Updated: Feb 20
A key question asked by parents of children starting guitar aged 7-11 (primary aged) is which guitar should they start on?
My answer to this question would be to change the question to, what are your child goals?
Broadly speaking your child there are three main destinations on the guitar that need to be considered at this stage.
1) Play classical guitar (Andrés Segovia, Julian Bream, Thu Lee, Jason Vieaux)
2) Play pop style guitar (Ed Sheeran, etc)
3) Be a rock guitarist (AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix etc)
4) A mixture of all of these.
1) if your child is wanting to learn classical guitar then a nylon string classical guitar is the only option.
2) If the answer is my child loves pop style music Ed Sheeran, Katie perry ect and guitar then there are two options:
· nylon string classical is still the best choice in my opinion. The reason being that nylon strings are much softer on the fingers and will therefore be less painful to play to start with. (I’ve seen children needlessly give up due to them starting on a heavy gauge steel string guitar, which is why this issue is important to address) As your child progresses then you may want to get a steel string acoustic, and or electric when your child has got through the initial phase of learning. Your teacher should be able to advise on when this is appropriate.
· The second would be to start with a steel string acoustic but makes sure the strings are what we call “light gauge” and its I the correct size for your child. This is due to the fact the heavy gauge strings are painful on the fingers and can decrease motivation if it hurts too much. (Your child won’t be able to do the classical grade on this instrument, so you need to be sure that you don’t want to do classical guitar at all before purchasing this style of guitar.)
3) If your child is very keen on the electric guitar and doesn’t want to do any classical guitar at all then there is no reason why your child can’t start playing electric straight away. There’s no reason why your child needs to acoustic first if they are very keen on learning the electric guitar. (Again, getting an electric guitar will mean your child can’t take the classical grades.)
4) If your child is interested in many styles and want to try some of all the styles, then again at the outset a nylon style classical guitar is best. For all these reasons stated above.
5) If the answer, is you or they at this point don’t know, what style what outcome you want and are just starting out and wanting to try the guitar then I would recommend getting a nylon string classical style guitar. My reasons for this would be:
You can pick up this guitar either new or second hand for a reasonable price. So, if your child turns around and doesn’t want to play anymore then you won’t have lost much. Also, if your child discovers they want to be a electric guitarist then the acoustic will be a great second guitar to keep.
So, my general guidlines would be:
1) Nylon string classical guitar is the best all round option for most primary school aged beginners.
2) Electric guitar is fine to start on if your child is very certain that they want to play rock/pop style guitar.
3) You could also get a steel string acoustic if your child is very much into pop and doesn’t want to do classical guitar but make sure it’s the correct size and has light gauge steel strings to start with.
Regarding what make to get there are many on the market so there is no one set option to go for.
You can purchase adequate beginners at various places. I can’t give you a definitive answer for which is the best make, but I do have some recommendations which I can suggest
The Yamaha C40II. Is one of the best classical Nylon string guitars.
(This is a mid-range priced guitar so there are cheaper options if this one is too much for your budget that would also be adequate)
The Yamaha Pacifica is the electric guitar for beginners that I would recommend
As a quick disclaimer I can’t vouch for the quality of each individual instrument
(especially if you but any of these items second hand,) But do believe these to be good instruments in general and happy to recommend.
If you want more advice on guitar buying, then please contact me for further information and I can discuss options which might fit with your individual needs and budget.