I'm a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
Beginner Guitars for Children
When it comes to kids, the right beginner guitar can go a long way toward cultivating a life-long interest in music. Maybe you play guitar yourself, or another instrument, or maybe you just realize the benefits of having music in your life. You want to give that gift to your child, but you also know it's not nearly so easy.
Kids often have short attention spans, and they don't have a lot of patience when it comes to the boring stuff. They're already annoyed enough with having to do that school thing all day. If learning guitar seems like a chore, they'll chalk it up to one more yawn they have to endure.
As adults, we know how music can enrich our lives, and how some things we were made to do as kids eventually turned out to be for our benefit. Children don't see it that way, though. So how do you ignite a little fire in your kid and get them interested in music?
There are a couple of things you can think about when choosing a beginner guitar that will increase your child's chances of success and enjoyment:
What to Look for in a Guitar for a Child
- Choose a quality guitar that sounds good. Even kids know the difference between music that sounds nice and something that sounds like they're strumming a tennis racket. If they are inspired by the music they create, they are more likely to stick with it.
- Make sure the guitar is appropriate for their body size. Older or bigger kids might do just fine with a quality full-sized acoustic guitar, but you can't throw a full-sized guitar at a little kid and expect them to thrive. Physically struggling with the instrument only adds to the already huge task of learning to play guitar. A smaller guitar makes life easier for them.
Here are a few recommended acoustic guitars for kids. These are 3/4-sized guitars that are better for smaller bodies, but they are made by some of the best names in the business.
Yamaha FG JR1
I always recommend the Yamaha FG Series for beginners, and here it should be no surprise that the FG JR came through as my #1 recommendation here. These are well-made, affordable instruments from a highly respected company in the music world, and even teen and adult student guitarists are smart to choose a Yamaha for their first guitar.
For the FG JR1, Yamaha takes all the good stuff found in the larger FGs and shrinks it down to a kid-sized package. The FG JR1 is a great choice as a starter guitar for children. It's easy for their small bodies to manage, and has a sound that will inspire them to practice.
Like all Yamaha guitars, it features quality tonewoods that will make it sound great. Perhaps more importantly, it has a 3/4 scale length and a small body.
You might also check out the FG JR2, which is the same size as the JR1 but features some upgraded tonewoods. It's a little more expensive, but you'll get a higher-quality instrument.
Sticking with a solid brand name like Yamaha and the others mentioned in this article has one major benefit. Quality instruments are easier for beginners to learn on. Cheap guitars can be hard to play and sound terrible. Beginners have a hard enough time learning the instrument without having to struggle with a crummy guitar.
You can go with a no-name guitar if you want, but if you want to give your child the best shot at success start them on a quality guitar from a brand like Yamaha. And that's my advice for all ages of beginners.
The Yamaha FG JR-2
Taylor Baby Taylor
Here's a small guitar from a big name. Taylor is one of the most respected acoustic guitar brands in the world, and they make outstanding high-ending models for veteran and professional musicians.
But in this case, Taylor brings us the Baby Taylor. This is a more affordable, small-sized guitar perfect for kids and people with smaller bodies. It gets high marks for its surprising sound and quality, but you should expect nothing less from Taylor
The Baby Taylor would make a great guitar for a child, but it is quite a bit more expensive than the Yamaha above. I recommend it for kids who have already been playing a little while and know they are going to stick with the instrument, but aren't ready to make the switch to a full-sized acoustic guitar.
Many accomplished guitars players use the Baby Taylor and similar 3/4-sized guitars as travel guitars. They take them camping, on trips, or anywhere a full-sized acoustic would be too burdensome.
Yamaha CGS Classical Guitar
Here's another Yamaha guitar, and like the FG JR1, it's a 3/4-size, well-made instrument constructed from quality tonewoods. Like the steel-stringed JR above this is a smaller-sized guitar that's perfect for small bodies and hands.
But it's a classical guitar, and that means nylon strings, which beginners may find easier to press down, thus making the guitar a bit easier to play.
Of course, if a student guitarist intends to take classic guitar lessons an instrument like this is a perfect choice. But even for more traditional guitar students, it's not a bad idea to start out on a nylon-string guitar.
Remember that a first guitar is supposed to help a student master the basics, and a guitar that's easier to play will be more encouraging to practice on.
When it comes to choosing between a nylon-string or steel-string guitars for children I think it's important to consider their age, general dexterity level and willingness to learn the instrument. A child who is excited about playing guitar and old enough to understand there will be some adjustment and sacrifice as he or she goes along may be more than willing to put up with the slight discomfort of steel strings.
Smaller kids who become discouraged more easily may do better with nylon strings, as they are easier to play and easier on the hands.
Why Acoustic Starter Guitars for Kids?
Many new guitarists start with an acoustic instrument and move on to electric. Starting out on an acoustic guitar means a child can master the basics before moving on to more complicated matters like worrying about tone or effects.
You may also consider an acoustic guitar starter pack. Guitar starter kits contain everything a new guitarist needs to begin playing today. They're a smart financial choice too because you can often save a bunch of money by choosing a starter pack for beginners instead of purchasing everything individually. And, like the guitars in the article, these starter packs are made by some of the best names in the business, so you know they're quality.
Here are a few of the top acoustic guitars for beginners that are great for students in grade school, and smaller kids up to middle-school age.
Choosing Guitars for Beginners
I wanted to line up the best kids' acoustic guitars I could for this article. Remember this is all based on my opinion and I encourage you to do your own research and draw your own conclusions. Be sure to check out the manufacturers' websites for the most updated info on their instruments.
Looking back at my suggestions I realize they may be a little more expensive than many parents would like. After all, you don't know if your child is going to stick with the instrument, so you have to be smart.
There are a lot of cheap beginner guitars out there, but you get what you pay for. One of the reasons I like to recommend big-name brands to beginners is because they are generally much higher in quality, and therefore better for the learning process.
Another reason is that, if your child decides he's done with guitar, you'll be able to sell a name-brand guitar and get more of your money back.
What should you expect to spend for a beginner guitar setup? The answer varies, depending on your goals. In this article, you got some practical advice on choosing guitars for beginners. For kids, teens, and adults, the same thing holds true: Starting off with the right guitar can make things much easier for a beginner!
Good luck choosing the best acoustic starter guitar for your child, and sending them off on a lifetime musical journey.