What Size & Type Of Guitar Should My Child Use?
A short and simple guide to choosing the right guitar for your child.
Choosing the right size guitar for your child is very important to ensure they get the enjoyment they are seeking from learning an instrument. If it’s too big or too small then they may find it difficult to play and therefore difficult to enjoy. Guitars can be bought in 1/2 size, 3/4 size or full size. While choosing the right size is important, you should also consider the right type of guitar. Different types of acoustic and classical guitar can be bigger, wider and more difficult to play than some electric guitars. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about body shapes, neck thickness, string type, string action and sizing.
What Type Of Guitar Should A Child Play?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Certain styles of music are more suited to certain types of guitar, but anything you play on an electric can also be played on acoustic or classic and so forth. The physical operation and method for playing each type of guitar is the same. They all have 6 strings, are tuned the same way and have frets that alter the notes to the same pitches. Whilst there are differences between each guitar type, children are capable of learning any type, and so it is a question of preference rather than necessity. When deciding what type of guitar you should choose for your child, there are 3 main questions you should ask yourself;
1. What style of music does my child enjoy and want to learn? If your child is hoping to become a classical virtuoso then it seems clear that a classical guitar is the correct choose for you. The nylon strings of a classical guitar are softer and create a sound suited to classical and española music.
Likewise, if your child loves classic rock music and wants to learn Queen, AC/DC and Bon Jovi, then an electric guitar would be most suitable. Electric guitars can be plugged into amplifiers to both increase volume and alter the sound of the guitar - often adding distortion in the style of their favourite classic and modern rock bands.
Acoustic steel string guitars are suited to country, folk, pop and americana music. If you imagine Wonderwall, that is the sound of an acoustic guitar. Many guitarists will eventually play all 3 types of guitars depending on the song or style they are playing in, but to ensure your child achieves their goals, it is important to start with the type they are most keen on. If you’re not sure, you can always head down to your local guitar shop and try out a few different types.
2. What Style Of Guitar Will Be Most Comfortable & Playable?
Acoustic and Classical guitar have a hollow body. Naturally, this makes them thicker and bulkier. If your child is particularly young and has a small arm length, then trying to strum around a very large guitar body can be difficult and discouraging. The body of an electric guitar is solid and therefore much thinner, often only 2 or 3 inches thick. Similarly, you will often find the neck of a classical guitar to be much thicker than an acoustic or electric guitar. This can be difficult for children with smaller hands. Don’t let this put you off acoustic or classical guitars though - a larger body and neck isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as you select the right size of guitar.
3. What Type Of Guitar Does My Child Find Most Inspiring?
The single most important thing for a child when learning the guitar is their appetite for playing it. No one was born good at the guitar, and no one ever became good at the guitar without hundreds (and thousands) or hours of practise. Learning any instrument is a process that takes time, discipline and patience. At times, it is completely normal to feel down hearted whilst struggling with a certain technique or concept. In these times, the guitar needs to be appealing to play. When you look at the guitar, it should say to you “play me”. So, even if a certain guitar is not the best one in the shop, if it’s the one your child is most excited about, then it’s the perfect guitar for you! For this reason, I would also recommend going to a guitar shop rather than buying online. Or at least going to the guitar shop to try out some guitars before ordering online. For a young budding guitarist, going to a big guitar store is like a scene out of Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. The guitar you choose should be the one that makes them most enthusiastic to practise, learn and persevere with.
What Size Guitar Should My Child Use?
Now that you have thought about the type of guitar you might like, it is important to get the right size. Whilst some parents understandably prefer to buy full size guitar so that they don't have to fork out for another guitar when their child grows, I find it better to choose the size that suits your child right now. If you buy a guitar hoping they will grow into it within a couple of years, then the child may well find it too difficult to play and by the time they have grown into it, the guitar is collecting dust and the guitar lessons were given up a long time ago.
It’s certainly best to try out different size guitars in a music shop to see which suits best, but as a general guide, there is a size chart below:
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Remember, the most important thing is that your child loves playing the guitar! Whilst there will certainly be times where practise is difficult and determination will be required, music is a language of joy and so whichever guitar you choose should be the one your child falls in love with.
You can always contact us with any questions regarding music and if you would like to enquire about beginner guitar lessons then please click here.