So your child has come to you and expressed their interest to learn music. This is good news! For the parents that have children who specifically want to learn guitar, this is great news!
Guitar is one of those versatile instruments that belongs in many different categories of music. It is a folk instrument, so many people get exposed to guitar from various pop music forms to become interested in it. There is also classical guitar, which is taught and studied in many of the world’s conservatories and music schools. Either way, their enjoyment from playing/practicing will probably be affected by the first guitar that you buy for them.
As a general rule, I recommend that you talk to your child’s potential guitar teacher and ask him/her what they would recommend for your child before buying an instrument. From my experience, I have seen many new students (had no lessons prior to beginning with me) start their first lesson with guitars that were too big for them. These particular students had a more difficult time because they had to compensate to the size which potentially makes learning and playing more difficult, and ultimately discourages them from even learning the guitar. Parents who bought their child a guitar that was portioned to their child’s size had a much easier time learning, and could also learn proper technique and sitting positions.
There are different sized guitars for every age group; most commonly I have recommended 1/2 sized (ages 7 – 9), 3/4 size (ages 10 – 14), and then full sized (ages 15 – up). Many luthiers and builders also build other scale lengths (example Cordoba’s C9 Dolce 7/8’s guitar) or custom scale lengths (Example Kenny Hill Estudio 640mm).
Here are some examples with links of each size class that I have bought for my students or have recommended:
1/2 sized guitars –
Hohner HAG250P 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar
– The build quality seems good, and seems to handle seasonal changes of temperature and humidity well. From my experiences with this guitar, it is more on the quieter side.
Amigo AM15 Nylon String Acoustic Guitar
– I think it is comparable wight he Hohner, but it is a little louder. Build quality seems good.
3/4 sized guitars –
Cordoba Requinto 580
– I don’t know why on Amazon it says it’s a 1/2 size guitar, Although it maybe 1/2 in size, I bought a 3/4’s Cordoba case for this type of guitar which fit it perfectly. This guitar is great deal for it’s price range. Sounds great, and is solidly built.
Full sized –
Yamaha Classical guitars
– I think these are solidly built instruments that have consistent intonation and sound. A lot of the guitars in the beginner student price range that I have played were a little quiet, but I do not think it takes away from the total value of the guitar.
– This guitar for the price maybe one of the best deals that I have found for a lower priced classical guitar. Sounds great and is made well.
You may have noticed that I am recommending all nylon stringed guitars. There is an important reason for why I recommend this type of guitar; I think that nylon is easier for the child to learn on.
For the left hand, children do not have to push down the strings for the notes as hard as electric or acoustic steel strings because string tensions for nylon strings are lower. This also helps the child learn the concept of body awareness when playing guitar because they learn what the required force to sound notes on the fretboard.
For the right hand, it’s just as easy to learn finger style and playing with a pick. When fingerpicking, nylon will not tear or chip your child’s nails unlike how steel string electrics and acoustics can. Learning how to use a pick (strum patterns, alternate picking, hybrid picking, etc) is the same as for your child as they would play on steel string guitars.
Another advantage of learning on nylon stringed guitars is that you can learn and play all the different music styles. Switching techniques and playing classical, jazz, and pop music are all easily done on nylon stringed guitars.
Which one should you buy?
Some of the options that I have presented in my post are geared towards being cost effective, but others like the Yamaha or Cordoba guitars, are good enough to be life long instruments. I have found that new beginners, especially those of the younger ages, cannot discern what sounds good, quality/ build, or what type of guitar they are playing (steel stringed or nylon). The cost of the guitar for a higher quality instrument becomes more of a situational purchase that should be evaluated by both parents and teacher. I think that anything under the $150-200 range, the quality and sound tends to be the same. But once you hit a certain price point ($200+) the sound and work quality goes up drastically.
If you have experience with other beginner student level guitars, post a comment a below and share your experience with them!