Picking out a starter level guitar for a young musician while not over spending on your budget can be a tricky task to juggle.
If you have just a little bit of information in your back pocket, you will have the ability to pick out a guitar that fits your child’s expectations, that’s playability, affordable, and cosmetically appealing.
The hardest part of your child playing guitar isn’t really going to be the shopping part, but the learning is what may have you and your child flustered at times!
What to look for when shopping for a guitar for your child
There a whole list of different factors that you should look for when shopping for a guitar for your child. If you have a younger or smaller child, you’re going to need to be on the hunt for guitars that were built for people who have smaller bodies.
The size of the guitar is dependent upon your child’s age; in most cases, a ¾ guitar or a parlor guitar will do well with your child. However, full sized guitars are an option for your child as well, if they are older or larger in size.
Here is a basic rule of thumb to follow for the size of the guitar you should shop for and the age of your child
- Ages 4-6: 30-inch guitar length
- Ages 6-9: 34-inch guitar length
- Ages 9-12: 36-inch guitar length
- Ages 12 and up: standard size guitar (a.k.a full sized)
You should also search for guitars that have necks that are easy to play, have light weight strings, and light weight bodies.
When shopping around for a guitar for your child, you should make sure that you’re not looking at poorly made instruments, as the market is saturated with cheap guitars that are marketed towards beginners.
Filtering out all of the poorly made guitars will be the hardest part of your search for a guitar; all of the six-string acoustics and electric guitars have passed our tests and are worthy of your hard earned money.
How much money should you spend?
This question also really depends on how much you’re willing to spend and what type of sound you’re looking to achieve on your child’s guitar.
Personally, I would suggest that you spend no more than $300 on a brand new guitar, but you could totally get yourself a decent acoustic or a decent electric guitar for around $100. If you’re looking to achieve amazing sound with your child’s new guitar, your budget may be more around $500.
If you’re searching around for an electric guitar, you’re also going to need to purchase an amp; a quality beginner’s level amp can cost from $50 to $200. Make sure to add an additional $50-$100 to your budget for any additional gear that’s necessary for your child’s success on the instrument.
Before getting too deep into your guitar shopping journey, you should be made aware that amount you spend on your guitar is not the final amount that you’re going to spend in total.
If you really want your child to succeed with guitar, they are going to need to have additional gear to pair along with their guitar, such as:
- Extra guitar strings
- Gig bag
- Guitar strap
- Guitar picks
If you’re shopping around for an electric guitar, your child is also going to need to have a good amp to pair along with the electric guitar.
In order to connect the electric guitar to the house amp, you’re also going to need a cable, which is $10; right now, $10 doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you add up all of the little purchases you need to make, everything can start adding up quickly.
Amps and cables aren’t necessary for acoustic guitars, but they are necessary for acoustic electric guitars.
No matter what instrument you’re playing, you’re going to need to have a good tuner on hand. Even if you’re buying a brand new guitar from a guitar shop, your guitar is more than likely to be out of tune by the time you get home.
Even if your guitar isn’t out of tune by the time you get home, it’s going to be out of tune within an hour or three of playing. Since you’re shopping around for a new guitar player, your child isn’t going ot have the aural capabilities to tune their guitar via ear.
If your guitar isn’t in tune and the child is playing on it, they’re building bad habits, because an out of tune guitar isn’t really useable! Get a tuner, they’re typically pretty inexpensive and they’re easy to use. Keeping the strings in tune will help to keep your guitar in shape.
A metronome is another vital accessory to have in order to have a proper guitar practice and to develop proper musical skills. You should also have a gig bag or a hard case to have your child store their guitar in.
When you purchase a guitar, it comes in a cardboard case; once your child takes the instrument out of the card board box, they’re going to need to have something secure to keep the instrument secure and safe from damage.
Your child should also have a guitar strap to throw around their body when they’re playing while standing up. Playing while standing up requires a strap and playing while sitting down without a strap are two completely different things, as the muscle positioning is completely different.
For smaller sized bodies, playing while standing up can be a lot easier to do when first starting out. You’re also going to need some guitar picks, which are around $5 for a whole pack of picks.
