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squeegee
04-10-2008, 01:31 AM
Hi, there.

My son, SqueegeeJr, has expressed an interest in learning to play guitar. I play guitar (electric, for about 30 years, off and on), so maybe I could get him a reasonably priced instrument and I could give him some guidance or lessons.

He thinks he'd like to learn on an acoustic. I've told him electric is easier to start on, but he's sure acoustic is for him, I'd guess because he's seen schoolmates playing one. Or he doesn't want to try to measure up to how I play (which isn't amazing by any means, but he doesn't have anything to measure ability with yet). I like the idea of acoustic, because its one less thing to keep track of without a guitar amp.

So I'm thinking about getting him that guitar and let him get started and see where that takes him. I'd like to spend enough to get him a non-crap instrument, but small enough that its not a big deal if he doesn't continue. I do know that learning chords and fingering is very tough for a beginner, and I'd understand if he tries it and doesn't think its for him.

Questions:

- Is he really old enough to handle learning guitar? Should I encourage him to wait? I know that this is a "that depends" answer, but what in general do you all think?

- He's a moderate/average sized kid. He has average sized hands for his age, IMHO, though they're pretty muscular. Should I look for a scaled-down (3/4?) instrument? Or is it okay to give him a full sized instrument?

- I've never taught someone on an instrument; I'm not sure if I'd be a good teacher, especially given that I probably intimidate the heck out of him musically and, even worse, I'm his dad. I thought I'd try to look for 3-4 songs he likes that have some open chords (2-4) that he can learn. Any tips?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Le Ministre de l'au-delà
04-10-2008, 01:43 AM
Old enough depends more on his attitude and enjoyment of the instrument than anything else - I've taught as young as 8, and it can work out or be a struggle. You're actually in a better position to judge than I am...

I'm a big fan of 3/4 size guitars for kids. When they've got to their full height, you can switch. There are lots of well made 3/4 sized instruments in the $100 to $200 range.

I've changed what I do with beginners over the last couple of years - I used to start them off with chords, but now I like to take them through about 4 or 5 pieces before I show them chords. It's because I want to show them pieces that use parallels, pivots and guide fingers and then show them how to change between A, E and D major using the available parallels, pivots and guide fingers. (I don't tell them all that stuff verbally, I just teach them the piece and let them discover that this shift works better if you don't lift 3...) Starting off with chords can lead to students lifting off everything between chords, which is a hard habit to get out of later on. Every teacher is different; this is just a thumbnail of my personal methodology...

Hope this helps

Argent Towers
04-10-2008, 01:47 AM
No, he's not too young to start playing guitar. As to what kind of guitar, I guess you should go to a guitar store with him and have him try out a bunch of different ones. You should be able to get a good acoustic guitar for 500 dollars or less. You can also get him an acoustic pickup so he can plug into an amp if he wants to at some point.

Most rock songs have pretty easy chords. What kind of music does he like?

squeegee
04-10-2008, 01:55 AM
What kind of music does he like?Well, that's a hard one. He's still finding himself musically. We gave him a 15-song iTunes card at Christmas and an MP3 player, and he has yet to buy one song. I ripped all the songs I'd gotten for him into the MP3 player, and that's all he wanted for a while.

He was into Rap for a while (finding family friendly rap is a challenge!); I've tended to previously feed him novelty songs (hamster dance, that sort of thing) that I think he'd find funny. Now he's been playing Guitar Hero, and likes the crunchy metal in that selection. Since then I've been trying to find guitar-centric pieces on my iPod-connected car that will intrigue him -- this morning's selection was Hocus Pocus by Focus, over and over (gah!), which he finds amusing for the yodeling and likes the crunchy guitar. OTOH, for some reason he was earlier on a Sheryl Crow kick, of the 5 or so rock-ish songs she put out.

So, basically its all over the map right now.

squeegee
04-10-2008, 01:57 AM
There are lots of well made 3/4 sized instruments in the $100 to $200 range.Can you point out any brands/models to stray toward or away from?

Argent Towers
04-10-2008, 01:58 AM
You should have him listen to the Beatles. I was a big fan of the Beatles when I was his age. Most of their songs are good for children because they're fun, have catchy melodies, and are educationally useful for understanding things like harmony and bass lines.

