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GUITAR GUIDES

Top 10 Best Guitars for Kids: A Parent's Guide (2018)

Top 10 Best Guitars for Kids

  • Squier Mini Strat Electric Guitar (3/4 Size)
  • Rogue Starter Acoustic Guitar (7/8 Size)
  • Ibanez GRGM21MWNS (3/4 Size)
  • Yamaha JR-1 (3/4 Size)
  • Raptor Ultimate Electric Guitar Package (1/2 Size)
  • ADM Classical Guitar (1/2 Size)
  • Smartxchoices Kids Electric Guitar (1/4 Size)
  • Lucida LG-510 (1/4 Size)
  • Best Choice Products Kids Black Electric Guitar (30-inch)
  • First Act FG127 (32-inch)

The model of guitar you buy for your child all depends on their age & height. 

Read on below for a size chart showing the different guitar sizes compared to your kid's age, and an in-depth look at our top ten picks.

Learning to play the guitar can be one of the most rewarding things your child will ever do.

It’s a great productive way to spend some time. Not only that, but it can pay dividends as your child grows up, in case they decide to join a band and start playing live shows.

That’s not to say they’ll all become the next Jimi Hendrix, but it’s nice to dream.

Aside from all the financial and emotional benefits of learning, the guitar is just a fun instrument overall. It’s challenging, endlessly complex, and it just looks so dang cool!

So, if your children have been on your case to buy their first instrument ever, don’t despair.

In this article, we’re going to give you a quick buying guide, break down all your options across different guitar size categories, and even give you some great resources to get your kids playing quickly!

What Should I Look for in my Kid's Guitar?

When you’re buying any guitar for kids, whether it’s their first or their fourth, you always want to look at three very important variables.

Namely, these are affordability, quality, and playability. They might not mean much to you now, but let’s take a closer look at each one.

#1: Affordability

As opposed to a full-sized guitar for adults, it’s not always of better value to be spending more on your child’s guitars.

Sure, the quality of the materials might improve, but the fact is that children’s guitars are always going to have a smaller body and scale length (the playable length of the guitar).

Fully grown teenagers and adults all play what is referred to as a “4/4”, or full-sized guitar.

Naturally, this is too big for younger players, so there are various sizes to consider ranging from 1/8 to ¾ scale length depending on the ages of your children.

This means that as they grow up, they’ll quickly outgrow their ability to play on these smaller sizes.

And it’s precisely in these cases that the extra money you would have spent on a guitar might be better used on something like lessons or resources to help your children learn.

Don’t buy the cheapest thing you see of course, just know that there’s no need to splurge on their first few guitars.

#2: Quality

Quality is an important thing to look at because the core goal of learning any instrument is to develop a passion for music.

Unfortunately, nothing destroys this passion more than a poor-quality instrument that can’t quite hit the notes that you’re trying to play.

It might not matter much at first, but over time your child’s ear is going to improve and they’ll quickly start to notice any buzzing or poor intonation on their guitar.

If it gets in the way of their learning a song and they become too frustrated, they can even go so far as to give up.

Get something good, and they’ll remember it fondly forever.

#3: Playability

Finally, you want to keep an eye on the playability of the guitar you’re purchasing.

This refers to its physical attributes. 

How heavy it is, how large the fretboard is, how hard and heavy the guitar strings are, and the fit and finish of the frets themselves (the metal wire running horizontally along the fretboards) can all seriously impede the enjoyment of a new instrument.

It can even become dangerous if your kids cut themselves on frets that haven’t been properly filed down.

All that being said, the guitars on our list for you today have been carefully selected to provide the best bang for your buck when buying for your child.

Where you go from here is a matter of your child’s preference, age, and your budget, but at the end of the day, you can’t really go wrong.

Guitar Size Chart

Earlier, we mentioned the need for various sizes of guitars to accommodate learners of all ages.

It might be difficult to wrap your head around, but here’s a nice little chart to keep handy and refer to as you shop.

Guitars for Kids: Alternative Sizing Chart

Image Source: Kids Guitar

There might be some variance one way or another depending on your child’s own proportions, but it’s a handy rule of thumb to follow.

And that's that for sizing. In this next section, we’re going to look at our personal recommendations for your children for when it comes time to purchase their guitar.

We're going to look at the most popular choices and then work our way down the various size categories, giving you options for both acoustic and electric guitars.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Popular Guitars (Acoustic & Electric) for Kids:

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Squier Mini Strat Electric Guitar

Squier Mini Strat Electric Guitar

The Stratocaster is one of the most popular guitar models in history. If you're looking for a long-term investment, this is it. Great sounding 3/4 size guitar.

Rogue Starter Acoustic Guitar for Kids

Rogue Starter Acoustic Guitar

A very unique, 7/8 scale length guitar (right in the middle between 3/4 and full-size). Ideal for older kids and teenagers. A sturdy guitar with great intonation. 

