What You Need to Know About Buying a Guitar for a Child

If you would like to teach your child to play an instrument but you don't want to spend a lot of money, the guitar is probably your best choice. Guitars are affordable to buy and you can teach a child to play without having to invest in lessons.

If you don't know anything about guitars there are a few things you need to consider before buying. One consideration is nylon strings versus steel strings. You have to also think about size. You will definitely need some accessories to go with the guitar. You will also need some guitar teaching materials aimed at young children, if you don't want to pay for lessons.

There are a few things you need to consider before buying a kid's guitar
There are a few things you need to consider before buying a kid's guitar

Nylon Versus Steel Strings

If you are buying a guitar for a child under 12, I would recommend nylon strings. Holding down steel strings to play chords can be very painful. A child may not want to practice if it hurts them too much. Calluses will develop on the fingers after a while but a younger child may be turned off playing before that happens.

Steel-string acoustic guitars are used in most pop and rock music. A teenager may not like the sound of a nylon string classical guitar because they are more mellow. Their favorite rock songs won't sound right with nylon strings. So, steel strings are probably a better option. An older child will understand that the pain is something temporary and will be more likely to play through the pain.

What Size Guitar to Buy?

Size is another important consideration. Sizes are 1/2 (30 inch) and 3/4 (34-36 inches). You will sometimes see age ranges for guitars. Be careful with these. I have seen 1/2 size guitars recommended for ages 3 to 6. But our 1/2 size guitar is way too big for my 4 year old and perfect for my 7 year old. I don't see her outgrowing it for a few more years. It's your child's height that actually matters. It's a good idea to test the appropriate size in a music store first.

How Much to Spend

It isn't a problem to buy an inexpensive guitar to begin with. If your child is really serious about learning to play, you can always invest in a higher quality instrument later on. I spent $50 on my daughter's guitar. It's definitely something that works for her while she is learning.

Accessories You Will Need

Guitar Picks - buy about a dozen guitar picks for strumming. They're small and get lost easily.

Strap - if the guitar has a strap button at the back, you can buy a strap to put on the guitar.

Extra Strings - strings break, so always have a backup pack.

Guitar Tuner - if you have an iPad, the GuiTune Lite app is an excellent guitar tuning app. If not, you can buy a tuner for around $10.

Teaching Materials

If you are going to teach your child to play or they want to learn to play themselves, you will need some teaching materials and perhaps a simple song book. eMedia My Guitar learning software is one excellent learning option. Another is Kid's Guitar Course, Book 1 (Book and Enhanced CD).

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Comments 4 comments

Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 4 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

Excellent advice. I'd only add that in considering the quality of the guitar, make sure that it tunes properly and holds tune at least for a few minutes. Some really cheap guitars don't--and it's easy to find guitars at $100 or less that do fine in this regard.

Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 4 years ago from California Author

Yes, and holding a tune seems to be a bit more of a problem for nylon strings. It takes time to break them in. That was a reviewer criticism on amazon.com of the guitar I bought but luckily the one I got holds it tune really well. I tune it everyday and it usually isn't much out of tune.

Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 4 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

Even steel strings can be problematic sometimes. I have a 3/4 steel-string, bought used for $30, for which this is the Achilles heel. It's a (modest) name brand, and is fairly attractive for the price in other respects. I even tried changing the tuners out, but to no effect. Using ultra-light strings helps some--enough that I can stand to take it to the beach or other casual settings. Still not great, though!

Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 4 years ago from California Author

I didn't know this could be an issue so much with steel strings. When I upgrade to a steel string guitar for my kids, I plan to spend quite a bit more. Hopefully, that will avoid the problem. Once they are more serious and probably taking lessons, I feel they will need something that sounds really good.

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