Best Guitar for Kids

How to Choose the Best Guitar for Kids – Beginner Info Guide and Kid's Guitar Reviews

The best guitar for kids – in a nutshell – is the one that makes them want to play.

This goes for everybody, of course, but is particularly important when you're trying to encourage kids in music. If it's not fun, they're not going to want to do it. The key to getting kids to stick with learning guitar is motivation – and the right guitar.

To find the right guitar for kids you need to consider factors like size, the style of music the kid wants to play, their age and what's motivating them to want to learn guitar. Once you look at all of these factors honestly, you'll have a pretty good picture of what kind of guitar will keep the child interested and intent on learning music.

Best-Electric-Guitar-for-Small-Hands-Fender-Strat - 2

One of the biggest downfalls is just getting the cheapest guitar because you're afraid your child might not stick with it. Trying to learn on a poor instrument that sounds bad, is difficult to play and doesn't stay in tune is one of the most de-motivating things for a budding guitarist.

You don't have to spend a fortune, but you do want to get a decent guitar so that the instrument itself isn't getting in the way of their learning.

I'll cover all of that here and you'll see our recommendations and reviews of some of the best guitars for kids, in different age groups, including classical, acoustic and electric guitars.

By the way, this article covers kids from about 4-years old and up. If you need a guitar, or guitar toy for younger kids, check out my Guitar for Toddlers page. It includes both real and toy guitars that are a great way to start kids on their musical journey.

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.


Whose idea is it to learn guitar? 

This makes a big difference. If playing guitar is your kid's idea, great, the initial motivation is already in place. I know, sometimes it seems like they want to try something new every week, but trust me, if they get involved with guitar with the right attitude, they'll be hooked.

For now, let's assume learning guitar is your kid's idea. What made them decide this? Was it something they saw on TV, or online? Does their friend's big sister play guitar? Or do you? Take the time to find out and explore the field further with them. Look up that artist they heard, and others like them. Share a few of your favorite guitar players to see if that sparks interest. But don't push anything – let their natural curiosity lead this discovery phase.

Once you've homed in on the style of guitar music your kid wants to play, look at the best guitars to get the job done.

Remember, we want this to be fun. There's no reason anyone should be forced to play a genre or type of guitar they're not interested in. 

If they want to play rock, get them a kid's electric guitar and let them go. If they want to go acoustic or classical, let them go acoustic or classical.

Here's a very brief look at what guitars are best suited to which genres:

Acoustic Guitar– Steel String – can be used across a wide variety of genres, including rock, pop, folk, blues, jazz, bluegrass and country. The steel strings will be a little tougher on a kid's fingers, but getting extra light strings will help. The range of these steel string acoustic guitars is excellent.

Classical GuitarNylon String – are used for Spanish and flamenco, especially fingerpicking, and of course, classical music. They're also the only ones that come ¼ size.

Electric Guitar – You can play just about anything on an electric guitar. No style is off the table. Rock, blues, old rock'n'roll, metal, reggae, jazz, bluegrass, country and pop are all possible on an electric.

You can take a look here to get a more thorough rundown of the primary guitar types and how they fit into different genres. But most of all – ask your kid what kind of first guitar they want, and discuss the options with them.

  The more involved your kid is with the decision, the more invested they'll be in making it work.

If it's your idea for your kid to learn guitar, you might need to tread a little lighter.

If you play guitar, great. This is an easy in. You could let them play a little on your guitar, show them a few things, and if they show interest, you could offer to get them their own set-up.

You could even get a guitar starter kit that looks similar to yours and have it just 'appear' in your living room or practice space. When they ask, say it's for them, if they want to join you. If they don't jump at it immediately, sometime when you're practicing, ask them if they want to learn a few chords, or the chords for their favorite song. Keep it casual. Chances are, given some space to make their own decision, they'll accept the invitation.

If you don't play guitar, but you want them to learn, consider what you're asking of them. Learning any instrument is a lot of work, and guitar is no exception. It's a lot to ask if it's not something they're interested in. Consider offering to learn along with them – as long as they're not at that age where that would be utterly embarrassing. Or you could share the work of some great guitarists to see if you can spark an interest.

   But please, don't ever force your kid into learning any instrument. Let them choose and you'll find the greatest success.

