Daddy! Mommy! I want a guitar!
As a guitar playing parent, this is probably one of the proudest moments you’ll have, the day your child comes up to you and tell you that he wants to start learning to play guitar and want to get a best kids guitar. Think about the endless hours of bonding you can do while playing together, all of the gear you can convince your better half that needs to be bought in order to keep the little one happy, all of the trips to the music store to check out the new swag being peddled… it’s practically a dream come true!
For the non-guitar playing parent, however, the task can be much more daunting. The price, the noise, lessons or no lessons, what kind of guitar to buy, where to buy it, do they need an amp, whether or not they will stick with it for more than two weeks – all of these questions and more are sure to make even the strongest parents weary and tired.
It’s okay, help is coming. This article is for those of you in the latter category; the ones who want some solid, unbiased advice on what to do and what to buy.
I’m forgoing the part of the conversation where you ultimately decide whether or not to buy your child a guitar. As a guitar player, I’m certainly going to tell you what a wonderful instrument it is, and of the countless hours of entertainment it has provided me, not to mention how much it has helped my concentration, ability to study, social skills… (so much for forgoing the conversation, right?). Let’s just assume you are reading this because you have already made up your mind to buy your child his first guitar.
Best Acoustic Guitar for Kids
As a parent, you may find it difficult to find an acoustic guitar for your child especially if you know nothing about guitars. There’s a lot of choice in the market and you might not know where to turn. I’ve been playing guitars for many years and I know how hard it can be to find that first guitar so I have made the process easier for you with this guide.
The guide will help you find just that right beginner guitar for your child as well as provide you with the information you need to help your child become successful on the acoustic guitar. Playing music is a wonderful thing and one of the best hobbies your child can become involved in. They may stick with it over the long term and it could even become a career for them. I hope this guide helps you pick put that first guitar for your child. Let’s have a look a the best acoustic guitar for kids.
Yamaha JR1 FG Junior 3/4 Size Acoustic Guitar
Yamaha produces a wide range of both acoustic and electric guitars. They have several guitars that are well suited for younger guitar players or children. The JF1 FG Is a 3/4 size acoustic guitar which is perfect for children. It comes with a spruce top, Rose Woodbridge, Rosewood fingerboard, Meranti back and sides. this guitar is easy to play and it's perfect for younger children or to take the travel guitar.
- Sounds Great
- Easy to Play
- A bit small for some players
This is an excellent guitar for both children and parents. If you're a parent, you're going to like this guitar because it comes with many accessories such as Capo, clip-on tuner, peg winder, guitar strap, picks, instructional DVD, and extra guitar strings. Your child will have everything that they need To play acoustic guitar. This is a very nice sounding instrument and the neck is smooth and responsive. This guitar is the perfect choice for any parent looking to get a quality instrument for their child so that they can begin to learn acoustic guitar.
Protege by Cordoba C100M 3/4 Size Classical Guitar
Cordoba Guitars creates guitars that are well-suited for beginner guitar players. The Cordoba C100M 3/4 Size Is smaller than a regular acoustic guitar and it features nylon strings so it is easier on the fingers of a small child. This is a very lightweight guitar so it will be comfortable for children to hold. It has a spruce top, mahogany back, and mahogany sides. It comes strong with premium and nylon strings. students that are first starting out on acoustic guitar are going to find that this guitar is very comfortable for them.
- Well suited to young beginners
- Look great
- Too small for older children
This guitar has everything that a beginner child is going to need to start learning. This classical guitar is going to be very easy on their smaller fingers and they will be able to learn their first notes, chords, scales, and other guitar concepts with ease when they learn on this instrument. This guitar also comes with a gig bag and a clip on guitar tuner so your child can start learning right away. If you're looking to save money, but still want a quality instrument for your child to learn on, this is the ideal choice for you as a parent.
Oscar Schmidt OG1 3/4-Size Left-Handed Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Bundle
Oscar Schmidt produces both electric guitars as well as acoustic guitars. They have many different models available to those that want to learn guitar such as the OG1 3/4-Size. This guitar is suited for left-handed guitar players, but they also have a right-handed model for those that use their right hand to play the acoustic guitar. This instrument has a Spruce top with Catalpa back & sides. The instrument has a Rose Woodbridge, rosewood fretboard, and a mahogany neck. It has a natural finish with a high gloss coating. the guitar is a 3/4 size Dreadnought so it is perfect for a child to learn on. This is the ideal instrument for a student or for a beginner and a smaller size means that a child will be able to hold this guitar easily.
