Guitar suggestions - for a kid

**Attacklad **has now reached the age (10) that he is allowed to move from the parentally designated piano to some other instrument. (Those of you who are playing along at home will be interested to know that Attacklass is older, but has decided to stick with piano, and she’s gotten rather good).

Attacklad would like to play guitar. Any advice regarding what guitar to learn on would be very much appreciated. Grandma is kicking in a chunk of cash, so he can probably go beyond the Walmart special, but otherwise it’s pretty open, so feel free to weigh in on questions of size (he’s big for 10, probably more like a 12 year old in size, but with average 10 year old coordination), maker, model, acoustic, electric or acoustic/electric, etc. Peripheral issues about learning to play as a ten year old such as ‘finding a guitar instructor’, ‘good first songs to learn’, ‘how not to get frustrated with fingering’ and ‘setting fire to your axe the first time - what not to do’, are all fair game.

I"m putting this in CS because my impression is that the guitar players hang out here, but if the powers would like to move it elsewhere, I’m happy.

There are tons of 1/2-, 3/4- sized guitars built specifically for children, but if your little man is larger than the normal 10-year-old you may be able to go right to a full-size student guitar. Body size is not at important as hand size. If he’s still got small little-boy hands a smaller size might be better suited for learning. If there’s a Guitar Center or something similar nearby they can certainly show you the different sizes and you can figure out what would be most appropriate for his size.

Fender’s Squire series is very afforadable and nice little electric guitars.

I’d suggest an acoustic, either a Taylor Big Baby or a Walden T-550.

Acoustic, for a couple of reasons: they’re pick-up-and-play, no need to faff about with amps and cables, whcih I think makes you more likely to practice; and the strings tend to be slightly further apart, amking fingering less cramped. Some will say that the action (string height above the frets) on an acoustic makes them harder to play, but I think that’s because most acoustics come from the factory with high action at the nut (at the far end of the neck), for economic reasons that I won’t go into. Remedy that and you will have an easy-playing acoustic.

Taylor Big Baby because they sound very nice, are very well made like all Taylors, and have epic resale value if the whole thing doesn’t work out.

Walden T-550 because Waldens are incredible value for money and in my experience sound as good as Taylors costing two or three times the price. They’re not as nicely finished, though. The T- range is I think 7/8 scale, which is big enough to sound good (not like the many 3/4 scale mini guitars you can buy), but still very compact and comfortable. Or the O-550 which is full-scale but slim-bodied.

Yamaha makes very nice economical entry-level acoustic guitars.

May want to look into nylon-stringed guitars. Easier on the fingertips, easier to fret.

As far as learning to play, I suppose that would depend on what interests him about it. What types of music does he like? It’s always easier to learn songs that you already know.

I suspect he’d like to grow up and be Angus Young from AC/DC, but with longer pants. This is part of the reason I was considering an acoustic/electric - low tech low volume on the acoustic side, but able to amp up when allowed.

I’m really interested in this as well, since my 10YO daughter is in her 2nd year of violin, and she very much wants to pick up guitar when she starts school in the fall.

As a player myself who learned on electrics (because I insisted, and didn’t have anyone tell me otherwise) I want her to learn properly, so I’m leaning toward a classical guitar, since nylon strings will be much easier on her hands. (ETA: Oops - didn’t see DCnDC’s comment. So, ditto.) But aside from the big steel-string makers (Martin, Taylor, Yamaha, etc.) I have no idea about nylon stringed guitar brands.

I’m going to step away from the consensus and recommend an electric guitar for these reasons:

[li]Most likely the music he will want to be playing is played on an electric guitar. The best way to stick with it is to play the music you like.[/li]
[li]Electric guitar strings are usually lighter than acoustic strings and don’t have as much tension. So they are easier on the fingers, allowing for longer practices. Also, popular music involves a lot of bending notes which is easier on an electric because of the strings.[/li]
[li]I practice on my electric without an amp all the time. It’s much quieter than my acoustic. You can get really loud on an acoustic.[/li]
[li]Amps usually have a headphone connection so he can really rock out LOUD without really bothering anyone.[/li]
[li]If you start with a smaller sized youth guitar, you can upgrade the guitar later without having upgrading the amp. I still have the same practice amp I had 15 years ago.[/li][/ul]

All you really need to start is the guitar, a cable, and an amp. They don’t have to be extravagant to get a fairly good sound for a beginner. Then there is room for a lot of additional gear. Built in birthday and Christmas gifts for years to come.