Child-Friendly Guitars Broken Down by Size (Acoustics & Electrics)

Mini Guitars (3/4): Electric and Acoustic

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Ibanez GRGM21MWNS Guitar for Kids

Ibanez GRGM21MWNS

With the proper care, this is an instrument that can last a lifetime. It has superior build quality, with the neck and body made of maple & poplar. Ideal for classical and modern rock music

Yamaha JR-1 Guitar for Kids

Yamaha JR-1

A great value guitar that's both affordable and brings in the high-performance. The strings are light and easy to fret for children as young as 7-8 years. The body is smaller than average, great for younger players.

1/2 Size Guitars

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Raptor Ultimate Electric Guitar Package for Kids

Raptor Ultimate Electric Guitar Package

Comes with one pickup, one knob, and 22 frets. Easy for children to grasp since it cuts out some sound more advanced sound customization options. Very lightweight, under 4 lbs. Great sound.

ADM Classical Guitar for Kids

ADM Classical Guitar

Ideal for children as young as 6 years old due to being incredibly light, ergonomic, and having impressive intonation. Even weaker children won't have a problem creating some powerful sounds. 

1/4 Size Guitars

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Smartxchoices Kids Electric Guitar

Smartxchoices Kids Electric Guitar

A simple, quality instrument any kid can learn to play and improve on. Has a hardwood body with 22 frets, and the price can't be beaten. This is a great first guitar for younger children.

Lucida LG-510 Guitar for Kids

Lucida LG-510

Blows competing brands out of the water in the 1/4 size range. At this size, many models risk feeling "toy-like". Not the Lucida. It feels solid, real. Kids as young as 4 years can handle it with ease.

Guitars for Toddlers

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Best Choice Products Kids Black Electric Guitar

Best Choice Products Kids Black Electric Guitar

The strings are light, fretboard is narrow, and the guitar is very easy to maneuver around. No sharp ends, no toggle switches, and no small easily breakable pieces. A great pick for the youngest players.

First Act FG127 Guitar for Kids

First Act FG127

Designed to be your child's first guitar. Its plastic construction makes it lighter and more comfortable to lug around. With only 18 frets, this guitar is very nice and compact. A great model for tots. 

Popular Acoustic & Electric Guitars for Kids

Squier Mini Strat Electric Guitar

Squier Mini Strat Electric Guitar

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The Stratocaster is one of the most popular guitar models in history, so it only makes sense that there’s a mini version for kids, too!

It features the same three pick-ups and five-way toggle switch as on their full-sized model but is slightly easier to play thanks to its reduced number of frets.

This is a fantastic option if your budget can account for it thanks to the sound quality that it outputs.

It can sing with the best of them and sounds great when plugged into a decent amplifier. The best thing about this model though is that it’s not that small.

Many travel guitars feature the same scale-length, so it’s perfectly playable by adult standards and will stay relevant in your children’s lives long after they’ve fully grown. 

Of all the guitars on this list, this Squier probably comes the closest to being a true life-long investment.

Check out the Squier Mini Strat on Amazon

Rogue Starter Acoustic Guitar

Rogue Starter Acoustic Guitar

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Our acoustic pick is the Rogue Starter, an aptly named model that’s ideal for older kids and teenagers.

It’s unique 7/8 scale length puts in between a ¾ and a full-sized model, and while the exact dimensions aren’t important, it does mean that it’s a little bit too big for young children.

Still, if your kids fit the criteria the Rogue is a fantastic option thanks to its great build-quality that will easily stand up to knocks.

It also has sturdy tuners to lock into one particular sound which is great since its good intonation will keep your children playing hassle-free for hours. 

One thing to note though is that the stock Martin strings are not the easiest to press down on for brand new players.

Those callouses will develop over time, but if your child is too young, it might hurt too much to be a pleasant experience.

Check out the Rogue Starter on Amazon

Mini Guitars for Kids

Ibanez GRGM21MWNS

Ibanez GRGM21MWNS

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Ibanez is a well-known brand that has been making guitars at all price points for decades, so if you choose to go with this model you know your child will be getting a well-made instrument that should last a lifetime with proper care.

The guitar features 23 frets (so very close to full-size) a volume and tone knob to dial in the perfect sound and two passive pickups.

The build quality is superb with the neck and body being made of maple and poplar respectively which gives it a nice, sturdy heft that will resonate and sustain notes for what seems like an eternity.

That makes it ideal for classic and modern rock music (after all, it is an electric model), but is still serviceable enough to play through all genres of music.

Once your kid plugs this bad boy into an amplifier, they’ll be hooked.

