Best Toddler Guitar 2021 + 4 AMAZING Things Nobody Tells You
So, what's the best guitar for your toddler?
It's great that you want to get your toddler a guitar, or a guitar toy, to help get them interested in music. Just having a good first experience with music can set them up for future successes not only in music, but language growth and all types of learning.
Yes, there are great guitars, and guitar toys, for almost all ages.
Of course, my recommendation for a guitar for a 2-year old is different from my recommendation for a guitar for a 3-year old, or a 6-12 month baby.
As you look through the guitars we review, keep in mind my best piece of advice for getting toddlers interested in music:
Be involved while your toddler plays with whatever musical instrument or toy you get them. Clap for them, sing with them and dance when they play. Don't pressure them. Let them discover and help make it extra fun - in whatever way works best for them. This will inspire them more than anything.
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So at What Age Can I Start my Toddler on a Real Guitar?
Some guitar teachers won't take students younger than 6-years old, but many will take 4-5 year old students. I'm going to go against the grain and say that some toddlers are ready to start playing guitar as young as 3-years old. As long as they have the ability to press a string down to the fret board, strum and pay attention, they're ready to play real guitar.
I wouldn't have said this ten years ago. But I have to give props to a new guitar company called Loog. They are making real wood guitars, acoustic and electric, that sound great – but they only have 3 strings. They're real strings – they match the three thinnest strings of a regular six-string and are tuned the same.
So the skills they learn on a Loog transfer directly when they're ready to move up.
Note: The color selection fluctuates on these. In theory, there are about 6 colors to choose from, but what's in stock at any given time depends on the supply chain.
In 2021 Loog will have a new line of electric guitars that have the amp built in! There will also be a free tutorial app that includes augmented reality guidance in addition to traditional lessons, games and learning. To read about and pre-order the new line of electric guitars from Loog, click here.
These guitars also come with flash cards for learning chords, and an app that features cute little monsters teaching them chords and songs.
These are easily the best toddler guitars I've seen. I think they offer a smart approach for toddlers this age and are really well thought out.
When your toddler has mastered the 3-string and is ready for something more, check out Best Guitar for Kids – 7 Things You Need to Know.
If you have an older toddler (4-5 years old) that has good motor skills and knows their alphabet, you could go straight to a six string. There are some good ¼ size guitars out there that aren't just toys. But make sure to get a good one, and make sure your child is interested, because these are definitely more challenging. However, don't hesitate to start them on a Loog 3-string guitar, too. Easing them into playing guitar might be a better path to long term success.
Fast View: Best Toddler Guitars - Top 3
Best Toddler Guitar and Guitar Toys - Reviews
One of the coolest things about this Baby Einstein Rock, Light & Roll Guitar Musical Toy is that it plays classical music tunes instead of just rock-n-roll riffs. Kind of like getting that Bugs Bunny education in classical music. It's nice to have a toy with a different approach.
Every button and device on this toy creates music, and they're easy to manipulate. There's even a strum feature on the center disk that starts and stops different songs. The volume button has 2 settings, neither of which is obnoxiously loud, which will help maintain the sanity of all the adults in the room.
This toy is also extremely durable. There's tale of a 30' drop onto concrete and the toy survived, still working.
It's designed for ages 3 months and up, but the 8-12 month olds seem to be right in the sweet spot for loving it. They've achieved a certain level of control ability and this Baby Einstein Guitar Toy keeps them happily entertained and involved.
An excellent choice for your little one.
Age: 3+ months
Volume Control: Yes
The VTech Strum and Jam is very cool. It features guitar, keyboard and drums, they can all be played separately, but there's also a function to play them all together.
On top of that, there's a free play option so your toddler can explore and create music on their own. The whammy bar and star buttons add cool guitar and other sound effects. If you press multiple keys on the keyboard, it will play them all (like a chord).
Oh, and there are 12 children's songs programmed in. Songs like Big Rock Candy Mountain, Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me, Polly Wolly Doodle and I’ve Been Working on the Railroad span the musical range from rock to hip-hop to jazz.
Perfect exposure for the budding musician.
One downside is the lack of volume control, but the volume is set at a reasonable level so it shouldn't drive you crazy.
