6 Great Kid Size Guitars for Beginners

6 great kid sized guitars

The guitar is a great instrument and hobby for kids. It’s fun and allows them to express themselves and be creative. 

They may eventually write songs, start a band (and annoy your neighbours!) and maybe one day take over the world as a rock deity! 

But for the parents of budding students, walking into a guitar store can be overwhelming. The walls are often covered with instruments of all shapes and sizes (and prices) and knowing which is best for your child is a challenge. 

Knowing how much to spend can also be difficult. Given that your child might not keep up their new hobby, how much will you spend?

Fret not! We have compiled a list of six great guitars – three acoustics and three electrics – that are great for those starting out and easy on the wallet for those paying for them!

3 Best Acoustic Guitars for Kids

One thing you’ll notice about our three picks…they’re all made by Yamaha. No, they’re not sponsoring us – it’s because Yamaha is, by and large, the best bang-for-buck you can find for acoustic guitars. 

Here’s why:

  • They are well put together
  • Play well out of the box
  • Last several years
  • They suit beginners and more advanced players

Best bang-for-buck: Yamaha F325D

Yamaha F325D
Yamaha F325D
  • $169 USD at Guitar Center (US)
  • $229 CAD at Steve’s Music (Canada)

Our first pick is inexpensive – but don’t let the price fool you.

The Yamaha F325D has a dreadnought body, which may feel a bit large for smaller children. 

But this is a common size, and learning on a guitar like this will make playing other instruments easier in future.

With this guitar, Yamaha hasn’t skimped on quality. The fit and finish were excellent. The neck was solid, straight and comfortable. The fretwork was as well done.

This guitar has a spruce top – though it’s spruce plywood, rather than a solid piece. It also has sapele back and sides, which is different from mahogany traditionally found on other acoustic guitars. The neck is made of nato rather than the traditional mahogany. 

These woods are less expensive than their counterparts but are just as robust and solid – meaning it’s good for your budget and will survive if your kids drop it.

As far as sound goes, the instrument has a nice, balanced sound for chords and single notes. There is not a lot of low-end coming out of the guitar, but that’s to be expected based on the materials used. 

All told, this guitar sounds more expensive than the price. Your children will enjoy learning on it but it’s also affordable for most parents. 

Best for quality: Yamaha FG800J

Yamaha FG800J
Yamaha FG800J
  • $319 CAD at Steve’s Music (Canada) 
  • $229 USD at Guitar Center (US)

Seeing this guitar next to the F325D, you would think that they were the same. But there’s a bit more going on under the hood.

It’s a great option for parents willing to spend a bit more for a guitar that sounds better and will last longer. Or it’s an excellent choice for older kids looking to step-up from a low-quality budget model. 

Guitar World magazine calls the FG800J “one of the greatest beginner guitars of all time” and for good reason. Like the previous entry, the fit and finish on it were near-perfect. The neck was also solid, straight and comfortable to play.

On the materials side, we are now treated to a solid spruce top, rather than the spruce ply of the previous model. Both look very nice, but solid tops do have a better tone than their plywood counterparts. The back, sides and neck are also made of nato.

Tonally, you will hear a difference. The sound is fuller than the F325D; chords ring out nicely and single notes are nice and articulate. 

This articulate sound also means any mistakes you make when playing are easily heard. But I think this is a good thing for those learning as it gives the incentive to play well and achieve a great sound. 

The action on the fretboard is also nice and easy. This means fingering notes and forming chords requires less hand strength for children’s hands. 

If you want a quality guitar at a low price for your kids, it doesn’t get better than this. You would be hard-pressed to find a better guitar in this price range.

Best small-bodied guitar: Yamaha FS800

Yamaha FG800J
Yamaha FG800J
  • $319 CAD at Steve’s Music (Canada) 
  • $229 USD at Guitar Center (US)

Depending on the age of the player, a dreadnought body may be too big. If you need a smaller guitar, look no further than this small-bodied acoustic. 

I won’t spend a lot of time talking about specs and wood as they are the same as on the FG800J. You’ll also find the same quality in the fit and finish on this one. Of the three I tried for this review, not one was a dud.

Even though the body is smaller, the FS800 was still comfortable; I had no trouble adjusting to the smaller size. 

The neck on the Yamaha FS800 is also shaped a little differently to match the body. It wasn’t as round and robust as the necks on the other two guitars, making it ideal for smaller hands. 

The guitar still retains the same scale length as the other two, meaning that the neck, fret spacing, etc. will be the same though the body is smaller.

Like its bigger brother, the sound is nice, balanced and articulate, meaning your kids will enjoy playing it and hear any mistakes they make. It also has great action off the fretboard, meaning they will find it comfortable to play and it won’t take too much hand strength the form chords.

I had a bit too much fun playing this one, which is usually the sign of a really good instrument for me! For small beginners, this is a fantastic choice.