- Great for kids
- Easy to play
- Some may find it too small
This is the ideal guitar for beginners for many reasons. not only do you get a decent guitar, you get plenty of added accessories. This guitar comes with a strap, clip-on tuner, extra strings, picks, instructional DVD, and everything you need to get started as a beginner. Students are going to love playing this guitar because it's easy to hold and it sounds great right out of the box. It has solid guitar tuners which will help keep this instrument in tune, and it has a very nice bridge so the tuning will be stable throughout the instrument. For any parent that has a child excited about playing guitar, this instrument is going to be a good option for them.
ADM 1/2 Size Classical Guitar
If you have a child that is looking to play guitar for the first time, this ADM Classical Guitar ½ size is the ideal choice. This instrument is quite small and only 1/2 size when compared to a normal guitar, but it has everything that a younger student will need to learn how to play guitar properly. This guitar has a Basswood back and a spruce top which provides great tone. The instrument comes with nylon strings which are easier on younger student’s fingers. This instrument is smaller than normal so it's very easy to carry around with you. It has added features such as a sunset gloss finish and nice carved inlays which give this instrument a nice visual appearance.
- Small for beginners
- Sounds nice
- Could be too small for some players
This is the ideal guitar for very young students and those just beginning to learn how to play. This instrument sounds great out of the box and younger students shouldn't have much trouble playing it. I found the action on this instrument to be nice when compared to other guitars in this price range. The action refers to how high the strings are off the fretboard. This instrument is ideal for students around ages 6 to 12. for any parent looking to get their child into playing acoustic guitar, this instrument is a solid option and they're going to be able to start playing right away with this guitar.
Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Bundle
Fender guitars make a wide range of electric and acoustic guitars. They have guitars designed for all types of players including younger children or those that are picking up their first guitar. One guitar in their lineup that you might want to consider is the Fender FA-100 which has everything you need to get started playing guitar. This instrument is a Dreadnought style guitar so it's perfect for almost any player. The instrument has a regular black pickguard, rosewood fretboard, and a rosewood bridge. It's made out of laminated spruce and it features X bracing which helps keep the instruments table as you play and adds to the tone of your guitar.
- Looks great
- Easy to play
- Dreadnought style might be too big for very young children
Four children around 8 to 12 years, this is the perfect guitar for them. It features a full and robust sound and the neck is nice and easy to play. The instrument also comes with several accessories such as picks, a strap, extra strings, guitar tuner, and a hard shell case so you won't have to buy any accessories for your child if you happen to pick up this guitar for them. One of the highlights of this instrument is that it has very good at tuning pegs which help to keep the tuning stable so you don't have to tune your instrument as much each time you pick it up. This is the ideal instrument for most children that are looking to play the acoustic guitar.
Strong Wind Classical Guitar SWGD36 3/4 Size Kid Guitar
Younger children can sometimes be turned off playing acoustic guitar because the strings tend to hurt their fingers. Strong Wind solves this problem as they have an easy to play classical style guitar that uses a nylon string. This is a 3/4 size classical guitar so it's easy for young students to pick up and play. This is the ideal choice for any beginner. This instrument has a basswood back top and sides. The top of the guitar is laminated and it's sturdy. You will get a full tone out of this instrument as you play it. smaller children will find the instrument comfortable because it's not as cumbersome as the larger-sized acoustic guitars.
- Easy to play
- Looks Great
- Lacks some of the tones of larger guitars
If you have a younger child that wants to play guitar, a nylon string acoustic guitar is the perfect option for them. This guitar is smaller than a normal guitar so it's easy for a child to hold so they will find it comfortable as a learn. You also get pics, polishing cloth, Extra strings, and a soft gig bag style case to keep the instrument safe from damage. This instrument also comes with a one-year warranty so you're covered as a parent as your child learns on this guitar. This instrument won't cost you a lot of money as a parent, but you still get a decent guitar that any child can learn how to play on so it's well worth the small investment to pick this one up as that first starter guitar for your child.
