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Youngest age to start guitar and what kind of guitar?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Zodiak, Jan 18, 2018.

  1. Zodiak

    Zodiak TDPRI Member

    Jun 5, 2009
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Hello everyone!

    Just had a late-night "random" thought, maybe someone could share their experience.

    I have a 3-month-old son. It's time to start thinking about his future, isn't it? When can kids realistically start learning to play the guitar? How? And what kind? Are there "small" guitars for children or something of the sort? I've never seen one. I don't mean toys, I want him to start everything properly from day one. Bonamassa says he started when he was 4 - how? I can't imagine a child holding an electric guitar and actually doing productive learning... The piano seems to be one thing: keys are keys, and it's pretty easy to show a child that pressing a key produces a sound, whichever size the piano may be. With a guitar, even adults struggle at first physically.

    So yeah, you get the idea - any thoughts?


  2. adjason

    adjason Friend of Leo's

    Jan 9, 2010

  3. JL_LI

    JL_LI Tele-Afflicted

    May 20, 2017
    Long Island, NY
    I started on tuba in 4th grade and taught myself guitar in junior high school. My granddaughter is 6 and she wants to be a fighter pilot and then an astronaut. Last year she wanted to be a paleontologist. You can't force it and you shouldn't try. Your son will let you know in plenty of time if he wants music or something else. Just give him what he needs to be happy and to succeed. My wife and I put both of our kids through private universities of their choice in majors of their choice. They graduated debt free. We told them not to think about paying it back. Pay it forward. My oldest son thinks that his daughter is brilliant and she'll get a free ride at Stanford in engineering. I hope so but what if she decides she wants to go to Brown for fine arts? He'll not only pay for it, he'll have to support her for the rest of her life. You obviously love your son. Love him enough to let him chart his own course. He may want a guitar. He may want drums. He may want paints and brushes or a tool bag. There's no way you can know now. I wish you and your family the best. You're in for a hell of a ride. Enjoy it together.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
    Keymaster13 likes this.

  4. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    So many factors involved.
    If and when junior shows real interest and desire then no age is too young.
    Ukulele is great for small hands (5 or 6 year old).
    *Piano is also a great 'starter'. It's what I'm starting my 8 year old on.
    6 to 8 is a good, general starting age. I started at 8 (Sear's guitar and group lessons in the local park on Saturdays when there wasn't baseball). Banged around with basic chords and the blues scale for probably 5 years. Got a little more serious at about 13. Got super serious at 15.

    The main thing you need to do is cultivate the kid's interest in music.
    Play it all the time at the house and in the car. Keep him away from the TV, computer and phone as long as possible (difficult but not impossible - trust me, I know). In a nut shell, just be musical with him.
    Blue Bill and brookdalebill like this.

  5. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

    Feb 7, 2011
    Lewes De.
    Puberty...Bonamasa, Micheal Jackson, and Mozart 's music all share a common approach or view point that I don t like at all. Normally intense interest in music comes at the same time as interest in sex. Sure kids like music, but they shouldn t be playing it. Obviously my possibly unique opinion.

  6. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Holic

    Dec 22, 2010
    The biggest thing is to not make it a chore. Every person I’ve ever known who was forced to take lessons eventually either resented it or grew away from it down the line. As a parent your focus should be to exude a sense of joy, awe, and status to playing music. And then make the tools to play music as accessible as possible. Ask him if he wants to hang out with you when you play music. Ask if he wants to play along. At those early points it can be a spatula and a pot. Talk about music when he’s listening to it, even if it’s music you don’t like take an interest in it, figure out how to play it for him.

    At that point your son will either show interest or not. If he doesn’t, just let it go. Trying to force it will amplify his lack of interest AND damage your relationship. If he does show interest: 1) figure out how he learns best: videos, lessons from you, lessons from a teacher, books, apps, etc. And then anable that/those methods. 2) find an instrument he thinks is fun. Some of the best guitarists in the world started off on drums, for example. Robben Ford started off on sax. It may be guitar but it might not. He may eventually return to guitar or he might not.
    Clifford1 likes this.

  7. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jun 30, 2007
    Swanton Ohio
    Ukulele..I started when I was about 8 but could have started much sooner if one had been available to me..
    The little neighbor kids love to strum on the ukulele..One is barely 3 years old..

  8. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Holic

    Jun 25, 2016
    I would go with singing first. Violin is taught to the very young and the small instruments are available. Violin lessons for the very young are common.

