Scientists have shown that learning to play a musical instrument can offer many great benefits to kids. It improves memory, listening skills, as well as spatial memory. It’s also a great way for them to unlock their creativity, learn discipline, and have fun!
There are a lot of instruments to choose from. The violin is elegant and the piano is versatile but nothing can capture the excitement of a young mind quite like the guitar.
However, a full-size guitar might be a little too large for preteens. Luckily, half-size guitars are easily available and are perfect for younger kids.
When it comes to choosing an instrument, there are a lot of options. We’ve picked out a list of some of the best for you to choose from, including classical, acoustic, and electric guitars.
If you’re not sure which of those is best for your child, check out our buyer’s guide below - it’s full of useful information to make your purchase stress-free.
There’s also a frequently asked questions section beneath to give you the lowdown on some common queries. But for now, let’s get onto the guitars themselves!
OUR TOP PICK
The Cordoba Requinto ½ is a beautiful classical guitar. Like most classical guitars, it features soft, nylon strings that won’t hurt your fingers.
The top is made of Canadian cedar wood, while the body, back, and neck are made of rich mahogany.
Cordoba is a huge name in the world of classical guitars, and their awesome instruments are great for playing both classical and flamenco music, and in general.
This guitar provides a wonderful resonance to your music, whatever genre you prefer to play in.
- Well made with high-quality materials
- Wonderfully resonant sound
- Soft nylon strings
- Less suited for genres such as rock
- Doesn’t come with any extras
Another fantastic offering from the renowned Cordoba company. This one’s made entirely of mahogany except for the fretboard, which is in a dark Morado.
Some half-size guitars can have sounds that verge a little on ukelele-like, but you can be sure that this one has a full, warm sound that is unmistakably that of a guitar.
Easy to play, the Cordoba Mini II M is a great option for a young beginner.
- High-quality build
- Signature warm sound quality
- Beautiful wooden finish
- Less suited for genres such as rock
- Doesn’t come with any extras
Another exceptional classical guitar and a perfect starter guitar for a child. It weighs just under 4lbs, so it won’t be a strain on their arms or back.
The rosewood fretboard provides an aesthetically pleasing contrast with the spruce top and the meranti back and body.
The Yamaha brand is well-known for a reason and the quality of the construction here is exactly what you’d expect from a name like theirs.
Don’t think that just because this is a half-size model that the sound won’t be good - it’s comparable to a full-size classical guitar. It will also hold its tune very well compared to some other nylon-stringed models of lesser quality.
- Easy to tune
- Comfortable to hold in a natural position
- Very lightweight
- Less suited for genres such as rock
- Doesn’t come with any extras
Another good-quality classical guitar, this one is made of a mixture of mahogany, mathis, and hardwood. It’s sturdily built, but the one-year warranty will set your mind at ease regardless.
The case is sold separately, but still, this guitar is easy to take wherever your child wants to take it. This is due to its exceptionally light weight - only 1lb!
- Built to last
- Nylon strings are easy on beginners’ fingers
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- Extremely lightweight at only 1lb
- Will probably need to be retuned quite often
A great classical guitar set for a budding young guitarist. This one comes with a great, padded carrying bag for the guitar, as well as a free subscription to two months of free, live, online music lessons, so you won’t even need to look for a teacher!
It’s small and light but still produces a bright, clear, beautiful sound. The nylon strings ensure that young fingers won’t be hurt as they learn. The top is made of spruce, while the sides, back, and neck are made of mahogany.
- Very lightweight - easy to hold and carry
- Comes with free online guitar lessons
- Free carrying bag is well padded
- Sound may be a little too bright for those who prefer something bassier
This is a straightforward and simple guitar for beginners who are looking for a reliable guitar that isn’t anything too fancy.
It comes with a bag for carrying the guitar around to lessons or gigs. The basswood structure results in a rich, vibrant sound that’s perfect for folk, country, rock, and other genres. Kids will find it easy to pick up and play.
- Simple and straightforward
- Attractive blue color
- Real metal strings
- Might not be sophisticated enough for more advanced students
This will give you everything you need to start learning to play the acoustic guitar. It comes with spare strings, a shoulder strap, picks, a carrying bag, a cleaning cloth, and a tuner.
It’s a very well-made acoustic guitar that your child will be able to use even after they’ve learned the basics of the instrument. It’s made by Pyle, a company with a good reputation when it comes to guitars, particularly ones for beginners.
