A lot of people will tell you that the best way to learn how to play the guitar would be to start with an acoustic guitar.
The truth is that the best kids’ guitars can be acoustic or electric, or one of those combo acoustic-electric guitars. The heart of the matter is that there’s nothing wrong with learning to play on an electric guitar.
In fact, every so often I recommend it for the younger kids since the strings require less finger strength to hold down. Not to mention the ability to play and study in relative silence, which just isn’t the case on an acoustic guitar (unless you’re adventurous enough to stuff it with towels or something).
With that in mind, here’s my roundup of the best guitars for kids. Naturally, they’ll be split into categories of acoustic and electric.
8 Best Acoustic Guitars for Kids
Table of Contents
- 8 Best Acoustic Guitars for Kids
- 8 Best Electric Guitars for Kids
- Acoustic Guitar Considerations
- Electric Guitar Considerations
- Accessories Matter Too
- What Makes a Guitar Kid-Friendly?
If you were to round up all acoustic guitars for kids and under-sized adults, the Taylor BT2 would probably be the flagship guitar. This is a mahogany guitar with a bolt-on neck and a short scale, which makes it quite easy to learn on.
Many are fooled by the smaller size and doubt just how loud the BT2 can play. Although it lacks some definition on the low end, its crisp sound coupled with good mid-to-high intonation lends well to many genres of music.
The guitar is also lightweight, yet another plus for kids. In terms of sustain, there is some but not a whole lot, which you might expect from the thinner materials used. The bolt-on neck design does compensate a bit and allow for a good amount of resonance.
With 19 full frets available and a 1-11/16” neck, the BT2 is a good learning instrument if you want your child to start at an early age. What’s even better is the fact that the unique tone of the guitar works well in a duet with a full-sized acoustic guitar. This should improve any teacher-student interactions and allow the kid to hear every note perfectly.
3/4 size guitars are rather good learning instruments, and not just for kids either, but for under-sized adults too. The FG JR1 is smaller than regular acoustic guitars, but it still offers 20 full frets. This is enough range on the fretboard to cover basic and intermediate guitar lessons.
Another reason why I recommend this guitar is its good price point. While you may want a great sounding guitar to learn with, a starter instrument doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Keep in mind that your child will outgrow the JR1, and possibly quite soon.
For a few extra bucks, the JR1 comes with a digital clip-on tuner and a gig bag. This will make traveling more convenient. You can also use the gig bag to store the guitar and protect it against dust and scrapes.
I should also point out that the JR1 comes in two styles: natural wood and tobacco sunburst. I’d recommend the latter if you’re going for a cowboy country vibe.
Martin Guitars is known for a unique tonal quality. The Little Martin LXK2 is the popular guitar maker’s flagship traveler acoustic guitar. However, you don’t have to be an accomplished musician to reap the benefits of this instrument.
The smaller size of the LXK2 makes it beginner- and kid-friendly. For an affordable guitar, the LXK2 mimics the Martin tone well and has sufficient volume too. Although it’s made from low-cost materials, the craftsmanship is on-point, which is to be expected of any Martin.
The sound is actually quite impressive, and even more so for the money. It’s balanced and has a good response on the low end. This is something that is hard to find in most affordable entry-level guitars, let alone a small guitar. The guitar also features a premium touch in the form of the TUSQ saddle.
The Martin tuners are also a cool feature. They’re reliable and can retain the tuning longer than most stock tuners found on acoustic guitars. One thing that I must point out is that this guitar shines the brightest with a fingerstyle technique as opposed to just strumming with a pick. Changing the strings may be a good idea too.
The Aurora Borealis is a 3/4-sized acoustic guitar. It features both a basswood body and a basswood top that offer good durability and help to create an impressive resonator box. The black walnut fretboard looks great and has a smooth feel to it, making it easier to practice bends, vibrato, and sliding techniques.
This guitar doesn’t just look unique but also boasts a unique tone. It can definitely hold its own in an ensemble and cut through the mix when necessary. It has a 22.5” neck scale, which may favor soloing or the more complex fingerstyle playing.
Although the projection is not amazing, probably due to the smaller body, the tone is very consistent whether a youngster is to play with his or her fingers or to strum along with a pick. Another reason why I recommend this as an entry-level guitar is the aesthetics.
The unique look and glittery finish may be reason enough for some kids to give the instrument a good try.
