The Best Kids Guitar


For kids interested in learning how to play a musical instrument, there’s a good chance a guitar is near the top of the list. It’s a good choice for beginners – it doesn’t take up too much room, there are tons of resources for learning, and it’s relatively easy to learn. Playing the guitar can be a hobby that will stay with your child throughout their lifetime.

There are tons of benefits for kids learning to play guitar, above and beyond simply learning a new skill. To learn any new skill, you must have a good degree of motivation and focus, and with a talent like playing guitar, it’s easy to track your progress as you slowly pick out songs. 

Top Pick
Yamaha JR1 FG Junior Acoustic Guitar

This acoustic guitar is sized for kids ages seven and up and is even great for teens and adults who might want a smaller guitar.

There are also benefits to fine motor development, a sense of rhythm – it just might even make them smarter, too! Playing an instrument like the guitar has been linked to higher language skills. 

So if you’re in the market for the best guitar for kids, read on for our Best List of the top ten kids’ guitars, along with a buyer’s guide and FAQ. We’ve also got the award winners for the best classical guitar for kids, best acoustic guitar for kids, best electric guitar for kids, best budget guitar, best for beginners, and the best overall guitar for kids.

Differences Between Acoustic, Electric, and Classical Guitars

There are three main types of guitars, and although there are many similarities between the three and playing skills can transfer from one kind to another, there are a few important differences to be aware of.

At first glance, classical and acoustic guitars look very similar. They are both made of wood or composite and have a hollow body where the strings vibrate and create resonation when plucked or strummed. The main difference is the material the strings are made of and how the guitar is played. 

Acoustic guitars usually have steel strings and are played by strumming or picking. They are used for playing various types of music, including contemporary, blues, country, and folk music. On the other hand, classical guitars have nylon strings that give them a softer sound and are played with fingerpicking. They are typically used for playing Latin, Flamenco, or classical music.

On the other hand, even the most casual observer can see a big difference between an acoustic or classical guitar and an electric guitar. Electric guitars have a wide, flat shape and are made out of composite material. They do not have a hollow body, and the musician creates sound by strumming the strings, which creates a signal that is picked up and relayed to an amplifier or speaker. They are used to play jazz, blues, funk, metal, and rock music. It’s important to note that you cannot play an electric guitar without an amp.

How do Guitars Work?

The guitar has been around for nearly 500 years, an instrument that has been consistently tinkered with and improved. The acoustic guitar has two main parts – the guitar’s body, which is hollow and has a hole in the front where the sound is produced, and the neck, the long part that extends out and is held by the guitarist. 

Strings run down the neck and over the soundhole. And when they are strummed, vibrations are created, which bounce around inside the hollow guitar body and produce a sound. Along the neck of the guitar are small pieces of metal called frets – otherwise neon as the fretboard. By placing your fingers on different frets, you change the length of the string, which in turn produces different notes. 

Electric guitars, unsurprisingly, work quite differently. First developed in the 1930s, they create sound through an electromagnetic pickup system. There are electromagnets mounted underneath the guitar strings that sense the strings’ vibrations as they are being played and convert them to electrical signals that travel to the amplifier to create music.

The guitar’s body is solid, not hollow. In earlier versions of the instrument, musicians found that the electromagnets could not distinguish between vibrations caused by the strings and vibrations from the guitar’s body. With a solid body, the pickups under the strings obtain a clearer sound.

Different Guitar Strings – Nylon and Steel

There are two main types of strings found on guitars, and each one has different attributes to consider. Nylon strings are most commonly found on classical guitars, as outlined above. They are preferred by guitar players who like their soft quality and want strings that are soft on their fingertips. 

Steel strings are found on both acoustic and electric guitars. They can be hard on the fingers at first, but as your fingers toughen up, many musicians love their tone, which is sharper than nylon strings. On an electric guitar, the strings create a magnetic shift that triggers an electrical signal that is sent to the amplifier to generate a sound.

Although some guitar players prefer to play directly with their fingers, others like to use a pick. A guitar pick is a small piece of plastic shaped a bit like a rounded triangle, and using it can protect the player’s fingers. It also allows you to be more precise when plucking individual strings. You can use picks on both nylon and steel strings.

The Different Notes and Chords

A chord is any combination of three or more different notes and is all played simultaneously to support a melody. When you’re first learning how to play the guitar, you often start out learning open position chords. These chords include open (unfretted) strings and are usually played on the top three or four frets. 

Learning chords are an important first step, as learning the different shapes will help develop muscle memory and finger strength. After open chords, you can move on to barre chords (or closed position chords), but these are considered more difficult for beginners and require more finger strength.

