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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best children's acoustic guitars

Last Updated December 2019

Learning to play a musical instrument like the acoustic guitar is a worthy endeavor at any age. However, a child beginner is faced with a few more obstacles than an adult beginner, the primary concern being the instrument itself. All acoustic guitars are not the same, and the one a child learns to play must be specifically designed for a small person for it to be playable.

If you're not a music teacher, you might not know what size guitar your child needs, which strings are better, and what price range you should be considering. This guide will explain that and more. It will even provide some tips for helping a young guitarist succeed.

Starter bundles can save you money by packaging everything you need to begin learning guitar. The primary pitfall to be aware of here is the quality of the guitar; you want to make sure the bundle doesn’t include a poor instrument.

It's all about the size

If you sat on a bike but your feet couldn’t reach the pedals, you wouldn't get very far. The same is true of a guitar. If your right arm (for right-handed players) can't comfortably reach over the body of the instrument to strum the strings, you're not going to get very far. If your left forefinger (again, for right-handed players) can't comfortably reach all the way across the fretboard to play a low F, you will not be able to play the instrument.

Luckily, some manufacturers make guitars specifically for players with small hands. Other manufacturers make small guitars for kids. Kids grow at different rates, and it's hard to know if a guitar would be the right fit until the musician holds it in their hands. Following are some general guidelines to help you make the right choice.

  • A child who is 4 to 6 years old would most likely need a 1/4-size guitar.
  • A child who is 6 to 8 years old would most likely need a 1/2-size guitar.
  • A child who is 8 to 10 years old would most likely need a 3/4-size guitar.
  • A child who is 11 or 12 would most likely need a full-size guitar.


These ranges are estimates based on a child of average size, so take that into account if your child is exceptionally short or tall for their age.

EXPERT TIP

Since so much of a guitar's appeal is tied to identifying with the design, it's a good idea to have the child involved in the purchasing decision.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other considerations

Although size is crucial, there are a few other factors that could facilitate or impede a younger student's progress. Here are some other features to consider.

Type of strings

There are two basic types of strings (with many variations) to consider when choosing your children's acoustic guitar. The first is steel strings. These are what you'll find on most acoustic guitars in most genres of music. Since they can be painful to learn on, it is a good idea to get lighter-gauge strings until the player's fingers get tougher. The second option is nylon strings. These are mainly used in classical, flamenco, and jazz music. However, they can be incorporated into any genre. Nylon strings are much gentler on the fingers and a good option if your child is not practicing because of finger pain.

String height

The closer the guitar strings are to the fretboard, the easier they are to play. If the height (action) is too high, the strings will be hard to press down. If the height is too low, it can create a buzzing sound as the strings vibrate against the frets.

Shape

Acoustic guitars come in a variety of shapes. Some have wide bodies and wide fretboards, while others are narrow. The shape of an acoustic guitar can make it easier (or harder) for a child to play the instrument. For instance, if your child will frequently be playing on the highest frets, getting an acoustic guitar with a cutaway (a section cut away so it's easier to reach the higher notes) would be wise.

Design

All acoustic guitars look similar ... until you own one. After that, you will be acutely aware of the differences between instruments. It can be something as bold as a brightly colored body or something as subtle as stylized marker dots on your fretboard or the shape of the tuning pegs. The idea is to choose a guitar that appeals to your child's aesthetics as much as possible. Remember, however, that proper size is even more important than style.

DID YOU KNOW?

Besides helping in math through pattern recognition and understanding fractions, music can help a child develop reading and comprehension skills.

Children’s acoustic guitar prices

It's easy to make decisions based on budget, but unless you're looking for a toy, most of the children's acoustic guitars under $50 are not reliable musical instruments. In the range of $60 to approximately $125, you can find some great starter guitars and bundles. These instruments are designed for a young musician, so they are more suitable for serious study. If you want craftsmanship of higher quality — an instrument that can stay with a child for several years — expect to pay at least $150 or $200. The priciest models can cost $400, which could be overkill, depending on your child's age.

Tips for young guitarists

The guitar can have a steep learning curve. It's not necessarily because the instrument is harder to grasp than other instruments. Rather, it's because the instrument can be painful to learn. In order to facilitate advancement on the guitar, here are a few tips to make the experience more enjoyable for the student.

  • Tune it. A guitar needs to be frequently tuned. If it isn't, the music your child is trying to play will be unrecognizable.
  • It's not a lap guitar. Kids love to place a guitar on their lap and strum. However, the instrument is much easier to play when held properly.
  • Purchase a quality instrument. Quality instruments work better and make learning easier.
  • Get a properly sized instrument. A child who cannot reach the strings won't be able to play the notes.
  • Try nylon strings. Steel strings are more painful when learning.
  • Take interest. Take a genuine interest in your child's accomplishments on the instrument. We endure when our accomplishments are recognized.
  • Keep the instrument accessible. An “out of sight” instrument is an “out of mind” instrument.
  • Allow some freedom of expression. Don't be upset if your child starts experimenting; it is a natural part of learning.
  • Keep it simple. Mastering an easier version of a song is more beneficial at an early stage than the struggle and frustration involved in learning the "official" version.
  • Start a band. The best learning incentive is to be prepared for your peers. If there are other kids in the neighborhood/school who play musical instruments, consider organizing a play date.

 

It is better to spend a little more and purchase a higher-quality beginner instrument. This will cut down on many frustrations and make your child's musical journey far more enjoyable.

Other products we considered

Daisy Rock, a company devoted to providing girls with guitars designed that inspire, has a pink sparkle guitar with a slim and narrow neck that is lightweight and absolutely dazzling. If you're looking for something with a little less sparkle but a whole lot of style, consider Oscar Schmidt's 3/4-size, high-gloss red guitar. And for those left-handed artists who want an instrument crafted specifically for them, Oscar Schmidt also has a 3/4-size dreadnought guitar that is manufactured for the lefty.

Learning to play a musical instrument can teach a student how to better create, store, and retrieve memories.

FAQ

Q. What is a good age to start guitar lessons?
A.
It depends on the child. When the interest/passion is there and it is fortified by the maturity needed to sit still and practice, it's time for lessons. There also needs to be a good bit of determination because learning guitar can be frustrating and painful, especially on soft little fingers. Many kids aren't seriously interested until they are about 12 or 13, but there are those who might have a sibling who already plays, so they are driven to learn at a much younger age.

Q. What if my child is left-handed?
A.
Guitars are played with two hands, each doing work independently of the other. Traditionally, the left hand voices the chords or fingers the notes while the right hand strums or picks. Choosing a left-handed guitar allows a left-handed child to have his or her dominant hand in charge of the strumming and picking. This is ideal. However, guitar choices are limited for left-handed players, and the guitars are often more expensive. Additionally, if a player needs to borrow a guitar from another player in a pinch, chances are a right-handed guitar might be their only option. The answer comes down to a personal choice: which is more important, ease of play or a larger selection of instruments?

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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