Are you into rock music and hope the interest will rub off on to your little one? Or are you searching for a guitar to channel your toddler’s artistic side? Whatever the reason, guitars are great fun!
It will take some time to get the hang of, so don’t buy the most expensive guitar at first. It has to fit your child’s small hands, and not outweigh them so they tip over. It also has to be durable — you know — in case of a toddling accident.
Today, we’re here to answer all your questions about buying a guitar for your child. Plus, stay tuned to the end, where we’ve put together a list of the best guitars for kids to buy. Let’s get playing!
How Young Is Too Young?
When it comes to buying a guitar for your little one, there really isn’t an age limit (1). Well, of course, babies who haven’t yet developed fine motor skills aren’t going to benefit. But for toddlers and older kids, there are three things to consider:
Motivation is essential. But it has to come from the right place.
Ask yourself, does your child want to play the guitar? Have they asked for one for their birthday, or Christmas? Or showed an interest in learning how to play?
If yes, then your little one, no matter their age, is ready to play. You see, when our children begin to show interest in things, it’s important that we encourage them. Maybe they won’t become a famous rock star in the future, but they’ll surely gain some experience.
However, if you’re the one who wants your child to play, regardless of how interested they may seem, it’s probably better to wait. Pressuring a child to do something rarely leads to good results. In turn, it might just end with them quitting.
2. Counting and ABC
If you’re buying your little one a guitar simply so they can have some fun, this isn’t an issue.
However, if your intentions, and that of your child, is to learn how to play correctly, then this is essential.
When playing the guitar, counting is a big part of it, even on a basic level. The same goes for the ABCs.
If your child will be taking lessons, there’ll be a lot of counting the strings or frets. The guitar player must also be able to identify the chords and notes by their name, which is typically a letter.
3. Will Any Guitar Fit?
Children have significantly smaller hands than adults, and therefore playing an adult-sized guitar is most likely impossible.
Of course, there are ways you can place the guitar, like lying it down, that might help them to reach. However, if you can’t find a guitar small enough for your child, it might be better to wait until next Christmas or birthday.
There are also toy alternatives that usually fit very young children. But, make sure that these are decent quality. Later in the article, I’ll show you a few examples.
Guitar Sizing Guide
Buying the right size guitar for your child is crucial. Having one that’s too large can be impossible to play. Whereas one that’s too small can make it difficult to learn how to play correctly (2).
A typical adult-sized guitar is around 40 inches long. Children, of course, need one smaller than that. Here you can see measurements below:
- A child that is 3 feet 3 inches to 3 feet 9 inches needs a guitar that is 33 inches.
- Children between 3 feet 10 inches and 4 feet 5 inches should have a 34-inch guitar.
- From 4 feet 6 inches to 4 feet 11 inches, a guitar measuring 36 inches will fit.
- Lastly, children with a height of at least 5 feet can have an adult size guitar.
Choosing the Best Guitar for Kids
When buying your child’s first guitar, you really want to make sure it’s one that they will enjoy playing.
This means you should buy one that makes a good sound with little effort. For example, if the strings are too close to the fretboard, it may create an annoying buzz. On the other hand, if they’re too high, they can be difficult to press down.
Standard measures are around 0.062 inches at the highest string and 0.094 inches at the lowest. But note that this can vary from type to type.
Next, it should be easy to tune. Some guitars fall out of tune pretty quickly, and playing a poor-sounding instrument is never fun. Plus, it’s a headache for you to run back and forth, tuning it over and over.
You also want to include something that looks fun. Especially if your child is smaller, they might appreciate some crazy colors.
Additionally, be sure that the guitar isn’t too heavy. Sometimes, acoustic guitars can be bulky and difficult for small children to carry. In this case, you can always buy a strap, however, this will only help a little.
Finally, check out the overall size of the instrument compared to the player’s little body. Playing a guitar that’s the wrong size can severely impact your child’s playing, and it may even put them off entirely.
The Best Guitars for Kids of 2020
Now that we have the insights on what to look for, let’s take a look at some great options.
Best Toy Guitars for Toddlers and Babies
1. The Little Tikes PopTunes Guitar
This little toy guitar from Little Tikes is the perfect pick for an active toddler who wants to rock out.
If your little toddling rugrat tends to get bored quickly, this will likely keep them swinging for longer. The Little Tikes toy guitar comes in a grey translucent design, fitted with red and blue LED lights for special effects.
It features two modes of play — preset tunes, and rock ‘n’ roll riffs, where your toddler can go crazy.
