Best Guitar For Kids
If you’re shopping for a guitar for your little one, it’s likely that you have a few questions. What kind of guitar should I go for? Electric or acoustic? How expensive are guitars? Will this budget-friendly guitar be of decent enough quality? What guitar will be easier to play for my child?
Well, these are all important considerations, and decisions that can be difficult to make if you’re unfamiliar with the world of guitars.
Here, we talk you through the differences in a variety of guitars aimed for children, look at some of the best products and will help you to decide which one’s right for your child. Quick jump to either electric or acoustic via the links below.
- 1 Best Acoustic Guitars for Kids
- 2 1) J&Z Classical Guitar ¾ Size (Available in other sizes) – TOP PICK
- 3 2) Pyle USA Junior Classical Guitar ¼ Size (Available in other sizes)
- 4 3) Omega Classical Guitar ½ Size (Available in other sizes)
- 5 4) Sonart Full Size Acoustic Guitar
- 6 5) Vangoa ¾ Size Acoustic Guitar
- 7 6) Donner ¾ Size Acoustic Guitar
- 8 Best Electric Guitar for Kids
- 9 1) Squier by Fender Mini Strat Bundle – TOP PICK
- 10 2) ½ Size Raptor Guitar Package
- 11 3) Ibanez GRGM21MMPL ¾ Size Guitar
- 12 4) SX RXT ¾ Size Electric Guitar Set
Best Acoustic Guitars for Kids
1) J&Z Classical Guitar ¾ Size (Available in other sizes) – TOP PICK
J&Z’s classical guitar, that’s available in ¾ size as well as other sizes, it the perfect guitar for children who are learning to play finger-style or classical. The nylon strings make it easy on the fingers and its lightweight makes it no effort to pick up and play as well as no problem to transport to lessons. The guitar also comes with a case, tuner, picks and a strap, so you’ll not be short of anything you need to play in a variety of styles and situation. It’s made of high quality woods – maple and basswood – giving it a smooth sustain and a consistent, rich sound. This guitar is an extremely popular beginner choice, due to its quality and reliability.
- Nylon strings are softer on the fingers and easier to play.
- Comes as part of a kit with a case, tuner and more guitar essentials.
- Maple head, neck and fretboard enable a bright tone whilst the solid basswood top, back and sides encourage warmth and sustain.
- There’s no cutaway, so it’s very tricky to play beyond the 12th fret.
- There’s only one strap button, so the strap must be fastened at the head of the guitar. This can be a little uncomfortable and awkward.
- You might want to replace the case for something more padded.
2) Pyle USA Junior Classical Guitar ¼ Size (Available in other sizes)
This beginner guitar set, which is available in a variety of sizes, includes everything you need just like the ZX model. It costs a little bit less, but is still made from Linden, Birch and Maple, so you can expect a high quality tone. The strings are nylon, so easy on the fingers, and whatever size you go for, the guitar is light and easy to hold. This guitar has no strap buttons, so it’s more for sitting down with than standing up. Whilst this won’t affect learning, it might be an issue for those who want to stand up and rock during a performance.
- Nylon strings make it beginner-friendly.
- Handcrafted body made from Linden Wood, Birch and Maple ensures a consistently high quality tone.
- Comes with a case, strings, picks and more extra goodies.
- There’s no cutaway, so playing beyond fret 12 will be difficult.
- There are no strap buttons, so it will be hard to stand up with this guitar.
- You might want to replace the case for one with padding.
3) Omega Classical Guitar ½ Size (Available in other sizes)
The Omega Classical guitar is the most budget-friendly in this category. Whilst the woods aren’t quite as high quality as the ZX or the Pyle guitar, it’s still Basswood, so not shabby by any means. This Basswood gives it a rich tone, with plenty of sustain. One of the reasons it’s so budget-friendly, however, is that it comes with fewer accessories. Although you get a case, tuners, picks and capos will need to be bought separately. The tuning is stable and the sound is good, so don’t be fooled by the price. It’s a brilliant guitar to learn on and will be perfect for those playing classical or finger-style.
- Basswood gives it a rich tone.
- Nylon strings make it easy to play and soft on the fingers.