Jasmine 6 String S35 Acoustic Guitar Pack
If you have an older child that wants to play guitar, you may be having difficulty finding them a quality instrument. Jasmine produces several quality guitars that are perfect for Young Beginners looking for that first guitar. The S35 Acoustic Guitar is a full-size Dreadnought style guitar which gives a vibrant and a full tone as you play it. This guitar is easy to hold and play for almost any student. This instrument has a spruce top and it also comes complete with X bracing which helps to stabilize the guitar and improve the tone of the instrument. It also features Agathis back and sides and is easy to play. The finish on this guitar is a satin finish.
- Easy to play
- Comfortable to hold
- Might not be suited for very small children
If you have an older child that is looking to get into acoustic guitar playing, this instrument by Jasmine is a good option. The instrument sounds great right out of the box and it has everything you need to get started. You get extra picks, guitar strap, chromatic tumor, gig bag, and an extra set of strings so your child will be set to begin their journey on the acoustic guitar. The tuners on this instrument are also very stable so it will stay in tune for a longer time. This would make an excellent first starter guitar for any child that wants to play guitar as it has all the features that you need.
Yamaha JR2 3/4 Size Acoustic Guitar
Yamaha makes a wide range of both acoustic and electric guitars. This package features a dreadnaught style guitar that is ¾ in size so it’s perfect for children. The top is made from spruce and it has a mahogany body. The fingerboard is rosewood and it’s comfortable for your child to play. The guitar has a tortoise style pickguard to protect the body of the guitar form pick damage.
- Good sound
- Looks great
- Might be too small for older children
Yamaha makes a wide range of guitars that are well suited for students. This one is perfect as you get plenty of accessories with it such as gig bag, picks, cap, tuner, strap, DVD instruction, and more. You won’t have to waste a lot of money as a parent on guitar accessories when you buy this package. The guitar has good tuners which keep the tuning stable and it has a solid bridge. This is the ideal choice for any parent that wants to get their child into playing the acoustic guitar.
Cordoba Guitars Coco x Cordoba Guitar SP/MH Disney/Pixar Acoustic Guitar
The small-sized guitar is ideal for small children. There is a spruce top and it has mahogany back and size. The guitar is perfect for travel as it’s quite small and this also makes it the ideal choice for a small child that wants to play guitar. The guitar has nylon strings so it’s easy on the small fingers of a child. The guitar also has a nice attractive design that stands out.
- Greta choice for younger kids
- Sounds good
- Too small for younger children
This guitar is the ideal choice for a smaller child. It’s an easy to play guitar and provides everything that a beginner will need to play. You get a gig bag with the guitar to protect the instrument and there’s a guitar strap. The guitar has a good tuner which will help keep this guitar in tune. For any parent that is looking for a good choice for their younger child, this Cordoba guitar is a wise choice.
Ranch Beginner Acoustic Guitar Bundle
This guitar is ideal for any younger player. This instrument by Ranch is a cutaway acoustic guitar that features a solid spruce top. It also has Sapele sides and back as well as a rosewood fingerboard. The guitar has a vibrant and rich tone which you’ll love. The cutaway makes it easier to play the higher notes up the guitar neck. The guitar is sleek and smooth and has a solid ridge and bracing.
- Nice look
- Easy to play for beginners
- Too big for very young children
This guitar is a solid choice for young children that want to play guitar. The instrument has a good tone for its price and stable tuners so the instrument will hold its tone for longer when compared to other guitars. You get a gig bag, capo, digital tuner, polishing cloth, extra strings and more, so you’ll save money as a parent. This is an excellent first guitar for any young beginner.
Things to consider when choosing a best kids guitar
There are several things you need to consider before you buy an instrument for a child or younger player. These considerations are a lot different from normal guitar players because as a parent, you're going to be buying this instrument for your child. Here's what you need to know.
