Our children’s guitar buying guide will help you choose the right guitar for your offspring. Whether Christmas is just around the corner or a birthday present is in demand – few of us mind if the offspring follows in our musical footsteps.
And since we’re all rock’n’rollers, it has to be a guitar, of course. But which one is the right one? After all, the wrong choice can lead to disaster. We provide you with the most important facts and advice in this “buying guide for children’s guitars”, because the “right” guitar guarantees joy in making music and motivates you to play and learn.
- What is a children’s guitar? This refers to guitars in which not only the scale length is adapted to a small body, but also all other dimensions.
- Why is a small guitar important for a child? An instrument that is too large forces the body to adopt unnatural positions that can lead to pain. Moreover, you get used to this usually twisted posture and later have to fight against technical playing problems.
- How serious are these disadvantages? The good news: the child’s body is not permanently damaged by a guitar that is too big. The bad news: It can take a long time to get out of the habit of bad posture and to release the tension in the muscles.
- Are children’s guitars expensive? No! Between 100 and 300 euros you can get perfectly fitting instruments. – Can a child also start with the electric guitar? Yes, without any problems. You should only (let) appropriately soft strings.
Nylon string or steel string guitar – which is better?
If you stand in front of the offer of even an averagely sorted musical instrument dealer, you are literally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of different guitar types. If you are looking for an instrument for yourself, at least as a bonedo reader you already have a rough idea of what you want. But what is the right instrument for a child? Ultimately, however, all questions can be broken down to two: what size and what type?
Let’s start with the type, because this is a decision that affects even a full-grown beginner. So should we start with a nylon string guitar? An acoustic guitar? Or even an electric guitar?
Nylon-string guitar: proven standard
There are good reasons to start with a nylon string guitar, even if this instrument is not quite as trendy as the electric guitar or the currently tremendously booming acoustic guitar. Nylon strings are thick and soft. The fingertips can gradually get used to the constant pressure of the strings and gradually build up calluses. And the fingerboard is wide enough to accommodate untrained fingers without frustration.
Electric guitar: for young rockers
By and large, gone are the days when a music-loving young rocker would be told by his parents that an electric guitar is not for beginners. I think that a child who absolutely wants to play electric guitar may also start with an electric guitar and does not have to take the detour via the nylon string guitar, which is completely uncool in his eyes.
However, one should know that the steel strings of an electric guitar are thinner and therefore press deeper into the fingertips. This can hurt! Our child must have quite a bit of willpower to fight through that, even if the lightest strings are strung. However, when I look at the 9-year-old Jonas from my immediate environment, who fights his way through his Telecaster and his parents’ nerves with admirable zeal, I don’t fear for the future of the electric guitar.
Acoustic guitar: for hardcore players only
Successful musicians arouse in many fans the desire to imitate them – on similar instruments, of course. And when one of the most successful singer/songwriters of our time, Ed Sheeran, plays an acoustic guitar with steel strings, you might want to do the same. However, caution is advised here, because steel strings for acoustic guitar are consistently thicker and therefore more tensioned than those of an electric guitar.
If you have a cast-iron will and a high resistance to pain, you can of course get a dreadnought as your first guitar. An average beginner, especially if it is a child, should refrain from such a huge piece – not for nothing was the name of a warship chosen here! If it should be an acoustic guitar: There are small designs that are more suitable. They usually go under the name “Travel Guitar”. And by the way: Ed Sheeran also plays a rather small model.
One size fits all? No way!
Children are smaller than adults. That may be a truism, but when it comes to guitars, people tend to forget that. And it goes without saying that they buy a full-size guitar for the first time, even if the child is only eight years old and doesn’t even measure five feet forty. If the child were to learn the violin, for example, it would naturally get an eighth, quarter or whatever fiddle, depending on its size. So why not do the same with a guitar? After all, the advantages are obvious, while the disadvantages could only concern the financial side. For this, however, you have to be very stingy, because a children’s guitar costs much less than, for example, a children’s violin and can be sold again at a decent rate if well cared for.
Why big guitars are bad for children
Playing the guitar is also a physically demanding activity. Here, muscles are used and postures are assumed that do not occur in normal life – and I’m not even talking about posing on the rocker stage! So we should make it as easy as possible for ourselves. This is especially true for our children, because their muscles and bones are not yet as resilient as those of adults. Bad posture therefore leads to pain that is difficult to get rid of.
Now you must not buy just any little guitar in the hope that it will fit somehow. You can do little with statements such as: “A ¼-guitar is suitable for an eight-year-old”, because neither are all eight-year-olds the same size, nor is the designation “¼” standardized. The European Guitar Teachers Association (EGTA) recommends how big a guitar should be.
Outgrowing a guitar
Unlike clothes, you should never buy a guitar that is too big, but always go for the slightly smaller instrument, even if you feel that it seems too small. Unlike shoes, for example, you don’t grow into the size, but out of it. The next size is therefore always due when the child has already reached the appropriate body measurement.
The EGTA recommendations therefore refer to the dimensions of both the child and the guitar in centimeters. The so-called scale length, i.e. the length of the freely vibrating string, is related to the length of the child’s forearm. When the child places the elbow on the frame of the upright guitar and rests the outside of the arm against the neck, the clearly felt knuckle of the wrist should be between the first and second frets. All other dimensions of the guitar are based on this. Again, this is up to the manufacturers, and that’s why the EGTA gives recommendations for each guitar size every year. This recommendation, of course, in addition to the correct dimensions, also includes the sound.