When your kids have a passion for music, you want to do everything you can to support and encourage their hobby. Becoming a musician at an early age, after all, develops a child’s problem-solving skills, critical thinking, memory, and hand-eye coordination. However, when the parent isn’t familiar with musical instruments, it can be overwhelming trying to find the right guitar for kids.
Even if you are, it might be a while since you’ve looked into playing or purchasing the best guitar for kids.
IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS
Fortunately, we have put together a complete guide to walk you through the steps of picking the right acoustic guitar for your little musician. Even when money is no object, it can be inconvenient and expensive to pick the wrong model the first time.
Using this walk-through, you can find the right instrument for your young guitarist easily, based on elements like price, sound quality, and size of the guitar.
Best Acoustic Guitar for Kids
If you have a kiddo with a taste for the soft notes of an acoustic guitar, there’s great news! This version of the instrument is not as loud as its electric counterpart and doesn’t come with as much extra necessary gear, like amplifiers and power sources.
However, this version of the guitar can be more difficult to learn, and it’s still important to pick the right model for your budding guitarist, or else they might get discouraged.
First Place: Martin LX1 Little Martin
If you’re looking for an acoustic guitar for beginners with a classic feel and easy controls, the Little Martin is the perfect fit. This model is one of the most popular choices out there, and its high-quality authentic Made-in-Mexico design is remarkably affordable.
This guitar is a mini-me version of the iconic full-size Martin, widely used by many professional adults. Here is a breakdown of what we found to be amazing about it, and why it may be the best fit for your young musician:
- Guitar Body: this guitar is the smallest of the Martin line, and perfect to fit in the hands of novice guitarists as young as five or six years old. At 23” long, the Little Martin could suit your child into the early teenage. The instrument is made of a quality blend of Sitka spruce, mahogany, and rust birch, allowing for a light hold on the guitar neck but a solid feel throughout the rest.
- Sound: While there are electronic-acoustic hybrids of the Little Martin available, this particular model is fully acoustic. This makes for a traditional acoustic sound with a surprisingly rich tone for the guitar’s price and small stature. However, as is with most instruments for children, this instrument doesn’t have the capacity to reach the same volume as full-sized Martin guitars could.
- Price: A new Little Martin retails for $349, plus shipping if you’re ordering from certain online stores.
- User Reviews: One of the most important user complaints to consider with the Little Martin is that it is oriented for right-handed players only, so if your little musician is a leftie, this guitar may not be the right fit for them. Unless, of course, they want to replicate the practice of certain famous guitarists like Albert King, who was left-handed but played right-handed guitars upside down. That certainly sounds too confusing to us!
While some users have complained that the guitar feels a little top-heavy in the neck, most parents who bought this guitar for their kids complimented it on its high-quality sound, ease of use for juvenile players, and is even a nice little compact guitar for teen and adult players to take on the go.
Second Place: Yamaha JR1
If you’re on a budget, or aren’t sure how committed your child is to their new hobby and want to avoid any big financial commitments, then Yamaha has the perfect junior guitar for you. Yamaha has a great reputation for building quality musical instruments, and this novice acoustic guitar is no exception.
The JR1 is a lightweight and comfortable guitar for your child. The frets are easy to reach and maneuver, which minimizes frustration from novice guitar players who are still getting used to the handwork. Here’s a breakdown of the specs of Yamaha’s contender, and why we like it so much:
- Guitar Body: At ¾ of the size of an adult guitar, the JR1 is a very petite guitar, compared to other models, making it ideal for the youngest of interested musicians and those of us cursed with shorter than average fingers.
Yamaha also kept the heft of this instrument in mind when designing it, because it features a lightweight combination of spruce and meranti. The engineering and lamination of this model aren’t as high-quality as others, but we still consider it great quality for its price.
- Sound: While the body of this guitar certainly holds up in comparison to other models, you may find it worth it to replace the strings from the get-go. These strings don’t hold up to the learning hands of beginners as well as others do, and the budget-friendliness of this guitar reflects in the manufacturer string: overall, they just don’t produce as high-quality of a sound as other strings do. The good news is that this component of the guitar is easily replaceable, and usually very budget-friendly.
- Price: A brand-new Yamaha JR1 goes for just about $150 on most online retail sites, making this one of the most affordable guitars for kids out there. While we mentioned some shortcomings above, this option is great for parents who aren’t sure if their young guitarist will stick with the hobby, or if the instrument will ultimately end up being an expensive paperweight.
- User Reviews: Users have commented that this guitar has suited their children from first wanting to play between four and seven years of age, up until outgrowing the instrument around 11 to 13 years old. Since this guitar is mass-made, users occasionally complain that the sanding and staining jobs are inconsistent and that the frets and strings hadn’t been tested or tuned before shipping. A hand-made guitar, on the other hand, might receive that level of attention.
