A question we often get asked here at The Music Rooms is what guitar should I get my son/daughter for starting to learn.
And it’s an important one as the instrument contributes a lot to the experience and enjoyment of learning.
The buying decision when buying a guitar for a beginner comes down to one main thing for most people… the cost. But there are a few other things to consider when buying any guitar as you may not be comparing like with like.
The main thing you want to get right at a beginner level is that the guitar is actually playable. Forget cost at this point, whether expensive or cheap the guitar will need to firstly be easily played and secondly stay in tune.
Beginner guitars that are unplayable (and you’d be surprised how many are) and those that do not stay in tune are no more than toys and really give your child a difficult start.
Even expensive guitars may not come out of the shop as seasoned musicians would like and they often get them set up after they purchase so that the instrument is nicer to play.
But at a beginner level price-point you will need to make sure it comes out of the shop good to go.
The main thing here is the action.
And by that essentially we mean the height the strings are from the neck (particularly at the frets near the nut, where they will begin to form the basic chords).
If this gap is too large, it will take a lot of effort to push the strings down to make a chord. Annoying at the best of times, but really hard for small fingers.
Look at the guitars on offer and see which one has strings closer to the neck. If your child can easily push the strings down to form notes and chords you’re onto a winner.
The other main thing if you’re comparing guitars is that it must be able to stay in tune.
The tuning machines, at the end of the neck, tune your strings and hold the strings in tune. Check that when you turn the tuning pegs that they feel that they will stay in place and look well-constructed to do the job of holding the string tight.
Again ask the shop assistant if the tuning machines are of good quality to keep the guitar in tune.
You may find that the guitar you saw at £30 does not stay in tune with the tuning pegs visibly spinning back with the string tension when tuned up, compared to the one at £50 which is easily played and has reasonable quality tuners. The extra £20 in this case will be well spent.
Acoustic and Classical guitars come in three main sizes, ½ size, ¾ size and full size. And the size of the guitar will be an issue if your child is younger. We find those around 5 and 6 may require a smaller sized instrument, but this is in general and it different for every child as they to come in a range of sizes too 😀
Go and try the guitars, let them hold them, play them, see what looks and feels right.
For those who are too small to handle the full size guitar, our advice is that it is a bit like buying a bike. It’s expensive and you want them to get as much use as possible.
So if they can manage the ¾ go for that as they will soon grow out of the ½ size. But if the ¾ is still a mission for them to hold, it will have to be the ½ size.
We hope this helps, happy guitar buying! And don’t forget to contact us to get started with beginner guitar lessons!