Chords are named after the ‘root note’ that defines the chord – for example, the chord D major gets its name because the root note is D, and it is ‘major’ quality. Some good chords for a beginner to learn include A, E, and D major chords. With just these three chords, you will be well on your way to learning how to play several songs, ranging from ‘Happy Birthday’ to ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley.

How Playing Guitar can Affect Child Development

Many studies show that learning to play an instrument can positively affect child development, not just physically – both gross and fine motor skills benefit – but mentally and emotionally, as well. Studies have shown that children who study music show improved skills in both language and music. 

Learning to count music, children will work on pattern recognition and simple fractions. Music has been linked to improved spatial intelligence and the ability to form mental pictures. Improved memory and concentration and the self-discipline to practice and improve are other less quantifiable benefits your child can obtain by studying the guitar. Learning how to play an instrument like the guitar or drums is a lifelong skill enjoyed as much by a seven-year-old as a ninety-seven-year-old.

What is the Right Age to Start Learning Guitar?

There is no single right age to start learning the guitar because it depends on several factors. Finger strength, hand size, the level of interest the child has in the instrument, their ability to concentrate on learning a new skill, and the maturity to participate in a lesson are all things to consider. 

For many kids, around age six or seven is a good time to start, as long as they meet all of the criteria listed. On the other hand, there is no upper limit to learning how to play the guitar, so it is certainly not something only suited for children!

For a very young child interested in learning how to play the guitar but whose hands are too small for even child-sized beginner guitars, you may want to consider trying out a ukulele first.

Selecting the Best Sized Guitar

Guitars come in several different sizes, and it’s important to choose a manageable size for your child to both hold and play. For example, a full-sized guitar would have frets spaced much wider apart than small fingers could reach, making chords impossible to play. 

Fortunately, guitars are available in a few different sizes that are suitable for young players. The smallest of these is the ¼ guitar, best used for children under six. Next comes the ½ guitar, generally suitable for children between 4 and 9, and then the ¾ guitar, which can suit children between the ages of 7 and 12. Once they hit their teen years, kids can generally use a regular full-sized guitar. 

Electric guitars are typically smaller than acoustic or classical guitars, so a child aged ten and up could probably handle a full-sized electric guitar. For kids younger than 10, you can buy a half-sized electric guitar.  

Because of the range of sizes available, you’ll want to consider your child’s age, size, and whether you think this will be a long-term interest. If you believe that your child’s interest in the guitar will be around for several years, if they are in between guitar sizes, I’d suggest sizing up so they will get more years of use out of it.

Buyers Guide


Which Type of Guitar do You Want?

While playing, skills can transfer from one type of guitar to another, there’s a big difference between the soft tones of a classical guitar and the amplified tones of an electric guitar. Before you set a budget for your purchase, it’s important to figure out which type of guitar you’d like. Acoustic, classical, or electric? 

Your child might have a strong preference for one over the other, in which case you might not have to make a choice, but if not, there might be a few factors to consider when making your decision. How old is your child? Some types of guitar are easier for smaller children to handle, such as a classical guitar with nylon strings that will be soft on the fingers. 

Do you have an older child who wants to join a rock band, or do they want to be able to play their favorite songs when hanging out with friends around a bonfire? Think about the practice space that you have available as well – an electric guitar will require an amplifier, so if you live in a small space, it might be difficult to escape the sound of practice time!


Which Shape and Style of Guitar?

There are a few different shapes and styles of guitar to choose from, both acoustic and electric. Popular electric guitar shapes include the Fender Stratocaster, the Fender Telecaster, the Superstrat, and the Gibson SG. 

Popular shapes for acoustic guitars include, in order from largest to smallest, the Jumbo, the Dreadnought, the Auditorium, the Concert, and the Parlor. The most common of these is the Dreadnought guitar, including several of the guitars on our list above.


The Amount of Money You are Willing to Spend

Deciding on the amount of money you want to spend on your new guitar for kids is probably the most important step when choosing which model you’re going to buy. Does your child have a habit of eagerly jumping into new interests, but none of them seem to stick? If so, you might want to set a lower budget or look for a guitar that comes with all the accessories you’ll need included. 

If your child shows a high level of interest in the guitar for a while, or they’ve tried it out in the past and expressed an interest in playing seriously, it might be wise to invest in a high-quality instrument. Guitars are the kind of instrument you can enjoy for many years if they’re taken care of, staying with your child as they grow into adulthood. 


Which String Type to Buy?

There are two different basic types of string, nylon, and steel. Nylon strings are found on classical guitars, and they play the softest on the fingers. For this reason, a classical guitar can be a good choice for a beginner guitar for the youngest kids. However, nylon strings can also break more easily and are typically played by finger plucking rather than strumming. 