Shamozzle
04-10-2008, 02:43 AM
Nevermind

Omi no Kami
04-10-2008, 03:37 AM
I'm purely an amateur, but I always advise people to start with acoustic: if your fingers get used to an acoustic you'll be able to play an electric with ease, but if you start with the electric and want to switch, it'll take some practice to toughen your fingers up.

freekalette
04-10-2008, 12:12 PM
Kid of a guitar player chiming in!! (No, I didn't learn at age 9. Started bass at 11 though.)

I think having a musically inclined parent is a great benefit in teaching youngsters to play. There are a few advantages, one being the "I can do that too" mentality. It's one thing to see a video (or even a live concert) and see a master making beautiful music. It's quite another to see mom or dad (and, at age 9, they've probably figured out that you're a human) making the music. So that's one thing you've got going for you. Also, IME, if he's been around and seen the way you treat your instrument(s) - with respect - he's going to be much quicker to pick up on it. I remember far too many times when my friends would come over after school and start banging on dad's Strat....NOT good times! Obviously YMMV, and you, being his parent, are the best judge of his readiness and ability to learn.

That said, I can only think of one real issue, and that relates to his hand strength. Being of the female persuasion, I never had much in the way of muscles, and I found it pretty difficult, when I first started, to be able to press hard enough on the strings to gt the right notes! I tried using thimbles on my fret hand, but that was just clunky and awkward (duh!!) Eventually I developed some calluses, which made it easier, but please keep in mind that he may get frustrated with it at first.

Best of luck to you and your son!! The world needs more musicians.

msmith537
04-10-2008, 12:17 PM
- Is he really old enough to handle learning guitar? Should I encourage him to wait? I know that this is a "that depends" answer, but what in general do you all think?


It's not like it's something potentially dangerous like a rifle or a motorbike. And it's not like he HAS to practice ever single day so he can grow up to be the next Jimmy Hendrix or Eric Clapton. It's ok if he just decides to dabble in it over the years. Just buy him a cheap one and see if he likes it.

BrainGlutton
04-10-2008, 12:23 PM
I took ukelele lessons at the age of 5; it's basically a simplified guitar.

NAF1138
04-10-2008, 12:38 PM
Can you point out any brands/models to stray toward or away from?


I have always thought that the Baby Taylor was a good little guitar. Yamaha makes good starter acoustics so does Epiphone.

I stated learning to play when I was 11 and my hands were small. At that point in time Epiphone made a great guitar (which I still have and play regularly) that had an ever so slightly tapered neck, so the open chords were easier to grab with small hands. I don't know the model number anymore but I know guitars of that sort are out there (and really, it's a fantastically good guitar).

If you know of a good guitar shop in your area I would recomend heading over and trying some of them out yourself and then talking to a good salesperson (i.e. not a guitar center drone) who will be able to help you narrow your search.

squeegee
04-10-2008, 06:25 PM
post deleted.

squeegee
04-10-2008, 07:26 PM
I think MrSmith537 (and the rest of you) are probably right. I think I'll go ahead and get him an instrument soon, probably a 3/4 size. He does get discouraged sometimes when he tries something new and is not immediately good at it, but hopefully I could jolly him along until he's better and starts seeing some progress from practicing.

Le Ministre de l'au-delà, what kind of songs do you teach that don't have chords? Just a simple melody of some sort? I'm not sure I understood the rest of your post re pivots and guides. I probably already do all that and don't think about how it works, its been so long since I was a beginner, so I'm not sure how to break something down further than the level of chords.

ETA: the only local guitar store around here is Guitar Center, so I'll probably reconnoiter there and ignore a lot of the advice.

myskepticsight
04-10-2008, 08:06 PM
I tried to teach myself guitar around age 14 (didn't work out so well - I'm not musically inclined) but I remember getting tabs for stuff by Nirvana, Alkaline Trio, and other songs with only a few chords. Nirvana's songs are very recognizable so it was fun when I was able to play a bit of it correctly. A lot of punk-ish bands also have very simple songs and often the bands might have only one guitarist, so if you know the song, when you play it, it sounds just like the recorded song pretty much. It's also a good party trick to be able to play songs everyone knows (a friend in college played guitar, and at the frat houses would find an acoustic and play 90s rock and we'd have drunk sing alongs - obviously your son is waaaay too young for that now).

