Finding a guitar for a kid is a lot harder than getting one for an adult guitar player. Grown up person can handle just about any model and size of guitars available, an adult can dive into some online guitar lessons for beginners, no matter the guitar he holds, while a child definitely can't.
That's why you need to do some serious research if you are looking to get your kid their first guitar. Today we are going to go through a couple of things you should pay attention to in this process. We will cover some specifics of guitars that a kid could have trouble with, and discuss some possible alternatives.
The first thing that you definitely need to know is that a regular size guitar might be too large for a child to play. The most important thing when it comes to playing guitar is comfort. If you are not comfortable playing a specific guitar, you will have trouble applying what are otherwise basic playing techniques.
Depending on how old the child is, you will have to look for either smaller guitars or medium sized ones. It's strongly recommended that you avoid getting toy guitars as those simply aren't nearly as good of an alternative to a real instrument. If you would like to know more about guitar sizes for kids, check out our article that deals with that topic in detail ‘Finding The Right Guitar Size For Your Kid'.
Bottom line is that there are no rules. You have to take your kid to the music shop and try out different models until you find something that works. The shop is also a great place to figure out if your kid prefers acoustic guitars or electric guitars. If you have a small kid however, we recommend going the acoustic guitars route for a start at least.
Aside from the size of a guitar, action is also an important factor. Think of it this way. If you find the action on a guitar to be hard to play, that means that your child will have exponentially harder time pressing down on strings and getting clear tones. Naturally, too low of an action can completely offset the intonation and dynamics of a guitar, so some caution needs to be applied.
With that said, there are models out there whose action can be setup in a way that a child is comfortable with. One thing to consider is the material the fretboard is made of. As you probably know, maple fretboards are usually smoother and softer than rosewood ones. If you are going to start your kid off with an electric guitar, a maple fretboard might help out with playing comfort.
The whole story regarding the action of a guitar leads into the choice of strings. Needless to say, heavy gauge strings might prove to be a bit too much for any kid. On the other hand, if you go for super light gauge strings, those might cut into the fingertips.
Starting with a medium gauge is a good practice. If your kid finds that easy to play, you should stick with it. However, if they find it too difficult, you can get strings which are one gauge up or down. Once you have a decent starting point, you can tune the thickness of the strings a lot easier.
Let's assume that you are an experienced guitar player or at least someone who has some knowledge about guitars. As such, you might be tempted to get a guitar for your kid that fits your standards. Doing things this way is counterproductive. Listen to your kid and try to merge your requirements with their wishes.
If you get them a guitar they don't like, chances are they will lose a lot of will to play. You need to find a model which will spark their enthusiasm – one they will be anxious to play every day. Naturally, kids sometimes have unreasonable wishes, but you should try to find a compromise that works for both your kid and yourself. For a good list with guitars for kids, check out our article.
At the end of the day, spending some time researching the right model of guitar for your child can yield great results down the road. That first instrument is going to be something they will remember for the rest of their lives, especially if they continue to play as they grow older. That's why it is important for you to make the right choice, go through some of the GuitarFella reviews, and find a model which is a perfect combination of quality and appeal.
If everything goes right, you will have a kid that is eager to pick up that guitar any moment they can. On top of that, stimulating their interest in music is also very important. Remember that you are shaping their taste both in music and guitars. Be there to support them when they hit a wall, and help them push through any difficulties they might have. Your kid will be grateful for that when they grow up.
Rick Mariner says
Excellent article. Jessica has done her homework on children. I feel their pain. The poor kids have it hard. The younger they can start the better-the problem of fret size and guitar size is the main impediment.
It is comforting to know as they grow the instrument will feel more comfortable every day. Thanks Jessica, for a good story.