- Although it comes with a case, there are no other included accessories.
- There are no strap buttons.
- The shape makes it almost impossible to play beyond fret 12.
4) Sonart Full Size Acoustic Guitar
The Sonart full size acoustic is one for teenage beginners (or even adults). If your child is 11+, they are likely to want to go for something ‘proper’, straight away. Sonart’s acoustic is just that. It’s made of high quality Basswood, which produces rich and bright sounds and the strings are all steel, so they can develop their calluses from the get go. There’s a case, strings, picks and more included with this guitar, so they have everything they need to start feeling like a guitarist immediately. With a few lessons, they’ll be strumming their favourite songs in no time.
- Full size makes it great for teenage beginners.
- Made of high quality basswood, producing rich and bright sounds.
- Comes with case, strings, picks and more essentials.
- The size will be inappropriate for younger beginners.
- There’s no cutaway, so it’s very bulky and inconvenient past fret 14.
- There’s only one strap button, so a strap will need to be tied at the headstock.
5) Vangoa ¾ Size Acoustic Guitar
Vangoa’s ¾ size will turn Ed Sheeran fans’ heads. It’s great for children aged 8+ as its ¾ sized shape is easy to hold and well-suited to a small frame. There’s a cutaway on this guitar, making it easy to access high frets and this instrument even has built-in electrics. This opens up all kinds of recording and performance options. Although it might seem like quite a professional product for the beginner, it comes at a reasonable price and the quality is consistent and reliable. This instrument is one that will take your child from beginner to intermediate and beyond.
- There’s a cutaway, giving you easy access to those high frets!
- Has built-in electrics, so you can plug it in if you need more volume or for easy recording.
- It’s small at ¾ size but still has a full and vibrant tone as it’s made from spruce wood and sapele.
- The strings are metal, so aren’t too easy on the fingers for beginners.
- It’s a bit pricey for a first guitar.
- There’s no pick guard to protect the body from scratches.
6) Donner ¾ Size Acoustic Guitar
Like the Vangoa, Donner’s ¾ size acoustic will suit players aged 8 and above. It has a dreadnought body, which will make it more suited to those children with a larger frame or who would like something a little bulky and substantial. This bigger shaped body gives a bassier, louder sound than cutaway guitars, but it does limit your access beyond fret 15. It is sold with the modern, acoustic musician in mind, even coming with a capo so that they can strum along with their favourite songs in no time. Two strap buttons also make this guitar easy to stand up with.
- Dreadnought body gives it a full, rich sound.
- Comes with case, capo, strings tuner and more.
- There are two strap buttons, making it easy to attach a strap to.
- There’s no cutaway, so playing beyond fret 14/15 will be a pain.
- The strings are all steel, so it’s not easy on the fingers.
- There are no built-in electrics.
Best Electric Guitar for Kids
1) Squier by Fender Mini Strat Bundle – TOP PICK
Now, onto the guitars for little rockers. Squier have an excellent reputation for entry-level guitars, and with good reason. They have consistent quality control and you really know what you’re getting. In this case, what you get is a bundle. There’s a mini Stratocaster, which emulates most of the features of a full-sized Strat, minus a tone control, pickup and whammy bar. There are also accessories including a strap, tuner and picks. Like Fenders, Squiers hold their tune well and have good intonation. This guitar will be a perfect starter for the 8-11 year old who will later go on to play a full-size electric guitar .
- Small size makes it perfect for younger players whilst giving them an electric guitar experience.
- Comes with a strap, tuner and picks.
- Strat shape makes it easy to hold and to reach high frets.
- There’s no whammy bar.
- There’s only one tone control, limiting your sound options (although this will make little difference to beginners).
- There’s not a case included in the bundle.
2) ½ Size Raptor Guitar Package
The ½ size Raptor will be better suited to rock guitarists under the age of 8. The accessories included are really impressive – even including an amp and lead – and the simplicity of the guitar makes it very child-friendly. There’s just one pickup and one volume control, so your child can be confident that they know exactly what they’re doing with the guitar and won’t get distracted by multiple knobs. It’s also very easy to hold, with a Strat-style shape, not too heavy and reasonably priced. This is an instrument that will encourage any child to learn to play.