  9. CJM3309

    CJM3309 Tele-Meister

    Mar 22, 2009
    My son is 5 and has been into guitars since about 3. I just have them around and expose him to them. It is nothing that is forced on him. For some reason he went straight to bass. He LOVES It! He just thumps along on open strings and sort of follows the beat. He just started to be able to hold down a note on it. I got him a 3/4 size Ibanez bass, which is nice by the way, and he can't get enough. He enjoys a fuzz with my Q-Tron, haha. Here is is trying my bass. 20170922_181453.jpg
    Clifford1 likes this.

  10. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Poster Extraordinaire

    Oct 22, 2006
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Could you elaborate on that? You don't get pregnant from playing music.

  11. Clifford1

    Clifford1 TDPRI Member

    Nov 26, 2017
    If there are guitars in the house eventually the kiddo will show some interest. My younger one loves music and already wants to play a ‘Tar as he calls it. We will see if that lasts until he is old enough to play one. I will probably get him a ukulele at age 3 or so as a toy if nothing else. The older boy convinced me to get a drum set he rarely uses. I think part of the learning process is letting them try things and realize they don’t like them.

  12. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 15, 2014

  13. LP26

    LP26 Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

    Nov 5, 2017
    Earth (Part-Time)
    My grandson started formal classical guitar studies at age 5. He's now 7 and quite accomplished.
    His technique is sound and he's learned how to read music.
    Most importantly, he loves to play.
    We just bought him his second guitar as he's physically outgrown the first.

    If he persists I'll go back to Spain, where I lived for several years, and buy him a proper full-sized instrument from one of several master luthiers in Madrid, Saville, or Granada.
    I'm rapidly approaching 70 so that trip presupposes I live that long!!!
    Clifford1 likes this.

  14. TeleTucson

    TeleTucson Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    Aug 6, 2016
    Tucson, AZ

  15. Dennyf

    Dennyf Tele-Holic

    Feb 9, 2011
    Charlotte, NC
    As a guitar teacher, I used to get this question from parents and grandparents all the time: "At what age can a kid start guitar?" And I always said, "Depends on the kid."

    Number one requirement: interest.
    Number two: reasonable kinesthesia and ergonomics.

    Suggestions of piano, or other keyboard instruments, to foster an interest in music are great, because they don't require "technique" just to get a good sound out of 'em. Push the key, out comes a good tone.

    Ukuleles are a great intro to fretted stringed instruments, and if the real intent is to use it as an introduction to guitar, then I'd suggest replacing the 4th string with one that can be tuned an octave lower. Make that G4 a G3, and the intervals are such that it's just like playing on the D-G-B-E on the guitar from a fingering and visual standpoint. Makes the transition to guitar seem a little more logical too. Of course, everything's transposed (e.g. a guitar "D" chord fingering is a "G" on a uke), but the shapes and the muscle memory can just carry over.

  16. songtalk

    songtalk Friend of Leo's

    Lumping Bonamassa in with Michael Jackson and Mozart is funny.

    Bonamassa is a clown.

    MJ and Mozart are the sound of the soul of the human species.

    Don't get em all mixed up like that.


  17. BrightonRT

    BrightonRT TDPRI Member

    Mar 17, 2015
    Brighton, MI
    My son is 5 and we just expose him to music everywhere. I have it on in the car around the house and he’ll pick up whatever he wants. We’re letting it grow naturally. He specifically requests to listen to things. I have been asked to play the Frozen soundtrack, The Cars Soundtrack (underrate) and not necessarily showtunes, Blue on Black by KWS, and the other night I caught him singing It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Want To Rock and Roll) under his breath while he was coloring. He has a drum set at my in laws that he bangs on, I found a First Act electric guitar at a mom 2 mom sale, cleaned it up and keep it tuned to open E so he can sit and just strum it if he wants. If he asks questions I will answer them but we’re letting him decide if he wants to pursue it.
    Clifford1 likes this.

  18. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Holic

    Jun 25, 2016

  19. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    Have a guitar of yours that is more or less accessible in a stand, a beater you don't care if it gets more damage, but that you play. Let them try it when supervised. You can't force them to do it (well some parents try to live their kids sports careers thinking they'll get to pro level). The kids will discover it if that is what they want.

    Get a used Fender Mini or Washburn had some similar sized guitars (basically capo your guitar at the 2nd or 3rd fret and that's what these guitars play like) 22 inch scale or so for a couple of years after they did the purple Disney Hannah Montana electric Tele. Start with electric as it's easier to begin.

    If you want to see how young to play, search youtube for the Korean kids playing classical guitars. They can't be more than four years old.


  20. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 21, 2012
    Okay, I just can't resist showing off my grand daughter (that Squier mini is now in the hands of the third generation in our family): IMG_0710.JPG

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