Age: 3+ years
Volume Control: No
The KidKraft Lil Symphony Electric guitar toy allows a toddlers to choose from two different beats as they tap the neck buttons for different riffs, or switch modes to strum individual notes and create a new song.
There's a light bar along the neck for added fun, and some of the pre-programmed riffs are real rock and funk.
The strum function is fairly realistic and the whammy bar actually wails.
Toddlers really get a kick out of this because they can create their own music.
This isn't just push the button to hear a sound, this is real cause and effect, action/reaction, musical type stuff.
If there's a toy guitar that's going to inspire a toddler to play a real guitar in the future, I would bet on this one.
And even if it doesn't inspire them to become future rock stars, they're going to have a lot of fun with it now.
Age: 3+ years
Volume Control: Yes
**NEW** At the Whammy Bar Toddler Logo T-Shirt
A lot of you have written asking where to get our logo on a T-shirt, so here it is!
Simple, vintage, classic. The At the Whammy Bar logo T-shirt is a perfect fit for any toddler with a guitar.
Available at Zazzle, choose your color size and style. Just click right on through for instant access.
With reasonably realistic guitar sounds, 10 pre-recorded songs and a vibrato-inducing WHAMMY BAR – you know we had to review this Fisher-Price toy.
This is one of those toys where less is more. It doesn't try to pack a hundred crazy sounds onto twenty different buttons. It just gives toddlers a great taste of being an awesome guitar player.
There are power chords to make any toddler feel like they're a stage idol, 10 songs ready to go and did I mention the real, functioning whammy bar? You know how much fun it is to play with that.
Of course, there's a volume control and an auto-off function to preserve battery life.
Toddlers stay entertained and involved with this Fisher-Price Rockstar Guitar Toy for a long time. A perfect gift for kids 2-4 years old.
Age: 2+ years
Volume Control: Yes
This is a great toy guitar whether or not your toddler is a fan of the movie, Coco.
It has real guitar action, in that you hold down buttons on the neck and strum plastic 'strings' to hear the chords.
It doesn't have pre-loaded songs, but it includes a sing booklet, that shows you how to play the some of the songs from the movie.
The headstock skull chomps down when the first chord button is pressed, and it lights up when the kid is playing. You can get a real tune out of it, even though it only has 3 chord buttons and a couple of strumming options.
Note: The chord buttons on the neck do not function by themselves, but they work to change the sound values when it is strummed.
Toddlers really enjoy this guitar and the direct, real action. The chomping skull is just a kicker. Wish I could get one for my guitar. 😉
This is a toy guitar that does justice to the movie in its feel and action. If your kid is a fan of the movie, and who isn't, they'll especially love having this toy Coco tribute guitar. It's really pretty cool.
Age: 3+ years
Volume Control: No
This little giraffe guitar has a lot more going on than you think it would.
There are 8 buttons that light up and allow your toddler to play along with the recorded music, or make up their own tunes.
And just to keep things fun, they can add funny animal noises to the music. Eight popular kids' tunes come pre-recorded on the Zoo Jamz Guitar.
The whammy bar is the giraffe's tail and it plays cool guitar effects.
There's a 3mode switch that let's your toddler choose from acoustic, electric or distortion guitar.
This guitar is simple enough for an 18 month old toddler, and interesting enough for a 3-4 year old toddler. There's plenty to do on it and most kids find it quite entertaining.
It's also insanely cute. Gotta love it.
Age: 18+ months
Volume Control: Yes
This Little Rock Star Guitar puts on a light and music show while your toddler plays along.
There are 10 pre-recorded songs, flexible 'strings', sound effects, 3 mixer functions and gentle, colorful flashing lights that all come together to keep your child engaged and entertained.
The controls are easy for little hands to manipulate and toddlers love to dance to the music while imitating strumming and playing.
It's targeted at ages 2 years old and up, but if your kid is big for their age, you might find it a little small. You might even be able to give it to a toddler that's a little younger than the suggested age.
This is a nicely interactive guitar toy with a lot of options and entertainment value.
Age: 2+ years
Volume Control: Yes
The Baby Einstein Flip and Riff toy is pretty cool because it had a piano side, and a guitar side. It also has a range of 6 different instrument sounds, including acoustic and electric guitar.
More than 30 songs are pre-loaded on this toy.