Check out the Ibanez GRGM21MWNS on Amazon

Yamaha JR-1

Yamaha JR-1

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Yamaha makes some incredible value guitars, and the JR-1 continues that trend by bringing high-performance, affordable models of acoustic guitars to mainstream hands for all aspiring guitar gods.

Unlike the Rogue, the strings on this included model are a great balance between performance and playability, since they’re light and easy to fret for children as young as 7 or 8 years old.

The body is smaller than average which makes it easy for younger players to play both standing and sitting down, and the frets are just wide enough to make it a good transition to a full-size, without compromising accessibility.

One downside is that it’s not the most durable which makes it a tough sell for travel or accident-prone children, but it’s still a great option to consider.

Check out the Yamaha JR-1 on Amazon

1/2 Size Guitars for Kids

Raptor Ultimate Electric Guitar Package

Raptor Ultimate Electric Guitar Package

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At these more niche, specialized sizes we begin to lose out when it comes to brand recognition, but that doesn’t mean the guitars are going to get worse.

On the contrary, this Raptor (made by Peavey) proves that there’s a guitar out there to fit all budgets assuming enough compromises are made.

These come in the form of only one pickup, only one knob, and only 22 frets.

None of these are necessarily bad, since cutting down on some sound customization options actually can help children practice what matters most, but it’s still important to mention.

Ultimately, this guitar was built for extremely young ages, and it shows since it’s incredibly lightweight at under 4 pounds and is shockingly durable given its price point.

It also sounds good for what it’s worth but won’t blow you away when plugged into anything less than a top of the line amplifier.

Check out the Raptor Electric Guitar on Amazon

ADM Classical Guitar

ADM Classical Guitar

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Our acoustic pick in this price bracket is the ADM Classical, a beautifully designed model that has the benefit of sitting out as a showpiece long after your kids have graduated to bigger models.

This model would be ideal for children as young as 6 years old since it’s incredibly light, ergonomic, and has some truly impressive intonation driven by a smooth and easy to operate action.

That means even weaker children won’t have a problem getting some powerful sounds to project through the room.

On the slightly negative side of things, the tuners aren’t great. They’ll hold in place for a few songs at a time but have been known to gradually loosen and need adjusting.

If you’re the one who’s going to be tinkering with it each time that happens, it can get annoying.

The other downside is that it’s really suited only for right-handed players

You could probably get it re-strung if you absolutely wanted to, but it’s probably not worth the effort or the price. 

Check out the ADM Classical Guitar on Amazon

1/4 Size Guitars for Kids

Smartxchoices Kids Electric Guitar

Smartxchoices Kids Electric Guitar

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At smaller sizes, buyers tend to be limited when it comes to quality options, especially on the electric side of things.

Thankfully, Smartxchoices provides a simple, quality instrument that any kid can learn to play and improve on.

The wood grain is nice enough to catch the eye of their friends and make them jealous, and the guitar backs that envy up by providing some kick-ass sounds along its 22 frets.

Its hardwood body also helps it stand up to knocks around the house, while still providing some heft to encourage upper-body strength for an eventual transition to full-sized models.

Ultimately though, it has a price that can’t be beaten

Even when you start to consider more expensive models you’d be hard-pressed to find another one in this size category that can offer a similar quality of projection and tone.

Check out the Smartxchoices Kids Electric Guitar on Amazon

Lucida LG-510

Lucida LG-510

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There’s no contest when it comes to this size in acoustic models because the Lucida LG-510 blows away the competition from top to bottom.

At this size many models risk feeling “toy-like,” but despite its weight, this one feels quite solid in the hands and is small enough around the frets and bridge for even kids as young as 4 to handle it with ease.

The nylon strings are soft on the fingers but at the cost of easily dropping their tuning. If you take that as a good learning experience for the young ones though, then it’s not that bad.

What is great about this model though is the sound quality that’s projected for the price point.

It’s balanced, reasonably accurate, and while it doesn’t sustain all that well due to the thinner, cheaper construction, it has a pleasant tone that won’t drive you crazy when the kids mindlessly pluck away.

Don’t expect it to last a lifetime, but for the price, it’s a great buy for young children.

Check out the Lucida LG-510 Guitar on Amazon

Guitars for Toddlers

Best Choice Products Kids Black Electric Guitar

Best Choice Products Kids Black Electric Guitar

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Toddlers are at a special age of short attention spans, so give them something that really captivates them with the Best Choice electric guitar.

Before we dive in, remember that you’re not buying a Gibson, so temper your expectations.

That said, when you consider that this is made entirely for tiny hands, it’s got quite a lot going for it.

From a playability standpoint, the strings are light, the fretboard is narrow, and the guitar itself is very easy to maneuver around, but those features are also backed by an impressive finish.

There’s no sharp ends, no toggle switches, and no small, easily breakable pieces to be concerned about.

