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Child's guitar - advice

Postby Mixedup » Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:57 pm

So... my 6.5-year old daughter has requested a guitar for Christmas. Says she's serious about learning to play. She's already doing and enjoying drum lessons. And very much enjoys the film School Of Rock. And Katy Perry music [shudder]. And likes singing... You get the picture.

Anyway, I'm after opinions/advice as to what would be a suitable guitar — budget is only £50-100. I'm probably going to go for 3/4 size rather than 1/2 as it will last her longer.

One man who knows about these things suggests going with a nylon strung acoustic — easier on the fingers. But part of me thinks that she'd be more excited by an electric. (I have amplification covered already...)

So...

What would you opt for, assuming that she's actually going to learn this thing, rather than just play/pose with it?
Any brands you can recommend?
Any brands you'd suggest avoiding?

Etc etc.
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:22 pm

Is there a guitar player she is aware of/likes? The conventional approach is to give young beginners a nylon strung guitar but something more exciting might prove a better motivator. The beginning stages of learning guitar can be pretty dull so something that goes up to '11' or simply looks cool will keep her interest longer. Electric with light strings won't be too hard on her fingers. The trade off with acoustic is it's ability to be self contained but that's probably not an issue with a 6 year old.
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Mixedup » Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:39 pm

The only player she really knows and likes is her dad :blush:

Yeah, that's my dilemma right there. Something that rocks and motivates. Or something that doesn't hurt... and if the latter, how to be sure, without paying through the nose, that it's going to stay in tune as much as a guitar should!

Head says nylon acoustic. Heart says a secondhand 3/4 Squier or some such that will retain some semblance of resale value when she tires of it, or can be hooked up to pedals if she feels the urge to continue. As well as various amps, I have a Fluid Audio Strum Buddy and a Vox Amplug thing that I can donate to the cause, which would enable it to be somewhat self-contained for lessons/practice.
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:27 pm

As you probably realise there aren't many really bad guitars anymore though children's instruments fare worse than those for us grown ups. Also remember that while short scale lengths and light steel strings are kinder to fingers they don't intonate well. Nylon string guitars though tend to be classicals with unnecessarily wide necks. Maybe the Daisy Rock range would be worth a look?
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Alba » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:33 pm

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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Wonks » Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:58 pm

How about a 1959 Les Paul Standard which Daddy can 'look after' for her.
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Jumpeyspyder » Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:53 am

Got my son a redwood 3/4 strat when he was about 8 ish
(upgraded to a ibanez SA - 18 months later)

Size was good and sound was respectable.

tuning it was hard - standard ratio tuners are a pig on a short guitar!!

1/2 scale would be even harder to tune!

If I could re-live that time, I would have made hime wait a year (I think he would have been more appreaciative and maybe more inclined to play of his own accord had he been made to wait longer)

and got him a full size guitar, maybe using a capo to shorten the scale.

there are some very reasonably priced epiphones around your budget.

main thing about a instrument for a child is that they love it / think its cool !
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Dynamic Mike » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:15 am

Harley Benton do a tasty looking 3/4 scale strat for £51. The full-scale series get good reviews for the money & it's cheaper than a pedal, so no great loss if she doesn't take to it.

But my personal experience mirrors Jumpeyspider's, tuning can be a pig, especially with standard string gauges. You can end up with hybrid gauges just to get something approaching playable in some random key. I didn't think of the capo option though, that's worth looking into.

I'd go with the nylon strung first & keep the electric option as an incentive for when she shows some progress.
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby DocBobalot » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:47 am

When my son was about 7 he picked up my strat and started messing with it. He asked if he could have one as well, so I said only if he could play mine. I showed him the 1st line of twinkle twinkle little star, and told him that if he could teach himself the rest of the verse I'd buy him his own guitar.

An hour later the little sod came back and played the verse to me. I ended up buying him a squier 3/4 strat similar to mine (black, white pickguard, but rosewood neck instead of my maple neck). He got enough use out of it to make it a worthwhile purchase, although in the end he didn't continue with guitar.

I still have his guitar and, while it's not the best one I have (!), I have gigged it, just to see the look on my drummer's face while he tried to work out if I'd suddenly grown into a giant :)
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby zenguitar » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:50 am

I have to disagree, I'd recommend the electric/steel string acoustic for a couple of reasons.

The first is that nyion strings are just as hard on the fingers as steel but in a different way. Steel strings being thinner and having more tension can hurt because they feel like they are cutting into the fingertips until calluses devolop. A low action, well cut nut and lighter gauge strings can ease those problems. With nylon strings you have more friction as you slide your fingers along the string which can be just as sore until you build calluses. So I call that as a score draw.

