9520496443_98d945c222_zIt’s a little early, but you may have some parents asking you about guitars as gift ideas for the holidays. If you’re faced with the question, “Electric or Acoustic?”, what do you say? Here are a some considerations.

1. What Would You Prefer?

It might sound obvious, but find out what the student wants to play. If she envisions herself sounding like Kurt Cobain, don’t recommend a nylon string classical guitar. Would you buy an Electric for the kid who wants to sound like Segovia? Probably not.

One of the best things you can do for a student is help them achieve the sound they want. Get them the instrument they want and they may just work harder.

2. Electrics Might Be Easier….at First

Because of the lighter string gauges that are available for Electrics it might be easier for students to press the strings to the fret board. Acoustics strings tend to be thicker, with higher action. Thus, it’s a little more difficult to press Acoustic strings down. So the acoustic student will have to push a little harder at first, but, ultimately, being a good guitarist is not about muscle.

3. If She Gets An Electric, She’ll Never Play Acoustic

In 1965 Bob Dylan shocked the Newport Folk Festival when he played an electric guitar. The audience fully expected an acoustic set and let Dylan know it! Guitarists tend to own acoustics and electrics guitars (because there’s enough love to go around). As noted above, different sounds can only be achieved with different instruments. So, if your student starts on Electric and you’re bummed, don’t give up hope.

4. Size Matters

It’s going to be challenging for smaller kids to play a full-sized guitar. They may still have a preference with respect to Electric or Acoustic, but look for a 1/2 or 3/4 size.

5. Bring the Noise

The nice thing about Acoustics – as your neighbors will tell you – is that they do not need amplification. The misunderstanding about Electrics is that they don’t need to be amplified either (…but you know you want to!). As far as cost goes: you can find plenty of nice Electric starter packs that include an amplifier. And, if the kid is inclined is to turn it up to 11, think about picking up some headphones, as well.