Children's Instrument Starter Packs
Not sure if learning an instrument is right for your child? Or just need some help finding the right place to start?
We hope this look at a few common questions we get and curated lists of starter packs will help you find out what is right for you and your child.
Acoustic Guitar Or Electric Guitar - What's the difference?
So your child has most likely seen a video of Ed Sheeran playing guitar on TV and wants to pick up the guitar too. But what's the best way of easing a child into the instrument? What do you need to get started? We'll take a look at the best ways to help children of all ages and what you may need to help them on their way.
The first choice you (or your child) need to make is whether to start with an acoustic or electric guitar. Most guitar teachers will tell you that an acoustic guitar is a better starting point because they're slightly harder to play - which is good in the long term because it develops finger strength and good fretting habits.
There are two general types of acoustic guitar:
- Nylon String - The nylon strings on a nylon-strung guitar feel like fishing line. As such, they're quite forgiving on the fingers because they feel softer than a steel string. Nylon Strung guitars are generally used to play Classical and Spanish music which means they'll be ready to do their grades at school if they start learning classical. They're the easiest to learn on by far.
- Steel String - Steel string guitars are what you'd commonly hear in contemporary music. But as you might expect, the steel strings can be quite tough on the fingers! After enough practice, they'll develop calluses and that won't be a problem. but younger children might struggle with a steel-string acoustic.
Electric guitars are generally easier to play because they use thinner strings that offer less resistance when trying to push them down (even though they're steel strings). An electric guitar does require an amp and a cable, which means it'll be louder and more expensive than an acoustic guitar. You might want to give the neighbours some warning!
An electric guitar provides a lot more sound variation. However, introducing these concepts at an early stage can confuse the player. But if your child wants to blast some rock tones, then an electric is definitely the way to go.
You do need to consider the size of the guitar. This normally depends on the size of the child, but here's a rough guide to which size to buy:
Should I Buy a Starter Pack or Just The Guitar?
A starter pack is an easy, no-fuss solution. Starter packs include all the basic equipment and accessories. And there are plenty of options for different players at different price points. More expensive packs generally upgrade the quality of the guitar - better woods or better construction is normally what changes.
If you just buy the guitar on its own, you'll need to buy essential accessories to go along with the guitar. This can be quite costly which is why starter packs are a good option. But if you'd prefer to buy some individual accessories, here's what you'll need:
- Tuner - This helps you stay tune your guitar up before practising which is important so that your child's ears get used to the 'right' notes. If they play without tuning up then they'll learn bad habits. Why not read our Tuner guide for more info.
- Guitar picks or plectrums - Guitarists use plectrums to strum or pick specific notes if they don't play with their fingers.
- Strap - You need a strap to play standing up, but until your child is competent playing seated, this isn't essential.
- Amp - If your child chooses the electric guitar, an amp is a necessity in order for them to hear themselves. A small, practice amp is more than enough to practice with.
- Spare Strings - A spare set of strings are needed in case one string breaks on their current set. Normally, when one string breaks, guitarists replace the entire set so that there's uniformity across the guitar. Old strings sound different to new strings and so if you only change one string, it'll sound much 'brighter' than the rest. Strings aren't very expensive and it's worth keeping a spare set at all times.