This means that even if your toddler manages to sneak off with his new toy, you don’t have to worry that he cut himself or is choking on something that fell off.

The actual sound quality is fine. It’s nothing special, but for kids this young that are interested in learning, it’s good enough to recreate almost any song they’ll want to play without frustrating them or dampening their spirits.

Check out the Best Choice Kids Black Electric Guitar on Amazon

First Act FG127

First Act FG127

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If you’re serious about having your toddler learn, then acoustic is probably the best way to go since many of the smaller models are made for precisely this purpose.

Case in point: The First Act FG127 that is designed from the ground up to be your child’s first guitar.

Its plastic construction makes it lighter and more comfortable to lug around, a convenience that’s bolstered by a fretboard with only 18 frets, making the whole guitar nice and compact.

The tuners are accompanied with bright, easily readable signs to teach your child the string placement which should accelerate the learning process.

One thing to note is that since the guitar is made of plastic, it doesn’t sound like a real, wood guitar. 

It still plays notes, and it still sounds decent enough, but if your child is more than 2 or 3 years old, it might be a good idea to graduate to a ½ size model.

Check out the First Act FG127 Guitar on Amazon

Guitar Lessons for Kids (Resources)

With a fancy new guitar in hand, the next step is to make sure that your kids actually play it!

Nothing destroys the motivation to learn an instrument more than feeling like you’ve stagnated or hit a wall in your skills, so the key is to ensure regular practice with age-appropriate resources to keep those creative juices flowing.

In this section, we’ll provide you with some good resources, as well as offer some tips for general practices to keep the practices fun and engaging.

The good thing about learning an instrument in today’s day and age is that there are thousands of ways to learn to suit the needs of different students.

Online Guitar Lessons for Your Child

While it was traditionally customary to go see a guitar teacher weekly to make any sort of progress, the internet has sparked some great alternatives without compromising on quality.

There are plenty of sites online that offer great, child-safe lessons and cover everything some the basics to simple tablature in easily digestible language. 

One great example is Gentle Guitar, where your child can learn from an instructor online from the comfort of your own home / computer (with your supervision, of course!) 

Gentle Guitar Kids Lessons

If you'd like to try out a free lesson with Gentle Guitar with your child, you can book a slot here.

The great thing about learning online with a teacher is that its quite comprehensive until your child reaches a certain mastery level. 

That is to say, learning guitar through "homeschool" can be your child's only resource until they’ve mastered the content.

Once they're on their way, there are some extra steps you can take to ensure their success.

One of our favorite child-friendly guitar resources is “Guitar for Kids” by Hal Leonard (Amazon).

This is a classic book in children’s guitar methodology since it’s good for both acoustic and electric guitars and teaches your children practical skills to get them playing real songs quickly.

Within a few months of following along with the book, they should be able to play classics like “Surfin’ USA” and “Yellow Submarine” with ease.

Learning just one song will keep them engaged to keep going, so this is a great approach to keep your kids interested in getting better.

One (obvious) thing to keep in mind though is that kids need to be able to dig into the content on their own.

While the course itself is relatively easy, learning can’t happen unless your kids are able to effectively read through the material. 

Finally, remember that YouTube is one of the best places to learn anything you can think of. Here's a video to get you started:

While you may need to sit with your kids to ensure that the content is child-safe, there are thousands of videos targeted just at kids covering everything from finger placement to scales.

Since kids are often visual learners, this is a great supplementary tool to the above methods and should put the finishing touches on a learning program that will quickly teach your children the core, fundamental basics.

Some Tips to Keep Them Learning

One common theme you might have noticed from browsing through the resources linked above is that they’re all mainly focused on teaching simple songs.

This is because it’s one of the most effective ways to teach children, who often get easily bored.

Learning skills like finger placement and reading sheet music are only effective for long-term studies, whereas we want to encourage short-term satisfaction to keep kids interested.

Teaching popular songs connects the theory (like individual notes) to more concrete examples that are relevant in their lives and can help them retain the information their learning.

This can be accomplished by teaching simple riffs and melodies, and then adding to them as they improve their mastery levels.

In a similar vein, encourage learning by ear.

This hones their listening skills, rather than more abstract chart reading skills which will come in incredibly handy as they improve and start toying with their own original songs.

Final Takeaway

You always want to encourage your child’s interests, and thankfully for you, the guitar is a wonderful instrument that teaches fun, useful skills that can help give your child confidence and happiness for years to come.

With this guide, you’re in a much better position to pick out a good model depending on their age and interest (either acoustic or electric) and can help steer your children towards improvement thanks to some of the resources that we’ve provided.

Be patient and encouraging, because you never know when a passion can turn into a career!

Even if it doesn’t though, have fun it with it and enjoy the process.

After all, they’re only young once!

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