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View Full Version : Help me pick a guitar for a 7 year old.


lannyhall
02-19-2007, 09:32 AM
I have been asked to help pick a guitar for a child. He is 7 1/2. Do any of you have experience with that task, and if so, what instrument would you recommend?

wil
02-19-2007, 10:52 AM
I bought a 1/2 scale nylon string acoustic for my daughter when she was 5. The plus was that she didn't have to press on the strings that hard to fret a note. The negative is that the wider neck of a classical guitar was too much of a stretch for her little fingers to get to the bass strings easily. Another thing is that the width of the body made her prefer to play it like a lap steel sometimes.
Unless the guitar is a surprise gift, I would have the kid try a 1/2 scale steel string acoustic first, then a 1/2 scale classical if the steel strings hurt his/her fingers. I have heard from several people that the 1/2 scale electrics are pretty poor, no matter who makes them. However, I have no personal experience with 1/2 scale electrics. Hope this helps.

Wil

kat
02-19-2007, 11:27 AM
For a 7 year old I'd try a 3/4 size before trying a 1/2. It all depends on the size of the kid, obviously. Take the kid shopping and see what fits him, then make sure it's actually playable (decent action and intonation). By the time he's 9 or 10 he'll be able to move up to a full size electric, so you're not looking for something he'll play for a long time, you just want something that's comfortable enough that he'll actually like playing it. I've seen really keen kids give up because their guitar was unplayable.

FredW
02-19-2007, 11:47 AM
I just bought my 7 yr old a Squier Mini strat and set it up with 8's. He was complaining that it hurt his fingers with the 9's that came on it. It actually is a pretty nice guitar. I like the Squier a little better than the Epiphone pee-wee. Now if I could just get him to focus a little more so I can teach him LOL. I also got a G-DEC. It has a "teacher" input and the rhythm tracks are very helpful as well. We have been playing together about 3 times a week and he is starting to get the hang of fretting notes. I am patient with him, as frustating as that can be, and try not to push him too hard. I just want him to have fun at this point. Good Luck

Robal
02-19-2007, 12:59 PM
Is he going to play classical nylon string, acoustic steel string, or electric guitar? Or does he know? Is he going to take lessons (which will probalby dictate the guitar type) or just play around with it for fun and to see if he has interest? My son started playing at age 6 using a small scale classical nylon string (Alhambra) with a good teacher. He got the bug. He's 14 now and moved up to a full size classical (still taking lessons) and plays electric all the time. He has had paying gigs performing his classical guitar solo. I think that picking a comfortable, playable guitar plus a good teacher for motivation is a route to take that worked very well for us. Incidentally, I always expected that he would want to play rock on an electric much more than classical; the classical guitar path was to give him a solid grounding in good technique, complex chord voicings, sight reading, etc. I don't play classical, so I work with him on the electric guitar stuff; it's a blast playing together.

Madsman
02-19-2007, 01:07 PM
As a guitar teacher, I always prefer that kids just get put on a full size guitar, if their arms can reach the open position while sitting in standard positions. It doesn't matter if they can reach far enough to play a lot of open chords... usually they're not going to be playing open chords very soon, at that age. The 5-7 year old range seems to me to do best with listen and play exercises that are 1 note at a time, and with basic sight reading. The little buggers will grow quickly anyway. Unless the child is very, very small, I would just go with a strat clone and a Roland Cube 15 or something like that. They'll learn to stretch. Think about it... some kids play bass at that age. If they can make that stretch...

BTW, another "as a guitar teacher" (not directed at the original poster, who may, himself already know all of this...) piece of advice would be NOT to put your kid into lessons until either A). you've expended what you're able to teach him/her, or B). they exhibit a real interest in practicing and ask about lessons. The kids that end up in lessons because their parents put them in, generally don't do exceptionally well. A parent is always a better teacher at that age, IMO. If you're uncomfortable with teaching, take some lessons yourself, and focus them on "I am taking lessons so that I can learn what to work on with my child." ANY guitar instructor would be thrilled to work with you on that subject.

straightblues
02-19-2007, 01:20 PM
I have three kids I am adopting. 3, 7 & 8. The first thing I did when I got them last year was buy them guitars so they would stay away from mine. I went to the swap meet and bought a beat up nylon string guitar and an electric with a full sized neck and a mini body. I set up the guitar in open tuning and they bang away. With open tuning at least it sounds musical. Anyway, I tried to give them lessons but they aren't interested yet. The best player is the 3 year old. I keep trying to give lessons. The 7 year old says he is ready to start serious, we will see. So my advice would to be buy something cheap, I paid $25 each used at the swap meet., because whatever you buy will likely get beat up.

morlll
02-19-2007, 01:29 PM
At 7 my daughter got a 3/4 classical made by Godin. It was a nice guitar.

