Buying a guitar for kids can be quite difficult as someone who can’t play the guitar is obviously not in a perfect position to know what to look for when getting one. Unfortunately, such a person may choose a guitar not based on the right criteria or even worse, he could be an easy target for unscrupulous salesmen. In the end of the day, you may hold a guitar in your hand that is even not suitable for your child. Buying a guitar for children requires some knowledge in order to get a guitar that fits your child’s needs. In this article, I would like to provide you all information you need to consider before buying a guitar, from choosing the best guitar for kids to find what out the best suitable approach for learning the guitar.
Is a guitar the right instrument for my child?
Kids are curious and they love exploring new things. Musical instruments are exciting and fun as well as good for the development of young kids. However, learning to play a musical instrument is something different than just exploring an instrument for fun.
When it comes to learning properly a musical instrument, there aren’t too many instruments adapted for young kids. Most instruments are just too big or there are not sizes for kids. For that reason a guitar is without doubt a good choice since there are different sizes depending on the age of the child.
Of course we can also see kids learning guitar on standard sized ones but most of them wouldn’t feel comfortable with it because it’s just too big. It’s like wearing too big clothes … it just doesn’t fit. Having a guitar adapted to the size of your child makes it much easier and much more fun to learn and to play on it.
In comparison to other musical instruments like a keyboard, a guitar for kids has also got a much better price-quality-relation. At the same time, guitar lessons are also more affordable than keyboard lessons.
A guitar is quite handy instrument and your son or your daughter will be able to carry it wherever he/she likes to. There are so many good reasons why to go for a guitar for children. But at the end, you are the best person who can answer that question if it’s the right instrument or not for your child. I can only help you in that decision making process by giving you an overview of the advantages of a guitar for kids.
Which types of guitars exist for kids?
Honestly, there are a lot of different types of guitars! There are even types you probably have never heard of or seen. But when buying a kid’s guitar we really want to consider those types that are actually relevant for kids, so guitars that also exist in different sizes.
There are basically three types of guitars that might be a good choice for kids: the classical, acoustic and electric guitar. But the classical guitar is without doubt the most sold guitar for kids and actually the best choice for young kids and pure beginners. If you take a look in guitar lessons for kids you probably see all of them with a classical one. And that for good reason! They are equipped with nylon strings, which are easier to play for beginners since these kind of strings hurt much less on your fingertips. For nylon string guitars there exists also the biggest range of different sizes.
The acoustic version is quite similar to the classical one. The big difference are the strings that are used on this type of guitar. Instead of nylon strings, acoustic guitars use steel strings. The strings have got much more tension and consequently they are harder to play. It’s not really recommended for kids to start on that kind of guitar, except your child plays the guitar since a certain time and he needs or wants to change his guitar. It’s often the case that beginners start on a classical one but one day they feel like moving on with an acoustic one because it has got just a fuller and brighter sound. Almost every musician in pop and rock is playing that type of guitar. That definitely raises the motivation for an acoustic guitar too.
Quite the same applies for electric guitars. They also use steel strings but the string tension is weaker than on acoustic guitars. It was quite hard to find a electric guitar in a smaller size a few years ago but recently we can see more and more small electric guitars coming on the market. However, I would still go for a nylon string guitar when it comes to beginners and kids. It might be an option for older kids but for young kids it’s not the best choice. An electric guitar requires an amp and your child needs to know to use it. So, it adds some complexity.
Last but not least I would like mention another great option beside guitars. If you like guitar then you like without doubt also ukuleles. A ukulele is actually a great instrument for kids. The small size of these small “guitars” and the fact thar they are quite easy to play make them a perfect instrument for young kids.
Which guitar size should I buy for my child?
Once you are sure that the guitar is the right instrument for your child and which type you would like to get, it’s all about the determining the right guitar size. The size is an important concern when buying a guitar for a child. It is essential to determine the right size for your child before you start looking for one at a local music store or at an online store. If you buy a guitar that is too large your child will have a much harder time learning to play it. A right sized guitar allows your child to wrap his left hand around the neck and the right arm and shoulder should fit around the body without any discomfort. There are generally 4 basic sizes:
- 1/4 size guitars are the smallest guitars made for the youngest little guitar players. If a 1/4 guitar is too large for your child, you should wait and get a toy guitar instead.
- 1/2 size guitars are already a bit bigger and its sound is close to a standard one.
- 3/4 size guitars are slightly smaller than standard guitar at the first glance.
- 4/4 are full size guitars and can be used for teenagers over 12 years and adults
In order to determine the right sized guitar for your child, use our guitar size chart. Many guitar makers build only 1/2 and 3/4 sized guitars. Some of them also introduced 1/4 sized nylon string guitars, which can be found now nearly everywhere.
In order to be complete, we should also mention that there are 1/8 and 7/8 size guitars. There exists only a few 1/8 guitars and it’s quite difficult to find them on the US market. 7/8 guitars are especially designed for women with small hands. They can be used for kids as well but the thing is that you would just get a guitar that your child outgrows in a couple of months probably.