Need Beginner Guitar Lessons?

If your kids are just getting into guitar, no matter which style of guitar they choose, they can take TrueFire's First Steps for Beginner's guitar class for FREE. It's quite an extensive introductory course. By the end of it, they'll have learned 5 chords, how to change between them, play in rhythm and also 5 songs that use these chords (there are hundreds possible). Free sign-up, no credit card required and no time limit. Check it out!

TrueFire Logo - Spiral Gun for Best Online Guitar Lessons

Click the logo to go directly to TrueFire's Free First Steps for Beginner's guitar class

Best Guitar for Kids - Age 5-8 Years

Our Top 3 Choices

Best Acoustic Guitar

for 5-8 Year Olds

Loog Mini - Best Acoustic Guitar for Kids

See Review Below

Best Electric Guitar

for 5-8 Year Olds

LyxPro 30 Inch Electric Guitar Starter Kit for Kids

See Review Below

Best Classical Guitar

for 5-8 Year Olds

Cordoba C1M One-Quarter Small Body Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Protégé Series

See Review Below

Best Guitar for Kids Ages 5-8 Years Old - Reviews

The Loog Mini is an excellent starter child's guitar. It has 3 nylon strings, a learning app and flash cards for learning chords.

The simplicity of the 3 strings makes learning guitar less frustrating and kids can actually be playing songs on the first day. The narrow neck is the perfect size for any little hands to play.

Don't think this is a toy. The 3 strings are tuned the same as a regular guitar. Chords learned on the Loog Mini are fully transferable to playing a 6-string guitar.

For this age range, I'd consider the Loog Mini up to age 6ish, and take a good look at the ¼- or ½- size Cordoba classical guitar for ages 7-8. (Check the size chart for the best fit.)

This guitar is probably fine starting at the 7-8 year-old range, but is probably a little much for 5-6. You probably want to consider a Loog Electric for the littler ones, or pre-order a new Loog Electric with the built-in amp.

As for the LyxPro, it's a solid place to start kids on electric guitar. I fully believe everyone should start on the kind of guitar they want to play, so if your child wants to play electric guitar, this is a nice entry level package.

The guitar is well made, the amp is basic, but sufficient and it's a good-looking electric guitar, which is important for kids this age.

There are several color options (blue, red, pink) and right/left handed choices.

This LyxPro is a very fun place for budding guitarists to get their start.

Cordoba is a leader in classical guitars and they created the Protégé series specifically for beginning students and kids.

The Cordoba C1M is made of quality woods that produce good sound, and designed for playability and comfort. This is to encourage new players to stick with learning, and it does a great job of that.

On the flip side of that, this is also a durable guitar. The woods are good quality, but not so refined or delicate as a fine, professional instrument. But for its size, it sounds good, has impressive sustain and can take the abuse a kid might accidentally inflict upon it.

Cordoba has made some well-balanced choices.

This is a great kid's beginner guitar.

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The Ultimate Kid's Guitar Size Chart

There are plenty of child-size guitars. There are ¼, ½ and ¾ acoustics – the smaller ones having nylon strings (so technically they're classical guitars). There are ½ and ¾ kid's electric guitars. You'll have no shortage of choices and brands, like Fender, Yamaha and Ibanez. 

For the sake of this discussion, size is more important than age. If your 6-year old is as big as most 9-year olds, get the size for the 9-year old. Likewise, if your 10-year old is the size of most 8-year olds, get the size for the 8-year old.

Make sense?

Special Note for the 12+ Age Group: Besides the guitars we're showing here, you can take a look at my pages Best Acoustic Guitar for Small Hands (includes classical guitars), and Best Electric Guitar for Small Hands, to see a much wider selection of guitars that would be very appropriate for the 12+ age group.

Best Guitar for Kids

They did not get him the right size guitar.

Kids Classical Guitars – Nylon strings are softer and easier on the fingers. Also, this is the only model that comes in ¼ size.

 Age 2 - 5

 30 - 40" tall

 ¼ size

 Age 5 - 8

 40 – 50" tall

 ½ size

 Age 8 - 12

 50 – 65" tall

 ¾ size

 Age 12+

 65" +

 3/4 or Full size

Kids Acoustic Guitars – Steel strings have a brighter, and louder, sound. Acoustics work in a wider range of genres than classical guitars.

