Guitar for 7 year old

Guitar for 7 year old

I have a 7 year old who want to learn guitar. I’ll have a go teaching him as I can play and he is very patient, but I was 14 when I started so I’m not sure what the best approach is. Would you recommend nylon or steel strings and would it be easier to start with melodies or chords first? I’m pretty sure that a 1/2 Scale guitar would suit him best.

Thanks,
Barra

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Re: Guitar for 7 year old

Nylon without a doubt, bass lines and or chords at first. I started at 9 . Make it fun.

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

If you google "1/2 size nylon string guitar" you’ll find several candidates. That’s what I’d go with. Include a budget for a good setup in case the retailer doesn’t do setups, because even nylon strings can be frustrating if the action is too high.

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

Good advice, above. Nothing else needs to be said.

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Re: Guitar for 7 year old

Truly said. The set-up is at least as important as the instrument choice. Get to know a good luthier. Of course you can always discourage a budding guitar player by buying cheap with a poor set-up.

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

Get a baritone ukulele: four nylon strings tuned like ‘top four’ of standard guitar- DGBE. One normally starts guitar with simple four string chords and this provides this. Can move to full six strings later (if required!). And, also, starting on a treble/ concert/ tenor uke (GCEA) may suit some young hands.
Good luck with your project.

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

I second Conical bore’s advice. I elected to have guitar lessons aged 9 (after rejecting the offer of violin lessons - I didn’t see the point in only playing one note at a time). I was using a 3/4-size guitar (the right size for me at the time) that my father had got from a work colleague. The trouble was, it was a steel-string guitar and, for my tender fingers, the pain outweighed the gain, so to speak. Consequently, I only persisted for a few months. I remembered enough of what I had learned to pick up the guitar again fairly easily in my mid-teens, but I might well not have given up in the first place, had I had the relative comfort of nylon strings.

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

Yhaal House: "Get a baritone ukulele"

Nothing against the baritone ukulele - it’s a fine instrument in its own right. But I can’t see any real advantage to using it as a step-up to the guitar. A child beginning the guitar may start off with 4-string chords but would almost certainly progress to full chords within a year - maybe even a couple of weeks, depending on how quick a learner they are, how big their hands are etc.

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

CMO: Is one assuming, ‘six is better than four’?!

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The op is asking about guitar, not uke!! Admittedly i play ukes these days as they are easier to travel with and the baritone, tuned as a tenor guitar always gets a good reception ! But still ….

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

" Is one assuming, ‘six is better than four’?!"

Well, it gives you the choice of whether or not to play on either four or six strings.
I remember an early guitar tutor book which showed you easy chords on the top four strings but I’m sure he’ll progress further very quickly.

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

"CMO: Is one assuming, ‘six is better than four’?!"

Not better, just more. That’s not an un unreasonable assumption, is it?

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

Barra, what kind of music is your son interested in?

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

Baby Taylor - it’s a well made 3/4 size guitar. The string tension is pretty low on this guitar so it isn’t very hard on the fingers. Both of my kids started on a Baby Taylor at that age, my daughter still has it as it’s an enjoyable guitar to play. My son quickly moved on to a full scale guitar as he has big muscular hands.

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

1/2 scale might be a bit too small?

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

I’d be very surprised if a seven-year-old could be playing full chords after a couple of weeks. Certainly not G and C.

I used to start kids that age off by playing a melody on open strings. So, for example:
G2G2G4|B2B2G4|G4G4|D2D2G4|
(Bread and jam, bread and jam, I like bread and jam.)
Then work on a two-chord song (I & V7) in C using one finger shapes on the top three (G, B and E) strings. One Man Went to Mow or Katie Bairdie or such like.

Frère Jacques starting on the open D string was often the first melody with fretted notes I taught.
For "bigger" chords I would probably have gone next for a D and A7 song (which could be FJ as above).

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It all depends on the size of the child rather than age. 1/2 size is recommended for kids 3’6" to 4’4" tall, 3/4 for 4’4" upwards. If the child in question is 4’4" (or nearly there) a Baby Taylor would be a good choice, they are reasonably good guitars. I think most 1/2 and a lot of 3/4 guitars on the market are just plywood toys. Unless he specifically wants to play classical guitar I would go for a steel string, even though they are a little bit harder on the fingers to begin with. Nylon strung guitars have a wider neck which makes chording difficult for small hands.

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

Good luck in your efforts Barra.
I taught guitar for a while. I don’t think I had a pupil under the age of 12 last more than 2 months. The rate of progress was usually glacial. I think peer encouragement is the most effective motivator.