3 best electric guitars for kids

It’s usually better for kids to start learning on acoustic guitar. That’s because they don’t require an amp. This makes them less expensive and more portable. 

However, if your kid loves electric guitar music or has made a start on learning and is desperate to rock a louder sound, it’s a good idea to get them an electric guitar.

Here are three recommendations for you:

Best for aspiring shredders: Jackson Dinky JS11

Jackson Dinky JS11
Jackson Dinky JS11
  • $219 CAD at Steve’s Music (Canada)
  • $159 USD at Guitar Center (US)

The Jackson Dinky JS11’s build quality, fit and finish are impressive for the price.  

It has a poplar body and a graphite-reinforced maple neck. The amaranth fretboard and fretwork also feel good under the fingers. This means it can survive knocks and drops by your kids while going to guitar lessons. 

The neck is probably the thinnest of the three electrics I tried, and that combined with a flat radius and medium-low action made this guitar a breeze to play. Small hands shouldn’t have an issue fretting single notes and chords.

The guitar also sounded great through the Blackstar amp I used at the shop. The two humbuckers offered nice tones and no noise when the distortion was cranked. The clean sounds were a bit dark on the individual pickups (to be expected with humbuckers) but did offer some chime in the middle position. 

The tremolo was set flush to the body and didn’t move while playing, offering good running stability. 

Because of the way the strings go past the nut, some whammy bar use will probably knock it out of tune, much like with any guitar equipped with this bridge system. Your children might find the tuning issues frustrating – though whammy bars are also a lot of fun!

Don’t let the “pointy guitar” aesthetics turn you away from this option. For smaller hands, and those who like to flash the horns, you can’t beat this guitar for the price. 

Best classic electric: Squier Sonic Stratocaster HT

Squier Sonic Stratocaster HT
Squier Sonic Stratocaster HT
  • $279 CAD at Steve’s Music (Canada)
  • $199 USD at Guitar Center (US)

Is there anything more beautiful than a red Stratocaster?

Squier is Fender’s low-cost line of instruments, offering classic models at affordable prices. If your child wants a traditional solid body electric, these are good places to start.

The guitar had a nice fit and finish with a comfortable neck. I did notice the guitar may need a little bit of a setup and it was a tad rough out of the box—but any good music store shoul offer to set up the instrument before it leaves. The neck was a bit meatier than the Jackson’s but was still a size that smaller hands could play without issue.

The single-coil pickups offered plenty of classic tones, albeit a tad darker than I expected. As with most single-coil pickups, the hum and buzz came up when I used distortion. Thankfully, engaging the bridge and middle pickup combination, as well as the neck and middle combination (which emulates a humbucker) took care of the issue.

One notable difference with this guitar and normal Stratocasters is that it has a hard-tail bridge instead of the traditional tremolo system. This is probably a good thing for beginners as it provides better tuning stability.

However, players may feel that they’re losing the full Strat experience down the line. Thankfully this series does have versions with the tremolo; ask your local retailer if they have one.

Best deluxe option: Gretsch G2215 Streamliner Junior Jet Club

Gretsch G2215 Streamliner Junior Jet Club
Gretsch G2215 Streamliner Junior Jet Club
  • $549 CAD at Steve’s Music (Canada)
  • $399 USD at Guitar Center (US)

This is the priciest one on the list. However, this is probably one of the coolest guitars you’ll find at that price.

The Streamliner has a nato body and neck which feel solid. Some children may find the gloss finishes on some necks a little sticky, but this one had a nice and smooth feel; going up and down the neck was effortless. The neck profile is also comparable to the Stratocaster, which will be nice for players with smaller hands.

Tone-wise, you do get a lot of variety out of this guitar. The Broad’tron humbucker was quiet with distortion, and still nice and clear when the amp was clean. The P90 in the neck had plenty of clarity and punch (though a bit noisy with distortion, as with all P90 pickups). 

If your aspiring player is serious or is ready to make the jump from acoustic to electric, this would be a good one to consider. The bang-for-buck ratio on this one is hard to beat!

Hey, Wait! What About Those Small Guitars I See At The Big Box Store Or Amazon? They’re Pretty Cheap.

Smaller, cheaper guitars made for kids are often poor quality
Smaller, cheaper guitars made for kids are often poor quality

There’s a wealth of cheap guitars aimed at kids out there. Many of these are ¾ sized Spanish acoustics or miniature electrics. 

There are three problems with those guitars.

1. They’re generally hard to play

I have yet to find a small guitar that is both good and inexpensive. 

In my experience with teaching guitar to dozens of students over the years, cheap small guitars are usually plagued with problems, including:

  • Poor build quality
  • Poor fretwork
  • Other deficiencies

This often makes these guitars difficult to play and leaves the child “fighting against” the instrument. If it’s hard to play, the beginner will have a hard time seeing progress and may ultimately abandon the instrument out of frustration.