The piano side is more touch oriented, (no buttons) while the guitar folds out and has more tactile controls.
Overall, there are tons of melody and rhythm options and combinations to ensure your child never gets bored with the same old, limited pre-programmed tunes.
Toddlers in the 12-18 month age range seem to really take to this toy, hitting the sweet spot for their motor skills and absorbent little brains.
A nice way to get toddlers started with a love of music.
Age: 12+ months
Volume Control: Unknown
This guitar toy is designed with the budding musician in mind. It has 20 interactive buttons, 8 notes and 3 musical genre modes. One of the most stunning features, though, is the strumming motion sensor.
Some toy guitars have fake 'strings' that do nothing. This one has no 'strings', but a strumming motion creates sound.
Another nice feature is the tempo control. The volume control is a bit iffy and probably the weakest feature of this guitar, but it has 3 different rhythm selectors and plenty of other playing options that the volume issues are minor.
There are a lot of things to keep a toddler occupied on this guitar and it had enough of the 'real' feel of a guitar to be a good building block toward future musicianship.
It comes with a strap and is indicated for kids 3 years old and up, but younger toddlers will have plenty of fun with it, too.
Age: 3+ years
Volume Control: Yes
This little dynamo of a guitar toy has lots of sounds to keep a child entertained. One of the best things is the cause-and-effect nature of the interaction.
The child is actually the one making things happen with multiple button pushes. This sets up a great relationship to the idea of how a guitar, or any musical instrument, really works.
Though not all of the sounds are guitar sounds, that's okay. They have percussion and some sillier sounds. It's still a good interaction, especially at this age.
The interactive nature of this toy leaves toddlers getting very absorbed with it, and with all of the fun sounds, it makes them feel like little rock stars.
It also has that all-important volume control to keep parents happy. With three modes of play, a five-note keyboard and various drumming and strumming options, the Little Rock Star Guitar is a winner.
Not a guitar, but for a 12+ month old, it's close enough.
This toy has two modes, one where the child strums and chords play behind their strumming.
The other mode is a play-along mode where a kid song plays and the child can strum along with the uke making appropriate sounds.
The 'strings' which are real, but durable and not proper instrument strings (which is good), are audible even when the power is not turned on. This can be very helpful if the batteries run out.
The one issue I have with this toy is that it sounds a little out of tunes most of the time. They might have been better off if they didn't try for the real-ish strings at all and went for the plastic style so many of these toys use.
This Jump 'n Jive guitar toy look like a lot of fun. It has 10 pre-loaded songs and (supposedly) 2 LED musical keys.
Honestly, I haven't been able to get my hands on this one, and all the listings online say the exact same thing so I can't glean any additional information about the way different toddlers respond.
What I do like is that it's actually quite guitar-shaped and if your toddler enjoys the toy, it'll set them up for eventually, possibly being interested in learning on a real guitar.
But I don't have much more to say on this one. Lack of quality information is why I'm marking it lower in the comparison chart.
Age: 2+ years
Volume Control: Unknown
Best Toddler Guitars - Comparison Chart
4 AMAZING Things Nobody Tells You About Toddlers and Music
Toddlers are SMART
Really smart. I mean, you might not be able to tell when they're blowing snot bubbles and laughing hysterically at Sponge Bob, but they're brains are ready to soak up all sorts of knowledge.
Does this mean my 18-month old can learn to play guitar? What's the best toddler guitar I can buy?
No. It doesn't mean your little one is ready to start strummin'. Not quite yet.
The thing is, at the toddler stage, they're just learning how to communicate and how to make their bodies work. Complex tasks, like guitar, are still beyond their reach. They don't have the motor skills, or the attention span needed.
But – introducing them to music can have very beneficial effects. A recent study done at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC showed that "music training accelerates maturity in areas of the brain responsible for sound processing, language development, speech perception and reading skills." These are wonderful abilities that lead to greater all-around learning.
Music training makes kids learn everything faster!
This means that getting your toddler involved in music early can give them advantages in a wide range of communication development. They'll even be better at learning foreign languages. This is partly because music is like another language. And with better speech processing, all topics will come easier to them. This improved ability is something they will always have. Studies show it doesn't go away, even if the child only plays music for a few years.
"Some studies have shown how musical training can shape brain development. And that improvements in small motor skills and general intelligence have been linked to musical training." – from an article on The Conversation.com.
