Essential Items for Your Child’s First Guitar Lesson 

 April 28, 2023

By  Kale Good

This article is one part of my Ultimate Parent's Guide to Kid's Guitar Lessons.

Here are the essential items needed for your child's first music lesson, with a thorough explanation from a teacher with more than 15 years experience.

This link contains affiliate posts, from which I may earn a commission. 


Obviously, you will need a guitar. Getting the most beautiful-sounding guitar will make your child's playing the most beautiful possible. Conversely, suppose you get an inexpensive guitar with a muddled sound. In that case, your child will sound lousy, and they are more likely to blame themselves than their instruments. I talk more about this misplaced blame and the damage it can do to confidence when I recommend strings and tuners below.

I've written about what you get for your money at each price range of guitar in this article. You can use my Kids Guitar-Size Calculator to ensure you get your child a properly-sized guitar.

Guitar Case

You'll want to be able to carry your guitar around without worrying about damaging it. Many guitars will come with a case, but if yours doesn't, you must decide whether to invest in a hardshell or a softshell case.

If you're worried about damaging your guitar, get a hardshell case. Remember that dry air, due to either the local climate or your home's HVAC system, can damage a guitar by drying out and shrinking the wood, causing cracks at glue joints. A hardshell case is a sealed enough environment to humidify your child's guitar with a simple sponge and avoid this damage. I  recommend a hardshell case. If you're traveling internationally, or want to have your jaw drop at how expensive a guitar case can be, check out these cases.

A softshell is simply a guitar-shaped nylon bag with zippers and straps to hang on to. The quality of the case can vary significantly. The cheapest cases are made of nylon so thin it reminds me of a reusable grocery bag; these provide little to no protection to your guitar but do provide a convenient way to carry it. The better softshell cases are padded enough to protect from minor impacts but will not protect from significant impacts. In addition, softshell cases are too air-permeable to allow for proper humidification.

Whether you purchase a hardshell or a softshell case, ensure that your child's guitar will fit it!


A properly-sized seat is essential for creating a stable platform for your child's instrument. Unfortunately, many parents plop their child down on whatever chair is sitting around the house. Too often, this chair is oversized for their child, and their feet barely touch the floor. To stabilize their body, the child will slide to the front of the chair so they can extend their hip joint so that their legs reach the floor and they are stabilized.

Unfortunately, while their body may be stabilized, stretching their legs to reach the floor creates a sloped "slide" that allows the guitar to easily slide off their lap. Your child will then attempt to hold the guitar in place by gripping it, either with the plucking-hand arm and elbow or by gripping tightly onto the fretboard. Both movements are problematic because the arms (and, consequently, the hands) can not move freely about the instrument to create the desired sound. The fretboard hand is the more egregious of the two. Suppose your child stabilizes the guitar by excessively gripping with their fretboard hand. In that case, you will see the instrument shake and/or slide about any time they have all their fingers off the fretboard (alternatively, you'll see them grip the fretboard in some convoluted manner when no fingers are on the fretboard). This problem makes one of the easiest things to do on guitar (not use your left hand) into one of the hardest!

Your child's thighs must be parallel to the ground to avoid this. Finding a chair that makes this possible is quickly done by taking one simple measurement. While your child is standing, measure the height of the middle of their knee.

Once you have this measurement, you'll want to decide between a light and cheap chair that isn't adjustable or a larger chair that is adjustable.

If you'd like to make one purchase that will last many years, buy a junior drum throne or, for older kids, a regular drum throne. Ensure its lowest setting is lower than your child's knee height measurement. These drum thrones can be packed up and taken to recitals, and their black-and-chrome finish looks very professional. However, they are bulky and more expensive than the next solution.

You can use a folding foot stool if you want to spend less now and are comfortable getting a replacement chair as your child grows. These are cheaper and far easier to pack than a junior drum throne; they fold flat and have a carrying handle. And, while you may need to occasionally replace these when your child is done with them, I have yet to hear a family complain about having an extra stepping stool around the house. To maintain a professional look for performances, buy a black stool.

You may notice that both solutions don't have a backrest - this is intentional. A backrest on a practice chair encourages leaning back and slouching; this destabilizes the guitar in much the same manner as a too-large chair. Fortunately, this is easily remedied by using a chair with no back.

Where Can I find the Best Kid's Guitar Lessons?

You're in the right place. For more information about the best kid's guitar lessons online and in the Philadelphia area, read this page

Select Testimonials

Emily Collier


Our older kid has been taking lessons with Kale Good for 3 years now, and our younger could not be more excited to start this week. Both my husband and I are classically trained, former-professional musicians, and we can say hands-down that Kale is the best music teacher we've ever encountered, anywhere... 