 Age 4 - 8

 35 – 50" tall

 ½ size

 Age 8 - 12

 50 – 65" tall

 ¾ size

 Age 12+

 65" +

 3/4 or Full size

Kids Electric Guitars – Often a bit easier to play, they're also heavier and require a little more equipment.

 Age 4 - 8

 35 – 50" tall

 ½ size

 Age 8 - 12

 50 – 65" tall

 ¾ size

 Age 12+

 65" +

 3/4 or Full size

Or, if they're measuring the guitar in inches, and not ¼, ½, ¾, here's another handy guide:

 Age 4 - 6

 30" guitar

 Age 6 - 9

 34" guitar

 Age 9 - 12

 36" guitar

 Age 12+

 3/4 or Full size

Best Guitar for Kids - Age 8-12 Years

Our Top 3 Choices

Best Guitar for Kids Ages 8-12 Years Old - Reviews

This steel string Yamaha has a much bigger sound than you would expect and delivers top quality all around, from the spruce top (brighter sound) to being nicely finished. It will take a little longer for your child to get used to the steel strings, but they'll adapt.

Seriously, you will not be disappointed with the volume or quality of the sound coming from this acoustic guitar. In addition, none of the components come off as cheap, or poorly assembled. Depending on the size, this even makes a good travel guitar for an experienced adult player.

While this is a student level guitar, there will be no rush to 'get something better' if your child really takes to playing. They can use this JR1 happily for a long time (or until an over-the-summer growth spurt).

Definitely check the size chart, and read the reviews and consider whether your child needs the ½ or ¾ size guitar.

This is a great starter kit with a solidly made guitar. The SX RST is made from real wood and well-constructed. You might need a little set-up on the guitar when it first arrives. Check for the fret edges to be smooth and all the screws to be tight.  

It's got jumbo frets for comfort and easier fretting, which is great for beginners. Three single-coil pickups leave room for exploration and a range of tone and sound.If you need a primer on the different kinds of pickups and how they work, check out my page on Beginner Electric Guitars.

Depending on your kid, beware that using the whammy bar, especially excessively, will make the guitar go out of tune more frequently. Use this information as you see fit and are considering whether to include the whammy bar, or would prefer to add it on later.

I love to recommend Yamaha guitars for students. They're well made, sounds great and are not instruments you're going to feel the need to replace quickly. If you have several kids, this Yamaha will pass down the line as they grow and it will hold up fine.

Yamaha doesn't cheap out on their student guitars and the ½ Classical is no exception. It has a spruce top, which keeps the softer sound of the nylon strings lively and a nice, comfortable rosewood fretboard. Both of these things are easier on a guitar student's fingers.

This is the kind of guitar that makes kids want to play.

Definitely check the size chart, and read the reviews and consider whether your child needs the ½ or ¾ size guitar.

Best Guitar for Kids - Age 12+ Years

Best Guitar for Kids Ages 12+ Years Old - Reviews

Special Note for the 12+ Age Group: Besides the guitars we're showing here, you can take a look at my pages Best Acoustic Guitar for Small Hands (includes classical guitars), and Best Electric Guitar for Small Hands, to see a much wider selection of guitars that would be very appropriate for the 12+ age group.

This is the kind of guitar that's not just a kid's learning guitar, plenty of adults with smaller hands, or build, really like this Oscar Schmidt OG1B. It's got a narrower neck and is scaled down just enough to be comfortable for a lot of people.

The spruce top keeps the sound bright and lively while never getting shrill. And the volume rivals that of full size guitars.

There are a couple of different color options and a lefty version in the natural tone.

Though if you appreciate Johnny Cash, I know you'll be sticking with the black.

Oscar Schmidt is known for making quality, entry-level guitars and they don't cut corners doing it.

This guitar is awesome and the bundle is sweet. A definite hit.

The Mini Squier Strat has a scale length of 22 3/4" and is about 4.5" shorter than the standard,  but it sounds exactly the same. It's a perfect first electric guitar for a teenager. (If said teenager is fully grown, and kinda tall, just get the standard Squier Strat.)