I'd try to seek out some stuff like early Weezer. Nirvana, Beatles, Ben Folds Five, and any really popular songs you can think of - if they're easy enough for him to learn, maybe being able to play stuff that is "cool" or other people (his friends) recognize it would encourage him to keep trying to better his playing? Like "oh cool you can play that song?" etc. I can't rec any particular songs because I'm at work and don't have any of my music and have a bad memory. But I've always thought playing guitar is a very cool skill, and am still saddened I sucked at it so horribly.

Doctor Who
04-10-2008, 08:14 PM
ETA: the only local guitar store around here is Guitar Center, so I'll probably reconnoiter there and ignore a lot of the advice.Guitar Center carries the Baby Taylors for $299. You can't go wrong there. They also carry Yamahas. Yamaha (as previously recommended) makes some great guitars --- I don't remember the model, but they did make one with a thinner neck that would be better for your son's hands.

Here's how I would do it:

(1) Look at the good brands --- Taylor, Martin, Takamine, Gibson, Yamaha, Seagull, etc. Stay away from generic guitars.

(2) See which one sounds good when you hit an E chord (arbitrary, but I like the E chord). If it sounds like shit, don't buy it. On an acoustic, you really want the guitar to sound good, resonate, and feel sweet when you play it. If your son doesn't like playing it, he won't practice.

(3) See which one your son likes out of the ones that pass the first two tests. Things for him to consider: comfort (most important), appearance, and coolness.

(4) Buy it.

(5) Sign him up for lessons. I never took them, but I always envied the kids that did. Why? They got better than I did really quickly. They learned things that I never got a foundation in (like soloing). And finally, where else do you meet your eventual band?

If he never plays it, oh well. You're out 200-500 bucks. But if he plays it, you will not have paid nearly enough for the amount of enjoyment and fun he will have with that acoustic.

squeegee
04-10-2008, 08:36 PM
(5) Sign him up for lessons. I never took them, but I always envied the kids that did. Why? They got better than I did really quickly. They learned things that I never got a foundation in (like soloing). And finally, where else do you meet your eventual band?Yeah, I think you're right there. I took lessons when I was a young teen, and it really seemed to make a huge difference for me. Especially vs the other kids I knew who just plinked around. At the time, I felt like I was serious about learning guitar, and they pretty much weren't.

If he never plays it, oh well. You're out 200-500 bucks. But if he plays it, you will not have paid nearly enough for the amount of enjoyment and fun he will have with that acoustic.Yep, point taken.

I suppose one thing I could to try for him is make a play list of all the songs he's been "playing" in GH II, and see if any of them could translate to acoustic play. There's a list here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_in_Guitar_Hero_II), anyone have suggestions from that list? I'm familiar with all the "classic" ones, and most of the newer stuff, though not all by any means. These all seem "harder" than something you'd do on acoustic, but maybe I'm wrong.

Satellite^Guy
04-11-2008, 01:01 AM
I got interested in playing when I was 8, watching my older brother play.
So my Dad went to a local store (something like the 1981 version of Giant Tiger or something) and found a ukelele, which he tuned to D-G-B-E. That's what I started on, until my brother got a new guitar, and I inherited his old one.

S^G

Le Ministre de l'au-delà
04-11-2008, 02:32 AM
I

Le Ministre de l'au-delà, what kind of songs do you teach that don't have chords? Just a simple melody of some sort? I'm not sure I understood the rest of your post re pivots and guides. I probably already do all that and don't think about how it works, its been so long since I was a beginner, so I'm not sure how to break something down further than the level of chords.


Squeegee: Okay, this is going to be too long, and I apologize in advance for anything I say that you already know.

First Steps (http://www.productionsdoz.com/c216390p16441936.2.html) is what I currently teach beginners from. Full disclosure - it is written by my current teacher. I used to teach from Frederick Noad (http://www.noad.com/Nbooks.htm) , Julio Sagreras or Aaron Shearer, and still would if a student was already working through them. What I like about First Steps - it's published in Tab and notation, so after the student knows all the pieces from learning them in tab, you can learn notation from something you already know how to play. The student starts off playing with all four standard fingers of the right hand in simple patterns that repeat throughout the piece. There's a well written duet part for many of the pieces, and the student can play either first or second guitar fairly quickly. The noodly, new agey nature of the pieces makes it easy to encourage the students into improvisation and/or composition. And, all the pieces involve the use of guides, pivots and parallels right off the bat.