How can you distinguish a good instrument from a low quality one?
Finding a quality guitar that fits your budget is probably the hardest part in the buying process. A good guitar is essential for learning properly playing the guitar. If you get a cheap and bad quality guitar, it could end the whole fun before it gets started. Some of them are even impossible to play. They don’t stay in tune and the distance between the guitar neck and the strings are often too high. Its’ rather a toy than an instrument. Learning on a low quality guitar make it hard and pretty uncomfortable to play any tone. It just leads to frustration and you can be sure that chances are high that your child will give it up.
If you have no experience in buying guitars, you probably decide on the wrong facts. You don’t know the good brands or you don’t know at which parts of the guitar you should better take a closer look. I have seen already so many people picking up just a nice shiny looking guitar for a quite cheap price. That’s already the first big mistake. A very shiny guitar where you see more paint and varnish on the top than the wood structure itself is already a sign for a bad quality guitar. Why? Because those guitars are made of poorly laminated wood covered by lots of varnish. The paint and varnish is cheap in comparison to wood. First of all, putting too much varnish on the guitar reduces the sound quality. Second of all, those guitars are poorly produced and are consequently not all adjusted and set up. Those kind of guitars are often sold for around $40 and you’re better off not getting one of those guitars.
You should consider a guitar is a long-term investment in the musical future of your child and it’s worth spending a bit more in this case. For around $100 you can get already really nice guitar models for kids. The difference can be huge in terms of quality, sound and playability.
Good nylon-string guitars for kids are available from Yamaha or Cordoba. Above you find a selection of some affordable quality guitars in any size.
If you want to find out more about how to choose a good guitar, then I recommend you reading our dedicated article to this topic. There, we are going to explain at what other things you should look at in order to identify a high quality guitar.
Which is the best age to start learning guitar for kids?
It mainly depends on the development of your child. Some children are still in the period of exploring things by fun instead of sitting down and learning seriously an instrument. And that it Generally, we can say that kids can start from an age of around 4 years. There are even a few examples on the internet where you can see even much younger kids playing the guitar. That’s incredible to see and we have to keep in mind that these cases are only a few exception. You shouldn’t push your child. The right age to start learning the guitar is when your child feels ready for it.
For finding out if your child is ready for learning properly the guitar you could answer yourself questions like these: How patient is my child? How good is his concentration and his listening. How good is his understanding and his ability to absorb. These are important questions when it comes to guitar lessons for kids. So before 4 years, in most cases you’re better off buying your child a toy guitar in order to stimulate and let him experience that kind of instrument in a way of playing around. A toy guitar for toddlers is a perfect way to discover if he really admires guitars and to see if he is motivated also for a real guitar as well as if his motivation rests. If you are still unable to answer this question, take a look at the article the right age for start playing the guitar, we’ll discuss that question much more in detail.
How to learn playing guitar for kids?
Once you have got the guitar, it’s time to get started. The first days or weeks are often the period of exploring new instrument by fun. But no child won’t learn playing the guitar out of the blue. There might be some exceptions of course but in most cases you need to guitar lessons for your child.
Teaching the guitar to your child
Regarding costs, the first option would be the best one but most parents can’t even play the guitar. But if so, they don’t know how to teach or they just don’t dare to teach playing the guitar. But you should give it a try. We have some materials on teaching the guitar for kids on our site, which may help to design your lessons. Consider getting a book as well. It could be also an option to send your child to a guitar teacher and to practice together at home in order to make better and faster progress.
Guitar lessons for kids
The second option is the traditional option and most parents go with that because it is quite likely that your child will learn the instrument if you’ve got the right teacher. It is also the easiest way for parents. It is definitely the best option, but on the other hand it’s quite costly to send your son or daughter regularly to lessons.
Online guitar lessons for kids
Guitar lessons require a guitar school close to you or long driving distances every week. There are even some sites that offer guitar lessons for kids via skype and some of them have trial lessons. I think for many families that are living in a rural area, this is a great option to consider.
Self-learning the guitar
Last but not least, there is an option that isn’t too often considered: Self-learning. For that option your child should be already a bit older, let’s say at least 10 years old. In most of the cases it will be quite hard to learn properly the guitar just from the internet and from books because nobody can point out your mistakes. Moreover, these are all just standardized methods and not adapted to individual needs. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible but at least it takes much more time and there is a risk that little mistakes will slip in. I think, it’s worth trying to give your child in the beginning also a guitar book so he can start straight away. If he stays with the guitar even with a book, it shows a lot of motivation and guitar lessons are definitely worth because he won’t give up. Besides that, online courses and books are great materials to fill the time between personal guitar lessons. In that way, you progress much faster and your child requires less guitar lessons. We have also some material on our site, such as a library of easy nursery rhymes for kids with free printables.
But at the end you don’t have to decide only for one method. So combinations of these option may be also quite reasonable. Find a complete overview in our article about the existing methods for learning guitar for kids.