Senior Instructor at Halifax Guitar Lessons
As a parent, I want my kids to have the best chance at success when they start something. I want the odds to be stacked on their side, not against them, so that they make more progress right away, have more fun, and then are more motivated to keep going and not quit.
If you have kids I am sure you feel the same way.
So when it comes to kids learning how to play the guitar I am shocked at how many guitar teachers give out the wrong advice to parents and start kids down a more difficult and frustrating path that they do not need to follow.
Should Kids Start To Learn To Play Guitar On An Acoustic Guitar?
It would be a good idea to define what I mean by kids right away. The age group I am thinking about here is typically 12 years of age and younger. However this can certainly apply to anyone who wants to learn to play the guitar at any age.
When kids first start to learn to play the guitar they have many more challenges than teenagers or adults. Their motor skills are not usually very well developed yet and they certainly do not have a lot of strength either.
When I hear guitar teachers locally and online recommend that using an acoustic guitar is the best way to start learning to play I cringe every time. I followed that advice myself when I was younger and it was not pretty and caused me unnecessary problems.
On the surface this sounds like it may be good advice because supposedly this will help you develop more strength faster and that is exactly what kids need right? Well, not really.
Why Starting Kids On An Acoustic Guitar Is A Bad Idea
This problem persists today because people do not really think or understand how to successfully teach kids. And building strength is not the main goal.
What happens to kids when you start them on an acoustic guitar is that you add another level of complexity to something that is already a big challenge for them.
The goal when teaching kids, and anyone really, is to make it fun, to help them progress as quickly as possible and to reduce or eliminate the frustrations that can cause them to doubt their ability to learn. An acoustic guitar adds complexity, adds frustration, slows down progress and is less or no fun at all.
Starting kids on an acoustic guitar at that young age makes absolutely no sense when you think about it in those terms and actually it is the worst possible way for them to start.
Why Starting Kids On An Electric Guitar Is The Best Way
So what should you do for kids who are just starting out to play the guitar? Start them on an electric guitar of course! Why? Good question.
An electric guitar will be the best way for kids to start with for several reasons:
1. Electric guitar bodies are much thinner so easier to handle and get used to
2. The strings are also thinner and easier to press down so overall easier to use for anyone but especially kids who are just learning the basics
3. Since it will be easier to learn to play they will able to progress past the basics much faster
4. This will also mean there will be less chance to get frustrated with the process
5. Because of the above it will be much more likely that they will play and practice on a regular basis
6. Which will then lead to more enjoyment and more progress
7. And all of the skills they learn on the electric guitar can later be transferred to the acoustic once they are ready for it
Here are a few more benefits about electric guitars that many people do not realize:
1. They are actually much quieter than acoustic guitars when played without an amplifier
2. You can control the volume with an amplifier too so it is not very difficult to keep the noise level down even when plugged in
3. On top of that headphones can be used when using an amplifier so you can totally eliminate the external noise that way
Acoustic guitars are louder than an unplugged electric guitar every single time and you can’t really lower their volume easily but no one seems to realize this!
The Best Type Of Electric Guitar To Start Kids On
What kind of guitar is the best one to buy for kids? There are many different brands available out there and discussing these is outside the scope of this article.
However, I will say that you need to make sure it is a junior version. These are smaller than the adult versions and will make it even easier to use and learn on.
The best way to approach buying a child a guitar is to find one that they actually like. If they like how it looks, feels and sounds they will be more likely to pick it up and play it. Make sure to take that into consideration.
I would also recommend buying an amplifier with the guitar but it is certainly not required. An amplifier tends to motivate them to play it even more because what kid does not like to make cool sounds and act like a rock star when plugged in!! A small practice amplifier is plenty and will do wonders.
Give your kids the best chance at succeeding when they learn to play the guitar. Stack the odds on their side. Get them an electric guitar and watch them soar!