Now, I need to clarify two things - This would take about 10 minutes to explain in the studio with a guitar in each of our hands. Writing it down makes it harder to understand, in my opinion. Also, I don't talk about guides, pivots and parallels to beginning students, I just talk about how 'highly recommended' the fingerings are. I try to allow them the discovery of how it all works. That being said, here's a quick run-down.

A guide finger is any finger that stays on the same string but changes frets.
A parallel finger is any finger that changes strings but remains at the same fret.
A pivot finger is any finger that stays on the same string at the same fret.

So, consider the standard D chord and the standard E chord. If you've just learned them as two different grips, (or chord shapes, or chords, or whatever you want to call them.) you might succumb to the temptation to lift all three fingers and bring them down again in the next grip. However, if you slide your first finger from the second fret of the third string to the first fret of the third string and move your second finger from the second fret of the first string to the second fret of the fifth string, you have used a guide finger and a parallel, leaving only the third finger to have to lift off and sort itself from the third fret of the second string to the second fret of the fourth string.

I use a different fingering for the standard A Major grip: [First finger, second fret, third string], [second finger, second fret, fourth string], [third finger, second fret, second string]. This is easier for bunching up the three fingers at the second fret, and it means that when you change to D, you've got the first finger as a pivot, the second finger as a parallel and the third as a guide.

All this guide, pivot, parallel stuff is how you keep things smooth, efficient and ergonomic, and it's common (despite different terminology for the same thing) to many different styles of guitar - classical, country, jazz, folk, rock. It's one of the things I love about the instrument, that the same techniques apply across the board. Whether you call it a ligado descendente or a pull-off, it's the same manoeuvre. Chet Atkins called pivots 'anchors', which is a pretty good word for them, too. I don't care if you call them carrots, bedknobs and barfbags - they're incredibly useful for learning how to navigate the complete fretboard easily.




Looking at the above, Lord, it's a lot of electrons to explain something that's pretty easy to just play.

squeegee
04-11-2008, 03:22 AM
Le Ministre de l'au-delà -- thanks for the lengthy discussion. I'm far too tired right now to drink that all in, and will re-read your post over a cup of java in the morning. But I wanted to thank you for trying to put that down on electron-paper before heading to bed. :)

Clothahump
04-11-2008, 09:39 AM
Guitar Center carries the Baby Taylors for $299. You can't go wrong there. They also carry Yamahas. Yamaha (as previously recommended) makes some great guitars --- I don't remember the model, but they did make one with a thinner neck that would be better for your son's hands.

Here's how I would do it:

(1) Look at the good brands --- Taylor, Martin, Takamine, Gibson, Yamaha, Seagull, etc. Stay away from generic guitars.

(2) See which one sounds good when you hit an E chord (arbitrary, but I like the E chord). If it sounds like shit, don't buy it. On an acoustic, you really want the guitar to sound good, resonate, and feel sweet when you play it. If your son doesn't like playing it, he won't practice.

(3) See which one your son likes out of the ones that pass the first two tests. Things for him to consider: comfort (most important), appearance, and coolness.

(4) Buy it.

(5) Sign him up for lessons. I never took them, but I always envied the kids that did. Why? They got better than I did really quickly. They learned things that I never got a foundation in (like soloing). And finally, where else do you meet your eventual band?

If he never plays it, oh well. You're out 200-500 bucks. But if he plays it, you will not have paid nearly enough for the amount of enjoyment and fun he will have with that acoustic.

Chiming in with big-time dittos for all of the above.

Zsofia
04-11-2008, 09:59 AM
I've just started taking guitar lessons at a local music school and one of the other mothers laughed at me walking in and said, "Well, my son has to carry his own guitar!" (God, I felt old.) I've also been asked if I'm here to pick my child up, and is he going to be in the recital?

Every other student I've seen has been a boy between the ages of, say, 7 and 16. Sounds fine to me. The only thing I was thinking is, if he really wants to play, maybe it would be better to have somebody else teach him. You know? He might be more likely to practice, and either stick with it or decide he doesn't want to. As opposed to making it something you do for Dad. Although on the other hand it could be great quality time.

Marley23
04-11-2008, 10:03 AM
That's an interesting subject, Zsofia, but my advice on instruction would be to keep it in the family. I didn't take a lot of lessons when I started - most of my learning has been from playing along with CDs I liked - but the few teachers I had weren't very interested in what they were doing. I learned how to play a few songs, but didn't really learn about the instrument or about music.

ouryL
04-11-2008, 04:28 PM
Many people here learn the ukulele in elementary school, not untypically in the second grade, as part of the music program.