Don’t spend a lot of money
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you don't want to spend a lot of money on your child's first guitar. The reason for this is that children will often change their mind about what they want to do. Your child may be excited about playing the guitar for one month and then not want to play it the next month. If you spend a lot of money, you will end up just wasting money. If you buy a cheaper guitar, you won't have to worry about the instrument and you can just write it off as a hobby that your child was not interested in and your pocketbook won't suffer because of it. This isn't to say that you shouldn't buy a guitar that at least has some quality to it, but it doesn't make much sense to buy a guitar that is hundreds of dollars if your child is only going to be playing guitar for a few months and then wants to go on to something else.
You can monitor your child's progress on the guitar and if they have a lot of passion and excitement about it and want to keep going, you can then purchase a better instrument for them. If you don't know a lot about the cars you can always talk to qualify professionals at a guitar store or even online to get some recommendations about guitars. This is why I created this guide so it's easier for you to find guitar packages and other guitars that would be well suited for a beginner or a child which won't cost you a whole lot of money.
Acoustic or Electric?
I believe this is the first, most important question that needs to be answered when purchasing a guitar for a new player. Though it is rare, I assume that your child wants to buy an electric guitar (thanks to music videos and the Rock Band/Guitar Hero phenomenon), but to be sure you are armed with all of the information, let me explain the difference between the two with a very watered-down explanation:
An acoustic guitar is hollow, with a sound hole cut into the top piece of wood to allow sound to be amplified and heard. The vibration of the strings is picked up by the wood and carried through the sound hole.
Although an acoustic guitar is certainly cheaper as a first purchase (no need for an amp or cable), it’s also a bit more difficult for children to play, especially when first starting out. The string action (the height of the strings in relation to the fingerboard) is often much higher than that of an electric guitar – causing much more hand power to be used to play correctly, the guitar itself is generally bigger than that of an electric, and you can’t plug headphones into an acoustic guitar like you can on the amplifier of an electric guitar, so if your kid is learning the bar cover-band staple Free Bird, you are going to hear him play it over and over and over again.I personally love acoustic guitars and own three, but for beginners I think the safe bet might be an electric unless your child is determined to learn bluegrass or classical music, in which case an acoustic guitar is absolutely the way to go.
An electric guitar requires a little more explanation. Most of the time (but not always) an electric guitar is a solid piece of shaped wood that produces a very quiet sound on its own. In order to make the guitar sound louder and be heard above a whisper, an amplifier is required. When plugged into an amp, the vibration of the strings is captured by a magnetic pickup (which is a part of the electric guitar) and sent through a guitar cable to the amp, which amplifies (go figure) the signal and makes it louder.Although many acoustic guitars also have pickups and can be plugged into an amp, they are still going to be significantly louder when unplugged.
In my humble opinion an electric guitar as a starter instrument has several advantages to an acoustic:
- Your child can play an electric with the amp off, sparing your ears and those of your neighbors.
- Most smaller amps today have headphone jacks, so your child can still rock out to that crazy heavy metal music they like and no one else will hear them.
- The string gauges on an electric guitar can generally be lighter than that of an acoustic guitar, meaning less hand strength is required to produce an even sound.
- Electric guitars, in addition to the amp, have volume controls, so much to the reluctance of your child there should be plenty of wiggle room for the inevitable “turn it down!” argument to take place.
- If your child wants to play guitar because of Rock Band/Guitar Hero, get an electric. An acoustic guitar probably won’t be enough to satisfy their rockstar fantasies. (Hey, I’m just being honest!)
In the interest of fairness I should note that I started learning guitar on an acoustic and I loved it. But, there were also many less options available at the time in terms of affordable electric guitars.
Steel String or Nylon String?
Steel string acoustic guitars might sound like the best bet for a child to play, but this is usually not the best option. In general, you want to go with an acoustic guitar that has nylon strings. The reason for this is that the nylon strings are much easier on the hands of children which aren't fully developed yet and the strings won't press as much into their fingers. If your child has been playing for a little bit longer than normal, it's perfectly fine to try a steel string guitar. If you do go with a steel string guitar make sure it is strong with very light acoustic guitar strings because these won't be as hard on the fingers of your child. Your child will find a nylon string guitar is much easier to play and they're going to enjoy playing guitar because the strings aren't hurting their fingers.
