View Full Version : Starting a 7 year old!

Feb-09-2004, 1:01am
I would like to start teaching my 7 year old to play the mandolin. He has trouble depressing the strings enough to get much sound. I have let him try my old Epiphone MM70 and Flatiron Performer A and both are difficult for him to play. I have thought about trying a Weber Sweet Pea.

Any suggestions? Thanks for your help!


John Flynn
Feb-09-2004, 7:37am
Two suggestions, depending on how acute the hand strength problem is:

1) Start with only 4 strings on the mando instead of 8 and make them strings that are light and easy on the fingers, like GHS Silk and Steels or Elixers. Make sure the action on the mando isn't too high also.

2) If the problem is really acute, you can buy a cheap, but playable ukulele for about $30 and there are places where you can order a custom-gauged set of nylon strings that will allow you to tune it like a mando. There was a thread on this not too long ago. If you searched on "ukulele" you should find it. If not, PM me.

Feb-09-2004, 8:42am
I bought my son a sweet pea when he was 7 and he loves it. He has the option of playing any one of a number of my mandos, but prefers the sweet pea because it's easier for him to hold.

Feb-09-2004, 12:37pm
I highly recommend the Mid-Missouri Travel Mandolin (with 8 strings) that has a slightly smaller body. I was really impressed with the ease of play and volume. I owned one for a while and then it went into the hands of a 5 year old who was just beginning. It is also all wood, American made, is very affordable, and sounds good. What more could you want?

Feb-09-2004, 12:48pm
I'd go with the Gibson Distressed Master Model. #That way any damage he/she does just enhances the look and you avoid a lot of MAS. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Feb-09-2004, 4:40pm
There's an idea! I could just invest his college fund in that Master Model and let it appreciate the next 11 years! On second thought I might not be able to cast it into the fire.
Sort of like Frodo and the ring ya know. Thanks to all for the advice. You helped me with ideas for a starter. Now to make up my mind.


Feb-09-2004, 4:53pm
I think the suggestion to have only 4 single strings is a good one. #Using a capo could lower the strings and needed finger strength also. #
# #I would suggest using the 2 finger chords found on this website - teaching the child the 2 finger G,C& D chord and finding some easy G,C, and D songs. #
# #Make it fun or it will likely be a failure. #If it ain't fun, it ain't playing. #Good luck. # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif # Jack

Feb-09-2004, 4:57pm
Another vote for the Sweat pea, can be played with only 4 strings if necessary. And in a worst case scenario (kid quits) you still have a neat little travel mando.

Greg H.
Feb-09-2004, 9:13pm
My 7 year old daughter seems pretty comfortable with the 8 string Mid Missouri kidmo we bought her last year. She can handle the two finger G, C, and D chords fairly well (the transition between them still takes some time, but it's coming along and I don't want to push too hard). I figure our choice of mandolins for her to be as success as long as she enjoys messing with it. Mind you, once she starts coveting my Rattlesnake F we may have to re-negotiate this situation

Feb-09-2004, 9:16pm
Something that will stay in tune. Otherwise, the kid'll lose interest fast.

Feb-13-2004, 9:21pm
p.s. whatever you get -- make sure that the action is as low as you can go before fret rattle sets in. Also, light-weight Elixir strings might be a good investment, because the coating makes it easier on the fingers (and I doubt that a child has enough "natural battery acid" in their finger tips to burn through the coating, like some adults.) Initial comfort of play is what will keep the child on track -- if it hurts too much -- they will wander off and look for a PS2....

Feb-14-2004, 9:32am
I like the uke idea, and also very much agree with the suggestions that he has something that sounds in tune and doesn't buzz, etc. #I think that at a tender age, maximum fun, positive feedback (from the instrument) and minimum pain is paramount. #For a seven year old any time spent just getting generally acclamated to strings, frets, and fingers is progress enough for a year or so. #

If he hasn't played an instrument before, you might even consider letting him muck around on a piano or keyboard first, which requires no special effort for tone production. #Let him get hooked on his own ability to make music and great big fat noise first. # Takes a while and some callouses to get half a sound out of a mandolin.