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Is it time for you to find a guitar for your child?
Whether they’re starting to express more interest in music, or they’ve made a direct request of you for a guitar, the best time for them to get started in music was yesterday. The second-best time? Now.
But you don’t want to make any hasty decisions around purchasing a guitar without knowing all the facts.
So, in this guide, you will find the best guitars for kids. We even answer all the most common questions related to shopping for a guitar.
Taylor Baby Taylor BTe-Koa Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar
The Baby Taylor BTe-Koa dreadnought acoustic-electric guitar is a competent axe for live performance, travel, lounging on the couch, and of course for kids too. The Hawaiian Koa wood body is simply a thing of beauty, and frankly luxurious for a beginner guitar. But like I said, it’s great for a variety of purposes, and in a way, it is a luxury guitar in its category.
This guitar also features a sapele wood neck, mahogany fretboard, gig bag, and of course, electronics for extra versatility (great for open mics and gigs).
Most buyers said they loved the guitar and said it would be great for players at any level. They enjoyed the rich tone, its beautiful appearance, and onboard electronics.
The less enthusiastic weren’t crazy about the guitar’s sound. But we do think it unwise to compare it to a full-size, solid body guitar.
Item weight: 8.32 lbs.
Package dimensions: 37.25 x 15.5 x 7.25 inches
Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar
The Taylor GS Mini acoustic is a full, dark-bodied beauty, and no less competent than the Baby Taylor we just looked at. This one is, perhaps, a little less versatile given that it’s not an acoustic-electric, but that’s not a deal breaker at all, especially if the guitar will primarily be going from home to lessons and back.
This guitar features a Grand Symphony Mini Cutaway design, as well as mahogany back and sides. Taylor claims it’s “just right” in terms of size, weight, and portability, but that will still depend on the player, and we can’t see this guitar being for all younger kids. But for kids who are starting to grow up, it could be great.
Reviewers were frankly astonished by this guitar, thanks to its looks, sound, and size.
But there were those who were a little disappointed and didn’t find it beginner friendly because of its string tension. Fortunately, this should be adjustable to greater or lesser degrees. Inquire your local guitar tech for best results.
Item weight: 4.4 lbs.
Package dimensions: 18 x 42 x 8 inches
Martin Guitar C1K Acoustic Ukulele
For a variety of reasons, ukuleles do make for perfectly competent beginner guitars. It doesn’t hurt that the first uke was based on several guitar-like instruments (we talk more about this a little later).
So far as ukuleles go, the Martin Guitar C1K acoustic ukulele is kind of up there. Not the fanciest model ever created, but certainly not the cheapest either. Its dark natural finish, if anything, is gorgeous and only adds to its overall visual appeal.
This little handmade beauty features a solid Hawaiian Koa build with a satin lacquer, dovetail neck joint, non-scalloped brace, standard taper neck, and nickel open gear tuners.
Reviewers loved the uke’s sound, playability, and beautiful appearance.
Some were less sanguine about it, though, and weren’t crazy about its sound or design. Apparently, the neck also isn’t adjustable.
Item weight: 2 lbs.
Package dimensions: 24.4 x 10.5 x 6.5 inches
Little Martin LX Acoustic Guitar
Just as Taylor has Baby Taylors, Martin has Little Martins, and they are capable little sound makers too.
The handmade Little Martin LX acoustic features a striking Jett Black HPL (high-pressure laminate) textured finish. And that HPL is great for durability too.
The manufacturer says this is the perfect guitar for travel, and all students of any age and playing level.
The good – this guitar is well made. It’s also easy to play, priced affordably, and it sounds good.
The bad – its small body doesn’t do it any favors in terms of tone and projection. It sounds good for what it is, but no, it will never sound like a full-sized guitar (and nor should you expect any beginner guitar to). So, the “bad” is that it really depends on your expectations.
Item weight: 7.63 lbs.
Package dimensions: 6.3 x 38.58 x 18.11 inches
Fender Squier Short Scale (24”) Stratocaster Learn-To-Play Bundle
Fender’s budget brand, Squier, always has some fun and funky options for beginners. The short scale Squier Stratocaster Learn-to-Play bundle is a more conventional example, but it’s good value, especially given that it comes with everything you need for those just getting started.