2. A Good small guitar is expensive

There are good small-body and short-scale guitars, but they aren’t cheap. This is a case where you get what you pay for. 

Something like the Baby Taylor BT1 is a fantastic guitar, but they retail at $519 CDN at Steve’s Music ($399.99 USD at Guitar Centre). 

Another example is the Martin LX1 Little Martin which will set you back $591.

The Martin LX1 Little Martin body shown from the side.
The Martin LX1 Little Martin

These price tags may be too much for parents buying their child’s first guitar—it could become an expensive dust collector if they lose interest!

The only decent affordable mini model we’ve found so far is the Cort Earth Mini.

A full frontal view of the Cort Earth Mini - it looks relatively plain
The Cort Earth Mini looks pretty basic – but that’s to be expected at this price point.

3. Your child grows. The Guitar doesn’t

But even here there is a problem. The young student will grow but the guitar won’t. Eventually, smaller instruments may seem too dinky, or even hard to play for larger hands. Sometimes going a bit bigger from the start is a better long-term option.

Should I Get An Electric Guitar Or An Acoustic Guitar?

An electric guitar and an acoustic guitar with a question mark in the middle.
Acoustic guitar or electric guitar?

The answer is… well, that depends.

Acoustic guitar pros and cons

✔️Acoustic instruments don’t require amplification to play. If your little musician wants to take the instrument to an outing, a campfire, a party, etc. you don’t need to drag an amplifier to be heard.

❌Acoustics are, on average, larger than electric guitars. The bodies are bigger and the necks tend to be a bit thicker.

❌The strings on acoustic guitars tend to fill a bit stiffer. This can be remediated, however, by choosing the right body size (say the smaller Yamaha FS800 over the FG800), or making the switch to lighter strings to ease fingering on the fretboard.

 Electric guitar pros and cons

✔️Electric guitars are cool for those who aspire to be rockers. 

✔️The bodies and necks also tend to be smaller than their acoustic brethren, and strings feel less stiff (even when using comparable string gauges).

 ❌The biggest disadvantage is amplification. If you have an electric guitar, you will inevitably need an amplifier to be heard properly when playing anywhere. There are good, small, budget amplifiers available (such as the Boss Katana, the THR line from Yamaha, etc.), but that will need to be considered when purchasing an instrument.

So, it ultimately depends on objectives and the student’s interest. If they’re unsure, maybe start with an acoustic. If they want to rock, maybe start with an electric. If they change their mind? You can always sell one and buy another (or keep both! You can never have too many guitars…or so I’m told).

Ok, But Are There Alternatives To Buying A New Instrument?

A parent helping their child play guitar. They are helping them to finger the chords on the fretboard.
There are a few ways to buy your child a cheaper guitar

Starting off on guitar requires a financial investment, especially to get a quality instrument. 

There are a few options to consider when shopping if you want to get a good deal:

  1. Look for B-Stock (aka scratch n’ dent, blemishes, etc.) 

Guitar stores often discount guitars because of a physical flaw. This could be a small knot in the wood that’s showing, an error in the paint job or some minor damage. These flaws do not affect playability, so ask your shop if they have such instruments. 

  1. Rent a guitar

Some music stores rent instruments for beginners and students, so do inquire if there is a rental program. Some may even offer discounts if you decide to buy the instrument after a while. Ensure the instrument is set up properly to ensure good playability and that everything functions correctly. 

  1. Buy used instruments from the music store

Some shops will sell used instruments; inquire to see what they have.

  1. Buy used instruments from Facebook Marketplace, Reverb, etc.

This is tricky, since inexperienced shoppers may not know what to look for. If you take this route, make sure you see the instrument to ensure nothing appears broken or out of sorts. 

If you have a friend who’s knowledgeable about guitars, bring them along for their opinion. 

You may need to take a second-hand guitar to get a proper setup from a luthier. This will need to be considered in your budget. It will cost somewhere between $50 to $250, depending on what needs to be done. 

Good Guitar = Good Student 

A parent helping their child learn to play guitar.
Your child will be a better student if they have a good guitar

Is there a lot to consider? Of course! But hopefully, this information will give you the knowledge you need to make a sound choice for your aspiring rock star. 

The bottom line: a good instrument will make a good student play more, which makes them get better faster. 

If practice and commitment are the foundations of your child’s musical house; a good instrument is one of the tools they use to build it. 

A huge thanks to Daniel Sauvé at Steve’s Music in Ottawa, Ontario, for his help in suggesting these instruments, as well as letting me test them out (the fun perks of writing these kinds of articles!)

About the author, Kevin Daoust – instagram.com/kevindaoust.gtr

Kevin Daoust is a guitarist, guitar educator and writer based in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. When not tracking guitars for artists around the world, or writing music-related articles around the internet, he can be seen on stage with Accordion-Funk legends Hey, Wow, the acoustic duo Chanté et Kev, as well as a hired gun guitarist around Quebec and Ontario. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

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