Ok, so you want to learn how to play the guitar, or you want your kids to learn how to play. The problem is you don’t own a guitar, so you will need to buy one. The following will tell you what to look for in a good quality guitar without breaking the bank.
So how do you buy a guitar? Well there’s a right way and a wrong way. The wrong way is to just buy the first guitar you see when you’re inexperienced and don’t know what to look for. Lets say you’re buying a guitar for your 5 year old son because you want him to become a rock star; Right? Good luck with that!
If you go and buy a 5 year old kid a full-sized guitar it would be the same as giving him a String Bass or an Upright Bass that stands about 6′ high. In other words, he /she would need a chair in order to play it. Even a full-sized guitar would dwarf him, as he is still developing. A better choice would be a concert size or ½ size guitar these small guitars are specially made for kids in the 3-6 year old range. For the 6-10 year olds, a ¾ size guitar would be appropriate. Above 10 years of age, go with the full size guitar. These are just some guidelines. There are a lot of other factors to consider.
Will your 4 or 5 year old son or daughter even want to play the guitar? Remember there are a lot of other activities going on in their lives, such as playing sports, playing with friends, and video games etc. Will they still want to play the guitar once their finger tips start to hurt from pushing down the steel strings on the guitar fret board? This is one of the major reasons why children and beginner guitarists quit playing so soon. It’s a major guitar complaint…”My Fingers Hurt!” This is probably the number #1 complaint in the top 10 list of reasons for quitting the guitar soon after starting. But fear not, as there are ways around this problem.
Generally, when a beginner is learning there is always going to be a certain amount of finger discomfort no matter what type of guitar you buy. It’s just the nature of the beast.
A good work around for this problem is to buy a classical guitar. The strings are made of nylon, and the tension on the strings is less than the tension typical of steel strings acoustic guitars. Less tension and softer strings equals less pain on the fingers.
The down side of course is kids tend to think classical guitars aren’t as cool as an electric. However, manufacturers are making very cool cutaway nylon acoustics. These guitars have part of the body “cut away” so that you can easily play higher up the neck. Other guitar models come with built-in pick-ups, and equalizers. How cool is that? Another advantage is they also come in ½ sizes thereby solving the sore finger problem.
You may have a young daughter who wants to learn guitar, but doesn’t like the look or style of all the macho male electric guitars out there. Fret not, as there is a guitar manufacturing Co. Called “Daisy Guitars.” They specialize in making guitars specifically for the female gender. They have a wide array of shades more subtle colours, and body shapes in their guitar selection. Check them out!
Good action on a guitar means it plays real easy and nice. The strings are nice and low above the frets and there is no string buzz anywhere along the neck when you press the strings down. A cheap guitar won’t stay in tune, as the result of low quality tuning pegs that will be difficult to turn. The strings may be set so high above the fret board that you just about have to stand on them to play it. Obviously this isn’t what we want.
A Cautionary Word:
If you buy a solid body electric guitar you have to buy a guitar amplifier, as you won’t be able to hear it very well without amplification. Guitar companies such as Fender and Peavey package beginner electric guitars and amplifiers together, so you don’t have to decide what amp goes with the guitar you purchased, as they do it for you.
If you purchase a hollow body acoustic guitar, you’ll be able to hear it, but if you want to amplify it, you will need to buy a guitar amplifier and external pick-up, that fits your acoustic guitar.
Keep in mind that there are many quality guitar manufacturers such as, Paul Reed Smith, Gibson, Fender, Martin, etc. However, the real high quality guitars can cost big bucks.
The more reasonable lower end guitar brands like Yamaha, Jackson, Cort, Seagull, and Simon Patrick, etc. have models targeted toward beginners and those budget conscious guitar shoppers. Professional music stores will absolutely amaze you with the variety of choice and selection they will have on the floor for you to try. The sales people tend to be knowledgeable and if not too busy – helpful.
The choice is up to you. Do you want to have your head blown off by a kid practising with an electric guitar and amp? (Trust me on this…I guarantee the kid will want to see how loud the amplifier can go, so plan on a special sound proof room, or get a real good pair of ear plugs.) The alternative is to get him/her a classical guitar. It’s your decision.
Finally, if music stores seem a little intimidating, you can always buy guitars on-line.
Most of the large reputable guitar companies already mentioned in the article sell guitars on the internet. It’s worth checking out.
If you are not an expert in this field, make sure you bring along a guitar playing musician friend who knows about guitars. Don’t know any guitar musicians? Ask around and find out where the reputable guitar stores are. The experts there will be able to help you with all your concerns, answer any questions you may have, and put the right instrument in your hands, or your child’s hands. Happy Guitar Shopping!