In case you (or your child) aren’t crazy about the transparent red, you can also find this guitar in transparent blue, surf green, lake placid blue, race green (with a HSS setup), slick silver, Olympic white, crimson red transparent, and Dakota red. Fender always has some solid finish options.
Its short scale stature means it isn’t a “mini” or 3/4 size guitar, but it is overall 1.5” shorter than a standard Stratocaster, and that could make it a great choice for developing youngsters.
The bundle includes the Fender Squier Frontman 10G amplifier, Fender clip-on chromatic tuner, Fender instrument cable, Fender guitar strap, three Fender picks, Fender Play Online Lessons trial, and Austin Bazaar Guitar Essential Instructional DVD.
Customers thought it was a high-quality instrument and enjoyed its finish, playability, and affordability.
There were some who were disappointed by the bundle, but at this price, you’re paying mostly for the guitar and not the kit (and that goes for all other bundles on this list). Other complaints regarding this guitar were minor or irrelevant.
Item weight: 27 lbs.
Package dimensions: 40 x 8 x 21 inches
Fender Squier 3/4-Size Kids Mini Strat Electric Guitar Learn-To-Play Bundle
And now for a true 3/4-size guitar, the Fender Squier Mini Strat electric guitar is ideal for those who are clear that they need a smaller axe for their smaller child.
The pictured surf green is always a favorite, but you can find this model in brown sunburst, competition orange, Dakota red, and imperial blue as well.
The bundle includes an amp, cable, tuner, strap, picks, Fender Play Online Lessons, and Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, just like the previous entry on this list.
A “Mini” guitar, in case there’s any confusion, is wholly 2.75” shorter than a standard-size Strat. And it’s basically the same thing as a 3/4 size guitar.
Whether it’s for a child or someone with smaller hands, this is a solid guitar.
Some weren’t happy with the quality and thought it needed a lot of fixing up to work correctly, but let’s be fair – this is not a Fender guitar, but rather a Squier guitar, and the whole bundle costs less than a proper intermediate axe. The value is there.
Item weight: 17 lbs.
Package dimensions: 51 x 16 x 5 inches
Oscar Schmidt OG1FYS 3/4 Size Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
The Oscar Schmidt OG1FYS 3/4 size dreadnought acoustic guitar is colorful and fun! In addition to the pictured flame yellow burst, you can also find this model in natural, pink, transparent blue, and transparent red. Personally, I’d have to say the flame yellow burst is the most exciting finish though.
If you’re looking for an acoustic guitar, the Oscar Schmidt (a subsidiary of corporate group JAM Industries) can work nicely as a traveler, as well as for students, kids, and even those with smaller hands. It comes with a spruce top and catalpa sides and back with a fully adjustable truss rod and chrome die cast tuners.
Overall, this is a fun guitar. It’s got a bright tone, and it’s nowhere near as warm or full as a full-size guitar, but that’s to be expected. It’s priced well, and plenty of adult players enjoyed it too.
Some thought it was “just okay” and not anything special. Again, expectations can be a factor here, but doing your homework is always recommended regardless.
Item weight: 5 lbs.
Package dimensions: 44 x 17 x 6 inches
Jackson JS Series Dinky JS22
A Jackson guitar could be the perfect choice for the emerging little metalhead or hard rocker. The Jackson JS Series Dinky JS22 may be a short scale electric guitar, but it still carries all the attitude and some of the functionality found on far more expensive models.
This solid body electric features an arched mahogany body, tremolo, amaranth fingerboard, two humbucking pickups (great for heavier genres), and a maple neck.
Its appearance is somewhat reminiscent of Nuno Bettencourt’s signature Washburn model guitar (e.g., N3), though that may be neither here nor there.
By no means does it sound like a guitar costing 10 times its price. With that in mind, it still has a thick, highly usable tone. More than good enough for practice and lessons. And it sounds quite good with some overdrive or distortion on too.
Buyers thought it was well made and even said it was “professional quality” despite its humble price point. A really great choice if electric is the direction, you’re thinking about going in.
Item weight: 10 lbs.
