Buying a Guitar for a Child

Purchasing a guitar for a child requires attention to details that you may not have to consider in buying a guitar for a teenager or adult. Depending on the age and size of your child, they may be unable to handle a full-sized guitar. There are a variety of children's guitars available that are smaller and lighter. These may be more suitable for your child than a full-sized instrument. A kid's guitar will generally be 1/2 or 3/4 the size of a normal instrument. They will usually be cheaper due to the fact that less materials are required to make them.

Addressing Possible Problems with a Full-Sized Guitar

It is best to consult with a teacher when deciding on the type of guitar to buy for your child. If you don't have access to a teacher, there are several things you can try to see what size guitar would be best. Below is a list of common problems a child may experience with a full-sized guitar and some tests to check whether it might be an issue for your child.

Neck Length

Problem: The neck may be too long for your child to comfortably reach the first few frets.

Test: Is your child able to extend the left arm out and place the fingers on the first fret so that it is accessible? If so, is this stretch difficult?

Weight of the Guitar

Problem: The guitar may be too heavy or bulky, which could make the guitar uncomfortable to play.

Test: Have your child hold the guitar and ask her whether the instrument feels too big or heavy.

Size of the Guitar Body

Problem: The body of the guitar is too large. This could cause issues with strumming or picking strings with the right hand as well as put the arm into an uncomfortable position.

Test: Is it awkward to hold the guitar? Does the right hand have trouble moving to play the strings due to the size of the instrument? Is it easy to put the arm over the body of the instrument or is it an uncomfortable stretch that requires an awkward position of the arm?

Neck Thickness

Problem: The neck is too thick. This will limit what can be played. Certain chords or techniques may require a larger stretch than is possible on a thicker neck.

Test: Can your child comfortably grip the neck with the thumb behind the neck? Are the fingers able to reach each string in this position without struggling?

If your child experiences problems with any of the tests above, try a smaller guitar to see if that works any better.

Growing into a Full-Sized Instrument

If the problems above are slight and your child is at an age where she is likely to grow enough in the near future to overcome these problems, a full-sized guitar may be the better choice. This will save you the cost of getting a normal guitar soon after buying the smaller instrument. The child-sized guitar may start feeling too small once your child grows enough, so you may need to replace it shortly after buying it if your child grows quickly. If cost is an issue and the full-sized guitar doesn't feel too awkward, it may be a good idea to get that instead.

A smaller sized acoustic may still be too large for some children due to the still somewhat large body size. A full-sized electric may be better in these cases unless the length of the neck is an issue or the child specifically wants an acoustic.