How to Choose Your Child’s Guitar
Has your son or daughter approached you and asked to learn to play the guitar? If so, congratulations! Your child has an inquisitive mind and is on the right track to develop a lifelong love of music, which will assist them in many other subjects. Learning to play the guitar can be a fun and rewarding experience, if you pay attention to the size, type, and quality of the guitar you purchase for them.
Acoustic guitars do come in various sizes, and you will want a good match based on the age and size of your child. A guitar that is too small is nearly as uncomfortable as one that is too big. Keep in mind the growth rate of your child, and choose accordingly based on the following general guideline:
3-6 years old – ¼ size children’s guitar (30”)
5-8 years old – ½ size children’s guitar (33”)
8-12 years old – ¾ size guitar (36”)
12-Adult – full size (39”)
Please note that there is some overlap, as children grow at different rates. If your child is on the verge between two, choose the larger one, as he or she will grow into it quickly.
Electric guitars and bass guitars also come in children’s sizes, though these do not vary as greatly. Let your child try them out at your local guitar shop and see what works best for the long run.
An acoustic guitar is very versatile and a good instrument on which your child may start learning about music theory and style. There are two main types of acoustic guitars, the classical and the steel-string.
Classical guitars are excellent for small, soft hands. Nylon strings are easy to play and give off a warm sound. Learning classical guitar opens the door to classical music but may also include flamenco, jazz, country, and folk music.
The steel-string guitar may be tougher for young ones to play, as it takes quite a bit more strength from the fingers to hold down the strings. The steel strings are also more abrasive to the fingertips. All guitar players will develop calluses while learning how to play, so this is normal. The steel-string guitar’s sound is generally brighter and definitely louder than that of a nylon string. This guitar is also quite versatile and will lend itself to several musical styles.
There are several brands that develop guitars specifically for children, and most are decently made as well as affordable. For your child’s first guitar, consider how seriously both you and your child want to pursue his or her playing, and then decide on the investment you are willing to make.
A low-end acoustic guitar may go out of tune frequently and can actually be more difficult to play. You don’t want to discourage your child’s progress by skimping! Stick to name brands that have a proven history of producing quality instruments.
On the other hand, you can easily pay far too much for a guitar that your child may grow out of in a few months to a year, so be mindful of that factor, as well.
It’s a fine balance to find a children’s guitar that your child will be proud to play yet doesn’t break the bank – but it’s worth it in the long run. Take your child to a music store and let him or her try a few before you make the final decision. If your child enjoys playing from the onset, he or she may enjoy many years of challenging learning and quality music.