The good news is, is that when you’re shopping around for a guitar, there are actually a few things that you don’t need to buy right off the bat. You shouldn’t buy a guitar effects pedal when starting out with an electric guitar.
Pedals do all sorts of cool things for your guitar, but adding a complicated pedal to the mix can really confuse your child when first starting out.
New guitars vs used guitars
Don’t waste your money on a used guitar. A new guitar may be a bit more expensive initially, but in the long run, you’re going to save so much money. Cheap/beginner’s level guitars aren’t made with high quality materials, so they’re more prone to damage.
If you buy a beginner’s guitar off of someone, you’re more than likely going to spend bucket loads of money trying to fix broken and worn down parts of the instrument. Starting your child’s journey off with a faulty guitar can greatly impact their musical journey.
If you are willing to take the risk of purchasing a bargain guitar, go for it! Just know the impact that it could have on your budget and your child.
Private lessons or online lessons?
Before you get started thinking that you’ll just be able to hand your child a guitar, if you want your child to be able to play fluently, you’re going to need to provide them with lessons.
Most kids aren’t able to teach themselves proper techniques, or even how to read music, without the help of someone who has experience.
If you’re comparing the differences between online lessons and a private teacher, the proper answer to this would to be use to use all resources that are avlaibale to you. Both types of lessons will provide your child with exercises, tools, and proper techniques.
In all honesty, with all of the technology that we have now, it doesn’t make a huge difference whether you’re looking to choose between a private teacher or online lessons.
What matters the most is the price of the lessons and how good the teacher is; through my experience teaching a younger audience, I think that online lessons would be the best to go with.
In case your child doesn’t understand a certain lesson, forgets how to apply a certain technique, or wants to re-learn something, they can just re-wind and re-watch the lesson.
When doing your research for the guitar you’re looking to purchase your guitar, you’re probably going to run into something called ‘Guitar Tabs’; guitar tabs allows musicians to learn new songs at a faster rate than reading regular sheet music.
Guitar tabs are great to have around, but they aren’t really the most efficient tool to have around when learning how to develop musical abilities.
Guitar tabs mainly teach musicians to memorize a string of certain numbers, as well as teaching musicians to learn music through memorization and not through feel and emotion.
Using guitar tabs right off the bat often teaches young musicians to not put any heart and soul into their music, which will later on limit their ability to improvise, play by feel, or compose music, which are all parts of being a successful and happy musician.
There are a lot of online videos and blogs that focus on helping people to develop their playing techniques and musiciality without the use of any guitar tabs. These blogs can help to inspire your children to learn and conquer difficult music lessons and any guitar content in general.
Electric guitars vs Acoustic Guitars- Which is better?
A lot of people claim that when starting out learning how to play guitar, that users should always start out with acoustic guitar, because acoustic guitars are easier to learn on; acoustic guitars are ‘easier’ to learn on for a child, because there aren’t any electric intricacies that a child has to deal with while learning acoustic guitar.
While I do agree that this statement is true, I do not believe that you should force your child into learning an instrument that they’re not interested in, because they’re not going to want to learn how to play.
Allowing your children to play the instrument that they have interest in, you will actually see an improvement in their playability abilities and the attitude that they have towards practicing.
Learning any instrument, whether it’s a guitar or not, should be a fun hobby for your child that’s mainly a self-motivated experience; having too many rules based around learning the instrument can place a negative vibe around the whole experience.
Let you child choose which instrument that they want to play and let them figure out which style they want to play. Once you and your child have that all figured out, it’s your job to figure out which instrument will be the best for your child to begin practicing on.
There really isn’t a whole big difference between electric guitars and acoustic guitars, when you’re first starting out.
The more experience that your child gains on the guitar, the more of the differences they will begin to realize between acoustic guitars and electric guitars, but when they’re first starting out, there are hardly any.
Basically, when a child is first starting out, there isn’t really a better choice that they can make between acoustic guitars and electric guitars. The main thing that needs to be focused on is the interest in playing the instrument. As long as that natural passion and interest is there, both options will be fine for your child.
Squier Strat Mini
Squier’s Strat Mini is the smaller version of Squier’s extremely affordable Bullet model, which was comprised to be a replica of the famous Fender Stratocaster.