- Beautiful hand-rubbed varnish
- Good for beginners as well as more experienced players
- Comes with various extras to help get started quickly
- Well constructed
- At over 6lbs, relatively heavy for a non-electric guitar
This model is slightly unusual because it’s both an acoustic and an electric guitar. Basically, electric acoustic guitars are acoustic guitars that can be plugged into amplifiers.
This means that it can be played as either an acoustic or an electric guitar, whichever the situation needs.
This is useful as normal acoustic guitars have to be set up with an external microphone if you want to amplify the sound. This can be quite difficult to do properly, particularly if you’re inexperienced.
This particular model is a great one. At just under 6lbs, it’s lighter than most electric guitars. It comes with steel strings but you can switch them for nylon ones if you like.
It also comes with extra strings, a digital tuner, shoulder strap, carrying bags, and two months subscription to online music lessons.
- Very versatile - both acoustic and electric
- Comes with free music lessons - perfect for a beginner
- Not too heavy compared to other electric guitars
- Digital tuner will be especially helpful for new students
- While good, the sound is not the same as a standard acoustic or electric guitar
Ideal for a child looking to get everything they need to start out with an electric guitar. This package includes everything you’ll need to get playing.
Aside from the bright red guitar itself, you’ll get an amp, an instructional video, a cable, a strap, and a bag to carry it in.
This is a great deal because you would otherwise have to buy these things separately anyway. Of course, an electric guitar isn’t much good without an amplifier and the one that comes with this guitar will suit a beginner perfectly.
The guitar will also work with any other amp if you already have one or would like to get another.
The strap will let it sit comfortably around the player’s body, and the contoured design of the guitar makes it comfortable to hold during longer playing sessions.
- Comes with an amplifier - no need to buy one separately
- Comes with an instructional video - specifically designed for first-timers
- Attractive red color
- Carrying bag is adequate but offers little protection
Another great pick for a kid who wants to start playing the electric guitar right away. This one comes with an amp, cable, bag, strings, picks, and a wrench.
The amp is, of course, necessary if you want to play the guitar and the bag is perfect for carrying to lessons and gigs.
The amp is battery powered but if you prefer, you can buy an AC adaptor to power it from the mains. The guitar itself is in a stylish black color.
- Comes with amp, cable, etc. - everything you’ll need to set up and play
- Amp performs well but isn’t too loud - won’t disturb you or your neighbors
- Stylish black color
- Weighs over 7 lbs - might be too heavy for smaller children
There’s a lot you need to consider when you’re thinking about purchasing any musical instrument, and this goes double when it’s something a bit more unusual, like a half-size guitar.
Don’t worry, though. This buyer’s guide will take you through all the points you need to know about to ensure that when you decide, you’ll make the right choice for you and your child.
Guitars come in four main sizes. If you hear or read about guitars in fractional sizes (like half, ½, and so on), this refers to the scale of the guitar.
What that means is the length between the nut (at the top of the neck) and the bridge (the part towards the bottom of the guitar where the strings end). So, on a half-size guitar, the scale is half the length you’d find on a full-size guitar.
It’s important to remember that the scale is not the same thing as the overall size of the guitar. A full-size guitar isn’t twice the size overall of a half-size guitar, it just has a scale that’s twice as long.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the different sizes.
The smallest size you’re going to find. They’re designed for very young children, roughly ages 4-5. These are good if you want to get a very small child studying the guitar as soon as possible.
However, given how fast young children grow, they’ll probably need to size up before very long. These typically have an overall length of about 30 inches.
The main focus of this article. Half-size guitars are generally suited for children in the 5-8 age range. A lot of brands, including several major ones, make guitars in this size, so finding one you like shouldn’t be too much trouble.
They’re tuned in the same way as a standard guitar, so your child will be learning useful skills for when they’re old enough to size up. These typically have an overall length of about 34 inches.
As you’ve guessed, these are a size up from half-size guitars. They’re generally aimed at children ages 8-12 and are also tuned in the same way as a standard guitar. However, adults can play them too.
In fact, the multiplatinum-selling star Ed Sheeran prefers to use ¾ size guitars since they’re lighter and more comfortable to play than full-size ones. These typically have an overall length of about 36 inches.
Your standard guitar, suitable for teens and adults. This is typically what your child would move on to after they’ve outgrown their ¾ size guitar. But, as we’ve seen, not everyone likes to use full-size guitars.
