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What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? #2937003 07/10/18 12:19 AM
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I have been teaching to play the guitar for about 10 years. My students are from age 3.5 to adults. Although age 3.5 sounds very young, if a parent is involved in lessons and practices, it is possible for them to learn to play the guitar. Of course, his/her progress is much slower comparing to teens and adults. For example, although teens can learn to play a simple tune, like Twinkle, with one or two lessons, for young children it may take a half year. And kids are even not sure if they really like guitar at that point. But I see wonderful results as they grow. Most of them ended up being able to read and learn music by themselves at the age of 8 or 9.

Meanwhile, teens or adults take lessons because they love guitar and like to play music on guitar. They can learn simple tunes much quicker. In fact, I took guitar lessons when I was 13, and it was right timing for me. Nobody supported nor encouraged me to play the guitar, but I did it. I know that I made the choice.

I wanted to ask you guys' opinion about the ideal age to start learning the guitar. My answer, at this moment, is age 3.5, if his/her parents are supportive.


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Kenji13] #2937035 07/10/18 08:14 AM
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Wouldn't WHO it is be a major factor? Sure, some(or a few) might be ready at that age, and then maybe more wouldn't get anywhere until much older. Like anything else, I suppose. For example...

My older daughter started to read by 5.5 or so. Her younger sister(by 3 years) started picking it up at 4. Most of their friends never started until the 1st grade, and THEN didn't fully get the hang right off.

I don't think you can arbitrarily choose a certain age to start ANY kind of learning. For ANYTHING.
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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Kenji13] #2937042 07/10/18 09:24 AM
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I'd also imagine that it would vary widely depending on the individual, as well as their family, background, etc. I don't know as there would be an "ideal age".

I wish I had started earlier; there was a time when I was about nine or ten years old that I got my hands on a cheap acoustic guitar, that had such absolutely horrible action and intonation that it morbidly discouraged me from trying! I didn't return to the guitar until I was around fourteen years old, seemingly a very long gap in-between at that age!


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Kenji13] #2937053 07/10/18 10:22 AM
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I believe Guthrie Govan started at that age. He stuck with it, and the results speak for themselves. I actually started on the piano as soon as I had one in front of me, which was around age 10. I took lessons a few years later but, shortly thereafter the guitar cast its infamous spell.


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: skipclone 1] #2937059 07/10/18 10:47 AM
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I started on Guitar around age 9, but probably didn't start seriously approaching the Guitar as an Instrument until my late teens? Up to a point, I was just sort of learning songs, and strumming chords.

I'd say as early as possible, IF there's a genuine interest. Like many high-school kids, I was burdened with the Clarinet as my (ostensible) Band Instrument. As a 14-year-old, I hated it, as an adult, I feel bad that my parents wasted any money at all on the bloody thing, because I never learned even to pull a simple tune out of it? Somewhere, there is probably some young person who feels the same way about the Guitar that I did about the Clarinet: "Why would I want to play that thing? That's what my grandfather's Music sounds like!"


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Winston Psmith] #2937080 07/10/18 11:48 AM
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Like you Brother Winston, I too got straddled with a clarinet from 4th through the 8th grade. I gave it up when I started High School and went to guitar and piano which I taught myself by ear. The only tune I picked out on the clarinet (and my mom would make me play anytime friends came to play music) was Stranger on the Shore...


Thinking back on it I think 4th grade age 9 is probably the best age to start someone out on any instrument. My two grandsons have to wait until 5th grade. One of them is playing sax and the other wants to play trumpet. My granddaughter started playing violin at 4 or 5 years old by taking private lessons. She's doing real well and can already start to read music. That's probably why I think 9 is a good age. That's when I got interested in playing an instrument. It just wasn't a clarinet LOL! cool


Take care, Larryz
Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Larryz] #2937083 07/10/18 11:56 AM
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I started with Sax in school band around 9 or 10 but because of my family have had a band in the 40's and 50's learned many songs playing at my grandmothers house. In 10th grade about age 14 I quit band and took up guitar. I sometimes wish I had kept up playing sax a little. I think learning music needs to start young maybe 7 or 8 with some exposure to reading it and understanding basic theory. Guitar can come later.

Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: jimmac] #2937137 07/10/18 03:20 PM
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When they want to, not when someone else wants them to. I started Ukulele at 4 guitar at 6. Probably was about 8 before I started take seriously and actually learn to play.

Last edited by surfergirl; 07/10/18 04:49 PM.

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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: surfergirl] #2937152 07/10/18 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted By: surfergirl
When they want to, not when someone else wants them to. I started Ukulele at 4 guitar at 6. Probably was about 8 before I stated take seriously and actually learn to play.


Indeed!


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Caevan O'Shite] #2937164 07/10/18 04:52 PM
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In all honesty, when I was teaching full time, I taught all ages, from 3-93. For me, anything under teen was a waste of time. They could learn to play, but 99% of the time were only there because there parents made them. It wasn't until 12 and up that they started to come in, excited for a lesson, instead of frowning and sad they had to "Learn more guitar".

Don't get me wrong, I tried all sorts of things to keep the lessons fun and upbeat. Of course, there was the odd kid that liked it (but even then their interest always seemed to wane).

In the end, the TL:DR answer from me is 12-13.

Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: A String] #2937180 07/10/18 06:03 PM
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I think the only thing that makes it harder later in life is the lack of time to obsessively work at it... same with other things like languages.

Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: p90jr] #2937199 07/10/18 07:36 PM
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Generally the younger one is the better yer options for development of any skill, both mentally & physically, but we each have diff lives so the "best" time is whenever yer interest is piqued, eh ?

I can't think of a reason for anyone to delay starting once they have the interest... idk ... but that's the key factor: the interest of the student, not a parental push, which may backfire.


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: d / halfnote] #2937207 07/10/18 08:07 PM
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Wow I did not know that the grade school clarinet thing was so widespread (from reading the replies above) I too started on clarinet, that lasted 2 weeks as we had that time limit to return the instrument if it did not fit us.

I also tried piano and drums. Neither one of those fit either. I took to guitar at age 24 or so like a duck takes to water. (However it took me years and years to feel like I could play it a little bit) but through tenacity I got to the point where I thought I could play a bit.


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: desertbluesman] #2937210 07/10/18 08:49 PM
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Hmmm, what year was this clarinet frenzy happening ?
Could it have been tied to the popularity of a particular player ?


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: d / halfnote] #2937227 07/10/18 11:53 PM
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For me the clarinet made the scene in 1959. If it had been a sax, I would probably still be playing one! cool


Take care, Larryz
Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Larryz] #2937235 07/11/18 03:21 AM
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I started on clarinet too. It was just part of an education back in the 50s. I was told to choose a band instrument. My brother picked the trumpet, so I picked the clarinet. It could have been anything, really. Played (very poorly) in the school orchestra. Then The Beatles happened, my head exploded, I sold the clarinet, got an electric guitar, & here I am.


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: A String] #2937257 07/11/18 07:59 AM
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Yeah, I too, wanted to start learning to play the guitar earlier than I actually started, but at the time, and with a history of not "following through" on piano( at 5) and drums( age 8) my parents probably figured, "Why waste the money?" wink

There are a lot of cases in where somebody started out on a different instrument than what they wound up on for good. For instance---

In my area, many a band's( including one of mine) keyboard players were kids who were saddled with ACCORDION lessons when they were younger. And LARRY....my brother was another whom my Mother tried to get to learn clarinet. I mentioned an uncle who played the "licorice stick" in a local '40's big band? Well it was HIS clarinet he attempted to learn on. Never did get ANY "hang" of it and was so bad our dog at the time was caught carrying the case in his teeth in an attempt( we surmised) to take it out to the backyard and BURY it. True story.
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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: whitefang] #2937291 07/11/18 11:22 AM
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+1 DBM, when the Beatles hit our rock and roll shores, I worked up the nerve to tell my parents I was done with playing clarinet and started playing guitar. The Beatles were a huge influence on me back in the early 60's. cool


