If your child wants to start learning to play the guitar you have to decide between purchasing them an electric or acoustic guitar. Which type of guitar is a better fit for your child depends on several factors, which I will cover here briefly. Most importantly, you want to pick the type of guitar that your child is most interested in playing, otherwise the guitar will turn into a room decoration rather than a cherished and well used musical instrument.
The electric guitar is generally easier to play than an acoustic guitar because of the lighter gauge strings it uses. I’ve also found that the action (how close the strings are to the fret-board) is usually lower which combined with the lighter strings makes an electric guitar very smooth and easy to play. If your child is younger and doesn’t have the hand strength that a teenager might have, an electric guitar might be a better option. Acoustic guitars use heavier gauge strings which are harder to press down and can cause a lot of discomfort for younger players. If you decide to go with an electric guitar you will also need to purchase an amplifier and ¼ cable for the guitar. A simple solid state practice amp will work just fine. A lot of practice amps these days come with an input for headphones, metronome, and different amp models giving you a huge range of tones to choose from. Just because it’s an electric guitar doesn’t mean you can’t get clean, acoustic style tones out of the instrument. Any practice amp you buy will have a clean tone setting which you should definitely make use of. One downside to learning the electric guitar before acoustic is that some beginners will play using a lot of fuzz/distortion effects which then can cover up the mistakes they are making.
As I mentioned previously, an acoustic guitar is generally more difficult to play for a beginner than an electric guitar due to the heavier gauge strings it uses. There are some things you can to do mitigate this problem, such as using lighter gauge strings and taking the guitar to a professional shop to be set up to ensure that the guitar’s action is set to an appropriate level. There are also ¾ size beginner acoustic guitars with thinner necks and lighter gauge strings that are designed with younger players in mind. One benefit to acoustic guitars is that if you start with an acoustic guitar, if/when you decide to play the electric guitar you will find it quite easy to play in comparison. Another benefit is that you don’t need a guitar amp, so you can play it anytime anywhere. Of course some people simply prefer the tone of acoustic guitars over electric guitars, which is a perfectly valid reason to choose one over the other.
Overall, I believe that the choice between an electric or acoustic guitar should come down to which guitar the beginner is most interested in playing so that they stick with learning the instrument. It’s also important to consider the physical differences between the instruments and whether the beginner has the hand strength to play the heavier gauge acoustic strings. If you are still unsure on which type of guitar is most appropriate for your child, the instructors at Zera Music Company are happy to help guide you in the right direction and provide personalized lessons tailored to each child’s age and musical goals.