- Includes amp, lead and everything you need to get playing.
- Very simple with just one pickup and volume control.
- Strat-style shape makes it easy to hold and play.
- One pickup and dial makes sound options limited.
- There’s no whammy bar.
- You might want to upgrade the included lead and amp.
3) Ibanez GRGM21MMPL ¾ Size Guitar
Do you have an 8-11 year old who is suddenly mad on rock and heavy metal? Look no further. This extremely stylish guitar has rock and metal looks as well as including humbucker pickups which are especially designed to create heavy rock tones without the feedback. It has 24 frets, which means it’s easier to make it squeal, scream and to start shredding on. There’s also a stand included, so your child can put it in pride of place. I’ll be honest, I kind of want this guitar for myself. Despite its small size, it’s a beauty that you and your child will want to keep for a long time.
- 24 frets increase your options and make shredding possible!
- Extremely stylish looks mean it’s something your child can be proud of and excited about.
- Humbucker pickups give it a chunky, rock/metal sound.
- It’s designed with rock/metal in mind, which might not suit everyone.
- There’s no whammy bar.
- The included accessories are limited to a stand.
4) SX RXT ¾ Size Electric Guitar Set
The SX RXT ¾ size electric guitar set comes with everything you need to get started. There’s an amp, case, strings, lead, picks and more. What’s more, this guitar includes a whammy bar! This is great for those who want to learn to play like Hendrix, Jimmy Page or Dimebag Darrell. It includes an instructional DVD, to take your child a step closer to playing like those greats, and is also compatible with the X-box game ‘Rocksmith’, so your child can have fun with their games console as they learn.
- Comes with amp, case, strings and more – everything you need to get playing.
- Strat-style makes it easy to hold, play and reach high frets.
- Includes a whammy bar!
- Might be a bit heavy for little ones.
- You might wish to upgrade some of the included accessories.
- All of the controls all at once could complicate things for a complete beginner.
What is a Children’s Guitar?
There are a lot of guitar out there that are marketed towards child learners. They’re made for smaller hands and frames, designed with easiness and fun in mind and often come with a bundle of accessories.
Although it would be easy to mistake a child’s guitar as a toy, they’re often very well built and can offer amazing sound quality. Before we look into that more deeply, the first decision to make is: classical, electric or acoustic?
Classical, Electric or Acoustic?
A lot of learners begin on classical guitars. This makes sense, as they are lighter, easier to play and often less expensive than acoustic or electric guitars. They have nylon strings, the lowest three of which are also wrapped in metal to give them an appropriately deep sound. Classical guitars are an excellent starting point for musicians, but their downfall is that those learning to play rock will be limited up to the 12th fret, which can be problematic in rock lead guitar.
Acoustic guitars can be more appropriate for those learning to strum with a pick, although their steel strings are less easy on the fingers. These guitars often have a cutaway, which makes higher frets more accessible. They’re also the kind of guitar the likes of Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift play, which can be a deal-breaker for some children.
Electric guitars are often the number one choice for rock fans. But how appropriate are they for beginners? Although many people think that it’s best to start with an acoustic, if an electric guitar and rock music is what’s captured your child’s enthusiasm, a child’s electric guitar set might be the way to go. There are quarter, half and three-quarter sized ones which are suited to children as they’re not too heavy, hard-to-play or expensive.
What about Cost?
But surely electric guitars are more expensive than acoustics? Well, not necessarily. There are classical, acoustic and electric guitars to suit every budget. If you’re really looking to get value for money, it’s worth opting for a guitar that comes with a lot of included accessories. This will prevent you from spending unexpected additional amounts of money throughout the initial months of your child’s learning.
So, what’s best – nylon strings to protect fingers, or steel strings to build calluses and get them used to it?
Well, there’s no right or wrong answer to this. It will, largely, depend on style. If your child is learning or would like to learn fingerpicking, nylon strings make sense. If they’re a rock guitarist in the making, steel strings are the obvious choice. These strings are available in all kinds of thicknesses, so you can always change mediums to lights after buying the guitar (it’s easier than it sounds).
OK, so now you know what kind of guitar you’re going to get, what about size? There are ¼, ½, ¾ and full-size guitars. Which of these will be best for your child?
