A child as young as 4 can begin to learn if they are really motivated and have a patient, creative, and devoted teacher. However, we've found almost all kids under six are too young to benefit from formal guitar lessons, as they require dexterity and levels of concentration children their age can't provide. That being said, lessons do not need to be formal right off the bat, and can just provide a fun introduction. Also, your child may benefit from using a ukulele to start, as it's smaller and easier to learn, but very similar instrument.
Though this decision can be based on preference, we think the best guitar for a beginner is the acoustic guitar. Classical guitars have a wider neck, which can be hard for younger students or physically smaller individuals to handle when learning guitar chords. Meanwhile, the electric guitar is designed to be played with an amplifier, which comes at an additional cost. Acoustic guitars are simple and require little to no additional equipment, making them ideal for beginner guitarists.
As a beginner, it is best to avoid making a pawn shop, flea market, or yard sale purchase unless you are shopping with somebody who has experience in purchasing a guitar. Having never purchased a guitar, you may not know what to look for in terms of damage or guitar quality. With that being said, a local music retail shop is your best bet. You may also shop online with a reputable company, although be sure to review the business’ return policy.
The strings run between the headstock of the guitar, where they are affixed to tuning pegs that can be rotated to tighten and slacken them, and the bridge, where they're fixed to the guitar's body. On an acoustic guitar, the strings are fixed to the bridge with removable pegs, and on an electric guitar the strings are generally strung through an eyelet.
Learn how to read tabs. Tabs will have six lines that represent your strings, along with numbers that designate where you should be placing your fingers. The numbers represent the fret in which you need to hold the string down. A 1 means the first fret, a 2 means the second fret, and so on. Numbers in a progression mean that you hold down the first individual fret and pick the note, then move to the next one, and so on in succession. Numbers on the same vertical line are meant to be played together simultaneously as a chord.
Minutes 30-60. Practice making the basic 5 shapes. This is probably the hardest part. You gotta put your head down for 30 minutes and remember the chords that are demonstrated below. Once you start getting these shapes down, adding to your portfolio will be easy. You can even experiment with adding and removing fingers– you’ll find a lot of cool sounds here and you’ll continue to discover these for years to come.
Minutes 60-600. Pick up the guitar everyday for 20 days for 30 minutes or so. You can do this while you do other things like watch TV or chit chat. Get your fingers used to moving around on the fretboard. Start jamming out some John Denver baby. Please do sing along. Eventually try to keep up with tempo of the changes in the actual song. Once you can change your chords on time, focus on improving your “touch” with your right hand. Strum the chords in a way that it adds texture to the recording (if you are playing along with the man himself.)
Electric guitar: Well the world of electric guitars is in some ways more complex, as there are all kinds of different looks and technologies. And it’s not good enough to just have a guitar, you need to buy an amplifier as well. I will just recommend mid-level stuff that’s worked for me based on my preferences, but if you like “stuff” and collecting gear, you’ll find playing the guitar to be a deeply satisfying hobby :)
Strum with loose, relaxed motion. Strumming consists of downstrokes and upstrokes in various combinations, striking all the notes of the chord evenly and rhythmically. Use your wrist to practice smooth up and down motions. Keep your elbow in tight towards the guitar and sweep the pick down all the strings. Your elbow should not move very much, as you strum mostly from the wrist.