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Kids electric guitars - Small electric guitar for children
Short scale to the rescue
Kids electric guitars have taken a huge leap forward since I began playing guitar about 30 years ago.
These small electric guitars for young children also make great travel guitars, seeing as they're built to a shorter scale length. The scale length on a Fender Stratocaster is 25 3/4 inches, which is a bit long for a youngster with small hands, but on a short scale kids guitar the scale length can be as low as 22.2 inches up to 24 inches.
Scale length is the distance between the bridge of the guitar and the nut, so the shorter the scale length, the closer together the frets are.
Interestingly enough, the Fender Mustang also has a scale length of 24 inches. When trying to find a kids electric guitar for a youngster that's under 9 years old, I guess I'm a little concerned that even a 24 inch scale length might be a bit too long.
Fortunately, there are a few guitar manufacturers with enough foresight to create even shorter scaled guitars than that.
Some of these guitar makers are producers of top quality guitars, and they're providing cheap beginner electric guitars for kids. I guess there's less of a guitar to make, but still, the amount of effort and parts involved is pretty much the same.
Which scale length is best for a kids electric guitar?
The best answer for this question is twofold. I have to cast my mind way back for this but let me start by giving some advice on guitar playing that may explain why a slightly bigger guitar than your hands are comfortable with may be a good thing.
Giving your fingers a bit of practice at stretching is beneficial to your playing and small kids are also not going to stay that size for long.
From the age of 10 I would say it's time to start looking at full scale guitars, even though there may be a bit of a stretch involved. Fingers adapt quickly and wood doesn't.
When I was just starting out on electric guitar, I was about 12 years old. The guitar I had was a slightly smaller guitar, possibly around the 24 inch scale length mark, but by the time I was 14 I had a full 25.5 inch Fender scale length.
Now I'm not a big fellow, so I'd say that if you're going to buy an electric guitar for a child between the ages of 10 and 90, the safest scale length to choose is a Gibson scale length, although even a full Fender scale length guitar could be considered at that age.
It also depends on the size of your hands so some extra consideration is required.
The Gibson scale length is about 24.75 inches, and most Epiphones use this scale length, seeing as they're all copies of Gibsons, and made by Gibson.
Scale length for small childrens electric guitars.
For younger children, I would advise a scale length of about 22.7 inches. Even though there are scale lengths down to 22.2 inches, and you may be buying a guitar for a six year old, the extra scale length will last you better through the years.
Some fully grown guitarists still play on a 22.7 scalelength. It's kind of just outside the uncomfortably short range.
An excellent guitar for small children, and even some grown ups
For small children, and even as a travel guitar, this guitar comes highly recommended all round. It has a 22.7 inch scale length, two humbucking pickups, a basswood body and maple bolt on neck.
Preferably for kids between 6 and 11 years old,
This guitar has a very pleasant tone
Pure mahogany rock tone
My personal choice
This guitar is next on my own shopping list. It has everything I've been looking for in an electric guitar.
The scale length is 24.75 inch, and the mahogany body and neck are my favorite tone woods.
A comfortable play for anyone 12 years and up. In fact, I think possibly a ten year old could also get by easily with this guitar
Some other choices for kids electric guitars
While these aren't the only choices for electric guitars, I've tried to look at guitars that have good staying power. For example, the Epiphone G-400 isn't the only copy of a Gibson SG made by Epiphone, but the others have bolt on necks and just don't impress me that much.
There are also other guitars that have single coil pickups, pretty much the same as a Fender Stratocaster, but single coil pickups are prone to picking up mains hum, and reacting badly to certain fluorescent lights.
Beginner guitarists very often don't understand this, and even expensive Fender guitars with single coils have the same problem.
If you need some cheaper options, here are some cheap kids electric guitars that are still good quality, as long as you realise the nature of single coils.
SX Electric short scale guitars
Short scale guitar package deal
Some people might frown on these guitars, but I don't think they realise what they're dealing with.
A friend of mine plays SX Strats, he's a 40 year old pro guitarist and guitar technician. If you stick around I'll show you how to get the best out of these guitars, or any guitar for that matter.
SX make left hand beginner guitars as well, for the same price it seems.
These guitars suit smaller hands, possibly 8 to 10 year olds will find this comfortable due to the thinner neck width as well.
Getting the most out of your guitar
For single coil guitars like the Stratocaster, the first thing I do is shield all the cavities where the electronics is housed.
I remove the pickguard, or scratchplate and cover the inside of the guitar with tin foil. I also attach tin foil to the bottom of the scratchplate, so as to create an interference resistant chamber.
I also make sure that it's connected to the earth of the guitar. This usually reduces the hum picked up by the single coil pickups quite considerably.
The other thing that I do is have a guitar technician work on it to make it as playable as possible. Failing that, I do it myself. The pros always do it better than me though, so rather let them do it.
If you take your guitar to them, tell them you want the frets levelled and crowned, and if possible, or if it's necessary, to have the pickups wax potted. They should know what you mean. The fret levelling is to make the guitar as playable as possible by getting all the frets to exactly the same height above the fretboard, so you can bring the strings down really close, and the wax potting is a way of soaking the coils around the pickups so as to prevent microphonic squeal.
Do that and one day you'll realise that the cheap guitar you've got is virtually as good as some of the most expensive Stratocasters around.
Cheers for now - Andrew