Zsofia
04-11-2008, 04:40 PM
That's an interesting subject, Zsofia, but my advice on instruction would be to keep it in the family. I didn't take a lot of lessons when I started - most of my learning has been from playing along with CDs I liked - but the few teachers I had weren't very interested in what they were doing. I learned how to play a few songs, but didn't really learn about the instrument or about music.
Oh, I have a great teacher now! I mean, my experience is atypical because I'm coming to it with almost 20 years of classical piano experience, but I'm learning a ton. (He makes me feel extraordinarily old, I might add. Seriously. And I'm only 28.) I've only been taking for, what, a month? and already I feel I'm really getting the hang of this guitar thing. I know I ask the kind of questions that no other beginner guitar student asks, but I think he really likes answering them.

The thing is, I think he's just really good at teaching, and not all music teachers are. I've taken plenty of lessons with great musicians who were lousy teachers.

I was really thinking I might get some pretty mediocre instruction at this place, because it's kind of a teaching farm, but I didn't know anybody taking guitar to advise me here and they had a nice website, you know? So I had to sign my life away and promise I understood I have to give them a month's notice to quit and all, and I was thinking, geez, maybe going to some strange guy's apartment I found on Craigslist would be better, and then I sat down in this depressing little cubicle with the huge ticking clock behind me... but my teacher is awesome and I love him dearly in his cute little scufty three day beard way.

Dogberry
04-11-2008, 05:07 PM
Guitar Center carries the Baby Taylors for $299. You can't go wrong there. They also carry Yamahas. Yamaha (as previously recommended) makes some great guitars --- I don't remember the model, but they did make one with a thinner neck that would be better for your son's hands.

Here's how I would do it:

(1) Look at the good brands --- Taylor, Martin, Takamine, Gibson, Yamaha, Seagull, etc. Stay away from generic guitars.

(2) See which one sounds good when you hit an E chord (arbitrary, but I like the E chord). If it sounds like shit, don't buy it. On an acoustic, you really want the guitar to sound good, resonate, and feel sweet when you play it. If your son doesn't like playing it, he won't practice.

(3) See which one your son likes out of the ones that pass the first two tests. Things for him to consider: comfort (most important), appearance, and coolness.

(4) Buy it.

(5) Sign him up for lessons. I never took them, but I always envied the kids that did. Why? They got better than I did really quickly. They learned things that I never got a foundation in (like soloing). And finally, where else do you meet your eventual band?

If he never plays it, oh well. You're out 200-500 bucks. But if he plays it, you will not have paid nearly enough for the amount of enjoyment and fun he will have with that acoustic.
I have to also "ditto" on these points. In my own experience (my father played and I started at age 8 on one of his old, beat-up acoustics, then started my own son at age 9 on a much better quality 3/4 size), and from observations of a number of other kids starting on guitar in that age range, the most common mistake parents make is buying a cheap instrument, thinking "Well, if he doesn't like it, I'm not out much money." The problem with the logic is that it's usually self-fulfilling: a cheap instrument is always harder to play and doesn't sound as good, so it discourages kids who might otherwise have stuck with it. Then the kid gives up and figures, "I guess I just can't play the guitar," when the truth might only be he can't play a crappy guitar that even an experienced player would have hated playing. You don't have to pay hundreds of dollars, but do get a decent quality instrument.

Also, be prepared for the probability that your son will dabble with it on-and-off, rather than being dedicated and really into it from the get-go. If he messes with it (and takes lessons, another suggestion I heartily agree with), and then loses interest, it's entirely possible (even likely) that he'll come back to it again later. So don't pack up the guitar and sell it the first time he goes a couple months without playing it. At that age, most kids have very wandering interests. (Of course, there are some who just plain have a drive for it, and focus on it right from the beginning, and never let up. But at age 9, they're pretty rare.) Since you play, that's a great bonus. I found it to be a pretty good father-son thing, both as the son, and as the father. We'd sit and play together, and share some time, and talk music. Good times. We still do it (my father, me, my brothers and uncles, and my son all play) and it's wonderful family time.