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Teaching youngsters is slow, and your teaching has to be slow to match, but it can be rewarding. The advantage of teaching youngsters is that as long as you make a little progress each week they get a sense of achievement from that, so you can get them to master each stage before moving on to the next. Adults want instant gratification, and always want to skip over the tricky bits of good technique and go on to attempting stuff they aren’t ready for.

In classical violin pedagogy the pupil spends the first 3-4 weeks only playing open strings. Kids come with no expectations and are happy to do that. Adults come expecting to be able to play The Butterfly by the end of the first lesson. When they come back the second week, instead of practicing holding the bow the way you’ve shown them you find they’ve decided to ignore all that because it is difficult, and instead have developed a death grip and spent the week trying to play The Butterfly.

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

Thanks for your replies! He is four foot exactly so I think the 1/2 is best for him. He’s fierce good in school and finds homework very easy but I want to teach him that some things in life require practice if you want to be good at them. He can get frustrated if something isn’t straightforward but I’ll keep it fun. He likes metal music the most but he’s no stranger to trad.

I went to our local guitar shop here in the midlands and they had a Koda 3/4 but it was too big and had steel strings. Is there anywhere else where I could bring him that would also set up the guitar? I live in Laois / Offaly.

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Re: Guitar for 7 year old

Barra , get a solid top online 200ish after that any luthier can set it up ok if need be
Or a cheaper beginners for 70 ish loads on ebay. Spanish make best . Most guitar shops can set it up
To make it fun what i do is for eg teach a bass line then back this on your guitar. Music making is a buzz . Or teach a 2 chord pattern and solo over it.

Re: Guitar for 7 year old

Barra. I would recommend a music book for your son…..Mel Bays plectrum guitar method book 1…..it brings the student at a nice pace into playing melody and chords. If his interest continues with trad then the plectrum method is the best choice. Best of luck

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Although im primarily a plectrum player i would dispute that its better. Finger style playing opens up the neck and is the equivalent of 4 (or5) picks at the same time! Anything that can be done with a pick can be done with 2 (walking) fingers plus all the other advantages of fingerstyle mean its well worth the effort to master that approach.
The pick is louder and its easier to play all the triplets etc, but better ….. the pick has its limits just as fingerpicking has its limits.
Regarding music, if hes into metal , just as my son is , then plectrum it is !! Encourage the direction he wishes to take , not the direction you wish he would take!!

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I would guess that at least 19 out of every 20 kids under ten years of age that I taught started out on nylon strings. Steel strings will eat a kid’s soft fingers in no time and nylon strings, once settled, keep there tuning better and last longer. It’s also much easier to get a 1/2 or 3/4 size nylon string than steel string and they are not all toys.
I always let kids choose whether they used their thumb or a pick to start. The thumbs usually made better progress initially. I never bothered too much with demanding this or that technique at the start - it’s about making sounds and music and being fun, as well as learning.

Mark M, my grandson (8 year old) has been learning "violin". He’s been playing for more than six months and is only now about to put fingers on the strings.

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Mark K you are funny. The "death grip", oh dear. I started fiddle at an advanced age and what with arthritic fingers I haven’t got to grips with holding the bow properly. This means my playing tends to be smudgy (not holding bow firmly or correctly!). Still now that I have no piano I am in fact getting a whole lot better. When I smudge while playing a Shetland tune I can pretend it is "ringing strings", ha.

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As regards size, look at the video of the 3 yr olds…!! correct positioning of the hand and thumb will make a huge difference in that regard . Ie thumb positioned in the middle of the neck not poking out the top!! Although i have seen players on electrics use the thumb for the bottom string! in general I would advise maximizing the reach and adaptability of the hand.

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My grandson, aged 8, started to learn guitar at a group class after school during this last year. My son, who plays guitar himself, chose/bought the guitar for him, a smaller size Spanish type with nylon strings. As he is left-handed, the tutor re-strung the guitar as for a left-handed player. I tried to help my grandson a bit between lessons but the left-handed bit was tricky: I soon found that my right hand did have the same capacity to form chord shapes as my right, even using mirrors! Anyway, he has not lasted, but will probably try again when a bit older, as allan21 suggested might be more appropriate.
He has, in the meantime, started on piano, and seems to be doing better there, although his 5-year-old sister is rapidly catching up! The thing that stands out with both of them is how the early stage involves learning how to use each digit independently of the others, a process perhaps we older folk have forgotten having to master ourselves.