What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

spruceman33
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What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby spruceman33 » Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:28 pm

Hello everyone
I'd like to get my 4.5 year old started trying out classical guitar, just to see what she thinks. What size instrument would you suggest and what would be an instrument that has at least have a decent potential in terms of tone? I would prefer a solid top.
Thanks
Last edited by spruceman33 on Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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souldier
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Re: What size insteument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby souldier » Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:40 pm

Hmm the only thing that comes to mind for someone that age/size would be a Guilele (Cordoba) or a Guitalele (Yahama) which are essentially the same thing, though the Cordoba Guilele (which I own) does have a solid spruce top and the Yamaha does not as far as I know. I think the priority in this situation is to find something that has very low action and strings that are very easy to press or they can be easily discouraged to play at all, regardless of how good the tone is.

On another note, I would ensure that my child is actually interested. If they have no motivation to play guitar, then trying to get them to play too early might crush any interest they might have later on.

All the best,
soul
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spruceman33
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Re: What size insteument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby spruceman33 » Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:54 pm

Good advice! Thanks. I figure the only way to gauge interest is to actually put on in their hands.
2008 Kenny Hill Hauser '37 SP/IN
1992 Richard Howell CD/IN

Joe de V
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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby Joe de V » Sun Dec 20, 2015 4:21 pm

I remember a music school way back in the 1950's that encouraged parents to have their children exposed to the guitar as a good way to develop a music "playing experience". Since young children develop at different stages there was not a set rule as to what size of the guitar is the right "fit" for a young child. Hand size/finger dexterity was the primary criteria for deciding what "size" not their age.
Since guitar was the one instrument being introduced to the children some where started with the four string Baritone Ukulele which us tuned exactly as the first four strings of the guitar... E-B-G-D. The Baritone size-wise is no longer than 30 inches and the scale length is 20.3/8 inches (about 520mm). After a brief period of learning the scales and where the notes were locate on the fret-board some of these children were ready to move up to a 6 string guitar - with the two additional strings of A and low E, with little trouble - if any - in playing the instrument.
I myself attended a violin academy as a child and later took up the Baritone Ukulele before I moved Up to learn the classical guitar. It proved to be a good early training in the strings instrument for me.

AdamRoth
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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby AdamRoth » Sun Dec 20, 2015 5:45 pm

The guilele is an option. You could go with very small guitar… Córdoba makes one with a scale length of 480 mm or so. You wouldn't want bigger than that at that age. (The guilele is even smaller—430mm).

I've started a few students out with baritone uke. It works, but I'll try something else next time. The string spacing is pretty wide on the baritone uke, which makes it a different beast. And of course watch out for playability. One student got one and the action and intonation was insufferable.
My Bach lute suite videos:
995 www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSZXrFLmb7U
996 www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-BW0Jk2H4o
997 youtu.be/bn8lgx7WaQY

Lovemyguitar
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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby Lovemyguitar » Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:31 pm

spruceman33 wrote:...What size instrument would you suggest and what would be an instrument that has at least have a decent potential in terms of tone? I would prefer a solid top...

I really do not think that you need to worry about a solid top at this point. Get a little half- or 3/4- sized classical made by one of the known brands (Cordoba, or whatever is available near you), and see if she likes it and takes to it. I actually bought one once thinking I'd use it for air travel (easily fits in carry-on), it was only $100, and it sounds pretty good (it is made by "Denver", which means nothing to me, but they sell them in a local music shop, so I was able to try it).

Joe de V
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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby Joe de V » Sun Dec 20, 2015 9:09 pm

The one possible problem I would find with the Guitalele for a beginner young student is that is not tuned like the standard guitar. It is tuned a 4th higher than the guitar, similar to placing a Capo at the 5th fret of the guitar =- A-E-C-G-D-A. My experience with students that started playing the smaller size Ukuleles - Soprano-Concert-Tenor which are tuned just like the first 4 strings of the guitar With a Capo at the 5th fret, is that the standard chords fingering for the standard tuned guitar are much different when playing an instrument tuned A-E-C-G-E-A. This create a little bit of confusion to young students moving up from the A-E-C-G-D-A tuning to the E-B-G-D-A-E tuning. This is not a big problem but requires a little bit of extra training and concentration to adapt to the new change in tuning. .

