Have you been searching the web, looking for the best guitars for your kids? Great!
In this insider guide, you will learn the following:
- Are acoustic guitars for kids different from regular guitars?
- What do guitars for kids and toddlers usually cost?
- What do you need to know about sizing?
- What’re my favorite guitars for kids?
- And much more!
Below is a quick list of all my top five best acoustic guitars for kids!
Yamaha FG JR1 3/4 Size Acoustic Guitar
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Cordoba Mini II MH
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Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar
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Hohner HAG250P 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar – For Toddlers
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Taylor Guitars Baby Taylor, BT1, Natural
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My Overall #1 Pick
After looking at a ton of guitars, I narrowed the list of the best instruments for kids down to just five. Of those five acoustic guitars, I’ve decided to name the Yamaha FG JR1 as my top choice. Why?
Because it strikes a great balance between quality and price. It’s a very well-made guitar with good tone, quality components and it comes from a trusted name.
As a parent, I know all too well the frustration that comes with buying gear for your child’s hobbies and interests, only to find that they get bored a couple of weeks or months down the line.
This Yamaha sits at a price point that makes it affordable, yet it’s certainly good enough to see your kid through years of use. It can be tempting to just buy them a ‘toy’ guitar from a department store to see if they even like playing, but if the guitar you buy is too chintzy it will either break, or it just won’t get used.
The JR1 from Yamaha really does make the ideal first guitar, it’s not the cheapest on the list, but it certainly won’t need to be replaced or upgraded in too much of a hurry.
Top 5 Best Acoustic Guitars for Kids
In a hurry? Check out our Top 5 picks below! Keep reading to learn more about these acoustic guitars for kids!
- Yamaha FG JR1 3/4 Size Acoustic Guitar (Our Top Pick)
- Cordoba Mini II MH (Best Budget)
- Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar (Best High End)
- Hohner HAG250P 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar - For Toddlers
- Taylor Guitars Baby Taylor, BT1, Natural
It's important to consider what types of music your child will want to explore, as well as how old they are before selecting a guitar for them. So let's go over some of the things to consider!
What Is An Acoustic Guitar Made For Kids (Are They Any Different)?
Acoustic guitars for children, unlike electric guitars, make use of a hollow body to amplify the sound of the strings vibrating. Guitars made specifically for kids tend to be smaller than standard instruments - they often look just like a full size guitar, but just in a smaller size, making them easier for kids to hold and handle.
As well as being smaller, acoustic guitars made for kids are often finished in bright colors, with patterns, licensed character decals, or even with fun inlay. Making a guitar look appealing to a child can help with getting the initial interest, but in my experience, these guitars are often more toy than they are instrument.
Are There Specific Types of Acoustic Guitars For Kids?
There are a few styles of guitars that are specifically intended for kids, and some that fall into the travel guitar class, but will work perfectly for younger shredders!
Classical guitars are a great starting point for the youngest players. They make use of nylon strings, which are much easier on the fingertips, making them way more comfortable for little ones. Cheaper nylon strings can be difficult to keep in tune, though.
Concert style guitars have a smaller body and exaggerated curves. They are super easy to hold, which is ideal for young players with small hands.
Dreadnought guitars have a large body, and for this reason aren’t too common with the smaller ½ scale length instruments. They do produce a powerful low end sound, which will help kids with a bit of experience start experimenting with more dynamic playing styles.
They aren’t as easy to hold as some of the smaller guitars, which is why I recommend them mostly for older kids.
Guitaleles are a relatively new concept. A guitalele is the size of a ukulele, but it has 6 strings and standard guitar tuning. They are about ¼ the size of a standard guitar, which makes them an ideal size for the smallest guitar players.
Are Kids Acoustic Guitars More Expensive/Costly?
Generally speaking, guitars that are made with kids in mind are actually cheaper than standard guitars. They are smaller, they don’t always use top end components, and truth be told, they don’t need to. As long as a guitar has decent playability, has some tuning stability, and is comfortable to hold, it will work for your child.
A kids guitar can be had for as little as $50 – this will get you a lower quality, but nonetheless useable instrument. A mid-range guitar will cost you somewhere around $100 to $250. Anything above $250 for a kids guitar is getting into premium territory – these guitars are ideal for older kids with a couple of years of playing under their belts.
What To Look For When Buying An Acoustic Guitar For Your Child?
When I say look for high-quality, I don’t necessarily mean look for a Martin D-45, or an Olsen James Taylor, I’m talking about a well-built, durable guitar that sounds good and is comfortable. For the best quality, steer clear of the department store specials, and stick with the recommendations on this list.
Finally, a good quality guitar will always resell for way more than a ‘toy’ guitar. So, if your child really likes to play and you want to treat them to an upgrade, you can recover more of the initial cost. If they give up (which I hope they don’t!), you’ll have a much easier time selling it on.
Tying into the quality aspect, a good manufacturer’s warranty is important when it comes to a kid’s guitar. Learning respect for musical instruments is one of the fundamentals that all kids should learn as part of their journey, but let’s be real – most kids aren’t going to be quite as careful with their guitar as an adult would be. A guitar with a good warranty should give you peace of mind that any faults or defects will be taken care of by the manufacturer.
When selecting my top 5 guitars for kids for this list, I intentionally kept the prices in the low to mid range. There’s nothing wrong with getting your child a top of the range instrument to begin with, but if it’s their first guitar and you aren’t sure that they will stick with it, it’s probably better to limit the initial outlay. Even the most expensive guitars on this list come in at under $400, will last for many years of playing, and sound absolutely fantastic.