The biggest reason kids give up is because they put in the work but don't get the reward for all that work. As adults we can rationalise and understand that we are learning skills now and the reward will come later. Kids can't do that, they need to see rewards fast. You can learn all the chords and solos to Smell's like Teen Spirit and Come as You Are on a classical but if you don't sound anything like Nirvana when you do it, that's a big fail. If your kid is inspired to learn guitar by wanting to play electric guitar songs, that's what they want and that's what will incentivise them to keep on practicing. Nothing else will do. When I was 12 in 1974 I REALLY wanted a guitar, and for Xmas I got... you guessed it... a 3/4 scale classical. Sounded nothing like Slade, T-Rex, or Bowie. So it sat in the corner for a few years getting the occasional strum and accumilating stickers. Then at 16/17 I had saved enough from a summer job to buy a second hand Shaftesbury Les Paul copy, a borrowed valve amp from the Scout leader, a friend who taught me the intro to Stairway to Heaven and Message in a Bottle parrot fashion and I was up and running. Motivated and totally self-taught.

If your kid wants to play guitar you ask them one question and one question only. "What songs do you want to play?" and then you buy the right guitar to play in that style. Anything else is letting them down.

And if your kid wants to play electric guitar, there is a bonus reason for buying them one. An unplugged electric is even quieter than an acoustic.

As in so many things in life, the best answer is always 'buy the right tool for the job'.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby DC-Choppah » Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:32 am

She needs an SG (like on School of rock). Epiphone makes a good affordable one.
Here is one for less than $100 on ebay https://www.ebay.com/itm/epiphone-speci ... SwuhFaHGrs

BTW when people first learn guitar they get sore fingers. But please teach her that with proper technique the fingers don't hurt and don't get calluses or corns.

Show her how little pressure it actually takes to push the string, and teach her to just touch the string that lightly and that any extra pressure is wasted effort.
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Matt Houghton » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:21 am

Some good food for thought here!
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Wonks » Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:22 am

One other option would be to get a simple DIY 3/4 guitar kit and build it together. I'd recommend simply staining the body then applying a Tru-Oil finish to it.

It's going to end up more expensive than buying say a mini-Squier, and resale value will be nil, but the act of making it together is all good bonding stuff, so she may feel a lot more interested in really learning it as a result.

However finding a 3/4 kit that doesn't come from Australia is hard (where shipping + duty + VAT + PO handling charge double the cost). And if you want it for Christmas, then it's unlikely to happen.

Or maybe a Loog 3-string guitar? https://loogguitars.com/

There are acoustic and electric versions. Either use standard tuning and it's the top three strings of a guitar, or chord tunings and get her into playing the blues. Some UK suppliers.
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Mixedup » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:36 pm

Wonks wrote:One other option would be to get a simple DIY 3/4 guitar kit

Spoken like a man with time on his hands, and not a million half-finished DIY projects littering the house. Unlike me :(
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Mixedup » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:38 pm

Wonks wrote:How about a 1959 Les Paul Standard which Daddy can 'look after' for her.

I have plenty of Gibson, Fender, Gretsch and Rickenbacker things that Daddy is already looking after. There's no room for more. :headbang:
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Mixedup » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:44 pm

zenguitar wrote:I have to disagree, I'd recommend the electric/steel string acoustic for a couple of reasons...

Thanks Andy. There are some really useful points in there, and I'm inclined to agree with them all.
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Mixedup » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:45 pm

DC-Choppah wrote:Show her how little pressure it actually takes to push the string, and teach her to just touch the string that lightly and that any extra pressure is wasted effort.

Yep already on the case — but a very important point for anyone thinking about teaching wee rapscallions to noodle.
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Mixedup » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:46 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Maybe the Daisy Rock range would be worth a look?

I don't think I could live with myself :lol:
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Wonks » Thu Nov 30, 2017 11:33 pm

Mixedup wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:Maybe the Daisy Rock range would be worth a look?

I don't think I could live with myself :lol:
They aren't all pink and some of them are very good guitars. I don't have any but I've often given the more straightforward ones a second glance.
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Re: Child's guitar - advice

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Nov 30, 2017 11:51 pm

Mixedup wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:Maybe the Daisy Rock range would be worth a look?

I don't think I could live with myself :lol:

But could you live with daughter if you don't? :bouncy:
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