Ted Wongcini


Kale is a fantastic teacher. He seems to know how to attune to each kid, figuring out the balance of challenging and reassuring his students. His lessons have helped our daughter grow tremendously, especially her confidence. We highly recommend Kale.

Complete testimonials here.

Guitar Support

Regardless of which style of guitar you play, it is beneficial to elevate one of your child's legs as they play. By doing this, your child will raise the guitar, making it easier for their fingers to access and move agilely around the fretboard. Many different guitar supports will do this for you. 

A simple metal folding guitarist's footstool is height-adjustable and works for all styles of guitar; classical, acoustic, and electric. It can be used to raise either the right leg in the acoustic and electric posture or the left leg in the classical guitar posture. It is also durable and affordable. 

In recent years, many classical guitar performers have begun to move away from the traditional footstool, as it creates an unnatural and unbalanced posture. For example, I moved away from the footstool when I got low-back pain in my mid-20s. The back pain instantly resolved. 

While we clearly aren't concerned about low back pain for young kids, the posture benefits are significant enough that many Classical Guitar teachers and Suzuki teachers have moved their young students towards these alternative guitar supports. These supports streamline performances (as there is one less thing to carry on-stage; this can be important for ensemble performances with many stage changes) and remove one massive downside of footstools at recitals, in lessons, and at home: a massive tripping hazard right where your child will be carrying their guitar the most. 

For these reasons, I recommend the following guitar supports.

  • A Frame Multi Instrument Support: This support works well on small and large guitars and is adjustable enough for young and adult students.
  •  Neck-Up Mini 4-Inch Guitar Support: This support works well for smaller children with a guitar less than 3 inches deep.
  • Gitano-style Guitar Support: This is one of my favorite supports (although not my daily driver), as it easily folds and can be left on the guitar inside the case (even though it's not supposed to be!). If your child is in high school, I recommend trying one out, as it is one of the lowest-profile guitar supports. Unfortunately, although small, it lifts the guitar quite a bit and is thus inappropriate for young children. 

There are many other popular supports; the Ergoplay Tappert may be the most popular (but it is pretty bulky). I use the GuitarLift; however, I am very tall, and this support is quite expensive.

Extra Strings

In my late 20s, after many years of playing guitar, I finally realized that I sounded terrible on guitar and felt terrible about my playing and abilities because my strings were too old. I realized this after changing my strings one day and feeling fantastic about my playing.

In fact, I had been going through this cycle for years. I had noticed myself enjoying playing on new strings many times before I realized that old strings were causing me to think I was a much worse player than I actually was. I even knew it was crucial to change strings as they get old and worn. Yet, somehow, it took years of experience to come to the logical conclusion of "You sound bad because your strings are old. You feel bad because you sound bad. Therefore, you sound bad because your strings are old, NOT because you are bad".

If it took me more than a decade and a degree in classical guitar performance to figure out that old strings were the reason I felt terrible about my playing (rather than my actual ability), do you think your child will be able to make the distinction between "My sound is lacking due to old strings" and "My sound is lacking due to my technique"?

Strings are stretched taunt to produce the correct pitch. Since they are stretched, they get longer. As they get longer, something happens to them... I don't know exactly what. But as they age, they lose their ability to produce the complete overtone series that makes them sound great when new. And they lose their intonation, which means that the higher you play on the neck of the guitar, the more out-of-tune they sound (even if they're perfectly in-tune otherwise).

Professional classical guitar players change their strings every few weeks. I like to change mine once a month. I would be thrilled if all my students changed their strings every 3 months. I implore parents to change strings before recitals so students sound their best.

D'Addario is one of the biggest string manufacturers in the world. Strings from them will perform well for electric, classical, and acoustic guitar students with an almost full-sized guitar or larger. Note that you must buy strings for the style of guitar your child has; guitar strings are not interchangeable between classical, electric, and acoustic guitars.

If your child plays a smaller guitar, you'll want to get some fractional guitar strings. To buy fractional guitar strings, measure from the guitar's nut to saddle in centimeters. This is called the scale length. Then, buy strings for the appropriate scale length.


This should be higher on the list, as tuning one's guitar and playing in tune every day is the #1 skill to develop. If your child's guitar is out-of-tune, their playing will sound unmusical. They will hear that they sound unmusical and know it is suboptimal because they have spent their entire life hearing in-tune music. However, they cannot differentiate between an out-of-tune guitar and their ability. They also will need help to remedy it. In this situation, just like with the strings, your child will blame themselves rather than a faulty instrument.

I've only put this lower on the list so I could use my story about strings to illustrate how damaging it can be to your child's musical psyche to have them play on an unmaintained instrument.

