If you thought shopping for paint was hard enough try shopping for an electric guitar! With so many different shapes, sizes and brands to choose from, not to mention accessories such as amps, leads and effects it can be quite overwhelming when you are scrolling through Google.
Well, the good news is you have come to the right place. Below I have answered the most common questions I get from parents and given you all you need to know to confidently strut into your local music shop or confidently click the ‘buy now’ button on your computer.
So lets dive in…..
There is a myth that when first learning to play the guitar you should start on an acoustic guitar. It is indeed true that a classical acoustic guitar is a good choice for younger children, as half the strings are made from plastic which makes them more forgiving for little fingers.
For older students and students who have toughened the tips of their fingers an electric guitar can be a great addition to the practice room. An electric guitar can help motivate your child to practice, allow them to convincingly play different musical styles e.g. Rock and Metal and also rapidly increase their level of coolness.
So, in summary it is never to early to go electric but with younger children it is a good idea to strengthen and toughen fingers on a nylon strung acoustic first before embarking on the cheese wireesque strings of an electric.
An easy way to make practice hard for your child is to buy the wrong size guitar. I have seen children struggle before and parents not realise that it was the size of the guitar that was the problem and not the attitude of their child.
Electric guitars generally come in three different sizes; 1/2, 3/4 and full size. Below I have given a rough guide to the right size of guitar for your child’s age;
1/2 size = 5 – 7 years old
3/4 size = 7 – 9 years old
Full size = 9+ years old
This is only a guide, the best thing to do is try your child with the different guitar sizes and find the best fit, Goldilocks style.
The downside to buying an electric guitar when compared to an acoustic guitar is that you are going to need to buy more accessories. To help not to break the bank I have reduced the list to three essentials; an amplifier, a lead and headphones.
The reason an acoustic guitar has a large hollow body is because it acts like a built in speaker. An electric guitar in comparison does not have a hollow body so doesn’t have a built in speaker, so you will need to buy one.
There are four different types of guitar amplifiers; solid-state, tube, modelling and hybrid. As a beginner electric guitarist we are going to take a closer look at the two most common types of amplifier a beginner is likely to come across; solid-state and modelling.
Solid-state amps are the most common beginner guitar amp and are normally included in beginner guitar packages. They tend to be quite basic in function but will suit a beginner guitarist’s needs. A modelling amp uses a computer to create it’s sound and normally includes loads of effects and different amp types making them very versatile, giving the user access to different sounds and styles of music.
Now that we have discussed the two most common types of beginner amplifiers the next thing to talk about is power. The power of an amplifier is measured in watts and unless your child will be playing on stage anytime soon you will need an amp between 10 to 30 watts. An amp of this size will be perfect for bedroom practice.
Once you have a guitar amplifier the next thing you will need is a lead to connect your guitar to the amplifier. When searching for a lead don’t buy anything under £10, as the old saying goes if you buy cheap you buy twice.
Aim to get a good quality lead by Planet Waves, Fender, Mogami or Spectraflex, to name but a few.
Unless you like watching your favorite TV shows with guitar background music investing in a set of earphones will not only help your child focus when practicing but also save your sanity and everybody else in the house.
So now you know it is the right time to go electric, you know what size to get and what accessories you need. Well now is the time to open that wallet and get buying.
Below are my recommendations based on what has worked for students or what I have personally used.
I hope this article has helped to demystify the world of electric guitars and answered a few of your questions, if not just drop your question in the comments below and I will be happy to help.
Happy guitar shopping!