Each string will sound a tune, and on the baseboard, there is a small tuner to help give the effect of a real guitar. Of course, this is only for pretending.
The guitar is a decent size and weight, so it won’t be too heavy for your little one.
- Rock ‘n’ roll design with LED lights.
- Strings and big colorful buttons on the neck.
- Two preset tune modes, so your little one won’t get bored too quickly.
- There is no strap — this makes it difficult to move around while playing.
- They may grow out of it quickly. It states that it’s for children from 24 months to five years, but it might be too small for a five year-old.
2. VTech Zoo Jamz Guitar
If you have a smaller toddler and want a guitar-inspired toy, this is ideal. It’s a super cute guitar with a zoo animal theme.
The shape of the toy is a giraffe, with its long neck being the neck of the guitar. This makes it appeal more to young ones. Down the neck, there are eight light-up buttons to push, and four strings down at the center.
The light-up buttons make cute animal sounds as well as chords. This way, children can compose their own zoo song, or play along to the preset tunes. They can also pick between acoustic and electric guitar sounds.
It comes with a strap, so your toddler can take it anywhere with ease.
But what will us moms love the most? The volume control, of course! Perfect for the days when you’re tired, but your little one just wants to have fun.
- The zoo theme design makes it extra fun for smaller toddlers.
- An ample amount of light-up buttons to keep it interesting.
- Comes with a strap.
- Lots of options in terms of preset songs and animal sounds.
- Volume button.
- The volume button is on the outside. It would be helpful if it was parent-controlled: for example, by being inside, next to the batteries.
- It can be loud, even on lower settings. Remember you always want to protect those little ears!
3. Happy-Time Kids Emulation Toy Guitar
If you’re looking for an authentic looking acoustic guitar for your musical toddler, this is it!
The appearance of this toy guitar from HappyTime comes close to a real guitar, with all the essentials, such as strings and tuners. It’s excellent if you want to get your little one into instruments. Or if you frequently spot them trying to strum yours.
With this toy guitar, your budding Hendrix can play some tunes alongside you.
It consists of a plastic, wood effect body, with six strings. Up at the top, you have six tuners, one for each string. These really do tune the guitar, so your little one can get an authentic experience.
- Authentic appearance.
- Six strings that can be tuned like a full size guitar.
- Neutral color, suitable for both boys and girls.
- The tuners can be difficult to manage, so it won’t sound perfect. But, then again, it is only a toy.
- Quite fragile for a toy meant for small children.
Best Acoustic Guitars for Kids
4. Hohner HAG250P 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar
If you’re looking for a first guitar for a slightly older child, this is an excellent option. This classical acoustic guitar from Hohner Accordions is the perfect fit for a beginner.
The size of the guitar is half the size of a standard guitar, at 30 inches long. This means that it fits well with children between the ages of four and seven.
There are six strings in total, made from nylon. These are what you should look for in a first guitar for your kiddie since they are a lot softer for the fingers and easier to play.
The material of the guitar is a blend of different types of wood, one of which is Agathis. This gives it a rounded, crisp sound when playing.
Additionally, it’s relatively easy to tune and has a low action, so short arms can comfortably reach all the strings.
- Low action, which makes for easy reach.
- Nylon strings that won’t hurt little fingers.
- Once in tune, it makes a good sound.
- Goes out of tune pretty quickly. This is probably due to the nylon strings and plastic tuners.
5. Yamaha JR1 3/4 Size Steel String Acoustic Guitar
This junior guitar from Yamaha is excellent for children who want to take their practice seriously. It’s the real thing, scaled down for little arms and fingers.
Yamaha is a well-known brand, famous for its quality instruments. This junior version makes a balanced authentic sound, with a warm base.
Because this guitar sounds so good, it’s perfect for the beginner who needs some encouragement. As we mentioned earlier, it can be discouraging for kids when they play and it doesn’t sound good.
The neck is slim and comfortable for small hands. And, for adults, the tuning pegs are sturdy and easy to handle.
This six-string from Yamaha is one of the better guitars you’re going to find for your child. The guitar also comes with a pack of picks, a strap, extra strings, and a string winder. An excellent little starter pack.
- Ideal first “real” guitar for a child.
- Authentic sound to encourage budding rockstars.
- Slim neck.
- The Yamaha quality.
- The steel strings can be hard on little fingers at first.
6. Rogue Starter Acoustic Guitar
If your kid is asking for a guitar with a different look, this is the one. This acoustic guitar from Rogue is not only beautiful, it’s also well made and durable. At 7/8 scale, it could even be played by older children.