A general guide is that under 6’s should go for ¼ size guitars, 6-8 year olds should opt for ½ size, 8-11 should go ¾ size and 11+ are best with a full size guitar. Obviously, this is based on average heights of children these ages. If you’re not buying the gift as a surprise, it’s best to get the child to sit down with it before you commit to the purchase, to ensure that they look and feel comfortable.
Number of Frets
Some guitars have 18, some have 21, whilst some have 24! Does it matter? Which should I get?
If your child is playing chords or classical guitar, 18-21 frets are fine. To be honest, in the beginner stages, you’re very unlikely to venture much higher than fret 15 on rock guitar and fret 12 in other styles. However, if your child is mad on shredding (very fast lead guitar), 24 frets won’t hurt :).
The woods used to build up a guitar can have a significant effect on sound, so it’s worth being at least a little in the know about.
Generally, good, popular woods are Maple, Mahogany, Alder and Basswood. You might also come across Ash or Poplar. They all have slightly different qualities, but the point is that they are qualities.
Watch out for woods that are un-advertised or unheard of. These can have shoddy tones that might hinder your child’s musical confidence.
Cutaway or Dreadnought?
Acoustic guitars sometimes come with a cutaway, whilst they sometimes have a ‘dreadnought’ shape. The dreadnought shape is the most full-bodied shape, which also has a fuller sound and looks more substantial. This is great for chord strumming and can be comfortable to sit with.
However, cutaway guitars are often better for those with smaller frames, and they have the benefit of making higher frets reachable. This is a must for young guitarists who might need to reach up the fretboard, to play rock or blues solos on their acoustics.
How Many Knobs?
Electrics, on the other hand, often have lots of knobs on them. Won’t this confuse the beginner?
Some have just one knob, making everything simple but limiting tonal options, whilst some have two – working as an in-between stage between simplicity and advanced guitars. Some electric guitars designed for children have a full three pickups, three knobs and even a whammy bar. This can work well as a full learning experience but it might be a bit much for some beginners.
Finally, it’s important to consider which extras you prioritise. Lots of kids’ guitars come with cases, whilst some come with leads, tuners, strings and picks as well. Some even come with tutorial DVDs and stands.
If you’re opting for an electric guitar, these extras could save you a lot of money. Classicals and acoustics will also need cases, tuners and perhaps picks.
If you’re likely to require these extras, a bundle starter set will most probably be your best option.
Product Round-up and Mini Reviews – What are the Best Guitars for Kids?
So, now you know what you’re looking for in children’s guitars, we’re going to take you through some of the best products on the market. We’ll start with classical and acoustic guitars, then go through to electrics. To make your buying decision easier, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each product and compare them to each other in terms of budget, quality and child-appropriateness.
As you can see, the guitar you and your child choose will depend on several factors. What’s their musical style? What’s your budget, and how old are they?
If you have a younger child, who wants to learn to play but isn’t particularly set on rock music, a ¼ – ¾ sized classical guitar would be the best option. The ZX classical is high quality and long-lasting, the Pyle is almost as good at a slightly lower price, whilst the Omega classical is budget-friendly and not far off the others in terms of quality of materials. The Omega guitar, though, does come with fewer accessories than the other two.
If you’re looking for something for a child who’s maybe a little bit older, who perhaps has a fixation on Ed Sheeran or someone similar, one of the acoustic guitars will be better. The Vangoa has a cutaway, making it easier to access high frets, whilst the Sonart and Donner both offer Dreadnought bodies. The Sonart will be more suited to teenagers, as it’s full-sized, whilst the Donner will suit those aged 8+.
Young rockers have the Squier, Raptor, Ibanez and SX RST guitars to choose from. The Squier set offers classic looks and reliability for 8-11s, whilst the Raptor will be better suited to the under 8s. Ibanez’s rocky model is perfect for young metal heads, whilst the SX RST set is similar to the Squier but with a whammy bar and more controls.
Whichever of these guitars you decide to go for, we hope that your child loves it and has a rewarding learning and musical experience.
Do you know of another great beginner guitar for children, that we haven’t included here? Let us know, in the comments below!