If a ¾ size guitar is good enough for Ed Sheeran, then it’s good enough for anyone! Full-size guitars typically have an overall length of about 40 inches.
Guitar Types: Acoustic, Electric, And Classical
These types of guitars are all significantly different from each other. This means that you’ll need to think about what type you’re looking for for your child before you buy.
Here’s a rundown of the details of each to help you decide. Do remember though, that a child can learn successfully on and of these kinds of guitar.
Acoustic guitars are where a lot of budding guitarists start learning. They’re more lightweight than electric guitars, which is especially useful for younger children.
It also tends to be easier to get a handle on the basics of playing if you start with an acoustic guitar, another obvious plus for anyone just starting to learn.
The only real disadvantage is that the strings are made of steel. This won’t be a problem in the long term but does take some getting used to, and they might feel a bit rough against the player’s fingers at first.
The steel also means it’s harder to fret (i.e. hold down the strings in the right places) with an acoustic guitar than it is with a nylon-stringed classical guitar.
Acoustic guitars are used in a huge range of musical genres, from folk to rock and more, so can be good for a child whose music taste is developing or varied.
Electric guitars are iconic. We’ve all seen the pictures and videos of rock legends like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton clutching their electric guitars onstage.
For a lot of people, that’s the reason they want to start learning the guitar, to begin with. Learning with an electric guitar can certainly be done, but there are some things you should know first.
First off, electric guitars aren’t much good by themselves. You’ll also need an amplifier (amp) if you want to play anything anyone can hear.
Of course, there are many different amps on the market, but if you’re buying an acoustic guitar, you’ll need to look into which one best suits your needs.
Another thing to consider is that, like acoustic guitars, electric guitars typically have steel strings. As mentioned above, this can take a bit of getting used to but isn’t a problem in the long term.
One advantage they have over other types of guitars is that the strings are closer together and the neck is narrower, meaning that chords and scales are easier.
The first difference we have to talk about with classical guitars is the strings. They’re usually made of nylon, rather than the steel strings of acoustic and electric guitars.
This can make them a good option for younger children because it means the strings will be softer on their fingers. It also means the guitar will make a sound that is often described as “warmer” than other guitars.
However, if your child is hoping to move on to an acoustic or electric guitar, they’ll find that they feel quite different and might take a while to adjust the way they play accordingly.
Another thing is that, due to the unique way the classical guitar sounds, mistakes will be more noticeable. This might be discouraging for some learners.
Also, nylon strings are generally harder to keep in tune than the steel strings you’ll find on acoustic and electric guitars. Needless to say, this might be a challenge for someone who’s just getting to grips with the instrument.
The type of music your child wants to play is another important thing to think about. Classical guitars are not generally used in pop and rock music. Instead, they’re common in Latin/Spanish, flamenco, and, of course, classical music.
Like acoustic guitars, classical guitars are a lot lighter than their electric counterparts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Size Is A Half-Size Guitar?
The short answer is that it’s half the size of a standard guitar. However, the overall length of the guitar isn’t the only thing to consider and is actually not always the important thing when it comes to buying a guitar for a kid.
What Age Is A Half-Size Guitar For?
Half-size guitars are mostly aimed at children between the ages of five and eight. Since this is a great (and common) age to start having music lessons, half-size guitars are pretty popular.
Can Adults Play A Half-Size Guitar?
In a word, yes. However, keep in mind that half-size guitars are primarily aimed at children. That’s not to say that adults can’t play them, but to get the most out of it as an adult, it’d help to have a smaller frame and body type.
Otherwise, you could find yourself wanting something larger. That said, if you want to learn the guitar as an adult, a smaller guitar is not a bad option for getting a feel for the instrument.
Another advantage they have is that they’re much easier to travel with, so if you’re intending to play your guitar around a campfire while you’re backpacking, a half-size model would be ideal.
Are Smaller Guitars Easier To Play?
Basically, it depends. For a child (or an adult with a smaller frame and body type), a smaller guitar will usually be easier to play because it fits them better.
This advantage generally disappears with size, though, and most adults find that a larger guitar feels more natural. For this reason, most people prefer to use a full-size guitar by the time they reach their mid to late teens.
There are exceptions, though, and as we’ve seen, Ed Sheeran himself prefers to use a ¾ size guitar. You should experiment to see what’s the best fit for you.
There are also a lot of factors other than size that can make a guitar easier or harder to play, so don’t forget about things other than size.