There are many free apps that you can use to tune your guitar. If you will be tuning your child's guitar and can stand being bombarded with ads every time you pull up the app to tune your guitar, I suggest (not quite recommend) GuitarTuna.

However, it is better to have a dedicated tuner. This is essential if your child can tune their guitar themselves. This allows your child (if developmentally appropriate) to tune by themselves. It also allows them to tune discreetly on-stage without being bombarded with ads. I recommend the D'Addario clip-on tuner, as it can hide on the guitar, almost out-of-sight and yet always accessible to tune at a moment's notice. In fact, if you are handy with a screwdriver (and, for classical guitarists, comfortable with a drill and a little inconsequential damage to your guitar), you can get the screw-on type that never comes off, never gets lost, and is much less likely to have the clip break.

Method Book, Recording, And LISTENING DEVICE

Method Book

Naturally, you'll want whatever method book your teacher uses. Buy it. 

For children in my Studio, I use Suzuki Guitar Volume 1 and the recording (AmazonApple, or Book and CD combo). For adults, I use Shearer's Classical Guitar Foundations. 


If there is a recording, buy it. If there isn't one, ask the teacher to record songs at least one month ahead of time.

Why? It's easiest to illustrate this with a story.

Sometime after getting my driver's license, my parents took a vacation over the Christmas holiday, leaving me and my brother home alone. My aunt invited us over for Christmas dinner, as was our family custom.

As soon as I began getting ready to go, I realized I had a problem. I had neither my aunt and uncle's address nor their phone number (having been invited over email). And I had never driven there before. It was a 45-minute drive that we rarely made for any other reason. What would I do?

I set off, unsure of my destination. However, I knew what to do at every turn along the way. At no point was I in doubt. All the sights and landmarks were familiar from a lifetime of holiday journeys to my aunt and uncle's house.

Listening to a recording is like those earlier journeys; your child doesn't need to be actively listening to the music and trying to figure it out. Simply by having it repeatedly play in the background, they will absorb the "directions." They will know where the music goes. Then, when it comes time for them to drive themselves, all the turns they make (fingers they use) will lead down a path of familiarity.

Listening accelerates the learning process more than I know (assuming parental involvement and a competent teacher) and creates a virtuous cycle: Students know what sounds they should create. This knowledge allows them to make accurate judgments about errors and corrections. As a result, they learn songs faster, which keeps them engaged. Because they are engaged, they practice more. Because they listen to the songs, that practice is more fruitful. And the process repeats, compounding each time.

Listening Device

Whether it's a CD player in the car or at home, an old phone, or a record player, the recording will only work if your child hears it. So make sure there is at least one easy, accessible way to listen. The more methods, the merrier.

Practice Corner (Optional):

A Practice Corner is a corner of the house dedicated to guitar practice. We can be thankful as guitarists that it is only a corner. Consider the grand piano player who has a practice Living Room!

In the practice, corner will be all the above items and anything else needed to practice at any time. Setting up a practice corner is optional; however, it dramatically facilitates daily practice, making it much easier to begin practicing at any time.

If you can not or do not want to set up a practice corner, do your best to keep all your practice materials organized so you don't have to hunt for items to begin practicing.

Guitar Stand:

Leaving your child's guitar out of its case, on a stand, easy to grab, and in a visible place substantially increases the likelihood that they will practice independently. It allows them to see the guitar and pick it up whenever they are ready. While this does increase the likelihood that the guitar will be damaged due to being knocked over or getting dinged, the risks can be worth it. There is an additional risk of damage due to climate. At a minimum, regardless of whether you keep your guitar away from heat sources like radiators and HVAC vents. While the risk of damage due to climate is higher in more expensive guitars (as they are built to be more sensitive and delicate), I recommend discussing your local climate and home's climate control before leaving your guitar out of its case.

Music Stand

Having a music stand is a crucial part of any musician's ensemble. They can maintain a better posture when the music stand holds the music upright in front of them. Contrast this with the hunched posture necessary to play while reading music off a flat surface like a table.
Even if your child isn't reading music, keeping the music on the stand can help expose them to sheet music and help them prepare for future reading. And you'd be surprised at how much kids can figure out on their own! I personally show students the music long before I teach them to read and have them engage with it in ways they can use in practice at home. In fact, even the most rudimentary beginners can use the Suzuki sheet music to remind them which finger to begin plucking with (which is more important than it seems to many parents!)

A Crafty Gizmos style stand, like this Vekkia model, will work for beginners.

The K&M Robby Plus is rugged, collapsible, highly adjustable, and expands up to 4 pages wide. It also drops low enough that it will not obscure the audience's view of the performer or block the sound coming out of the guitar.


Get these items before your first guitar lesson! And be sure to read this article to ensure your child's first performance is a success!

Kale Good

Educator and Founder of Good Music Academy.

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