Got a leftie in your family? No worries, this guitar is ambidextrous, so it can be played by right-handers and south-paws alike.
Third Place: Rogue Starter Acoustic Guitar
The Rogue Starter is a great pick for anyone who is looking for a simple, low-cost, no-bells-and-whistles guitar. If you’re looking for a starter guitar for a young child who may or may not develop a lifelong love of the practice, the Rogue is a perfect choice that would set you back less than $100.
This guitar, which is a ¾ scale of full-size models, often surprises professionals with its quality. Rogue’s model is a strong contender against others that are almost double the price, and here’s why.
- Guitar Body: The Rogue Starter Acoustic offers a sturdy blend of mahogany, maple, and rosewood from the body to the neck. The compactness of this model, however, does tend to demand some sacrifices in resonance and timbre. The maple wood in the neck leads to a bend-resistant and lightweight feel in players’ hands, making it an ideal choice for starters as young as four.
Here’s another great perk about the Rogue model: it is offered in more colors than the typical natural finish. You can find the Rogue Starter in a gorgeous blue-to-black sunburst pattern, a bright princess pink, classic natural, red-to-black sunburst, or a deep, rich walnut.
- Sound: While the sound quality is definitely not up to par for professional guitar plays, it would undoubtedly suit a youth musician who is just getting familiar with the sounds of the instrument. The middle tones of this guitar stand out considerably, with crisp trebles and nice bases to round out the sound. The sturdy mahogany wood in this guitar’s body allows for a punchy and big-voiced sound.
- Price: The Rogue Starter can be found online for about $60, which is why we just can’t get over how quality of a guitar it is for such an affordable price. Again, no one will try to convince you that it’s a professional-grade guitar, but it holds up fabulously for its price.
- User reviews: One thing to note before you go guitar shopping is that this model from Rogue is another right-handed guitar. The brand does have left-handed models available, but the features, sizes, and prices may vary. Some users complained that the manufacturer strings that come with this option are rigid, unyielding, and not ideal for young players, so you may want to consider ordering some replacement strings right along with this guitar. Parents raved about the color options to choose from and approved of the affordability.
Honorable Mention: Luna Aurora Borealis
There are a lot of reasons to love this guitar, and the mythology-based name is just one of them. While it doesn’t compete price-wise with some of our higher-placed options, the sleek-bodied Luna would make your kiddo’s jaw the floor.
Another ¾ size guitar model, the Aurora Borealis is a great youth guitar for music lovers who want to spend less than $200.
- Guitar Body: The Borealis is another petite guitar option, with a basswood body durable enough to withstand rough handling from children. Luna invests a lot into the intrigue of their guitar’s appearance, too, with color options like Pink Pearl, Teal Sparkle, Black Pearl, and Black Sparkle, and a trademark crescent moon shape around the soundhole.
- Sound: This compact guitar doesn’t have the voice of a full-sized acoustic, but still sings just fine. Its notes can come across a little tinny, however, and for that reason, Luna’s guitar model slid a view places down on our best guitars for kids list.
- Price: The color of Luna Aurora Borealis that your kiddo asks for will have an impact on how much you’re spending on this guitar, which could range anywhere from $150 to $180, depending on what’s in high demand.
- User reviews: Unfortunately, this is another guitar that was manufactured for right-handed players. This instrument is mass-made in China, and many buyers commented that their purchase came with chips, dents, stains, and flaws in the wood. Players are typically pleased that the strings the guitar comes with are steel rather than nylon, but also remarked that the strings are difficult to keep in tune.
What Accessories Should I Buy with a Guitar for Kids?
Now that you’ve picked the perfect guitar for your future rockstar, it’s time to fill up their accessory bag. Probably the most important thing that you should bring home with your child’s first guitar would be plenty of learning material, especially if they aren’t getting professional lessons. While we generally recommend exposing a child to a professional musician in their early stages of learning, it’s understandable that this isn’t always a feasible option financially.
Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available to make the initial guitar learning process easy. You can pick and choose your own arrangements of musical books, video collections, and interactive starter kits based on how your child learns.
Another valuable tool to have is a guitar tuner. Not only will this help your little guitarist become familiar with different musical notes and tones, but it’ll also prevent a few headaches from hours of listening to an out-of-tune guitar for you.
You’re probably going to want to throw a couple of extra string sets in your cart, too. We mentioned a couple of models above that don’t come with the best strings, and even good strings can snap from time to time, especially under the inexperienced hand of a new musician.
Helping Your Child be Successful in Music
If you’ve made the decision to purchase your child a new instrument, congrats! You’re on your way to instilling a lifelong passion for a wonderfully engaging and mentally stimulating hobby in your little guitarist. The next step is to support your child in their new endeavor.
Mastering an instrument is no easy feat. Be sure to encourage your child when they’re frustrated, hold them accountable for regular practice and lessons, and be open to discussion when they tell you there is a new accessory or tool that they need.