+1 Fang, I was lucky to have a younger sister to pass my clarinet down to. Many families could not afford an instrument back in those days and my parents would have been more upset with me giving it up if a little sister had not taken it up...she lasted about as long as I did though. By High School she gave it up too LOL! I have heard some great licorice stick players and sometimes wonder if I should have stuck with it, as they make some beautiful jazzy sounds if you know how to really play one... cool


Take care, Larryz
Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: d / halfnote] #2937296 07/11/18 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted By: d
Hmmm, what year was this clarinet frenzy happening ?
Could it have been tied to the popularity of a particular player ?


Fall of 1969 in my case. My father was a bit older, and a HUGE Benny Goodman fan, so I expect he had visions of me playing In The Mood, or some such. Probably same for others in the Clarinet camp, unless someone was an Acker Bilk fan?

I'd been 'playing' Guitar for a while, but had no real Music Theory under my belt, so the Clarinet came as a completely alien Instrument. Finding the notes made no sense, transposing the thing made no sense, and I could not think of a single instance in which I'd want to play the thing? Like Larryz, I might have been persuaded to take up the Sax, if offered, but my parents couldn't afford the payments on a Sax, so the Clarinet it was.

To be honest, at this point in my life, I feel bad for having wasted my parents' money on that thing. I don't even remember what became of it, or if it even went someone who might have used it? Part of why I'm against forcing any Instrument on someone who isn't already drawn to it.

Last edited by Winston Psmith; 07/11/18 11:40 AM.

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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Winston Psmith] #2937331 07/11/18 01:14 PM
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Dragging things off track for a wee bit...
Originally Posted By: Larryz
For me the clarinet made the scene in 1959. If it had been a sax, I would probably still be playing one!

Aren't the sax & clarinet quite alike in fingering ?

Originally Posted By: Scott Fraser
I started on clarinet too. It was just part of an education back in the 50s. I was told to choose a band instrument. My brother picked the trumpet, so I picked the clarinet. It could have been anything, really. Played (very poorly) in the school orchestra. Then The Beatles happened, my head exploded, I sold the clarinet, got an electric guitar, & here I am.

Per my awareness, brass instruments are, technically, the most difficult horns. All horns are tricky but the embouchure on brass is the trickiest.

Originally Posted By: Winston Psmith
Fall of 1969 in my case. My father was a bit older, and a HUGE Benny Goodman fan, so I expect he had visions of me playing In The Mood, or some such. Probably same for others in the Clarinet camp, unless someone was an Acker Bilk fan?

Acker Bilk---the Pete Fountain of Britain ! Even his name was hilarious. laugh


Back on track...
When teaching someone as young as 3~4, what sort of instrument does one use for them to handle ?


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: d / halfnote] #2937376 07/11/18 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted By: d
Back on track...
When teaching someone as young as 3~4, what sort of instrument does one use for them to handle ?


I don't recall offhand how young our youngest Guitar students were? Maybe 7 or 8? At any rate, most of them were using a cheap Acoustic import that came under several names, including Montana and Santa Rosa. Really small body, maybe 1/2-sized, the fretboard looked like it had been lacquered, not oiled, three-on-a-plate tuners, more expensive than you'd expect for the quality, like $70 back in 2010. None of us here would even take one as a 'camping & fishing' Guitar; for kindling, maybe, otherwise, no. Any kid who hung with it long enough to move up to a "real" Guitar, deserved to become a Master Musician, they'd already put in some real effort.

FWIW, we didn't push these things because we liked them, or had any kind of deal going, it was just that we could not find another affordable child-sized Guitar, anywhere. The Squier Mini-Strat was, and still is, a much better Guitar, but most parents weren't going to have their kids start on an Electric.


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Winston Psmith] #2937382 07/11/18 04:52 PM
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The Ortega 1/4 size looks good, but, at $270, a little expensive for a 4 or 5 year old. Maybe a 6 string Ukulele would work.
My first was a 1/2 size Yamaha and then a mini Squier Strat.