Toddler's brains are so flexible, they don't even realize they're learning things we consider 'different'. They just learn and know inherently when that knowledge applies. And there are no barriers. The same skills they use to learn music apply to the task of learning language and communication.
"It is clear then that music can have a big role to play when it comes to children’s learning. Not necessarily just in terms of intelligence, but also in term of their physical development and social well-being." – TheConversation.com
So why wouldn't you want to get your toddler involved in music? It's a win-win.
What to Give Your Toddler Before Their First Guitar
Starting early, you want to keep toddlers entertained. Having fun with music from an early age can be the foundation for a lifetime of musical engagement and learning. It's not a far stretch that a toddler with a favorite guitar toy will want to learn guitar as soon as they are able.
The answer here is not to get them a toy mini guitar with plastic strings that will never sound good.
You want to get them something with colorful buttons and preloaded songs. If your toddler's toy guitar has other instruments, like drums and keyboard, all the better. Major bonus points if they can push buttons that really do something to change the music. This sets up a cause-and-effect relationship between themselves and the guitar. It changes them from a passive to an active participant.
If the music the makes them want to dance, that's great. Kinetic energy mixed with auditory stimulation is awesome for toddlers - and it will make them feel good. Any good a toddler can associate with a guitar will be setting them up for success later on.
Oh, and if you want to dance while they're playing, or hoot and holler at their solo (even if it is pre-recorded), they will have even more fun. If they know that playing a guitar can get positive attention they'll look even more forward to it later on. Then when they get to the part of learning guitar that is actual work, they'll know it's worthwhile.
Guitars can Make Toddlers Blossom
I knew a 2-year old girl, an old college buddy's niece, who was all sorts of shy. She'd always hide behind her mom when we visited and generally avoided contact. Evidently we weren't the only people she hid from. It was just her nature to be reticent. Which was a shame, because when I would catch a glimpse of her playing with her mom, it was obvious she was full of joy. I wished she could be that way with everybody. I determined I was going to make myself as non-threatening as possible to see if she would interact with me.
So one day when we went to visit, I brought one of my classical guitars along. They're a little smaller than the acoustic dreadnoughts and they have nylon strings that are gentle on the fingers. When we entered, I made sure to speak softly and not make big movements or gestures. Then, with mom's permission, I sat down and started playing.
I started with Itsy Bitsy Spider. That caught her interest, though she still watched me from a distance, I definitely had her attention. Then I moved on to The Lion Sleeps Tonight. By the time I got to Don't Worry, Be Happy, she was standing right in front of me, watching.
When I finished the Bobby McFerrin song, I asked her if she wanted to try the guitar. I saw her eyes light up when I asked, but her natural shyness had her shaking her head. I plucked one string and let the sound resonate. Then I held the guitar out just a little and told her to try it. I wasn't sure she was going to go for it, but even her mom was surprised when she reached out and plucked the string.
As the sound rang out, she smiled and laughed with glee.
For the next twenty minutes we played. She plucked, I plucked and showed her how to change the sound. I fingered chords and let her strum. We even tried to let her strum a song, but there was more laughing than playing.
After she became less shy with me, she became less shy with other people. And this was all because of a guitar.
Now she's 8 years old and has a guitar of her own. But when I go to visit, I have to bring a guitar so we can play together. Our visits wouldn't be right without a jam session.
If You have a Guitar, Let them Play it
Okay, so don't hand your Vintage Gibson ES335 over to a 2-year old. But if you have one of those, you surely have something lying around that you can let your toddler interact with. Let them strum. Let them hold a string down in different places and see how it changes the sound. Show them what the whammy bar does (if you've got one).
Kids love the whammy bar.
When they start to get bored, as toddlers inevitably will – play something for them. Learn some children's songs for them, or a little Bob Marley. Three Little Birds make everyone happy. Or try some of the songs I mentioned above.
Make a space for them in your musical world. Help them feel comfortable in it. This will certainly encourage them to play later on.
Exposure to music is a wonderful thing for a toddler, there's no doubt about it. They have fun, they learn, their brain develops in all sorts of wonderful ways. Whether they're the right age for a toy, or a real guitar, get one in their hands as soon as possible. The benefits are amazing.
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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