Choices, choices, choices … which guitar do I choose for my kid?

Way back in the day, well, the 1970s … there weren’t too many choices for youngsters when it came to picking a guitar to use for lessons. Full size instruments were the norm and ¾ sized guitars were typically found only on a few selected electric models.

Let’s fast-forward to the present. Now there are several great choices for children ages 7 to 11 and most of them are acoustic guitars!

But first, why should it matter what size instrument my child uses while learning how to play the guitar?

Consider the neck length on a standard acoustic guitar. Typically, the reach to the nut (where the strings “break” over to the 1st fret) is about 14 inches from where the neck leaves the body. If that were the only impediment we could work around it – but the body depth is about 4 ¼ inches and that means a 7 to 11 year old simply will not be able to comfortably reach the first fret to play notes or chords!

Even if you use a capo (a mechanical device clamped on the neck used to work around difficult keys) on a full size guitar, the relative position of the student’s thumb and finger tips is still problematic. The body depth makes reaching chords and individual notes difficult!

What do we do then to overcome this challenge?

In the last couple of years, travelling guitars (3/4 size) have become very popular. Most players purchase these smaller instruments to use away from home, on vacation for example. They fit as carry-on luggage in most aircraft and yet still sound good to the ear allowing players to keep their fingers in playing condition while their primary instrument resides safely at home.

The ¾ size guitar’s “reach” to the nut is approximately 12 ¾ inches from where the neck leaves the body and the body depth is around 3 inches. Much, much more accommodating for a youngster.

The prices are reasonable, too. A good quality ¾ size instrument that plays and sounds resonant will run between $150 and $300. The beauty of this purchase is that the student will always keep this guitar as they grow as a traveling instrument. This purchase will definitely not be a wasted investment. If your child elects to play an instrument other than the guitar, these ¾ size units are easily sold without much monetary loss!

So, take a trip to your local music store and let your youngster test drive a few of these guitars. I’m sure once you see the advantages of utilizing a smaller guitar for younger kids the decision as to which instrument to purchase will become obvious.

As always, get back to me with questions or concerns should they arise!

Good luck and have fun in the process – a kid never forgets their first guitar!