Last edited by surfergirl; 07/11/18 04:53 PM.

Jenny S.
Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: d / halfnote] #2937385 07/11/18 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted By: d
Dragging things off track for a wee bit...
Originally Posted By: Larryz
For me the clarinet made the scene in 1959. If it had been a sax, I would probably still be playing one!

Aren't the sax & clarinet quite alike in fingering ?

Back on track...
When teaching someone as young as 3~4, what sort of instrument does one use for them to handle ?



I would agree with Winston on the guitar of choice while staying on track i.e. a Squire mini Strat electric for any 3 to 4 year old and would recommend the same for kids up to 10. Easy to play and scaled down for those smaller fingers. The clarinet OT segue was still on track (as our 3 forum members 1st musical lessons experience) as most schools start kids out learning to play music around age 9 or 10 with all other instruments. Guitars were not found in the grade school bands as a choice one could make. You still learned to play an instrument, and to play in a band or orchestra, and learned to practice and read music. So I think the stories are related when discussing a good age to start a kid off in music.


I think the sound of an instrument has more to do with what I would like to play than the similarity in fingering like that found between a sax and a clarinet. They are also both wind/reed instruments. One could master one of them and easily transition from clarinet to sax as compared to the other choices out there (like trumpet, flute, oboe, etc.). I just think I might have stayed with the sax mainly because I loved the sound of the instrument and was always jealous of the players in the band LOL! My parents would not have sprung for another instrument. My other regret was not taking up the stand up bass, which would not have cost my parents a dime, but I would have had to go to the orchestra and would have had to give up the marching band...oh well, back on the tracks again... cool

ps. +1 on Astrings' guitar lessons comment unless you have a prodigy on your hands:

"In all honesty, when I was teaching full time, I taught all ages, from 3-93. For me, anything under teen was a waste of time. They could learn to play, but 99% of the time were only there because there parents made them. It wasn't until 12 and up that they started to come in, excited for a lesson, instead of frowning and sad they had to "Learn more guitar". Astring cool


Last edited by Larryz; 07/11/18 06:01 PM.

Take care, Larryz
Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Winston Psmith] #2937408 07/11/18 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted By: Winston Psmith
Fall of 1969 in my case. My father was a bit older, and a HUGE Benny Goodman fan, so I expect he had visions of me playing In The Mood, or some such. Probably same for others in the Clarinet camp, unless someone was an Acker Bilk fan?


My parents bought Pete Fountain records to inspire me.


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Scott Fraser] #2937490 07/12/18 08:33 AM
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Covering some other ground too---

1. MAGNUM is another "off-brand" guitar that's small in size. My niece got one from somewhere to try and get a grandniece of ours to learn to play. But she didn't take to it, and eventually, the action on the thing got so bad that I bought it off her for $5 to use for trying to practice SLIDE.

2. Did I already mention HERE, or somewhere else about the plethora of garage band keyboard players starting with being taken to ACCORDION lessons when they were kids?

An aside to that( and mentioned before many moons ago----)

Our keys player was one of those, and we used to razz him about, "Don't zone out on us and break out in "Lady Of Spain" when it comes to your solo!" ;D It'd usually tick him off a bit, but he got us back---

At a house party(for a friend) we were playing once, we were in the middle of a song in which he had a solo. So, we customarily jibed him about not having an "accordion flashback" so when his solo came up, he broke into a rousing rendition of "Beer Barrel Polka", looked straight at us and loudly asked, "How do ya like THAT, Motherf---kers?" We couldn't finish the tune we were laughing so hard. roll
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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Winston Psmith] #2937505 07/12/18 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted By: whitefang
Wouldn't WHO it is be a major factor? Sure, some(or a few) might be ready at that age, and then maybe more wouldn't get anywhere until much older. Like anything else, I suppose. For example...