The Mini Strat comes in a large variety of colors and the kit has everything you need to start playing, including a free trial of Fender Play Online Guitar Lessons.

Side Note: Definitely use the free trial, but I have a comparison of TrueFire vs Fender Play that you may want to read. It's very revealing.

The Mini Squier Strat has a C-shaped neck for comfort, and three single coil pickups with a 5-way control switch for great tonal variation. Your budding guitarist can grind and experiment all they want to match the sound of their favorite musician.

Squier Strats are a great starting place for future rock stars (or any other genre).

This is actually the same model that I recommend for the younger group in the ¼ size and the same review from above applies here.

Cordoba is one of the primary classical guitar manufacturers, from beginner to advanced instruments.

In fact, it's great that they're making budget friendly classical guitars for beginners. It leaves people with some good options that aren't cheap, junky toys, but quality instruments that play quite well.

In the realm of classical guitars for students, you can't go wrong with Cordoba, or Yamaha, They're both solid, awesome choices.


You WILL Need Guitar Accessories

In addition to the guitar, you will need a few things to make this package complete.

  • 1
    Case – Whether hard or soft shell, your kid is going to need something to carry their guitar around in. Depending on the size, there might be a fun choice of colors and patterns.
  • 2
    Strings – You never want a broken string to end a practice session, always have an extra set or two on hand to keep the music playing. Also, for steel string acoustic and electric guitars, get light, or extra light strings, so it's easier to play and gives your kids fingers some relief.
  • 3
    Shoulder Strap – A comfortable strap is needed to play guitar standing up. Best for your kid to have the choice of standing or sitting. It's especially important for electric guitars that are a little heavier.
  • 4
    Electronic Tuner – A clip-on model works great and is invaluable for making the guitar sound its best. They often include a metronome, which can be a good learning tool. You can also use a free app on your (their) phone.
  • 5
    Picks – You'll want a handful of these. Medium weight is fine. But know that they get lost, temporarily misplaced and are attracted to time-space vortices, so there's no such thing as too many. There are lots of cool designs to choose from here, too.
  • 6
    Instructional Materials – No matter what learning method you choose, don't expect a kid to be able to progress without some instruction. You can choose anything from private lessons, to online ones, see here for a rundown, but make sure you have a plan for the minute the guitar arrives. You wouldn't want to squash their enthusiasm by not being prepared. I have an in-depth review and comparison for TrueFire vs Fender Play, if you're thinking about online guitar lessons.
Best Guitar for Kids

The rest of these items you only need if you're buying your kid an electric guitar.

  • 7
    Small Amplifier – 5-20 watts is enough to get started.
  • 8
    Headphones – So your kid can practice quietly. This can also be good to reduce interference from siblings. And early on, it might help save your sanity. It also lets your young learner make mistakes without broadcasting it to the world. For some kids, this makes all the difference.
  • 9
    Cable – To go from the guitar to the amp.
A lot of guitars come with a starter pack that includes all, or most, of these items,                  (except headphones).


Beginner Guitar Budget

The good news is that you don't have to break the bank to get a decent guitar for your kid to learn on. But if you want your kid to have the best chance of success, please don't buy the cheapest thing available. There are a lot of crappy guitars out there. They break, or won't stay in tune, and are generally unplayable. One of these will become a dust collector in the corner real soon – and that's an even bigger waste of money. So spend enough to buy a decent guitar and gear from the beginning.

Of course, there no single, one-size-fits-all 'best electric guitar for kids' or 'best child size guitar'. As with all things, there are choices to be made.


What does this mean? In most cases, you're in the $75-300 range for the guitar and necessary gear. This range should get a well-made, very playable instrument that sounds good. This is something your kid will enjoy playing and sharing with friends and family.

Costs could climb up to $500 for full size kits (for teenagers) and higher end gear, if you have the means. But these more expensive set-ups should also last longer as they won't be growing out of them quickly.

If you see a guitar, with a case, and all the accessories for $39.95, keep moving. There's nothing to see here but heartbreak and money going down the drain.


Should You Consider Getting a Used Guitar? 

It's hard to find a used guitar kit that will fit your needs, but if you do, by all means, consider it. But there are things to watch out for. First, you don't know how well the instrument has been treated. If it's been sitting and collecting dust, you'll need new strings, at the minimum, but it might need more maintenance, and that cuts down on the savings.

