (after a 2-3months) they will then be stuck with a big and bulky guitar that's difficult to play. Can it be done? Yes, I've successfully taught kids (under 8) who only had a classical guitar. Was it more difficult than it could have been due to the size? Yes.
You shouldn't start on an electric guitar, they are loud and harder to learn on
1. Electric guitars are actually extremely quiet. This is why they need to be amplified with electronics using a cable and an amplifier. However, the guitar and the amp have their own individual volume settings. You simply just need to turn it down. Many amps nowadays also have headphone jacks to allow the player to jam out and not bother anyone.
2. Actually the electric guitar is much easier to learn on because the strings are a lighter gauge making it much easier on the fingers, the neck is smaller and thinner making it easier to play scales and chords, and the body is small and thin allowing their picking hand to easily rest in the correct position thus eliminating any issues and frustrations from not being able to see what they are doing or having poor technique resulting in consistently making mistakes.
** Electric guitars are a bit heavier due to the body being a solid piece of wood vs hollow like the classical or steel string acoustic. Depending on your child's size this may or may not be an issue.
As far as "ease" of playing goes learning on the electric guitar is actually the easiest. However, that doesn't mean it is the best option for your child. Here at Salt Lake City Guitar we have kids as young as 5yrs old beginning their journey of learning how to play the guitar. Some start on electric some start on acoustic and the question to ask would be, "what kind of music do they want to play?" "What do they think is cool?" Ease of playing their instrument is only part of it, their motivation is the other (and more important) part.
If your son/daughter is interested in learning the guitar but isn't quite sure of what they like or want to accomplish, we offer a free guitar consultation. This way we can meet and make sure we'd be a good match as far as lessons go, assess their interests, and even help you find the perfect instrument for their size, interests, and motivation.
To go to the next step, Click the orange button below and on the following page tell me about your situation and your child's interest. Then I will be in touch with you as soon as possible to chat with you about what we do, what we offer, and how we can transform your child into an amazing guitarist!