The material of the guitar is a blend of maple in the neck, rosewood on the fingerboard and a mahogany body. The maple wood neck prevents it from bending, while the mahogany body makes a great sound.
Then we have the color! It has a beautiful blue to black sunburst finish, with a smooth surface. It is gorgeous to look at — can I get one for Christmas? You can also choose to buy it in hot pink, black, and classical browns. However, I adore this blue!
The sound that it makes is not the best out there, but it is something you can work with. Nevertheless, it is a good choice if your child is just starting out. Plus, the design of it will make them feel proud when showing it around at group practice.
- The color is a big pro.
- The blend of wood used for the material makes it durable.
- The option for a hot pink color is an excellent alternative for girly girls.
- The sound could be better.
Best Electric Guitars for Kids
7. Squier Strat Mini
This electric guitar from Squier is excellent for kids who want to rock out with some volume (although maybe not so good for mom’s ears).
Electric guitars are often easier to play, as less pressure is needed on the strings. But the Mini has everything a guitar should have, in a compact package, perfect for children.
This model is basically a smaller copy of the iconic Fender Stratocaster. The guitar has a standard five-way switch, plus three single-coil pickups. This means it can make a variety of sounds, from light tones to deep bass, for a real rock ‘n’ roll feel.
The neck is excellent for small players, at about 22.75 inches long.
The issue sometimes with electric guitars is that the neck tends to be wide and therefore difficult to reach. However, this model doesn’t seem to have that issue, since it was specifically crafted for young musicians.
- Excellent quality and proper sizing for young children.
- Great sound with lots of potential for different genres.
- You can buy it with an amplifier and tuner.
- It can be difficult to tune and requires frequent re-tuning.
8. Ibanez 6 String Electric Guitar
This six-string electric guitar from Ibanez will surely give your kid some rock ‘n’ roll vibes!
It has a smooth, slim neck for smaller hands, which makes it easier to slide up and down to change chords.
Let’s be honest. Children often base their choices on colors. So one way to keep their interest going is by giving them something that they won’t get bored looking at.
This model comes in a variety of shades. Our example is the bright blue that screams for attention with its rockstar appearance. Secretly, my favorite is the purple model, but the more conservative colors of black, white or classic walnut are available.
It has all the qualities of its full-size bigger brother, so you know you’re buying a real guitar, not just a toy. This is another one that bigger kids and smaller adults could enjoy, too!
- Slim neck for small hands.
- Good choice of bright colors.
- Great sound
- It may be difficult to tune.
9. Epiphone LP Junior Electric Guitar
Although the name implies it’s for kids, this guitar from Epiphone is full-size and so will be a better fit for older kids (above nine).
It’s lightweight, and fits well in the hand without feeling too wide. This guitar makes an excellent vintage sound when your kid strums. It has a 700T humbucker and two knobs for controlling volume and tone.
The style is also a beautiful classic, with its vintage sunburst color, and mahogany finish running up the neck. It surely is an impressive guitar that your young rock ‘n’ roller will love to own.
Plus, the upside of buying a full-size guitar now is you won’t have to buy a new one as your child grows. The excellent quality of the instrument makes it durable for years to come.
- It’s lightweight.
- The vintage sound.
- Visually attractive.
- Too big for kids under nine years of age to play correctly.
- The tuners can be unstable.
Toy Versus Acoustic Versus Electric
This is a very common question. Some parents might feel unsure about buying a real guitar as a first for their child. Whereas others may see toy guitars as a waste of money.
1. Toy Guitars
If you’re planning this as more of a game for your little one, then an actual guitar may not be your best bet. Your child might show some interest and then the magic seeps right out as quickly as it appeared. This is where toy guitars come in!
Look at it this way: a toy guitar is like an introduction for your toddler into the world of music. They’re often colorful, make lots of noise, and it won’t be as much of a disaster if they break. Thus, they’re good alternatives for toddlers who so badly want to get their hands on daddy’s acoustic.
Instead, your little rock ‘n’ roller can play alongside dad. This will likely increase their interest in the instrument. Plus, their bond will only get stronger.
With a toy guitar, your toddler can explore all the basic parts of the instrument. This may help them once they begin playing a real one, and will give them a feeling of achievement. And, for now, all that really counts is keeping their motivation alive.
Looking at it from another perspective, a toy guitar will also support the development of motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
However, they aren’t real guitars. This means that there are limits as to how much the child will learn regarding playing an actual song.
2. Acoustic Guitars
An acoustic guitar is a basic instrument. No amp is needed, and your child can play it anywhere they like. These tend to be less intimidating since there are no extra tuners, plugins or buttons.
