Acoustic guitars are hollow-bodied instruments without electric amplification. The wood is a very important concern for acoustic guitars since it produces the sounds. The top plate of quality guitars is usually made of spruce or cedar. Since these woods are light but with a tight grain, they enhance the capacity of the top plate to vibrate and serve as a sound source much more efficient than just the strings themselves. Once you strum or pluck the strings, the vibrating strings couple energy into this top plate. Rosewood is often used for making the backs and the sides of a guitar because it’s very hard and tends to contribute to a brighter sound.
Kid’s acoustic guitars may have steel strings or nylon strings. Since acoustics produce their sound themselves, you don’t have to buy an amplifier to play this type of guitar. This isn’t only an advantage regarding costs but also for practical reasons. You only have to carry your guitar around where you want to play and no extra stuff. However, some acoustic guitars do have pickups which allow you to amplify them. In combination with an amplifier they will still sound like an acoustic guitar and not like an electric. The purpose is to play the guitar at higher volumes and to modify the sound especially when you’re playing on stage. So if you think your child may want to play in a band and live on stage an electro-acoustic guitar should be a consideration.
Generally speaking I would say for the younger kids an acoustic guitar without a pickup will be fine. A 6 years old child who needs a 1/2 guitar won’t probably have the intention to play already on stage in the beginning. Once he is older and has got already a better level he may eventually outgrow the guitar. I would only recommend considering an acoustic with pickup from the size 3/4.
Classical guitar for kids
The two types of acoustic guitar are the classical guitar, also called nylon string guitar, and the steel string guitar. The classical guitar has a long history and its name is based on the fact that it came to prominence in a form resembling the modern guitar the classical era. A classical guitar is the typical beginner guitar. Most guitar teachers recommend classical guitars for kids and beginners since they use nylon strings. Nylon strings cause less pain for your fingertips when pushing down the strings. In addition to that, a classical guitar has got also a wider neck which makes it easier for beginners to place chords properly without touching any other strings at the same time. They are lightweight and a bit smaller than traditional acoustic guitars. Last but not least, there is usually a wider choice of classical guitars in guitar stores. Regardless of age the classical guitar is always a good choice. Nearly every younger player starts on a classical acoustic guitar to learn proper techniques before moving on to electric or steel string guitar later if they decide to. The fact that most popular musicians are playing on a steel string or an electric guitar motivates sooner or later most of the guitarists to go for one as well.
Steel strings guitar for kids
The steel string guitar is descendent of the classical guitar. They come in a variety of slightly different shapes as dreadnought, grand concert, jumbo etc., and are the most popular type of acoustic guitar. Steel strings guitar have got a louder and brighter sound. Most of the better quality guitars have a built-in amplifier and are therefore the guitar in any application: on stage, back stage, recording sessions. The two highest strings are made out of a plain metal. If your child is not used to steel strings it can be a bit uncomfortable and painful for his fingertips in the beginning. So they will just need to play for a short period each day until they build up some callouses on their fingers. If your child plays already the guitar and he needs to move on with the next size, there you don’t have to worry at all. His fingers are already used to guitar strings and he won’t have any pain at all. But if it’s his first guitar you should be aware of this little discomfort in the beginning. In addition to that, acoustic guitars have a higher action (distance between the strings and the neck) and kids have to press the strings down harder which can result in hand cramping. With a little practice this pain and discomfort will disappears. However, it’s a fact to consider for young children since they may give up faster if they don’t feel comfortable with the instrument right from the start. That’s why I think steel strings guitars are not the best choice for too young kids. Choosing a nylon string guitar can make for an easier introduction to play an acoustic. I would only consider a steel string guitar as an option for kids from 8 years.