The other type of string is steel, which is found on both acoustic and electric guitars. These strings are often plated with another metal, such as bronze or nickel, and are rougher on the fingers. Experienced guitar players will tell you that while there may be a bit of discomfort at first, you’ll build up calluses on your fingers and get used to how it feels after a few weeks of playing.


Choosing the Right Sized Guitar

Keep in mind both your child’s current size and age and how quickly they might grow while still maintaining an interest in the guitar. A seven-year-old who displays a keen interest in learning the instrument might benefit more from a ¾ size guitar that will last a long time than a ½ size guitar for kids that would outgrow more quickly. 

On the other hand, if you suspect it might be a quickly passing interest, purchasing a smaller and less expensive kid’s guitar might make more sense. Because playing the guitar can be an interest your child can pursue throughout their lifetime, even on a very casual basis, I’d suggest a full-sized guitar for kids older than 12, which they can enjoy for many years to come.


Be Prepared – Buying Accessories

While some of the guitars on our list come with an assortment of accessories, others do not. Read the description carefully, so you’re not surprised by unexpected expenses. For an acoustic guitar, you’ll probably need to buy a few picks, along with a strap to make it easier for young players to keep the guitar in position. 

You might also want to pick up a guitar tuner and may want to have a few replacement strings on hand in case one breaks. A bag for storage and transportation can also be beneficial to keep all accessories together.

If you’re buying an electric guitar, alongside smaller expenses such as picks and a guitar strap, don’t forget to add the cost of an amp to your budget. Although they can be found in a wide range of prices, you can usually find a basic amp for under 50$, such as this one here. 


How Versatile do You Want to be?

What kind of music is your child interested in playing? Different types of guitar are suited to different types of music. The electric guitar is ideal for rock, metal, blues, and jazz. Classical guitars are typically used for Latin, flamenco, and classical music. The most versatile type of guitar is the acoustic guitar, which you can use for playing lots of different kinds of music – rock, country, folk, and most contemporary rock and pop music.


Guitar Lessons – Are They Needed?

Are lessons necessary? There’s no straight answer here. Tons of successful guitarists are self-taught, including some of the best guitarists of all time, like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Prince. 

While there’s no guarantee your child, too, will become a rock and roll icon while teaching himself from YouTube videos, these days, we do have access to hundreds of resources right at our fingertips that Jimi Hendrix didn’t. There are so many tutorials available on the Internet that a motivated kid or teenager can certainly teach themselves how to play their favorite songs.

Interestingly, a 2013 study by two psychologists, Gillian Potter and Peter MacIntyre, found that self-taught musicians showed higher levels of motivation to practice and a stronger desire to compose their own music. Teaching yourself to play an instrument can definitely be challenging, so a high level of motivation is a must! 

That said, not all of us are naturally musically talented and may not have an ear for figuring things out on our own, so lessons can certainly be beneficial. Even kids who have a natural knack for the guitar may benefit from a few lessons to pick up some tips and get feedback from a professional. So the answer is, the necessity of lessons will depend on your child’s aptitude, motivation, and abilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Guitar is Best for Beginners?

Depending on your child’s age, there are a few great options on our list for beginners. For kids between the ages of 4 and 8, try the Hohner HAG250P 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar. For a guitar for kids between 8 and 12, check out For older kids and teens aged 12 and up, try the Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar. These instruments all carry a good balance of quality at an affordable price, and some, like the Jasmine S35, come with many accessories.

Can I Learn Guitar on My Own?

It’s possible to learn guitar independently, particularly if you or your child has a good sense of musicality. These days, kids can access hundreds of virtual lessons and learn almost anything they will need to know through YouTube. In addition, a few of the guitars on our list come with instructional DVDs, which would serve the same purpose. However, if the adults around your child have limited musical experience, it could be helpful to have someone who knows what they are doing offer feedback to your child.

Should Guitar Strings be Loosened When Not in Use?

The short answer is no. You don’t need to loosen the strings when your guitar is not in use. The slightly longer answer adds the caveat that if you’re going to be storing the guitar for an extended period of time – about six months or longer – loosening the strings is considered safe. If you loosen them every time you finish playing, over time, it can cause damage to the guitar’s strings, nut, and neck.

What Makes a Guitar Good for Beginners?

There are a few things to look for when buying a beginner’s guitar for kids. Firstly, making sure that the guitar is appropriately sized, both that the guitar player’s hands can fit around the neck and reach the frets, and that the body isn’t too big and your young musician can reach her arms around it. 

It’s also a good idea to check if the guitar comes with accessories, so you don’t need to buy any extras, which brings us to a big factor – the total price. Kids often want to try out many different activities, but they don’t always stick with them. Choosing a reasonably priced guitar can mean that beginners can give the guitar a go without committing to buying a pricy instrument, making learning the guitar more accessible for everyone.

Leave a Comment