Package dimensions: 16 x 6 x 44 inches
Squier By Fender Mini Jazzmaster HH
Here’s another fun alternative to the electric guitars we’ve already looked at. The Squier Fender Mini Jazzmaster HH impresses from the outset with its unique and attractive surf green appearance. It comes with a thin, lightweight body, two humbucking pickups, sealed die-cast tuning machines, and a hartdtail bridge to boot.
This axe features a poplar body, maple neck, 22.75” scale length, and a “C”-shaped neck profile.
The good – this is a fun guitar for beginners, and its size is quite comfortable. The humbuckers are a nice touch, can offer a rich, warm tone, and cut back on unwanted noise too.
The bad – some had trouble keeping the guitar in tune. Replacing strings could make a difference, but if not, go see a tech!
Item weight: 6.6 lbs.
Package dimensions: 39.8 x 14.9 x 4 inches
Fender FA-15N 3/4-Size Kids Acoustic Guitar Learn-To-Play Bundle
The Fender FA-15N 3/4-size kids acoustic guitar makes for another great option. And the reason I say that is because the guitar comes equipped with nylon strings. Most guitars (all others represented here) come with steel / nickel strings, but nylons are typically used for classical guitars, so they are just as legit, with the advantage that they are far easier on your (or your child’s) fingers.
I started on a classical guitar myself and think I’m better off for it.
Obviously, the bundle is a nice value add for beginners too – gig bag, tuner, strap, picks, Fender Play Online Lessons, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, all the essentials to get a running start.
Fender says this guitar is ideal for children aged six to 12. The axe comes with a mahogany neck and walnut bridge.
This is a solid starter guitar with a nice look and a good sound.
Some weren’t impressed with the accessories. Not to beat a dead horse, but you can’t expect the provider to have spent a lot of development resources on the accessories when the bundle itself is already this cheap.
Item weight: 7 lbs.
Package dimensions: 37.9 x 18 x 5 inches
Yamaha JR1 FG Junior 3/4 Size Acoustic Guitar
The Yamaha JR1 FG Junior 3/4 size acoustic guitar is another fun size acoustic guitar with a conventional dreadnought style body. If you want a 3/4 acoustic guitar that looks like a “real” guitar, this one is it.
This JR1 FG Junior was modeled after the Yamaha FG series. It has a smaller body and shorter neck for comfort and playability. It has a spruce top, and thanks to its size, it’s portable too.
Many buyers thought the guitar was excellent for the money. They enjoyed its travel friendly size, its playability, as well as its sound.
Reviews were a little mixed, though, and others thought the build was a little cheap, and that’s hardly surprising at this price point. But such claims are always worth examining critically.
Item weight: 4.75 lbs.
Package dimensions: 35.5 x 16.25 x 4.75 inches
Ibanez GRGM21BKN 3/4 Size Mikro Electric Guitar
The Ibanez GRGM21BKN 3/4 size Mikro electric guitar is a gem, even among some of the most budget friendly electric guitars for kids.
This compact guitar features a 22” scale maple neck, and it’s set up just like the full-size GRG models.
And in case your child can’t get excited about the black model, this guitar is also available in jewel blue, candy apple, blue burst (one of my favorites), white, metallic purple, orange burst, and walnut sunburst.
Buyers thought it was a great guitar for the money and ideal for small hands.
Some said it would benefit from a proper setup, and we can’t confirm or deny that, but it’s always a good idea to keep a guitar tech in your rolodex for when you need their services.
Item weight: 9 lbs.
Package dimensions: 37 x 3 x 14 inches
Ibanez IJV30 6 String Acoustic Guitar Pack
The Ibanez IJV30 6 String acoustic guitar Jam Pack seems like it might be trying to outdo the competition in terms of price point. And truly, the customer is mostly better off for it.
This 3/4 size dreadnought acoustic guitar comes with Agathis back and sides, a natural high gloss finish, gig bag, and electronic tuner.
The reviews for this guitar are a little mixed. On the upside, the axe is well-made, it plays nicely, and it’s a good starter guitar.
Some people pointed out that this is not a 3/4 size guitar proper. That said, it’s clear that it is a smaller guitar, so in that sense, they aren’t betraying the buyer. If in doubt, though, always check the Ibanez website for specs.