As for music to begin with, I've always been fond of starting kids out with Buddy Holly. His stuff is mostly easy, basic, open chords; mostly bouncy, fun songs. Once a beginner has A, D and E, he's ready to play a good portion of the Buddy Holly songbook. As others have said, the early Beatles songs are a good reference, too, but then, when they were starting out, they learned by copying Buddy Holly, too.

Good luck, and have fun with your son.

SmartAleq
04-11-2008, 08:56 PM
At nine he's in no way too young to start--my grandkid is eleven and is principally learning drums right now (he just auditioned for and won the drum slot in his school's rock band--he goes to an arts magnet school) but he also has a cello class every week (which his step dad is volunteer assisting in--he's a guitarist and is finding the acoustic bass fascinating.) He's been playing guitar and bass off and on for about three years now, reads music (taught it to his step dad and uncle, they both are wizard players but never learned to read) and dabbles in other instruments as it interests him--usually keyboard.

No, he's not a musical prodigy, although he shows real talent as a drummer, he's just been surrounded by music, people who play and encouragement and access since he was small. It's never too early to start a kid on music and it's something they'll thank you for all their lives. Go for it, and make sure you play together a lot because kids love to jam and it teaches them far more than any lesson could. It gets cacophonous when my family gets together because we'll inevitably end up with every instrument in the house being played, in varying degrees of competence, for a long jam session. It's fun--sure wish we could get my brother in law and nephew up here for a visit, then we'd have a brass section too!

Runs With Scissors
04-11-2008, 09:01 PM
I teach guitar to kids. Obviously, YMMV and grain of salt and all that...

It's very rare that a student who starts on acoustic sticks with it. It's difficult. It sounds awful at first. Tender fingers are in constant pain, which leads to limited practice time, which leads to no callouses.

Kids who start off with electric guitar, in general, stick with it longer. (No guarantees on whether or not a kid will stick with it permanently.)

I *beg* and *plead* parents of my beginners to let them start on electric. Most parents, in my experience, want their kids to start off on acoustic.

So there's my $.02 worth.

squeegee
04-11-2008, 09:36 PM
Runs With Scissors, I'm with you on starting on electric. That's how I started, and I've never been an acoustic player except when playing on someone else's instrument.

SqueegeeJr seems pretty convinced he wants an acoustic, but I may try to jolly him onto an electric if he's willing. I've told him repeatedly that electric is easier to learn and play, but he's made up his mind for some reason. I'm definitely going to try that option on him again before we buy something, but ultimately I want to honor his wishes if that type of instrument will motivate him musically.

squeegee
04-11-2008, 09:40 PM
The problem with the logic is that it's usually self-fulfilling: a cheap instrument is always harder to play and doesn't sound as goodI agree with you. I want to get something that sounds nice and is playable for him. OTOH, I don't want to shell out $3k for a Martin or equivalent if my son isn't going to play it or take care of it. I'm trying to find the right balance of a worthy instrument that fits him and costs a reasonable amount. Luckily, I am a guitar player, and intend to take several instruments for a spin and find something workable. I started on the crappiest electric possible, and luckily my teacher sold me his Fender (with my mother's help) shortly after I started playing, and I well remember what a difference that made for me.

NAF1138
04-11-2008, 10:03 PM
I agree with you. I want to get something that sounds nice and is playable for him. OTOH, I don't want to shell out $3k for a Martin or equivalent if my son isn't going to play it or take care of it. I'm trying to find the right balance of a worthy instrument that fits him and costs a reasonable amount. Luckily, I am a guitar player, and intend to take several instruments for a spin and find something workable. I started on the crappiest electric possible, and luckily my teacher sold me his Fender (with my mother's help) shortly after I started playing, and I well remember what a difference that made for me.
Yeah, yamaha, talkamine, and epiphone are what you are most likely looking for. The baby taylor is nice too, but more pricey and not really a better guitar for his purposes.

Also, the last poster reminded me, get the action lowered and change the strings to a lighter gague before you give it to him. 11s (maybe even 10s) will sound fine and make his life much easier.

Runs With Scissors
04-11-2008, 11:29 PM
Runs With Scissors, I'm with you on starting on electric. That's how I started, and I've never been an acoustic player except when playing on someone else's instrument.

SqueegeeJr seems pretty convinced he wants an acoustic, but I may try to jolly him onto an electric if he's willing. I've told him repeatedly that electric is easier to learn and play, but he's made up his mind for some reason. I'm definitely going to try that option on him again before we buy something, but ultimately I want to honor his wishes if that type of instrument will motivate him musically.