My older daughter started to read by 5.5 or so. Her younger sister(by 3 years) started picking it up at 4. Most of their friends never started until the 1st grade, and THEN didn't fully get the hang right off.

I don't think you can arbitrarily choose a certain age to start ANY kind of learning. For ANYTHING.
Whitefang


Originally Posted By: Winston Psmith
I started on Guitar around age 9, but probably didn't start seriously approaching the Guitar as an Instrument until my late teens? Up to a point, I was just sort of learning songs, and strumming chords.

I'd say as early as possible, IF there's a genuine interest. Like many high-school kids, I was burdened with the Clarinet as my (ostensible) Band Instrument. As a 14-year-old, I hated it, as an adult, I feel bad that my parents wasted any money at all on the bloody thing, because I never learned even to pull a simple tune out of it? Somewhere, there is probably some young person who feels the same way about the Guitar that I did about the Clarinet: "Why would I want to play that thing? That's what my grandfather's Music sounds like!"


That is very true. One of my students started to take lessons at age 5, and now he is a teenager now. He can read music and play guitar very well. He does not hate lessons but he just do it because his parents say so...

I guess as a music education, this is good as he is learning something. I just hope that eventually he finds a music that inspires him so that he does not feel guitar lessons was worth doing.


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Kenji13] #2937516 07/12/18 11:58 AM
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I like that some have mentioned using ukes, etc, as possibilities for young hands. Mandolins might be another choice.
It would be quite possible to use any similar instrument w/whatever tuning desired to get them not just acclimated to the playing of fretted instruments but one could also likely get a well made instrument at lower cost than a "real" gtr.
I think the 3 most vital aspects of getting/keeping potential players interested are...
1 / getting across to them easy versions of music they enjoy;
2 / making sure they have an instrument that's both correctly made (i.e., plays in tune) so their ear's not distorted &
3 / is comfortable to play so they're not fighting either the reach for their hands or the string height, etc, probs of lesser quality instruments.


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Scott Fraser] #2937517 07/12/18 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted By: Scott Fraser
Originally Posted By: Winston Psmith
Fall of 1969 in my case. My father was a bit older, and a HUGE Benny Goodman fan, so I expect he had visions of me playing In The Mood, or some such. Probably same for others in the Clarinet camp, unless someone was an Acker Bilk fan?


My parents bought Pete Fountain records to inspire me.

Did that work as intended ? [chk my 1st point above]


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: d / halfnote] #2937617 07/12/18 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted By: d
I like that some have mentioned using ukes, etc, as possibilities for young hands. Mandolins might be another choice.
It would be quite possible to use any similar instrument w/whatever tuning desired to get them not just acclimated to the playing of fretted instruments but one could also likely get a well made instrument at lower cost than a "real" gtr.
I think the 3 most vital aspects of getting/keeping potential players interested are...
1 / getting across to them easy versions of music they enjoy;
2 / making sure they have an instrument that's both correctly made (i.e., plays in tune) so their ear's not distorted &
3 / is comfortable to play so they're not fighting either the reach for their hands or the string height, etc, probs of lesser quality instruments.


I've heard of teachers starting very young players with Ukes, and you're right, you can find a somewhat better-made Uke at the price point of those beginner Guitars.

Slightly OT response: I haven't ever seen a decent quality Mandolin, or even a playable one, in that under-$100 range. Used, you might get lucky at around $100-150, but IMHO, if you're going to start a young person on Mandolin, why not let them stick with it? I have one, an A/E, and love it. At a jam, in a room full of Guitars, it's a different voice.


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Re: What is the ideal age to start learning the guitar? [Re: Winston Psmith] #2937692 07/13/18 07:57 AM
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Posts: 11,680
whitefang Offline
10k Club
Offline
10k Club
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 11,680
Yesterday, KENJI said:

"I guess as a music education, this is good as he is learning something. I just hope that eventually he finds a music that inspires him so that he does not feel guitar lessons was worth doing."

I'm guessing he meant that he DOES feel the guitar lessons were worth doing. wink
Whitefang

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