Also, you might be tempted to accept something that isn't quite the right size or style and that can be anything from disappointing, to downright uncomfortable for a kid. And if it wasn't a very good guitar in the first place, it will not have gotten better with age.

Getting a truly good second hand instrument usually doesn't save you that much. So, for peace of mind that everything's going to be in good shape, I have to say I recommend a new guitar. It'll boost your kid's enthusiasm, too. There's nothing like having your own brand new ax!

But there can be exceptions. If you find a great deal, on the right guitar and can verify its quality and condition, and your kid loves it - then go for it.


What about Ukelele?

A lot of people wonder whether a ukulele is a good starter instrument for kids. They're small, sometimes colorful, and not very expensive. They're generally very convenient. So should your kid start with the ukulele?

The answer is – it depends.


If your kid wants to learn guitar, then NO, the ukulele is not the right way to go. It's an entirely different instrument. It's tuned differently, it's played differently. Learning the ukulele is not a stepping stone to learning guitar.


If your kid just wants to play an instrument and you think they might like ukulele, then look at some ukulele videos online and see if they like the style. If they show an interest, this is a great instrument to start with. The two of you can even learn side-by-side.


Stay Involved – but not too involved

This is another one of those balance things. You want to encourage them to practice, but you don't want it to turn into a parental mandate that will make them hate doing it. You want to be excited for them, but you don't want your excitement to override their feelings. You want to give them space to learn and discover on their own, but you don't want them to think you don't care.

  If you want your kid to enjoy and love guitar, let it be their thing. Let them own it - but be there to support them.

You definitely want to inspire them in their learning, but don't be false in your praise. If they're having a hard time with a chord progression or a particular rhythm, don't tell them they sound 'great'. Encourage them to keep working at it – if they're the independent type. Or, ask them what's giving them trouble. If you don't have the musical knowledge to help them, try looking up a tutorial online.

NPR has an excellent segment on getting kids to practice without stress.

Let your kid know you're interested and excited about them learning guitar and that you're there to help with whatever they need.

If they are feeling good about their progress and want to show off, let them. It can be anything from you stopping and putting your phone down to listen, to setting up a little performance with friends and family in the audience.

  Your kids will let you know what they need if you listen to them. Do everything you can to help them succeed.

FAQ - Best Guitar for Kids

What is a good guitar for a beginner child?

A good guitar for a beginner child is one that's the right size, is easy to play and suits the style of music the child wants to play. You probably don't want to spend a fortune on a child's first guitar, but you don't want to get one that plays so poorly that the instrument itself discourages them from practicing.

Some good brands to look at for children beginning guitar are Cordoba for classical (nylon string) guitars, Yamaha for steel string acoustic guitars and Fender Squier for electric guitars for kids. These are all reliable, quality companies that have excellent student level guitars.

What is the right age to learn guitar?

Kids can start learning guitar as early as 3-years old, but that's best left as an at-home learning experience where you're teaching and/or learning along with them on an instrument like a Loog Mini

Structured classes, or private lessons with a guitar instructor should probably wait until they're 6-7 years old. Some instructors will take students younger than this, but they may be challenging to find. Definitely consider your child's developmental and maturity level if you're going to seek guitar lessons at an earlier age.

Can an 8-year old play a full size guitar?

It's certainly possible that an 8-year old can play a full size guitar, if they're big enough. However, adding a difficult reach and other discomfort to the learning process risks discouraging a budding guitarist. If you can, it's best to get a guitar that fits the child properly so that the guitar itself doesn't interfere with the learning process.

Can any child play full size guitar?

It's certainly possible that a child can play a full size guitar, if they're big enough. However, if a full size guitar adds a difficult reach, or is otherwise uncomfortable, this can hinder the learning process and risks discouraging a young guitarist. If you can, it's best to get a guitar that fits the child properly so that the guitar itself doesn't interfere with their enthusiasm for learning.

Final Thoughts on Guitars for Kids

I hope this information gives you a good guideline for getting your kid's guitar journey off to a great start. Playing guitar can be a lifelong passion and it's great that you want to help them find that. Music enriches life's fabric in ways you can't imagine. They'll thank you for it.

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