My DC is showing a real interest in guitars at the moment and I'm thinking of getting one as a birthday present but I don't know much about them! Is a ukulele or guitar best at this age? And how much should I be looking to spend for a beginner?
I always advise people who are 'new' to music, that guitar, uke, or violin etc, are difficult for young children, as they have to put in a lot of effort and, in the early stages, don't get very much musical satisfaction.
Much better - easier and more satisfying - I always think, is a good modern Keyboard, with full-size keys - at least 61 of them, or if you can afford it, 76.
A Keyboard will have around 500 different sounds, including several 'guitar' voices of different sorts - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, rock guitar, jazz guitar and more. There will also be 'automatic' accompaniments in numerous styles, to enhance the lead, solo voice, and various 'learning' modes to help the beginner to get started with playing, and learning to read music.
If most of the appeal of guitar is its appearance, and the image of solo guitarists on TV, then Keyboard may not be the answer, but if there is an interest to learn about sounds, music, and different styles, a Keyboard can produce satisfying music much more quickly than a traditional stringed instrument.
I have experience of suzuki violin with little children. My 3rd child to start violin is 4 and is doing well.
The thing that makes suzuki work with young children is the parental involvement in lessons and daily practise - if you can that, your ds could give any instrument a go!
My ds plays the violin and also started guitar at age 8. He has a great teacher and has progressed really well, but it is much harder than I ever thought! Ds also does ukulele as part of a whole class lesson - it's completely different to the guitar so I wouldn't think of it as a starter for guitar.
The guitar or any fretted instrument has a pain barrier the child needs to get through. Many guitar teachers will not take children younger than nine. Guitarists develop pads of dead skin on the tips of their fingers, but it hurts in the early days.