Motivation is certainly a strong factor in this decision. I know it's really easy (and relatively inexpensive) to rent electric...what about acoustic? I imagine an issue would be quality. It's much easier to learn on a good acoustic...but a good acoustic might be a bit large for him. I shudder at the thought of nylon strings (unless he wants to learn classical).

I learned on acoustic, and although I own an electric...I never got the hang of it. (Purely my fault...not enough practice). But I still get it out and jam loudly, if badly, now and again :)

I hope you'll give us an update now and again...especially if he keeps up and keeps learnin'. I tell my students: every hour you practice is like me practicing ten hours!

squeegee
04-12-2008, 12:56 AM
So, news flash -- I was talking with SqeegeeJr this evening, and he confesses that he really wants an electric guitar. I ask him why, and he says because its easier to play, like I told him. Ok, says I: what I think you really want, SqeegeeJr, is an instrument that plays the kind of music you like... and I don't think you're very sure what music you like yet. And he laughed and agreed that this was probably true.

And then he tells me how awesome the music on Guitar Hero is, and how he wants to play "metal". I ask him what he means by that, and he admits he's not sure. I think he really, honestly isn't sure what kind of style of music he's interested in. He listens to rock, rap, all kinds of stuff, but a really limited play list because I or my wife or the TV are what feeds him music, and myself and spouse have limited time to feed him songs, where the TV is endless recycled stuff. So Guitar Hero is what he has right now. (I knew we should have taken him to the Nutcracker last Christmas :) )

OK, so I'll let that ride, and I'll go scope out some electrics and acoustics at Guitar Center soon. I guess I can rent him an electric, or acoustic, I'm not sure -- I haven't done this before. I'm sure if I rent something it'll be total crap, but its a good stopgap as he figures out what he likes. Or it will discourage him, which would be unfortunate. Hmmm.

Le Ministre de l'au-delà
04-12-2008, 01:40 AM
Fender (Squire) has been selling Made in Mexico strats with amps for around $300. for a couple of years here in Canada. They're a good deal for the money, and if I'm remembering correctly, some of them are 3/4 instruments as well.

Runs with Scissors - I'm astonished more parents don't go for the electric idea. Once I tell them that the amp comes with a headphone jack and a pair of RCA inputs so the student can plug in an iPod or discman and jam with recordings for hours without making a sound in the house, they're usually all for it :p

Martha Medea
04-12-2008, 11:59 AM
FWIW, my seven year old started learning classical guitar a few months ago and it hasn't been a raging success. He likes the idea, but getting him to take it seriously enough to practice is another matter. The general consensus from speaking to music teachers is that nine is a better age to start.

NAF1138
04-12-2008, 12:36 PM
If you are going to go the electric route, you are going to get a lot of people suggesting Fender Squires.

You will have to decide what is best for yourself, but I want to caution you that Squires are not really very good guitars and that (if he sticks with it) he is going to outgrow a squire quickly.

I am going to again suggest a Yamaha or an Epiphone as they are both solid entry priced electrics that he will be able to keep playing for years to come.

Also, if he is going to go for an electric, I don't think you need to go for a downsized guitar. He should be able to fit around a full sized solid body electric wothout problems.

If you can, try to get him a guitar with double coil pickups at least in the bridge position. It will stop a lot of frustrating buzz. (its the pickups that make me dislike the squire.)

Good luck and let us know how it goes. I think GC is having one of its big slales this weekend, so you might want to check that out.

zoogirl
04-12-2008, 01:59 PM
Okay, I can't believe no one has suggested second hand yet. You can get a decent guitar for half the price even if you factor in taking the instrument to a shop for an overhaul. May I also suggest semi-acoustic, something like a Gibson?

I just picked up the darndest thing. It's a mini traveler's bass, made by Beaver Creek. The thing is semi acoustic with a built in pickup and it's really tiny but sounds like a full bass. My guy has borrowed it to play gigs and it worked just fine. It's loud enough to hear unplugged too. They also put out six and twelve strings versions. It would be a great child's guitar and awfully handy for bike and bus riding adults. I paid $249 Cdn for mine with case included.

Good luck to him!

missbunny
04-12-2008, 03:44 PM
I don't think it's too young at all. Lots of people start music lessons much earlier.

I would say to make sure you get a good teacher who is both technically good and has a compatible personality. That has made a lot of difference to me.

