How to Choose The Best First Student Guitar

Music parents need to share resources, tips and strategies. I’m pleased to share the following guest post by Barbara Williams who breaks down the basics of choosing a beginner guitar for your child.

How to choose a guitarLearning to play a musical instrument allows your child to strengthen a wide range of their auditory skills, benefiting her throughout her adult life if she continues to play. Some of those benefits will extend into adulthood even years after her last lesson. Kids that learn to play music tend to score higher on the SAT Reasoning test than their peers who did not take music lessons, according to evidence published by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

Your child may be entertaining fantasies of rock super-stardom when she picks up her first guitar, but you’ll know that she’s actively improving her mind and her future with every chord she learns. For your child to reap all of these benefits, however, she’ll have to stick with her guitar lessons, and a big part of ensuring that she does is finding the right guitar.

Keep Your Child’s Musical Preferences in Mind

In the world of acoustic guitars, there are two different types: classical and steel-stringed. Classical guitars are strung with nylon strings, and boast a wider fingerboard with a smaller body than their steel-stringed counterparts. Those nylon strings are softer and easier for

your child’s smaller fingers to manage, but they create a much mellower sound and will not lead as quickly to the callous formation that allows seasoned guitarists to play without hurting their fingers. Kids that favor classical music or the softer sounds of folk music may prefer a classical guitar over one with steel strings. Rock, pop and country music sounds, however, come from steel-stringed acoustic guitars. Before you start searching for a student guitar, you and your child will need to decide which is better suited to her tastes and preferences.

Hold Off on More Exotic Instruments

Twelve-string guitars have a full-bodied sound that veteran players love, but they’re too much for a beginner to handle. An acoustic bass, dobro, mandolin or banjo might be an exotic break from the norm for your beginning guitarist, but they’re more difficult to learn than a standard guitar. As your child learns the basics of music and stringed instruments, you may want to consider allowing her to branch into these exciting choices. Until she’s got a bit of experience under her belt, though, it’s best to stick with a standard guitar.

Think Twice Before you Purchase an Electric Guitar

A child with a fondness for rock ‘n’ roll will almost certainly beg for her very own electric guitar, but they’re not ideal choices for beginners. Electric guitars are far easier to play than acoustic ones, so your child won’t have to press the strings as hard or focus on fretting new chords the same way. While this sounds like a bonus on the surface, you’re actually doing your child a disservice by starting her out with an electric guitar because she won’t be building up the strength her fingers would gain from an acoustic guitar. Switching over to an acoustic guitar later will be more difficult and frustrating if her tastes change, and could be discouraging. It’s better to start with a more challenging instrument first, as strange as that may initially sound.

Remember That Used Guitars Aren’t Always a Bargain

Kids are notorious for having a fleeting interest in dozens of activities before they settle on the one they truly love, so it can be tempting to purchase a bargain-basement or second-hand starter guitar until you’re sure that she’ll be sticking with the guitar lessons. Tuning keys can rust, necks can warp and other damages can occur over time, making an old guitar difficult for a child to manage properly. New guitars that are manufactured and assembled cheaply will often cost you more in repairs than the ticket price, so it’s best to consider your child’s student guitar an investment and purchase accordingly. That doesn’t mean that you have to buy a top-of-the-line model, as there are high-quality student guitars on the market that won’t break the bank. You’re just very likely to be better off with a guitar you’ve purchased from a reputable dealer than a pawn-shop special or a battered instrument you found through classified ads.

Keep the Size of the Student in Mind

In order for your child to truly enjoy her music lessons, she’ll need to be able to progress at a steady rate and handle her guitar with minimal struggle. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that her student guitar is the right size and scale for her frame. Depending on her age and height, she may need anywhere from a 1/4-size instrument to a full-size. Your child’s instructor is usually the best source of information regarding guitar size, and can give you recommendations when it comes to choosing the perfect model for your student.

When the discordant sounds of a beginning guitarist fill your house and threaten to drive you to distraction, remember that you’re fostering more than ideas of fame and fortune.


Guest Author Bio: Barbara Williams, regularly writes for She loves writing article related to kids & teens behavior. She can be reached via email at:

Reprinted with permission.



5 thoughts on “How to Choose The Best First Student Guitar

      1. yes, I kept playing despite the hurting fingers, probably because I had such a strong support from my family. My advice would be: have patience and practice, practice – and if you have an opportunity, play with others!

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