Ibanez makes good products for the price. But you should still set the bar lower at this price point.
Item weight: 6.7 lbs.
Package dimensions: 37 x 3 x 14 inches
Donner DUC-1 Concert Ukulele Starter Bundle Kit
Now, it should be noted that a ukulele is not a guitar. That said, it has its origins in a few small, Portuguese guitar-like instruments. And because the ukulele is small, affordable, and features four strings (two fewer than guitar), it makes for a great beginner instrument.
Not to mention – skills learned on the ukulele do translate well over to guitar.
The Donner DUC-1 Concert Ukulele starter bundle kit, like the Martin ukulele we looked at earlier, is still a very viable possibility for a young, aspiring, player. Especially when it’s so affordable.
This uke comes with a mahogany body, gig bag, strap, nylon strings, tuner, picks, and free online lessons. And the instrument itself doesn’t look overly cheap, which is quite amazing.
Most users said they thought the uke was well-made, playable, good quality, and affordable.
There were those who complained that the ukulele didn’t keep great tune and didn’t like the strings. But just so you know, strings are inexpensive and easy to replace. So, don’t get too caught up in the strings of it all.
Item weight: 2.87 lbs.
Package dimensions: 27.17 x 8.27 x 4.33 inches
What Should I Look For In Guitars For Kids?
Frankly, there are a lot of options. We’ve narrowed down hundreds of guitars to the above (from upper end travel guitars to budget ukuleles), but even then, there are certain factors you should be thinking about when shopping for a guitar / instrument for your child or children.
In the sections that follow, we cover just about everything you need to know to make up your mind. Use the following as your buying guide, and you should fare well. You can’t make too many missteps!
Here are the main topics covered here:
- Type of guitar / ukulele
- Color / design
Let’s get into it.
Acoustic? Electric? Ukulele? Mini? Baby? Little? Short Scale? Full Size?
This can be a tricky decision at the best of times. I would posit that it would be wise to consider the age of your child, as well as their size / build. That should tell you a lot about which instrument to choose. You don’t want to go too big.
The adage that a child will “grow into” a larger instrument is generally true, but even then, there are full-grown adults who prefer 3/4 size or short scale guitars (Taylor Swift loves her Baby Taylor, and Ed Sheeran values his Little Martin highly), and there isn’t any shame in it. So, going too big too soon can be problematic.
To make this a little easier, let’s take a moment to distinguish the various options available (all represented above). The following should not be thought of as a “if X, then Y” list, but rather an overview of the different types of guitars and instruments that are suited to beginners and their characteristics.
Here are the definitions you should familiarize yourself with:
- Acoustic. Can be played without an amp but sometimes has “high” action, making it a little rougher on the fingers. Most acoustic guitars have truss rods, and if so, adjustments can easily be made to the action. Even if not, an experienced tech could make some modifications to the nut and saddle to lower the action. As well, strings are replaceable, and there are different gauges to serve different needs. A lighter gauge of strings can make the guitar easier to play.
- Acoustic-electric. Like an acoustic, except that it can also be plugged in (amp, PA, or otherwise). And its “plugged in” sound is closer to an acoustic than an electric, though you can still apply effects. Acoustic-electric guitars are often thought of as a “performance” guitar for open mics, gigs, and potentially even tours, but that doesn’t mean you’re required to use the electronics or that they make the guitar any less beginner friendly. If anything, it’s nice to have the option.
- Electric. An electric guitar doesn’t sound like much if not plugged in to an amp or PA system. It can still be played without an amp, but it will be quiet. Electrics generally come with lighter strings than acoustics and can therefore be easier on the fingers. If your child struggles on the acoustic, an electric might be worth a try. Where the volume of an acoustic guitar is not adjustable (it generally depends on how soft or hard it’s being played), the volume of an electric guitar is controllable via the volume on the guitar itself and the amp. Most amps have headphone jacks too, just in case.
- Ukulele. A fun, accessible option for kids. Has four strings instead of six, but it’s just like having the top four strings of a guitar, which means the skills learned on ukulele translate nicely over to guitar too. For younger children and those with especially small bodies, ukuleles can be preferable even to 3/4 size guitars. Even adults can play ukuleles though. Ukes also tend to use softer string materials and are usually easier on the fingers compared to steel / nickel strings.