This electric guitar features a set of three single coil pickups and a standard five way switch that allows musicians to create a large variety of sounds, from a light and bright jazz tone to a heavy bass filled tone that makes ther perfect sound for rock and roll.
The Squier Strat Mini provides young musicians with an incredibly sturdy body that’s able to withstand a few drops and other abuse that young players put the instrument through.
Rougue Rocketeer RR50
The Rougue Rocketeer RR50 is a basic electric guitar that is perfect if you don’t have a lot of money to spend and are looking to mainly focus on using online lessons.
While some musicians may complain that this guitar lacks a lot of controls and isn’t extremely versatile, this guitar is perfect for the beginning musician for one reason mainly: this isn’t an electric guitar that you’re going to get overwhelmed with.
This guitar sports a double cutaway with a 7/8 scale that’s 100% child friendly; bolt on maple neck, rose wood fret board, 22 frets, a single humbucker, one master volume control, and fix string through bridge all come with this Rougue Rocketeer RR50 and its included gig bag.
Epiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Pack
If you happen to be involved in the music world at all, you may understand that there are two types of people in the music industry: people who like the Les Paul more and the people who like the Fender Strat more.
The Epiphone Les Paul is a duplicate of the iconic Gibson guitar, by providing young musicians with a round shape, a robust sound, and a chunky neck.
Personally, I think theEpiphone Les Paul Electric Guitar Pack is the best option to go with on this list if you’re looking to find a quality guitar at an affordable price. For around $200, you get an electric guitar, a strap, a set of picks, and an amplifier. Isn’t that price amazing?
If your child happens to be thoroughly interested in metal, the Ibanez GRGMIBKN is perfect for the younger shredders. This model comes in an elegant black color with a 22 inch scale maple neck that has low tension, which is really difficult to find in a beginner’s level guitar.
The neck is thin, which makes it easy for people with smaller hands to play, especially if your young musician is looking to play thrasher metal or do lots of shredding. This guitar comes a two humbucker pickup, which provides the guitar with a lot of gain and a true metal sound to the guitar.
Epiphone SG Special
The Epiphone SG Special packs a serious sound with two humbucker pick ups, which really provides your child a certain amount of versatility by making the choice between Treble mode and Rhythm mode.
While the price tag on this Epiphone is a bit higher than some of the other instruments in this list, the ergonomic aspect of this guitar makes it incredibly unique for younger children.
This guitar may look to be way above your price range, but I’d be lying if I told you that you couldn’t afford this guitar. For $100, you can purchase this extremely stylist guitar with it’s black hardware, satin finish, and unique headstock.
The LE50 has a double cutaway bass wood body with a 22.75 scale length, which makes this electric guitar extremely easy for a small child to play.
The neck is a slim C shaped maple neck with a bound rose wood fret board and 24 jumbo frets; there are two high output humbuckers, volume and tone controls, and a three way pickup selector switch for your young musician to use to refine the sound their Laguana FE50 is providing.
Dean Playmate Evo J
The Dean Playmate EVO J is a guitar in the beginner’s level Evo series; the Playmate Evo J is the model that Dean created to be a child friendly guitar.
The Evo J is a small 18.75 inch scale length electric guitar with a sassy style and a great rock sound to match the cosmetic appearance; the Playmate Evo J has a glossy single cutaway body comprised of a solid bass wood with a bolt on maple neck, rose wood fret board, and 22 medium jumbo frets.
There are two humbuckers that have been designed by DMT that lay at the bridge and at the neck of the guitar, paired along with a three way pick up selector switch, a master volume control, and tone controls.
Acoustic guitars that have been made for beginning musicians are more affordable, especially since you’re not going to have to purchase an amplifier to go along with the instrument.
By going with an acoustic guitar, you will also have to stomach less of a financial loss if your child decides that they’re really not interested in playing guitar any more.
Inexpensive guitar options all have one common problem together: they all typically have higher action. What a higher action means is that your child is going to have to press down harder on the strings in order to produce a note or a chord.
You may find that your child will complain that their fingers hurt; when your child is first starting out playing guitar with a higher action, their hands will start to cramp and their fingers may form blisters- which is totally normal!