Size of the Guitar to Buy
Guitars come in many sizes. The good news is that over the past ten years or so there has been a concerted effort by the guitar manufacturers to create smaller-sized guitars specifically for kids. Call it clever marketing or what have you, the bottom line is that regardless of how big your child is – and especially how big his hands are – there is a guitar out there for him. If your child is very young and has small hands, I would suggest a 3/4 size guitar. If you child is a little older, a full-size guitar will allow him to grow into his instrument. It may prove to be a bit more difficult initially for them to play a barre chord, for example, but it will save you from having to replace a smaller guitar with a full-size guitar. Your best bet is to take your child to the music store and let him play one to see what’s best.
Yes, guitars come in many shapes, too. There are a few classic shapes that have stood the test of time, and several more modern shapes that are akin to the hard rock/heavy metal genres that have become very popular with younger players. The aesthetics of a guitar shape is certainly in the eye of the beholder, so be prepared for your metalhead rocker to want a Dimebag Darrell edition Dean guitar:
There is nothing wrong with this at all (he was a huge influence on my metal playing – RIP, Dime!) but generally these are large guitars and might be uncomfortable for smaller kids to play. The major, traditional guitar shapes usually fall into the Fender and Gibson guitar camps – the Stratocaster and Telecaster are both made by Fender, and the Les Paul and ES-335 are made by Gibson. All of these shapes are conducive to young, beginner players; heck, they are conducive to players of all ages and ability levels!
Strats and Teles, as they are affectionately referred to (if you want to sound hip to your kid, start calling them by these names) are smaller and lighter than Les Pauls and 335s. Their tone is also generally lighter.
Your best bet in deciding what to get is, again, to take your child to the store and let them try out a few. Some other name guitar brands (both acoustic and electric) are:
Many cheap guitar packages and student guitars are going to need some setup. This is easy to do if you give it to a guitar technician at your local guitar store. They will have a look at the guitar and it came to determine the best way to set it up. In most cases, one of the first things are going to do is to change the strings on the guitar. Many cheaper guitars and student style guitars will come with a poor set of strings. You can vastly improve the playability of a kid’s guitar by changing the strings. The guitar technician can do this for you and then show you how to do it on your own. Another thing they made you is to just the action of the guitar which is how far the strings are off of the fretboard or how close they are to the fretboard. If the guitar has a truss rod which is a metal rod that goes through the guitar neck to stabilize the guitar neck, the guitar technician may end up adjusting this for you as well. In general, all you'll have to do with your child's guitar is to ensure it always has a good set of strings on it, and you can always polish it with a small bit of guitar polish and the proper cotton cloth when it gets dirty.
Strings and Picks
I’m warning you now, your future rock star is going to break a LOT of strings and lose a LOT of picks during the first few years of playing. That’s the nature of the beast and something you’re just going to have to understand. Resign yourself to this fact right away and be prepared to make frequent trips to the music store to replenish your stock of both. Luckily (for all of us) strings and picks are not expensive, and you will often find both on sale frequently at your local music store. They also sell both string and picks in bulk packs, so you might get some added savings by purchasing a 10-pack of strings instead of just one.
In the beginning, I recommend that you string the guitar with heavier-gauge strings for a few reasons, namely:
- A heavier string tension will help develop finger strength and build fingertip callouses, allowing the hand and fingers to eventually relax while playing.
- Beginning guitarists tend to pick and strum very heavy and, understandably, a bit wildly. The harder, less controlled pick attacks cause strings to break more frequently.
Personally, I use D’Addario strings on all of my guitars. I have tried other brands, but for me D’Addario plays the best. It’s okay to experiment with strings, and especially in the beginning you’ll probably just want to go with what’s cheapest while starting out, but I have always been happy with D’Addario brands.
I would also recommend checking out Juststrings.com. Though I do not know the owners personally, I have purchased many sets of strings from them in the past and have always received excellent service, super-fast shipping, and good prices.
Picks don’t necessarily break like strings, but they do wear down which affects tone. I wouldn’t worry about this so much at this point, so it’s really a question of quantity and price. Your first trip to the music store will present you with a dizzying array of pick choices, ranging in color, size, shape, and thickness. Don’t be dismayed; your best bet is to start with a thick pick and big size. (If your child has very small hands then you can go for a little less thickness and size.) The thicker pick will make it easier for your child to produce a sound on the guitar, and the bigger size will give them more grip real estate so the pick doesn’t slide around in their hand. Picks by Dunlop and Fender are very good (I often use Fender) and will be well-stocked in every store.
