Learning how to play the guitar is fun and fulfilling that one can start at any time. And while there’s nothing wrong with picking up a 6-string later in life, there are a whole lot of benefits to starting out at a young age.
Children can start learning guitar when they’re as young as 4 years old, and there some virtuosos out there who started even younger than that. But since children are much smaller than adults, a full size, 41’’ guitar might not fit them right.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the different sizes of guitars and who should use them. So if you’ve been trying to figure out which right guitar size for children, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn more.
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The Different Child Size Guitar
- ¼-Size Guitars
This is the smallest size out there, so it’s ideal for the younger students. It measures around 30’’, which makes it great for children aged 2-5 years old.
Not a lot of children will begin their journey this young, so you might have some trouble finding a guitar this size. And if you find that a ¼-sized guitar is still too large for guitars, you can find even smaller ⅛ models. Granted, these guitars are pretty hard to find and may cost you some more money.
- ½-Size Guitars
The next readily available size is ½. A half-sized guitar measures around 31’’-34’’. If you’ve been wondering what is the best size for a 6-year-old student, you might have just found it. These guitars can be used by students aged 6-9 years old, and can even be used by younger pupils if they find that the ¼ sized guitar is too small for them.
This is the most common guitar size for students since a good majority of children who learn to play an instrument will begin their lessons while they are 6-8 years old.
- ¾-Size Guitars
Next up, we have the ideal guitar size for children aged 9-12 years old. They measure in at around 35’’-39’’, and are a great bridge to the full-sized instrument.
This is also the same size guitar that is used by Ed Sheeran. You will find a lot of brands selling guitars in this size, and it could be a great pick for a child’s first or second guitar.
- Full-Size Guitar
These guitars are typically not used by young students. This is because they can be pretty large and troublesome for kids to play. That being said, these guitars also vary in size.
40’’ guitars are called concert guitars, but you can also get larger 41’’ guitars, which are called Dreadnaught guitars.
What Is The Right Guitar For Children?
Size is far from the only thing you have to think of when getting a guitar for a kid. So once you’ve figured out what size guitar is the right one to buy, it’s time to figure out the other details.
- Classical Guitar
This is the ideal type of guitar to start out playing. Regardless of the age of the student, a classical guitar will be much easier to play at first than any other type of guitar. This is mainly because a classical guitar is fitted with nylon strings, which are much softer on the fingers as compared to steel strings on regular acoustic and electric guitars.
These strings also have a softer and warmer sound to them, making these instruments ideal for playing melodies, jazz, and flamenco music. Though it has to be stated that these strings are far from the loudest ones out there.
On top of that, classical guitars tend to have a fatter neck and a wider space between frets. This can make it easier to move hand positions and press the right fret since there’s more space.
Lastly, starting out with a classical guitar will also usually mean being taught classical techniques. These aren’t exactly necessary, but these techniques are a great foundation to have and can pave the way to a long and fruitful musical journey.
- Acoustic Guitar
This is another type of guitar that has the same hollow body as a classical guitar and has a similar size as well. There are a lot of differences, however, between a classical and acoustic guitar.
Acoustic guitars are fitted with steel strings. This is the main difference between them and classical guitars. Steel strings are much brighter and louder than nylon ones, which is what gives this instrument a more prominent tone. Acoustic guitars are great for pop and country music playing since they respond so well to strummed chords.
That being said, the steel strings can be tough on the fingers. And that’s no understatement. Beginner guitarists and even experienced ones who haven’t played in a while tend to get blisters and callouses -after playing on steel strings for a while.
They can also be pretty painful to play if your fingers aren’t used to it, so expect a steeper learning curve with an acoustic steel-string guitar.
- Electric Guitar
This is a very popular guitar to start with since this is the one that the rockstars are seen using all the time. That being said, it is far from the ideal pick for a beginner.
While there is nothing wrong with an electric guitar being your first instrument, it does give you some trouble when starting out. Firstly, electric guitars need to be plugged in. So not only will you need the instrument to make music, but you’ll also need an amplifier and a cable to connect your guitar before you can even make it sound.
Aside from that, these instruments are solid-body, which means they can be pretty heavy, depending on the one you get. That can pose problems for beginners who aren’t used to holding a guitar for an extended period of time as it can get them feeling tired relatively quickly.
These guitars are also fitted with steel strings that can be tough on the fingers, especially for a beginner. There is also a smaller space between frets, but with enough practice, it’s something you can get used to easily.