- Mini. Mini and 3/4 size can generally be thought of as one and the same.
- Little. Applies only to Little Martins. Usually means 23” scale length. If in doubt, check the product pages or the Martin website for specs. Makes for a great performance, couch, and travel guitar too.
- Baby. Applies only to Baby Taylors. Usually means 22-3/4” scale length with a body length of 15 3/4”. If in doubt, check the product pages or the Taylor website for specs. Makes for the ideal performance, couch, and / or travel guitar.
- Short scale. Typically, 1.5” smaller than the full-size equivalent. Makes note access easier, as the frets are tighter and closer together.
- Full size. There are no full-size guitars on this list. That said, there are times when a full-size guitar is a perfectly acceptable option for a child / beginner. And we have other guides on the site that cover such products.
Knowing these basic distinctions should make it much easier for you to select a product that’s well matched to your child’s needs.
Tone & Sound?
How much does tone and sound of a guitar matter to a child? Although it probably has a subconscious impact, it’s likely not at the level where they could tell you whether a specific guitar sounds good or bad or even how it differs from another guitar. It just is. To them, it’s a guitar, and that’s how it sounds.
Does that mean tone doesn’t matter? Perhaps not. But it probably shouldn’t be considered the top criterion, and here’s why:
First, if your child decides to take the guitar seriously, at some point, you will be upgrading their instrument – it’s inevitable. They will outgrow their guitar one way or another. They will grow up, become a better player, necessitate a better guitar for recording or performance, or maybe even break their first axe.
Second, beginner level instruments aren’t going to sound like much. The best sounding guitars are probably the Baby Taylors and Little Martins, and even they are a far cry from full-sized guitars. The electric guitars, admittedly, are quite nice for what they are, but they also will not sound like their full-sized counterparts.
You can put a little bit of time into watching demos or reviews on YouTube if you like, but I wouldn’t go too far down that route. It’s not worth doing a critical examination of each of the guitar and how they sound against each other, as you might do with a more premium product.
That said, it could be worthwhile to consider which guitar would be least grating on you. After all, if all goes well, your child will be playing the guitar for hours on end every day, and you don’t want its sound to be so annoying that you can’t stand it. Practice and repetition are a critical part of a child’s development, and you don’t want to hinder it. You want to encourage it.
Playability & Comfort
This is a huge consideration when it comes to buying a guitar for your child. Do you want to make their learning journey easier or harder? Do you want to make it more enjoyable or less? Do you want them to continue playing guitar or quit at the first sign of difficulty?
I think most parents would agree – their desire is for their children to enjoy the learning journey and experience, unleash their creativity, and take the lessons they learn and the tenacity they develop to other areas of life. Am I right?
Well, long-term that probably will mean buying strings, picks, and other accessories. It will mean replacing cheaper guitars and amps with more expensive ones. It will mean bringing the guitar (or guitars) to the tech for setups, repairs, and maybe even restringing. At least until you child is independent.
So, do them a favor and find a guitar that’s playable and comfortable for them. It will make a difference.
But even if you do buy in error, don’t worry. You can always take the guitar to a luthier or guitar tech to have the action adjusted to make it more playable.
Most if not all guitars presented here are quite playable out of the box, and if not, will be with some small adjustments. Comfort is a slightly different matter, and it’s hard to know for sure without getting your child to try out a few models.
Durability is perhaps most important to children. This doesn’t mean it matters any less to adults, but after all, while kids aren’t deliberately careless, they’re more prone to bumping and dropping their instruments than grown adults who know the value of their instrument.
The good news is that electric guitars can generally hold up to a ton of abuse. Acoustic guitars may have a little more give compared to electric guitars, but there is a lot less risk with all-laminate bodies. And most acoustic guitars in this range, fortunately, are set up to put up with plenty of abuse.
So, there aren’t any wrong options in this guide. It’s just good to be mindful of the fact that, in an ideal world, the guitar will be durable and not easily breakable. You can check reviews for additional comments and insights.