An electro-acoustic will not sound like an electric guitar with an amp. Putting it through an amp will just give it a louder acoustic sound. He’ll still sound more like James Taylor than Angus.

Granted, an acoustic is much more portable and doesn’t rely on the proximity of an electrical outlet. That’s why most guitarists usually acquire both. But if you can only start with one, I’d say go with the electric.

Thanks. If we go this route, I have a parlor-sized acoustic myself, so he’d have the ‘Dad can I borrow’ option for when he wants to get all soulful and James-Taylor-ish.

You don’t even need an electrical socket to practice on an electric. There are battery powered headphone amps that plug into the guitar like an Amplug for 40 to 50 bucks that will allow them to bust their eardrums but not yours. I’ve heard good things about them for practicing.

I myself practice on my electric unplugged most of the time, but I built a small battery powered amp with headphones for times when I don’t want to plug into the bigger amp.

I personally think an electric, with its typically lighter gauge strings and lower action is easier for a beginner to start producing sounds they like on than most acoustics. If kids don’t have some early success at making music they like, they are likely to lose interest

I agree with everything Shadowfyre wrote. Electrics are much easier physically to play for beginners than acoustics.

I’m gonna break with the crowd and go big on the value of classical training. If he’s doing piano, he is obviously able to take instruction and to put in the time to see results. Going the classical route from the beginning will enable him to later do anything he wants on the guitar.

He’ll still be able to strum along with his peers, but in just a few months he will be holding his friends spellbound with his solos. By the time he is 12 or 13, he will have a solid basic understanding of how to play the guitar, as opposed to knowing some chords and strums and some licks.

Can a classical guitarist actually rock? Keep in mind as you watch this that is no band here, the sound is all coming from one guitar. Michael Chapdelaine – Come Together.

Take a look at the La Patrie Motif for a very decent guitar he won’t grow out of.

It depends what you want to play. For playing with the fingers, I find acoustics a lot easier because the strings are further apart. And you can put extra light strings on an acoustic, which are not much heavier than electric strings. You just lose a bit of bass, tone and volume.

But the OP added that the kid wants to be like Angus Young, so yeah maybe an electric would be better.

My only concern with this plan is that he will not see the future gain. Hm. Man, that’s a lovely guitar you’ve linked. Thanks.

I am sorry I haven’t been able to weigh in - my day has been nuts and now I have to leave early…

There are a lot of threads on this topic - if you haven’t searched Pretentious Art Cr…er, Cafe Society on the words Guitar or Beginning Guitar or Getting Started, etc… - you should.

Classical is best if you want to play classical or shred heavy metal - both favor the thumb on the back of the neck approach. If you want your kid to learn straight-up blues/rock or first-five-fret (i.e., Cowboy) chords to have fun, play along with singing, etc., then thumb over the top of the neck may be preferable.

Nylon strings are easier to fret, but those guitars call for a classical technique. Electric is easier to play and playing unplugged is easy and cool, but you may end up with some poor habits - playing a steel string acoustic builds up finger strength, can be played anywhere and sets up great habits that can apply to electric easier vs. the other way…but if you kid backs off because it makes their fingers hurt, well, that’s not good - staying engaged in playing always comes first…

Gotta run…

This is one of those things where he really will thank you … and it won’t take long at all when he sees how quickly he is moving beyond the abilities of his rockin’ buddies.

As for the La Patrie, yeah, and amazing tone for an inexpensive guitar.

So the decision is partially made - after extensive research using the dope, the net, and my extended family, I think what we’re going to do is 1) get an electric, in that he wants go electric, and he has shown enough dedication and effort in the piano world that I should let him run with it, with the caveat that 2) and will also learn acoustic, borrowing my parlor acoustic and splitting the lesson time, at least at first.

Next question - buying an electric -

We’ve been doing a bit of browsing, and will be hitting the local shop tomorrow to look at the guitars recommended on this thread. One of the ones we saw today is a used-but-in-good-condition Danelectro 63. Anyone know anything about this guitar? The price was just within range.

Any thoughts?

What was your price range? I know nothing about that guitar, but knowing your pain point would let folks jump in with recommendations in that same range.

We’ve had multiple family members kick in, so $250-300 for everything would be as high as we can possibly go, keeping in mind that we live in Soviet Canuckistan, land of the 15% Harmonized Sales Tax. The Danelectro (a word I very much enjoy saying) goes for $250. What I liked about this guitar was its size and weight, slightly less than the average electric, and the hollow body gives enough sound that you can hear it well enough to practice and mess about with it, even without plugging it in.