- What guitar is ideal for a child?
- What guitar size is ideal for a child?
- What kind of guitar style is best suited for your child?
- Other things to consider
Learning to play a musical instrument can be extremely useful for your child's overall development. Learning how to play an instrument helps kids develop a sustainable hobby, sharpen their hand-eye coordination skills and, with enough practice, even employ cognitive learning to create music of their own.
If your child is interested in playing an instrument, the child guitar is a great place to start. It is an enjoyable, engaging hobby that familiarises learners with important musical concepts such as notes, chord progressions, and tunes. Before getting your child started with guitar classes, it is important to know which is the best child guitar.
This guide will help you buy the right size child guitar to make sure it’s the right fit for your child, keeping their age and your budget in mind.
What guitar is ideal for a child?
Picking the right child guitar is one of the most important steps to encourage your child to play the guitar. This is particularly important when you consider that ninety per cent of people trying to learn guitar quit in one year. This is especially true for children as they are proven to have a much shorter attention span than adults. If they find it difficult or uninspiring, they are likely to quit within a few weeks of starting to learn the instrument.
The child’s first guitar should not only be the right size (for better finger comfort) but must also suit their music preference (i.e. a classical, acoustic, or electric guitar depending on the style of music they’re interested in).
What guitar size is ideal for a child?
A guitar that is best suited for your child’s size is one that allows them to easily reach the top frets with their fingers. If your child is struggling to wrap their arm around the guitar’s body to strum or if they’re unable to reach the frets, that guitar is probably not the right fit for them.
In the post-pandemic world, it may be difficult to go out to a music store for your child to physically try and test child guitar models. Don’t worry; we’ve done the homework for you and have included a few child guitar recommendations right here:
The options you have:
There are primarily four different and preferable options for selecting a child guitar. The smallest of which is the ukulele, followed by the guitalele, followed by the ½ size and finally, the ¾ size. Post the age of 12, children are better suited to full-size guitars.
Considering potential variations in size, these are the recommended guitars for the approximate age ranges that will help you decide the best child guitar.
- Baby guitar for 1 year old
- Children aged 2-5 are better suited for a ukulele (approximately 21in/54cm)
- Children aged 3-5 are better suited for a guitalele (approximately 28in/71cm)
- Children aged 5-8 are better suited for a ½ size (approximately 34in/86cm)
- Children aged 8-12 are better suited for a ¾ size(approximately 36in/92cm)
- Children aged 12+ are better suited for full size (approximately 40in/100cm)
While it’s technically not a guitar, the ukulele is perfect for younger kids who want to learn to play the guitar. It is small, light-weight and has nylon stringers that are safer for younger children’s fingers. It is a good place to begin, but for those who want to learn to play the guitar later, the transition will have to be made soon. This is because the ukulele has only four strings while a guitalele or standard guitar has 6. The Soprano Ukulele is the most recommended.
The guitalele is a sort of hybrid between the guitar and the ukulele. Sound-wise, it is closer to the ukulele, but shape-wise it resembles a guitar more closely. Just like the ukulele, it has nylon strings, making it a great first guitar for a 4 year old.
What kind of guitar style is best suited for your child?
If you are considering buying a guitar for 5 year old, either the ½ size or ¾ size guitar is ideal. There are three options to consider before picking out the perfect guitar here.
The classical guitar
It is usually advisable for your child to start with a classical guitar, as it has nylon strings (much like the ukulele) instead of the rougher steel strings of an acoustic or electric guitar. The decision also depends on the kind of music your child enjoys. As the name suggests, classical guitars produce the more classical, purist sounds heard in concertos and other classical pieces. If your child has a penchant for this style of music, the classical guitar is for them.
The acoustic guitar
If your child has a taste for folk, pop, country or slow rock music, the acoustic guitar could be an option. Lightweight but bulky, acoustic guitars have steel strings that could be hard on a beginner’s fingers, but they produce a much louder and fuller sound than classical guitars. These are the guitars used by more contemporary (especially pop) artists.
The electric guitar
If your child is interested in rock, metal or alternative pop music, the electric guitar might be the right option. Electric guitars are the smallest of all three guitars, so it could be a better option for your child, depending on their height. However, these guitars can be heavy, weighing as much as 6 kgs, which can be difficult for your child to carry comfortably. Due to the extra weight and the sharp steel strings, it is usually advisable to only try the electric guitar after getting some experience with the instrument. Electric guitars are considered the hardest to play, but their widespread use in popular culture makes them appeal to many learners. If your child spends their days perfecting Queen songs on Guitar Hero, they might be ready to go electric!
Other things to consider
There is some equipment that you should consider buying when purchasing a guitar:
- Picks- A plastic pick with medium thickness is a good choice to start with, considering its flexibility and grip.
- Strap- Especially for children who may play standing up, for the safety of the guitar, a comfortable, well-fitted strap is essential.
- Cable- This is optional and depends on what kind of guitar you decide to purchase. We recommend opting for a shorter cable to begin with.
- Tuner- This will make tuning their guitar easier and quicker for your child. Clip-on tuners are best for beginners as they’re portable, comfortable and easy to use.
Learning to play the guitar can be a fulfilling experience for your child. It is both an exciting hobby and a great practice of important cognitive skills that add to their overall development.