Monday, March 9, 2009

Buying a Guitar 101

For nearly every parent whose child wants to learn how to play the guitar, there is a single, nagging question: which guitar should I buy for my kid? The answer is not that simple, but with a little forethought, you can be sure to get a guitar that works best for you.

The first thing you need to know is that there are two, main types of guitars: electrics and acoustics. From there, each category gets broken down further. The two, big types of acoustic guitars are steel-string and nylon-string (or "classical").

It might seem obvious, but each, different type of guitar is used to play a different type of style. Electric guitars are typically associated with rock 'n' roll and playing guitar solos; steel-string acoustics are associated primarily with singer-songwriters, country stars, and delta blues; and classical guitars are (obviously) associated with classical and flamenco guitarists, like Andres Segovia and Paco De Lucia.

Furthermore, generally speaking, different types of guitars are easier or more difficult to play. Solid-body electric guitars are by far the easiest to play, so if your daughter has never played guitar before or is young (and doesn't yet have a lot of strength in her fingers), then I'd say this is the way to go. Classical guitars are the next easiest to play, because the strings are softer and easier to press down.

And finally, guitars come is different sizes, too - just like most other stringed instruments. In general, if your child is over 11 years old, I'd suggest a full-size instrument. (And when you go to a store to pick out an instrument, don't worry too much about trying to figure out if a certain guitar is full-size or not. Most of the time, guitars that aren't full-size will say so on the tag.)

So before you purchase a guitar, you have to ask yourself three questions:

1. What style of music does my child want to play, and what will he enjoy?

2. Is he big enough to wield a full-size guitar?

3. What are my expectations for my child - what styles or music do I hope for him to learn?

More info coming in the future. If you have any questions, post a comment!

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