If you’re familiar with Yamaha guitars then you may spot many similarities between the Yamaha APXT2 and the Yamaha APX500III. Why? Because the APXT2 is basically a scaled-down version of the APX500III that surprisingly manages to retain that high-end tone.
As a smaller instrument, it’s a bit quieter but has good definition across all registries. The guitar is made from laminate but looks and feels more expensive than it actually is. It’s beginner-friendly in terms of size, weight, and durability.
The APXT2 also should last a young child for a long time. Due to the cutaway design, the higher frets are highly accessible so that soloing is possible. This means that it’s not just a starter instrument but a pretty reliable intermediate guitar too.
The 21 full frets offer plenty of range. What’s even better about this guitar is that it’s an acoustic-electric model. Your child should get a real kick out of this. The guitar is fitted with a System 68 contact pickup, which is reliable and a good find in this price range.
If style happens to matter for your young one, you have a choice of 3 finishes: natural, black, and dark red sunburst finish.
The Donner DAG 1C is another great example of how to set up a kid with a complete beginner package. This guitar comes as part of a bundle that’s complete with a durable gig bag, capo, picks, cloth, strap, tuner, and pick guard. That’s more than a kid will really need for the first few months of learning guitar, but it’s worth it since it’s a low-cost bundle and you can almost consider the extras pro bono.
In terms of design, the guitar is more accessible due to its medium cutaway. Since this allows for unrestricted access to the higher frets, soloing can become a reality. Therefore, the DAG 1C has more potential for transitioning from beginner and intermediate lessons to the more advanced techniques.
The die-cast steel tuners have good tuning retention, which is always a good sign. What makes the DAG 1C more interesting is the fact that it’s a larger 3/4 size guitar. It’s beginner-friendly and light enough that your child should be able to play on it comfortably.
This guitar may look a bit plain but it’s because it’s a starter instrument. The 3/4 size Oscar Schmidt OG1-A-U is made from spruce and engineered wood. I like the use of engineered tech wood in entry-level guitars as it offers a smooth feel.
The materials also reduce the weight of the guitar considerably, as does the smaller body. At just 5lb, the OG1-A-U should be very easy to handle even by the youngest of students. You might also be pleasantly surprised by the absence of string buzzing.
Another good thing regarding the size is that the OG1-A-U can double as a travel guitar. You’ll need to get a gig bag separately, of course, but you should do that regardless. It’s perfect for storing the guitar when it’s not in use.
The guitar’s tone is not high-end but it’s good for its intended purposes. There’s enough volume and minimal buzzing, which is really all you need in an entry-level guitar. I would also recommend this model if the main area of study is the chords.
The Arcadia DL36TS may be one of the best starter instruments for a youngster that wants to learn guitar. It’s a 36” scale-length guitar that’s easy to handle and light enough to hold with a strap. The vintage starburst finish is nicely polished too, which is very good to see in this price range.
I recommend this guitar for both beginner and intermediate players due to the comfortable parlor body type. The guitar offers a good range and comes with an impressive resonator box, even though it’s only a 1/2 size guitar.
The consistency and brightness of the tone are good for an entry-level acoustic guitar. Another reason why you might want to consider getting this model for your child is the complete list of accessories. You’ll also be getting a gig bag, a standard strap, three picks, and an extra string set.
Although the DL36TS has been labeled a right-handed model, the parlor body shape works both ways and can accommodate left-handed players too. Just make sure you learn how to restring it.
8 Best Electric Guitars for Kids
If you’re looking for a guitar for small hands, you might want to consider this Mini Stratocaster. The Squier Mini Strat, with its 3/4-sized body and 22.75” scale length, is perfect for a child.
The 20-fret Indian laurel fretboard has medium frets and smooth edges that go easy on untrained fingers. The strings should be easier to press down on because of this and the beginner-friendly string separation.
I also think that the hardtail Stratocaster bridge is a good choice. It should hold down the tuning for longer and help your child pick up and recognize notes faster.
Although the guitar features five-way switching, there’s not too big of a difference between the middle and neck pickups. All the pickups are single-coiled, which is not bad for practice purposes, but this may limit the guitar’s performance for recording purposes.
Still, the configuration is easy to use as the kid will only have a tone and volume control to worry about.