It also makes for a more affordable choice, especially if you suspect your child may lose interest.
Acoustic guitars have a higher action, meaning that you’d have to press harder on the strings to make a noise. This can quickly result in hand cramping and blisters. Of course, this goes away with practice, but the pain can really be discouraging.
You can help to make the transition easier by buying an acoustic with nylon strings. Then, once your little enthusiast has mastered the strings, you can upgrade.
3. Electric Guitars
Electric guitars are generally more comfortable to play and a lot more forgiving on little fingers. The height from the fingerboard to the strings is lower. Plus the guitar requires less action and pressure to produce noise.
Electric guitars are perfect for kids who love to play games like Guitar Hero. Your child might begin listening to alternative music, rock, and pop. This is great for keeping the interest going.
However, this type tends to be a bit more pricey, plus you also have to purchase an amplifier and other accessories.
Buying New Versus Used
You may wonder which is best to buy, and you’re not the only one. Undoubtedly, there’s going to be a difference in the price, but should you opt for the quality of buying new? Let’s see.
Buying a brand new guitar for your child as a first can seem scary. I know, as a guitar enthusiast myself, I opted to give my kiddie my old one as a starter. However, I sometimes regret it, since I would wince every time something sounded off.
Nevertheless, if you’re thinking about buying a new guitar, don’t waste your money on the most expensive there is just yet. Yes, you can always resell it or keep it for the future. Still, it can feel like a punch in the gut when the $200 guitar is left in the closet.
You can still get good quality instruments for far less, that may even keep your child playing for years. Pick one that fits comfortably in their hands and looks appealing.
Yes, I know I said that new ones could seem scary due to the possible price tag. But buying secondhand guitars can be risky too; you don’t want to waste money on something shabby. Make sure you check out the quality of a used product before you buy it.
Nonetheless, if you can find one that fits and has a reasonable price, then grab it. Unless, of course, it’s so old and worn that it falls apart from the first strum.
What Other Accessories Will I Need?
Don’t forget about the essentials to buy alongside the guitar itself. Your child may not need them all in the beginning, but once they get more serious, these will come in handy.
- Picks: These can help when learning how to strum. Buy a few of different thicknesses — thin, medium, and thick.
- Tuner: The guitar will need re-tuning eventually, if not right off the bat. This little tool can help make it a bit easier, even for beginners.
- Spare strings: These are good to have in the closet in case one breaks.
- Straps and strap locks: This will allow your little rockstar to stand up while playing, walking around, or even just help them when sitting.
How to Teach Kids Guitar
The best thing you can do is begin small.
Teach them the string names by associating them with funny phrases such as:
- E = Eddie, A = Ate, D = Dynamite, G = Good, B = Bye, E = Eddie. Or:
- E = Elephants, A = And, D = Donkeys, G = Grow, B = Big, E = Ears (3).
This adds a fun element and makes remembering the names easier.
Next, you can start by playing some well-known rhymes. These generally require fewer chords to play to get a song, which means less strain on little fingers.
And lastly, don’t put any pressure on: just be supportive. Kids can easily get discouraged if their goals are too hard to reach.
If you want a visual guide for some easy chords to play, there are lots of videos online, such as this one:
Tips for Keeping Kids Interested
When we’ve paid for the guitar, and perhaps even lessons, we want our children to get the most from it. But sometimes, their interest is short-lived, and we’re left having to force them out the door for class, or to pick up their instrument and practice.
Here are a few hints and tips for keeping their guitar interest alive.
One thing to steer away from is offering rewards for completing a session. For example, you may say they get to watch TV for an extra 30 minutes if they finish 30 minutes of guitar practice. But by doing this, it takes the joy away from playing.
Instead, set small daily musical goals. This will teach your kid to see the target as the reward, as opposed to the TV. Turn it into something fun, rather than something that must be endured.
And lastly, don’t be pushy. If your child really doesn’t want to play any more, don’t force them to do it. They will surely pick up other interests, or perhaps they’ll come back to the guitar later. That’s what I did, growing up!
Getting your child interested in guitars and music early on is one way to increase the chances of it becoming a lifelong hobby. Learning how to play the guitar is excellent for reinforcing good motor skills.
Just remember to buy the right size and ask your little one if they like a particular color. This can help to keep their interest going for longer. Our top pick for the best kids guitar is the Little Tikes PopTunes Guitar — it’s fun, colorful and a great option as a first guitar for a toddler.
If you have an older child and know they’re serious about learning to play, the Squier Strat Mini is a great way to start them off.