I resold it when she was bigger and almost got back all I spent on it.

lannyhall
02-22-2007, 08:29 PM
I appreciate the input. I tried a couple of the 3/4 sized electrics (Squire Mini Strat and a Kramer something) and was very disappointed. I couldn't keep them in tune. I decided a Epi Jr (full scale, but with a small body) might work. It played 'better' but was still a little hard to keep in tune.

I asked my luthier if replacement tuning keys would help much, and he recommenced that I consider the Baby Taylor. I have an 814CE that I like. From reading up on the Baby Taylors, that seems like it might be a pretty good alternative. Have any of you had any experience with them?

Nuclearfishin
02-22-2007, 08:46 PM
I appreciate the input. I tried a couple of the 3/4 sized electrics (Squire Mini Strat and a Kramer something) and was very disappointed. I couldn't keep them in tune. I decided a Epi Jr (full scale, but with a small body) might work. It played 'better' but was still a little hard to keep in tune.

I asked my luthier if replacement tuning keys would help much, and he recommenced that I consider the Baby Taylor. I have an 814CE that I like. From reading up on the Baby Taylors, that seems like it might be a pretty good alternative. Have any of you had any experience with them?

Baby Taylor's are great guitars, you can't go wrong with them. If you decide on something different, go with a 3/4 size with nylon strings. I've been teaching for many years and if you don't pick a guitar that fits a child, they will soon get discourged and quit. I don't think any 7 year is going to fit a full size guitar, however I have no problem playing a 3/4 size, and a child certainly won't. Getting them a full size guitar before they're ready is just setting them up for failure IMHO.

Also, no offense to the other parents here, but if you think you need lessons to qualify to teach your child, just bite the bullet and pay a teacher. There's a big difference between being a good player, and being a good teacher. If you want your child to learn properly find a good teacher. If he's not ready to learn yet, wait until he is. If you doubt what I say, watch the dvd "Aaron Shearer: A Life with the Guitar."

Good Luck!

JE

PFCG
02-22-2007, 09:34 PM
dude get him a fender relic from the CS!

Mustake
02-22-2007, 10:28 PM
I went through the same stuff with the mini's for my kids. I ended up with Washburn Maverick Series BTM. Very nice guitar for what it is. I had the same tuning problems with all the other mini's I bought. The Washburn is a very stable little guitar. I actually play it all the time when I'm sitting on the couch watching TV :)

I don't know if they still make it, but I've been very happy with it.

EDIT: There's two on ebay, these are the same but have a different headstock than mine. http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?sofocus=bs&sbrftog=1&catref=C6&from=R10&submitsearch=Search&satitle=washburn+mini&sacat=619%26catref%3DC6&sargn=-1%26saslc%3D2&sadis=200&fpos=77573&ftrt=1&ftrv=1&saprclo=&saprchi=&fsop=1%26fsoo%3D1&coaction=compare&copagenum=1&coentrypage=search&fgtp=

IanS
02-22-2007, 11:34 PM
I went looking for smaller body guitars without the wider fretboard, and without the 'pain' of steel E/A bass strings. I stumbled upon some guitars made by a Czech company named Strunal. I was told they are a well-respected maker of violins, but I don't know if thats accurate.

The Strunal's that I saw were very well made, played nicely and were great for beginners because they had nylon bass strings, steel treble strings and a narrow standard steel-string fretboard.They come in a selection of smaller sizes that you can see here: http://www.centsiblesounds.com/strunal_guitars.htm

My 7 year old tried the 1/2 size and it was plenty small enough (I was inclined to go with the 3/4 for him). I cannot imagine what the 1/4 size is for.I cannot tell for sure, but it looks like that model 4855 is the one with the nylon bass strings. Perhaps you could contact the folks at that website and ask them.

Janglin_Jack
02-23-2007, 12:50 AM
Get him one he wants. If he wants a purple Strat, get one. Wants an SG, get one. Obviously, get one in the right price range, as this may not be the guitar he wants forever. Get one that he wants to play to encourage him. (Smaller scale can be helpful at this age).

Nothing is worse than wanting a Gibson SG to be like Angus and getting a Yamaha acoustic. :eek:

Jack