After consistently playing for a few months, your child will begin to develop callouses on their finger tips, which means their little fingers won’t hurt when they play guitar!
It’s also talked about how making the transition from acoustic guitar to electric guitar is a lot easier than making the transition from electric guitar to acoustic guitar.
Rogue Starter Acoustic Guitar
The Rogue Starter Acoustic Guitar is one of the cheapest guitars on this list, but it’s also one of the best cheap guitars on the market today. Not only is this guitar astatically pleasing, but it also has a sound that surpasses the expectations of all beginners.
With a mid range punch an a distinction of clear treble frequencies, the sound that this guitar produces is amazing, especially since it’s only $50!
The CDR-PRO is a nylon string acoustic electric guitar, which means that this is an acoustic guitar that has the ability to hook up to an amplifier. Since it is an acoustic guitar, an amplifier is not needed in order to be able to play this instrument and still receive sound.
The Giannini CR-PRO has an articulated sound that’s as clear as a bell and resonates wonderfully. The body of this guitar is comprised of rose wood, with a solid red cedar top that has a smooth finish.
My favorite part of the Giannini CR-PRO is the neck; Giannini did an amazing job creating a neck that’s incredibly playable, that’s super comfortable, and has zero fret noise!
The Yamaha JR1 is a ¾ size with a spruce top, meranti sides and back, that delivers a well rounded sound with a warm bass line, hefty middle, and a bright and punching treble.
The tuning pegs on the JR1 are strong, which adds to the overall optimization in strength and compact size that makes this instrument perfect for younger children.
This is a steel string guitar which offers young musicians amazing style, versatility, and playability all for an affordable price range; the MA-1 is a traditional ¾ scale parlor body that has an X braced laminated agathist top with laminated Sapele sides and back.
The neck is C shaped with a rose wood fret board and 18 frets; the neck and the body of this guitar are very comfortable, especially with the satin finish that has been placed on this guitar.
Taylor Taylor Swift Signature
If your youngin’ is a fan of Taylor Swift, this Baby Taylor acoustic guitar has a signature from Taylor Swift, which is located near the sound hole that has been decorated with gorgeous art work.
The Taylor Taylor Swift Signature guitar is a steel string guitar with a compact ¾ dreadnought shape comprised with a solid Stika spruce top and laminated Sapele sides and back.
The tropical American mahogany neck is comfortable to play in the hands of smaller musicians, with a 19 fret ebony Fret Board.
The Taylor Swift Signature is comprised with quality hardware, including die-cast chrome tuners, a padded gig bag, an ebony bridge, and Elixir coated strings, which really helps to add to the balanced tone of the guitar.
Martin LX1 Little Martin
If you have the budget to make an investment that has a little bit heftier of a price rag, the Martin LX1 Little Martin is one of the absolute best acoustic guitars n the market for those who have smaller sized hands or smaller size bodies.
Martin is known to be one of the best guitar manufacturers in the world and this Little Martin has one of the best sounds on this entire life. It’s a strong and compact instrument that’s extremely versatile and totally worth $500.
Luna Safari Series Muse
Luna is well known to produce guitars that are incredibly beautiful guitars that also have incredible sound production.
Luna’s Muse follows along with the trend and have amazing looks with a gorgeous satin finish and comes with a high quality mahogany body, which is very hard to find at such an affordable price range.
Mahogany is a wonderful tone wood, which really helps this guitar to produce a large sound; there is also a lack of sharp edges on this guitar, which is great o give to a child who is on the younger side, without having to worry about your child getting injured.
One last note before we wrap up this article; it’s important that you yourself should also be passionate about music, in one shape or another. Music itself is all about passion and if you want your child to be passionate about music, you should also be passionate about music.
Discuss music with your child, even if it’s only a genre that you both enjoy, browse YouTube together, but don’t tell your child what they should listen to and what they shouldn’t listen to, if only in the sense it’s because it’s a bad you don’t like.
Hopefully, you’ve had some of your questions answered in this article; hopefully, you’ve learned something! Now all of it’s up to you- make a little list of what your child wants, what your child needs, what his/her musical tastes are, and what your budget is.
Make sure that you show your child some of the guitar options that are listed in this article, to make sure that they’re happy with any choices that you end up making for their instrument!