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New starter aged 6

Postby Humf » Tue Jan 05, 2021 12:47 pm

Hi

Before I make any stupid mistakes, please can I get some advice. Apologies if I’m duplicating earlier threads. I will do a search too so feel free to ignore me

My son aged 6 has been added to his school guitar teacher’s waiting list but in the meantime he’d like to use the lockdown time to get familiar and do some self-learning (with my support).

I am virtually clueless regarding guitars. I will email a couple of guitar teachers I know but no harm in asking here too.

I’m a viola player/organist/pianist with trad. roots so preference would be a nice simple acoustic (with nylon strings for ease of playing?). I notice like violin you can get 1/2 and 3/4 sized.

Of course, his passion is for the rock style of super dirty heavy distortion of an electric. I sort of think I need to play to this and not kill the interest on day one.

Any suggestions? I notice Thomann do a very reasonably priced Harley Benton ST-Junior BK Standard Series for £44. Worth a shot? Or is this just daft? Admittedly I’ve not done my research yet or spoke with those in the know.

Amps wise, I can easily get my hands on something cheap and cheerful as we have a few knocking around in work.

Thanks in advance


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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jan 05, 2021 1:10 pm

I think you should definitely play to his 'rock star' dreams, it's 55 years or more since I started playing guitar and if I had been forced into learning 'classical guitar'* which was the only formal option I doubt I would have stuck at it. Thankfully those days are long past and beginners get to learn in a variety of styles.

An electric guitar like the HB linked is probably a good option, I have a cheap mini Strat with a similar scale length which plays fine and, set up with a low action and soft tension, it'll be easier on the fingers than a classical style. Something more like the ¾ size (22 ¾ " scale) would last longer a if he can cope, the smaller one is only 19" which is very small.

* I'm almost totally self taught.
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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby Humf » Tue Jan 05, 2021 1:13 pm

Thanks. Sounds like I’m heading in the right direction then.

Any suggestions on reliable books would be helpful too. Although knowing him, he’ll be glued to YouTube tutorials but at least a book will help me guide him.


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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby Humf » Tue Jan 05, 2021 2:08 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:I think you should definitely play to his 'rock star' dreams, it's 55 years or more since I started playing guitar and if I had been forced into learning 'classical guitar'* which was the only formal option I doubt I would have stuck at it. Thankfully those days are long past and beginners get to learn in a variety of styles.

An electric guitar like the HB linked is probably a good option, I have a cheap mini Strat with a similar scale length which plays fine and, set up with a low action and soft tension, it'll be easier on the fingers than a classical style. Something more like the ¾ size (22 ¾ " scale) would last longer a if he can cope, the smaller one is only 19" which is very small.

* I'm almost totally self taught.
Just looked again and for £7 more they do a 22 3/4.

If he takes after me then he’ll be long limbed so I’m thinking that might be a better long term option. I appreciate this is tricky without checking properly at an instrument, so not ideal in isolation. Be a good focus for us both though, aside from his reading and numeracy!


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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby wdsteele » Tue Jan 05, 2021 3:47 pm

Similar situation here with my 6 yr old - I'm fortunate enough to have a Little Martin Acoustic and while a little on the large size , my son loves it and I think there is some merit in growing into rather than growing out of an instrument , but it's a bigger investment and obviously not electric.

That said , my brother got his son a 3/4 Ibanez electric some time back and felt the tuning and intonation was so poor he returned it - just a thought , but I'm of the view that a lot of young folk give up on guitar because the instrument is so poorly set up to begin with and the first few challenging months of learning basic chords becomes much more difficult than it really needs to be - I think I may have read somewhere that tuning and intonation on a 3/4 can be a little on the tricky side , but hey , I'm a self taught bass player ( so what would I know ! ) and Sam's post suggests that needn't be an issue with the right instrument .
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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby ef37a » Tue Jan 05, 2021 5:35 pm

Really good to see such a young'un starting an instrument. If I might give you some comfort about the 'pop' he wants to play now?
My son started on my beat up 'Spanish' acoustic but we soon got him a Strat copy because he was into Quo, AC/DC, Beatles etc. He became a really good player but now he will be 50 this year and he has worked hard on Bach transcriptions on classical guitar. He still loves the rock and jazz but stuck with nothing to do now in France he is happy to work on his classical stuff.

So yes, get him a wee electric. I would venture to say Andy might agree with me that it is usually possible for a goof luthier to improve most guitars? Probably cost as much again but well worth getting the instrument AS playable as possible.

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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jan 05, 2021 5:49 pm

Tuning and intonation with low tension/light gauge strings, especially on a short scale will inevitably be compromised, it's so much easier to bend them out of tune just by squeezing a bit hard but setting the guitar up to be as good as it can be for it's scale length is not too difficult for somebody with basic DIY/instrument skills. If you can manage basic maintenance on your viola an electric guitar should present few problems.
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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby zenguitar » Tue Jan 05, 2021 6:20 pm

Speaking as a goof luthier I would agree that a good set-up will help a youngster make progress and stick with it.

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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby Humf » Tue Jan 05, 2021 6:21 pm

Would you all say the same even for a lower value instrument? Are they workable?


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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jan 05, 2021 6:50 pm

It's rare that even a cheap instrument to be an irredeemable dog, they can almost always be made to play well. It probably won't sound great with the standard pickups but for distorted styles that matters less and it will likely feel unrefined compared to something more expensive but a bit of wire wool, metal polish and Mr Sheen will go a long way to making it feel better.
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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby zenguitar » Tue Jan 05, 2021 7:18 pm

Humf wrote:Would you all say the same even for a lower value instrument? Are they workable?

The quality of modern entry level instruments is generally excellent. So anything from a reputable manufacturer sold by a reputable store can be fettled into a decent instrument.

I would avoid anything sold through generic online sites. The big Asian factories have good quality control these days, but I strongly suspect that instruments that fail QC are sold into the local markets and make their way to western markets that way.

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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby ef37a » Tue Jan 05, 2021 8:39 pm

zenguitar wrote:Speaking as a goof luthier I would agree that a good set-up will help a youngster make progress and stick with it.

Andy :beamup:

Ha! I spotted the typo swiftly enough to edit it Andy but decided to leave it for the craic.

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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby Rob Kirkwood » Tue Jan 05, 2021 11:23 pm

Humf wrote:I notice Thomann do a very reasonably priced Harley Benton ST-Junior BK Standard Series for £44. Worth a shot? Or is this just daft?

Be aware that Thomann's prices are now shown as ex-VAT for UK buyers.

Looks as if VAT is added on again during the purchase process, but I'm not sure anyone knows yet if admin fees & duty will also have to be paid before delivery - may be sensible to avoid Thomann & other EU suppliers until the picture post-Brexit is clearer?

Having said that, I've had a few Harley Benton items (GA5 combo, HB35-Plus guitar, pedal board) & they've all been serviceable & good value for money.

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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby Dynamic Mike » Wed Jan 06, 2021 1:39 am

I've been down this road with a keen 6 year old & a short scale strat and to be honest it didn't end well. For sure every now and again there's a potential musical child prodigy like Joe Bonomassa but many struggle with the coordination & physicality required at that age.

If I was to do it again, I'd probably start with a cheap lapsteel.
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Re: New starter aged 6

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:01 pm

Interesting, I nearly suggested open tunings as a way to keep interest, like you I do think 6 is quite young but Humf knows how own son so I didn't presume to comment.

I did suggest open G to a friend who's 5 year old daughter wanted a uke for Christmas a couple of years ago.
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