An Amp, or No?
I’m just going to go ahead and tell you yes, buy an amp, especially if purchasing an electric guitar. It doesn’t have to be a 100-watt Marshall half-stack that will blow the windows out, but something small and simple with a few built-in effects will go a long way to keeping your child motivated to learn guitar. I don’t want to go into much detail on amps (this is a guitar-buying article, after all) but there are a few features that you may want to consider for a first-time purchaser:
- Headphone jack – this will allow your child to plug headphones directly into the amp so only they can hear what they’re playing.
- iPod/aux jack – many smaller guitars are now offering a 1/8″ input jack that lets you plug an iPod in so you can jam along to your favorite tunes. I really wish amps had this feature when I was growing up. (Then again, we didn’t even have Walkman units when I first started, so I guess the point is moot.)
- Wattage – a 10-watt amp should be plenty loud for bedroom playing.
- Distortion and onboard effects – virtually all amps will come with distortion, but many are now also offering other effects (sound manipulations) built in, including delay, chorus, reverb, tremolo, etc. This isn’t mandatory, but it’s a nice bonus feature if an amp you are considering also has these features.
What Else Do I Need?
A guitar cable and strap are probably the only two other things you’ll want to pick up. The cable connects the guitar to the amp to make sound, and the strap allows the guitarist to stand up and play while keeping their hands free to make noise. Both of these are relatively cheap; just make sure the cable is long enough for your child to jump around in his room without accidentally getting unplugged. A 20-foot cable should be fine.
It's very important to have a quality tuner on hand whenever you buy a child's guitar. You have to keep in mind that many of these guitars don't stay in tune all of that well simply because they are lower cost. You will need a quality tuner to keep your child's guitar in tune as they learn how to play it. Some guitar packages come with tuners, but many do not so this is probably an accessory you're going to want to buy for your child’s guitar. if you don't know how to tune the guitar, you can have the guitar store tune the instrument for your child or you can simply learn how to tune the guitar on your own that's it is not very difficult to do.
Once you pick up an acoustic guitar or nylon string guitar for your child, you have to think a lot about lessons. Small children aren't capable of learning guitar on their own, so lessons are important. The best way to go about finding a quality guitar teacher is to simply visit your local music store or music academy and inquire about guitar lessons. Guitar lessons will probably cost you a couple of hundred dollars each month so you have to keep that in mind. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, simply asked to take a few lessons and then see how your child reacts to the lessons. If they seem excited about playing the guitar then your child can keep taking lessons. If your child is a bit older and getting close to the teenage years, they can always use sites such as YouTube, and other sites online to help them learn more about the guitar.
Your child does need a teacher when they are first learning because the teacher is going to show them the basics of the instrument, might show them some music theory, will show them their first songs and will help them develop proper playing habits. If you're not sure about the guitar teacher or if they are right for your child, asked to sit in on the first lesson and then you can get a general idea of how the guitar teacher is going to teach your child above the guitar.
If your child is young, you can probably get away with a guitar package. Several manufacturers now offer “starter kit” packages that include a guitar, amp, cable, strap, and picks. Amazon.com offers, as examples, a starter electric guitar kit from Fender, as well as a starter acoustic guitar kit from Yamaha. All of the major brick-and-mortar and online music stores will generally sell starter kits as well.
Lastly, I just want to wish you and your child good luck. As I said in the beginning, picking up the guitar has been nothing short of life-altering for me, and I can only hope that that it will bring countless hours of joy to your American Idol.
If you have any more questions, please add your comment to this article and I’ll be happy to help you out. Good luck!
This guide should help you pick a great acoustic guitar for your child. These are some of the best acoustic guitars for kids that you can buy and they would all make a good first instrument. If your child likes guitar, you can always buy them a better guitar when they are ready for it. Encourage your child to lay guitar but let them pick it up on their own. If your child like music, you will know and then you can help them discover the wonderful world of music and guitar playing.