I took group lessons as a kid and it was a total waste of money. I should have been doing private lessons and then I'd be a lot better now than I am, and am now back to private lessons at quintuple the cost of what I could have paid when I was 10. Or rather, what mum could have paid. Now I have to shell out the bucks myself!

I have an acoustic-electric but all this talk of electrics is making me want to hit up the music store ... you are all a bad bad influence on me. :)

squeegee
04-12-2008, 06:16 PM
I'd forgotten I have an old 70's SG in the closet. I hauled it out, and plugged it in, and SqueegeeJr and I sat down where we both could play. I tried to show him a few things, but he was going freestyle banging the strings and whatnot and didn't pay much attention, since he'd seldom played any guitar with an amp hooked up. He told me he wants a "real" guitar teacher, and I agree -- I'm obviously not going to get much respect as a teacher :) and I don't really know how to teach someone who knows literally nothing yet about guitar and little about music. So perhaps my best role is cheerleader for now.

So maybe SqueegeeJr can play my old SG as his first instrument -- its really beat (which is good, he can't damage it much), but it plays quite nice, and has a slim neck that's easy to finger, and easy action. He was less than enthused about the instrument, mainly because of the beat-upedness, but I don't think he realized how much better it would be than any entry level instrument we'd get him. So maybe I'll string it with 9's and get a little practice amp (or a headphone amp!), and go dig him up a teacher for him.

squeegee
04-30-2008, 10:22 PM
My son had his first guitar lesson today! It went well, but he's really clumsy and has a good deal of difficulty pressing the strings and holding his hand position. The instructor recommended that I get him a guitar strap, which I guess he'll shorten way up and my son will use it sitting down to maintain a good position for the instrument. He also recommended something to strengthen my son's left hand, either a squeezable ball or one of those little spring-loaded hand exercisers. SqueegeeJr is supposed to learn the open chords C, Am, Dm this next week, and know the names of things (all the strings, parts of the guitars). So I'll help him with that, and nag him to practice if needed.

NAF1138
04-30-2008, 11:22 PM
My son had his first guitar lesson today! It went well, but he's really clumsy and has a good deal of difficulty pressing the strings and holding his hand position. The instructor recommended that I get him a guitar strap, which I guess he'll shorten way up and my son will use it sitting down to maintain a good position for the instrument. He also recommended something to strengthen my son's left hand, either a squeezable ball or one of those little spring-loaded hand exercisers. SqueegeeJr is supposed to learn the open chords C, Am, Dm this next week, and know the names of things (all the strings, parts of the guitars). So I'll help him with that, and nag him to practice if needed.

YAY! That's exciting. I was just wondering this morning what you had decided to do.

Did you give him the SG? What did you end up doing for an amp?

Personally I think the squeeze ball is better than the spring thing they sell. It's cheeper and is easier to use safely.

I hope the little squeegee enjoys learning to play. It will bring him years of fun (and soon...chicks ;) .)

squeegee
04-30-2008, 11:46 PM
YAY! That's exciting. I was just wondering this morning what you had decided to do.

Did you give him the SG? What did you end up doing for an amp?Yeah, he's using the SG. That guitar has... issues, mostly with intonation from a frankenbridge I put on it. I may find another one for him to play that would be less eccentric. TBD. I bought him a headphone amp over at Guitar Center; it actually sounds really good, a decent clean tone, and a couple crusty dirt tones. I'll get him a .5W combo when he's ready. ;) Personally I think the squeeze ball is better than the spring thing they sell. It's cheeper and is easier to use safely.Yeah, I'd forgotten about squeeze ball hand exercisers until the guitar teacher brought it up. I'll pop over to GC tomorrow and pick one up and a strap.(and soon...chicks ;) .)Oh, god. Not yet! I'm not ready for that. It's still great that I can tease him about gooshy stuff we see together on TV, and he totally gets creeped out. SqueegeeJr: "Girls? Nevar!!!! <gag barf hak>" :)

squeegee
04-30-2008, 11:49 PM
Oh, yeah -- I was teleported back to being 15 and taking guitar lessons by the teacher telling SqJr to keep his left elbow at his side -- "elbow in, elbow in!". Wow, I actually flashed on my teacher 30 years ago telling me the same thing. Its amazing how now those basics are all automatic, and how there's no way I can tell SqJr to do that, because I don't really know I'm doing it!

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