Colors & Fun Factor
For kids, the color of the guitar might make a difference in terms of the “fun factor.” And, while we certainly don’t want to obsess over this, where there’s a choice, it can’t hurt to ask your child what color they prefer. That can create a rather instant connection between them and their instrument.
There’s a reason many entry-level guitars come in different colors. It’s because manufacturers know they are likely going to be played by kids!
This factor is not more important than playability or durability, but it is something to be considered alongside other elements talked about in this buying guide.
We’ve presented a wide range of options ranging from about $70 to $600. Beginner instruments generally aren’t at a price that will break the bank, but just in case, we don’t suggest throwing caution to the wind. Do spend withing your allowable budget, and don’t go outside of it. Don’t go into debt to buy a guitar. It’s not worth it.
Use your budget as a filter for choosing an instrument. This can also help you narrow down your options and avoid some indecision and confusion.
There are great instruments at every price point, but generally, you do get more guitar for more. For the most part, you can’t race to the bottom and expect to get a better instrument, though brands like Ibanez, Donner, and Jackson do a nice job of offering low-cost alternatives to more expensive brands and models.
The sacrifice is usually in the materials used to build the guitar. Realistically, manufacturers can only do so much before increasing the price of their instrument.
What Are The Best Kid Guitar Brands?
Outside of toy guitars, there are no brands that serve children specifically. And that means some of the best brands making guitars for kids are the same as the ones making great guitars for adults. Most of the brands mentioned here are mainstays in the guitar market and have been for a long time.
With that, here are the key brands offering worthwhile products for children and beginners.
Taylor Guitars isn’t often thought of as a beginner brand, but their Baby Taylors are quite reasonable (especially compared to their other models), and they are excellent beginner guitars. They are also perfectly competent couch and travel guitars for more advanced players.
Even among their Baby Taylor series, they have a variety of models at different prices points, so it’s worth doing a thorough examination of their offers if you’re leaning towards purchasing a Taylor guitar (which will likely be a Baby Taylor, if it’s for your child).
As with Taylor, Martin Guitars isn’t always a name you hear in connection with beginner products. But they have increased their footprint in this area in the last five to 10 years or so, with guitars suited to beginners, intermediates, and advanced players alike. Always nice to see from a “premium” brand.
Their Little Martins would be the obvious place to look for your children. But you’d still want to take good care of a Little Martin, given its price. So, take into account how well the guitar will be cared for.
Jackson Guitars was founded by Grover Jackson in 1980, and is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. Their guitars are often thought of as speed metal machines, and are favored by Marty Friedman, Scott Ian, Phil Collen, and other hard hitters in hard rock and metal.
Their entry-level models, though, do pack a punch and are certainly worth a look.
Fender (& Squier)
It should not come as any surprise that Fender (and Squier) should have products suited to the child or beginner. After all, they probably have one of the most diverse range of products available, with a huge footprint across the beginner, intermediate, advanced, and even special interest spectrum.
I owned a Suzuki classical guitar before I bought a Squier electric. But my first electric was a Squier, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that many guitarists you know also started on a Squier.
Yamaha is one of those companies that does a bit of everything, and their products are preferred by a variety of artists. Nor surprisingly, their product selection is extensive, and they do have guitars suited to children and beginners. Undeniably, they are a brand worth considering alongside other possibilities.
We continue to preach the gospel of Ibanez as being one of the best value brands available. And we don’t mean that they’re merely cheap. We mean that, for the money, you always get a great guitar. Not surprising, then, that you can get a solid guitar for your child for but a pittance.
And while they are most known for their electrics, they do make competent acoustics too.
Donner is another excellent value brand, and they continue to surprise customers and YouTube influencers alike. If it wasn’t enough that they make great guitars for the money, they’ve got all kinds of other bases covered – keyboards, pianos, drums, percussion, guitar pedals, audio equipment, other string instruments, wind instruments, and more. A good brand to keep in mind.
Top Guitars For Kids, Final Thoughts
Choosing a guitar for your child shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, they will be learning on that instrument, and the journey isn’t always fun and easy. You don’t want to make it any harder than it already is!
That said, you can’t go wrong with any of the above. Just be sure to explore the section on what to look for in a guitar for your child, and you will do well.
Last Updated on February 3, 2022.
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