This guitar is available with a laurel or a rosewood fretboard. With both, the smooth finish of the fretboard will make it easy to pick up speed on the left hand. As a short-scale model, this Mustang is a beginner-friendly electric guitar.
Its dual humbucker pickups sound pretty good and give the guitar a very close sound to the bluesy tone of a traditional Fender. Except that this one is more on the modern side. The six-saddle hardtail bridge is a bit of premium touch as well.
The guitar features only two control knobs but the tonal character is very satisfying. Your child can make use of the shorter scale to learn the intricacies of blues, jazz, country, and any other genres that are less aggressive than metal.
The powerful output is nothing short of impressive, especially when you consider that the stock Fender pickups are of entry-level quality.
Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to electric guitars. The Ibanez GRGM21 is a perfect example of how you can squeeze every ounce of sound with good engineering and reliable electronics.
This guitar can be a good fit for beginner guitarists of all ages and even those that can’t handle a full-sized guitar because of an injury. The 22” scale length should be easy to handle for most people.
If you’re looking for sustain, the GRGM21 can provide enough for live gigs in small venues or, at the very least, small band rehearsals. The Yamaha signature inlays are good visual indicators and should guide your child through learning the basics.
The thin neck will also help youngsters pick up the instrument faster. And, once they progress in guitar playing, having access to 24 full frets means that there wouldn’t be a mad rush to replace the Ibanez with a full-sized model.
This 21-fret Squier has a big body but an overall small frame. The classic Telecaster has always been appreciated for its build quality and vintage feel. One of the biggest selling points is the availability of both right-handed and left-handed models.
The C-shaped profile is a good fit for beginners as it allows better access to the higher frets. The top-loaded design of the classic Telecaster bridge is known for its tension resistance and contribution to the unique sound of this guitar.
One thing that’s not too impressive is the use of only single-coil pickups. However, as long as you’re not using it for recording and live performances, there’s no need to worry. The sound is still quite rich and the definition is solid enough across all registries.
This is another electric guitar that may not be the first choice for most professionals, but it’s a great starter instrument for kids. It has an Agatha body and a maple bolt-on neck that improves the durability and tone sustain.
The smooth fretboard is complete with rounded fret edges. The body features a medium-to-large cutaway that provides unrestricted access to the higher frets. Although it may be a while before your little one is ready to perform full scale runs, this is a nice feature to have as it makes the guitar applicable to intermediate and advanced techniques.
The guitar has an S-S-H pickup config. The middle single-coil pickup is a good choice for acoustic playing. When learning power chords, the bridge pickup provides a nice oomph and sustain.
What’s also cool is the five-position switch, even though it’s doubtful that this will have a big impact on an absolute beginner.
Who doesn’t like an Epiphone with a good factory setup? The PPEG-EGL1VSCH1 is a player bundle that features a replica Les Paul Special-II LTD electric guitar. A simple electric guitar, expertly tuned and adjusted, and very convenient to play for those without any experience. It can be a thoughtful present for a youngster, an instrument that will make learning the guitar more fun and less tedious.
The guitar has two humbucker pickups. They’re good for all styles and offer a good amount of sustain too. The hardware is all metal, which is always a good sign. I also like the graded control knobs. This is a beginner-friendly feature since it allows the kid to better understand what each position offers in terms of tone adjustment.
Along with the guitar, the Les Paul Player Pack features a chromatic tuner, strap, 10W guitar amp, and a 10ft cable. That’s a lot of value for your money as your child would have a complete setup. What’s perhaps even better is the quick-disconnect bridge that can be adjusted for various tunings and genres.
While I typically recommend short-scale guitars for kids, there are exceptions that are worth mentioning. The Donner DST-1S is a good example of a kid-friendly 39” full-sized electric guitar.
This model comes in a variety of finishes from vintage to modern, and it’s a kit so a wide range of accessories are included. If you’re looking to save some money but also provide your child with everything he needs to start using an electric guitar, the DST-1S bundle can have you covered.
The guitar is accompanied by its custom gig bag, strap, cable, picks, extra strings, a clip-on tuner, and a 3W amplifier. A capo is also included for when the kid is ready to move onto more intermediate concepts and techniques.
What I really liked about the DST-S1 more than anything was probably the presence of two tone knobs. This allows more tonal optimization and personalization and it should help your child explore more genres.