Lovemyguitar
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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby Lovemyguitar » Sun Dec 20, 2015 9:47 pm

Joe makes a good point -- something that is not actually a classical guitar will have different tuning (or fewer strings). My little small-scale guitar (it has a 535 mm string length) has standard EADGBE tuning with high tension strings (which feel like light tension on such a small scale). I would be inclined to prefer that, if I were teaching a youngster.

Elizabeth Moreta
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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby Elizabeth Moreta » Sun Dec 20, 2015 10:17 pm

1/2 size is usually OK for 5/6 year olds. Certainly not 3/4 size. There are 1/4 size guitars that are not guitarleles. I wonder if the child might outgrow a 1/4 size rather quickly, though.

HNLim
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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby HNLim » Sun Dec 20, 2015 11:27 pm

These videos will probably give you an idea points to consider:
https://youtu.be/njG_dQC-cnk
https://youtu.be/0E0oD9F2TVQ
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Lovemyguitar
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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby Lovemyguitar » Sun Dec 20, 2015 11:51 pm

HNLim wrote:These videos will probably give you an idea points to consider...

Or not. Prodigies are in a class of their own, and other children should not be compared to them. Besides, the Korean girl and young Ana were not just learning to play when those videos were made -- they'd obviously been at it awhile.

AdamRoth
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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby AdamRoth » Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:04 am

Elizabeth Moreta wrote:1/2 size is usually OK for 5/6 year olds. Certainly not 3/4 size. There are 1/4 size guitars that are not guitarleles. I wonder if the child might outgrow a 1/4 size rather quickly, though.


Those terms don't mean anything, and I wish manufacturers didn't use them. For instance, the Cordoba Protege 1/2 size is the same as the Yamaha 3/4. Whereas the Cordoba 3/4 guitar is much bigger.

Scale length is the objective measure, and I'd suggest staying 500mm or less for a child that age.
My Bach lute suite videos:
995 www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSZXrFLmb7U
996 www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-BW0Jk2H4o
997 youtu.be/bn8lgx7WaQY

Joe de V
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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby Joe de V » Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:10 am

Speaking only about smaller size and scale length guitars: To those interested in picking up a low cost - Under $150. - new guitar I have found that the world-known Fender Guitar Co. is not trying to break into the Classical Guitar market and have introduced several smaller scales length of 592 mm with a 43mm nut. ( Model is MC 13/4 ) suitable for all players including children that could benefit from a shorter scale and a little less Nut width. The have several now in the market. Check Amazon Musical instruments site - I decided to purchase one of these low cost models - the model is ESC-80 made in Indonesia. I paid under $135. including a nice travel bag and I love its playability and sound considering that is Not a solid-Spruce top and uses an Agathis wood back. This model has a 610 mm scale length and a 44.5 mm Nut. This is a good value for a small guitar - Not A Toy -and suitable for travel.

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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby MessyTendon » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:54 pm

I think the La Patrie Motif with electronics and a cheap little amp would be a good start. She can entertain herself while driving you crazy at the same time :) No in all seriousness I think the La Patrie is a good student guitar because it's over built and perfect for a child who might accidentally bonk it around.

I would focus more on making music fun for her to learn than worry about getting a guitar with great tone. The small La Patrie could always become your toy if she doesn't play it much. Kids like to play with sound so I think the amp would be fun if she decided to learn to play along with pop songs there would be more versatility than just a straight up classic guitar.

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Re: What size instrument is appropriate for a 4/5 year old?

Postby AdamRoth » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:52 pm

MessyTendon wrote:I think the La Patrie Motif with electronics and a cheap little amp would be a good start.


A motif with electronics and amp is way too much money and way too big. It's has a full-sized scale length.
My Bach lute suite videos:
995 www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSZXrFLmb7U
996 www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-BW0Jk2H4o
997 youtu.be/bn8lgx7WaQY


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