Design is an important feature for kids. I was browsing online recently with my 6 year old daughter after telling her she could get her first guitar. What do you think her first, and most important search criteria was? It had to be PINK!
Not every kid is going to want a pink guitar, but getting something that they like the look of can really improve their initial interest.
What Are My Recommendations By Age Group?
The age and size of your child will have an impact on which
Ages 0 – 4
At this age your kids will really need something small just to be able to hold it. Guitaleles or half sizeclassical guitars are best.
For the youngest guitar players, this little Hohner should definitely fit the bill.
Ages 5 – 7
Kids between 5 and 7 should have something a little sturdier, with better playability. I recommend a quality classical guitar at this stage as nylon strings are more comfortable.
This classical guitar from Cordoba is a great step up from the Hohner, but still won’t break the bank.
Ages 8 – 11
By time your kids are at this age, they should be playing something a little more robust. It’s also a good time to introduce them to something with steel strings.
Between 8 and 11 you’ll find that your kids are getting a bit more serious about their playing. My top pick, the Yamaha JR1 should work perfectly!
Middle school aged kids and above might very well be looking to join, or form a band to start performing their music to others. It’s a good time to set them up with a quality guitar that sounds great, and with the proper care, could last them for decades.
If your kid has been playing for a couple of years, and has already built their foundations, upgrading to a premium guitar like the Martin LX1 ‘Little Martin’ can help take their skills to the next level.
My Reviews Of The Best Acoustic Guitars For Your Children
The JR1 from Yamaha is a great all-rounder, it’s a great starter guitar from a well-known, well respected manufacturer, and that’s why it was my top choice.
It’s made with a spruce top, it features a nato neck, and a genuine rosewood fretboard.
This guitar is a ¾ scale size so it has great playability, and a surprisingly rich sound for a small instrument.
To top it off, it comes complete with a handy clip-on tuner and a gig bag for protection when it’s not in use and when it’s being taken from place to place.
- Solid build quality
- Good tone
- Great price
- Standard strings aren’t great
- Requires some set up for optimal performance
The award for best budget guitar went to the fantastic Cordoba Mini II MH. This is a wonderful classical guitar at a superb price point.
The Cordoba Mini II has a much narrower nut than a typical classical, making it much easier for kids with smaller hands to grip.
Nylon guitar strings provide an extremely comfortable playing experience that is much less likely to discourage younger guitarists from picking it up.
It is made with layered mahogany, which adds to the rich tone, and looks great. The tuning machines are a steel-string style which keeps the head solid, giving this guitar a much more appealing look.
- Warm and rich sounding
- Extended scale length allows standard E tuning
- All mahogany construction
- Fret finish can feel rough
- Action is a bit too high
If you’re looking for something a little bit special, the Martin LX1Little Martin will definitely fit the bill. This ¾ scale guitar is packed with premium features and is one of the best sounding guitars in this category without a doubt – there’s a reason that Ed Sheeran still plays his Little Martin on stage!
The fact that this guitar is perfect for younger players, but it’s still the instrument of choice for one of the world’s biggest recording artists should tell you everything you need to know about it.
In case you need to know more, it boasts a Sitka Spruce top, a genuine rosewood fingerboard, and mahogany patter HPL laminate back and sides.
- Beautiful sound
- Includes a quality gig bag and clip-on tuner
- Slim neck for small hands
- High frets might be tough to reach
- Some might expect solid wood sides/back at this price
The Hohner HAG250p is by far the cheapest model I reviewed, but that is by no means a negative thing.
This is a rock-solid instrument that is more than suitable for introducing little ones to the acoustic guitar. It's built with an Agathis top and sides and features soft nylon strings.
While it's not exactly handcrafted with the finest tonewoods, the materials used do keep the weight down which makes it very easy for children to handle.
Regardless, it's built to take a bit of punishment, which is a priority for many parents looking to get their child their first guitar.
- Tough construction
- Real guitar feel
- Strings will stretch and lose tune for a while
- Not the prettiest guitar
If you've read my piece about the best guitars for small hands, you'll know that I'm a massive fan of the Baby Taylor series.
Taylor has done a great job with this line of instruments - this one in particular features a solid Sitka spruce top, sapele back and sides, and a beautiful ebony fretboard.
The playability is phenomenal on this guitar, it's a 3/4 size instrument that your child can enjoy all the way into adulthood.
Getting a chance to play with the same gear as your idols is a huge deal for young musicians, and seeing as this model is a favorite of superstar Taylor Swift, your kids will definitely love it.
- Amazing construction quality
- Full tone
- Easy handling
- Screwed on neck could become a weak point
- Not suited to rough handling
Final Thoughts On The Best Acoustic Guitars For Kids
This list features instruments at all ends of the price spectrum, and all of them will help your child to fall in love with this amazing instrument. It's such a crucial time to get kids interested in playing. By the time they get to be adults, between work and the rest of life, they may never find time to learn, but, get them hooked young and they'll have a passion for life.
Some of my fondest memories are 'playing' (I wasn't very good at the time!) my nylon-strung kids' size guitar together with my dad on his Tennessee Crafters steel string. If you can choose the right guitar for your kid, one that gets them enthusiastic about playing, they'll stick with it and whatever investment you've made in their learning will be more than worthwhile.