I’ll be the first to admit that LyxPro is not a top guitar manufacturer. But, while you may not see too many virtuosos shredding on a LyxPro electric guitar, kids may just find this one of the most comfortable guitars to practice on.
The guitar has three single-coil pickups that are actually decent sounding. A five-way switch is also available as well as three control knobs: volume, bass, and treble. This should be more than enough for tone tuning, even after the kid has a bit of theory and intermediate techniques under his or her belt.
A long list of accessories is also included. You’ll find that the guitar comes with an AGL-20 20W amplifier, picks, extra strings, a long straight to angled cable, and a clip-on tuner. It’s a complete bundle and the guitar is full-sized at 39”.
Although there’s little chance of your youngster outgrowing this guitar quickly, it may be a bit difficult to tune for the presence of the tremolo bar. But that’s about the only downside that I could find. It won’t sound like a high-end Fender guitar but it can hold its own until your child is ready to move on to bigger and better things.
Acoustic Guitar Considerations
When shopping for an acoustic guitar, there are a couple of things to consider. First, you’ll want to look at the quality of the materials. This will often depend on how much you’re willing to spend. Entry-level acoustic guitars are usually made of light wood and laminate for the lower production costs.
Secondly, you'll want a decent resonator box. This may not matter too much in an electro-acoustic guitar, but for a pure acoustic guitar, you’ll want a reliable resonator box that can limit buzzing and offer a sufficient level of sustain and volume.
You should also inspect the quality of the hardware. Not all entry-level guitars have all-metal hardware. Die-cast tuners will always be preferable so keep an eye out for them too.
As for the sound, some guitars will have better low end definition whiles others crisper mid and high frequencies (which means a brighter sound or tone). For learning purposes, this won’t make too big of a difference.
Most entry-level acoustic guitars sound just fine on their own or in concert with another instrument. They just won’t have the high-volume output of more professional guitars.
Electric Guitar Considerations
Child-friendly electric guitars are not all that different from the ones made for adults. The only difference in these entry-level instruments is often just in the electronics. For example, you won’t often find double humbucker active pickups or low-noise pickups on mini electric guitars.
Why? Because they’re not intended to last a lifetime. They’re starter and transitional instruments. That of course doesn’t mean that you should pick a guitar based on the best pickups. Also consider the genres that your child will be exploring.
If he or she needs a brighter sound then single coils are the obvious choice as they’re preferred for country, surf, folk, blues, etc. But if the kid will want to explore various distortion and effects pedals, humbuckers would make more sense.
Humbucker pickups have better gain tolerance and a warmer sound. Another thing that may not matter to you, but which I find important, especially in entry-level guitars intended for inexperienced students, is the positioning of the jack.
Unless a guitar really sounds good and feels good to play on, I wouldn’t recommend one that has the jack positioned in front and next to the control knobs. That’s because the cable may be difficult to manage and get in the way as the kid picks up basic guitar mechanics.
Accessories Matter Too
An amp is of course mandatory if you’re getting an electric guitar, though many people decide to shop for an amp separately. Even if you’re willing to risk damaging your computer speakers by hooking up the guitar, your child might think that it’s a bit dorky. It’s certainly not as cool as having a guitar amp.
But if you’re planning to spend the least, you’ll definitely want to check out the many affordable packages on the market. If you’re not adamant about buying a kid guitar from a top manufacturer, you might as well spend less on a no-name starter guitar that comes with everything needed to start playing.
What Makes a Guitar Kid-Friendly?
There are many things that would make a guitar more suitable to a youngster as opposed to an adult. Even so, it’s a common misconception that only short-scale guitars are beginner-friendly. While it’s true that they are more approachable and portable, it’s also true that short scale guitars don’t scale well in time.
Young children tend to outgrow these guitars, so you may not get more than a year or two out of them. That said, there’s no right or wrong decision here. You’ll have to make a judgment call based on how the hand size and the aspiring guitarist’s enthusiasm.
If the enthusiasm is there and the hands aren’t overly small, a full-sized guitar may be a smarter choice.
Studying is Fun When the Guitar is Easier to Handle
Most of these guitars, as you can see, are very reasonably priced. A couple of them come with some pretty impressive accessories too.
Depending on what you think your child will like, the tips in this article should help you narrow down your best choice, be it acoustic, electro-acoustic, or electric. I’ve tried to focus on guitars that are comfortable to play on, which can make the lessons a lot smoother and more enjoyable.