Electric guitars are great for playing rock music, and can also be the introduction to a lot of modern guitars and musical concepts. So while it isn’t the ideal guitar to start out with, if you find the right teacher, the electric guitar might be the way to go for your child.
A Buying Guide For Children’s Guitars
In this section, we’ll be taking a look at some features you’d want to look out for when buying a guitar for a kid.
- Type Of Guitar
This is the most important thing to consider when getting a guitar. As mentioned earlier, you can either get a classical, acoustic, or electric guitar for a beginner, and each of them has their own set of benefits.
A classical guitar takes the cake when it comes to the best model for beginners, but everyone will have different needs and wants at the end of the day. And there’s nothing wrong with starting out with an acoustic or electric guitar.
Next thing you’ll want to consider is how the guitar sounds. As a beginner or a child, you’d want to have a guitar that sounds decent to allow you to learn more of the nuisances of the isntrument as you progress.
A good guitar will have a very balanced sound to the user’s ears. That being said, everyone has different tastes. Some people would want a more twangy tone, others would like a more rounded out and warm tone.
Different woods and materials will result in a different sound in your guitar, so make sure to pay close attention to that before deciding on buying anything.
Another way to ensure the quality of your instrument is to get it from a trusted brand. Good brands for children and beginner guitar students include Yamaha, Hohner, Epiphone, Squire, Martin, Taylor, and Fender.
As you can expect, the more trusted brands may cost more, but if it’s within your means, it’s an investment that’s well worth it.
What Size Guitar Should A Child Use?
This largely depends on how old your child is and what they are comfortable with. But here’s a general sizing guide for children’s guitars.
Children aged 2-5 years old are encouraged to use ⅛ or ¼ size guitars.
Children aged 6-9 years old are encouraged to use ½ size guitars.
Children aged 9-12 years old will generally be most comfortable using ¾ sized guitars.
Lastly, adults and teenagers usually use full-size concert or dreadnaught guitars.
Are There Child-Size Guitars?
Yes, there are guitars that are designed for children, and they generally measure anywhere between 30’’ to 39’’, which is much smaller compared to full-size models that measure in at more than 40’’ sometimes.
What Is The Best Size Guitar For A 15 Year Old?
Teenagers in general usually use full-size guitars as that is what fits their body the best.
Are Expensive Guitars Easier To Play?
Generally, it will be easier to play more expensive guitars as compared to cheap ones. This is mainly because the materials used in expensive and premium guitars tends to be of higher quality than cheap ones, which makes for better playablility.
On top of that, more expensive guitars can be set-up to the needs of an instrumentaaalists, giving them a personal set-up that is unique to their guitaar and their playing needs.
Should I Loosen My Guitar Strings When Not Playing?
Loosening up strings when a guitar is not in use is not necessary at all. The neck of a guitar is designed to be able to handle sustained tension of the strings, this is especially true with proper and premium guitars.
That being said, cheaper, more fragile guitars may need different maintenance, but usually, you can leave the strings on a guitar in tune without having to worry about damage.
And there you have it. A full and comprehensive guide to the right guitar sizes for kids. Sizes will vary depending on the child’s needs, but these are generally the sizes that teachers and guitar makers will recommend.
So once you’ve found out which size guitar to get for you kids, all you have to do is choose the right model. This may take some time and research, but it will be all worth it once you see the child start build a passion for music and their chosen instrument.
My name is Demarcus M. Greiner and I was born and raised in the mid-seventies on the flat country near Stamford.
From the age of twelve, I received classical lessons from the guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Two years later, I work on playing the electric guitar on the side and self-taught and is part of various rock band constellations.
Since 2004 I have been giving private guitar lessons and since 2005 I have been a lecturer for classical and electric guitar at the New York Guitar Academy. In the years 2006-2010, I study at the New York City Guitar School in the subject “classical guitar”.
After completing studies and obtaining a diploma as an instrumental teacher, I completed a further training course in the field of jazz guitar, similar to a course of studies, with the – beyond this scene – renowned guitarist Chuck Berry.
Later I was addicted to dark metal. Years later Carter USM, Pop Will Eat Itself, Jesus Jones followed. Then the electronic stuff. Techno, Warp stuff, Ambient. Today I listen mainly to Indie, Shoegaze, Dream-Pop, Folk, Post-Rock and Electronica.