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Best guitars for kids 2021: the ultimate guide to the best electric and acoustic guitars for children

Best guitars for kids 2021: the ultimate guide to the best electric and acoustic guitars for children
(Image credit: Getty/JGI/Jamie Grill)

Every guitarist can remember the exact moment they got their first guitar. Whether it was finding a brand new acoustic guitar under the tree on Christmas morning or getting a hand-me-down electric from a sibling, the moment is burned into our memories - this is the day our lives changed forever! So, if you're looking to awaken your child's musical potential, you've come to the right place. This guide to the best guitars for kids will not only help you find the best deal out there on a new guitar but also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about buying your child's first instrument. 

We know there's no shortage of very cheap guitars out there right now, and it may be tempting to pick up one of these sub $/£60 acoustic guitars and call it a day - I mean, they might not take to it, so why spend lots of money, right? While this is certainly a logical argument, in practice, it doesn't work. For a child to succeed, they need the best start, which means learning to play on an instrument that won't hinder their progress. Each guitar on this list is highly playable, sounds fantastic and also looks the part. 

In this guide, we have chosen to focus on guitars for the youngest players around 6 to 10 years old. We recommend looking at our guides to the best beginner electric guitars and best beginner acoustic guitars for older kids.

So whether, they've expressed an interest in learning a new instrument at home, or you're getting them geared up for music lessons in the next school term, these are best guitars for kids available today.

Best guitars for kids: Our top picks

Our top pick for kids looking to go down the acoustic guitar route has to be the Fender Sonoran Mini. Not only does this superb little acoustic guitar come with the reliability you'd expect from Fender, but the playability is second to none for a ¾ sized guitar. Pair this with its stylish good looks, and you have one of the best guitars for kids out there. 

For the child who wants to make a little more noise, we turn to Fender again for the Squier Mini Jazzmaster HH. It wasn't that long ago that it was impossible to get a cool looking ¾ sized electric guitar - not anymore! The Squier Mini Jazzmaster is oozing alt-rock style and has the tone to match. 

Best guitars for kids: Acoustic guitars

Best guitars for kids: Fender Sonoran Mini

(Image credit: Fender )

1. Fender Sonoran Mini

Small guitar, big sound

Specifications
Price: $199/£145/€176
Features: Mini body shape, Spruce or mahogany top with scalloped "X" bracing; mahogany back and sides, 23.3" scale length, Nato neck with slim-taper "C"-shaped profile; walnut fingerboard and bridge, Includes gig bag
Age Range: 6+
Reasons to buy
+Small body+Easy to play neck  
Reasons to avoid
-Some players may want a more traditional look 

When looking for a beginner guitar, the obvious place to start is with one of the biggest brands, and they don't come much bigger than Fender. The Sonoran Mini is one of Fender's smallest offerings and is ideal for kids and adults alike. 

The small body is complemented by a very playable neck, which is almost electric in style, meaning it's easy to get around - especially for players new to the instrument. The addition of the iconic Fender Stratocaster headstock is a nice touch, giving the Sonoran a very unique look. 

The Sonoran comes in a choice of a natural spruce top and darker mahogany, so no matter your style you'll find a guitar that suits you.  This cool little guitar also comes with a convenient Fender gig bag, so it's easy to carry to and from lessons.

Best guitars for kids: Yamaha APXT2

(Image credit: Yamaha)

2. Yamaha APXT2

The pint-sized APX that's perfect for beginners

Specifications
Price: $199/£209/€233
Features: Scaled-down APX Body, Spruce Top, ART Pickup, Original Gig bag Included
Age Range: 6+
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic build quality+Built-in pickup/tuner
Reasons to avoid
-Can sound a little boxy  

So the Yamaha APXT2 is technically the travel version of the ever-popular APX model, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the best guitars for kids. This scaled-down electro-acoustic is the perfect size for young hands. In addition, the smooth, easy-to-play neck is ideal for figuring out those tricky beginner chord shapes. 

This compact guitar even features a built-in pickup, so you don't have to worry about being heard at the next school talent show or recital. Even if you don't need the pickup right now, you'll get plenty of use out of the integrated tuner. 

Just like its big brother, there is a range of colour options available from Dark Red Burst, Natural, Black and our favourite Old Violin Sunburst. 

Best guitars for kids: Taylor BT1 Baby Taylor

(Image credit: Taylor )

3. Taylor BT1 Baby Taylor

The standard by which all other small acoustics are measured

Specifications
Price: $379/£339/€399
Features: Layered Walnut Back & Sides, Solid Spruce Top, West African Ebony Fretboard & Bridge, 22-3/4" Scale Length, Matte Finish, Includes Taylor Gig Bag
Age Range: 6+
Reasons to buy
+Very comfortable neck+Nice bright tone+Comes with a Taylor gig bag 
Reasons to avoid
-Costs extra to have it with a pickup  

Yet another travel guitar on this list, but this time it's arguably the most popular travel acoustic of all time, and the guitar all other small acoustics are compared to. The Baby Taylor boasts an impressive list of specifications, not only for its size but also its minuscule price tag - compared to other Taylor guitars. 

This Mexican made Taylor features an impressive solid top, not something you usually see on a beginner guitar, let alone on a budget traveller. This addition results in a bright and articulate sound, with plenty of projection. It really does sound bigger than the tiny body would suggest. The walnut back and sides look fantastic and mean the guitar looks the part as well as sounds great. 

We know this guitar may be a little more expensive than other entries on this list, but if you can stretch to it, you'll get a guitar that will last forever. Once they move on to a bigger guitar for everyday use, the Taylor BT will take on a new life as their go-to travel guitar.  

Best guitars for kids: Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

(Image credit: Gretsch)

4. Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

Easily the best looking guitar on this list

Specifications
Price: $179/£189/€179
Features: Basswood body with X-bracing, 12th fret, 24”-scale nato neck, Walnut fingerboard with pearloid dot inlays, Walnut top-load bridge with compensated saddle, Single-ply white pickguard with “G” graphic
Age Range: 8+
Reasons to buy
+Super affordable+Vintage styling+Retro sound      
Reasons to avoid
-Maybe slightly big for very young players 

The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy harkens back to the vintage parlour guitars of the 30s and 40s, blending the retro vibe of a historical instrument with the playability - and affordability - of a modern acoustic guitar. 

The 24-inch scale length is the perfect size for small hands. At the same time, the compact parlour body provides a deep resonance and mid-range that instantly transports you to the blues clubs of Mississippi.

So if you're looking for a guitar that is sure to inspire anyone who picks it up, then the Gretsch has to be the way to go. It's also worth noting that this guitar would make a great gift for the bigger kid in your life, as it’s a perfect sofa guitar for the experienced player. 

Best guitars for kids: Yamaha JR1 3/4-Size Dreadnought

(Image credit: Yamaha )

5. Yamaha JR1 3/4-Size Dreadnought

Dreadnought tone - more manageable size

Specifications
Price: $149/£168/€141
Key Features: Spruce top, meranti back and sides, 3/4-size dreadnought, 21.25" scale, 18 frets, nato neck, rosewood fingerboard, gig-bag
Age Range: 6+
Reasons to buy
+Quality build+Sound playability+Great price point  
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most exciting option 

The deep booming tone of the dreadnought acoustic guitar is undeniable. It's been the go-to for many great players and will continue to be forevermore. Unfortunately, this larger-than-life tone hasn't always been accessible to younger players. The sheer size of a dreadnought has meant most kids simply can't get their arm around the large body.

Luckily, Yamaha is here to help with the Yamaha JR1 Dreadnought Jr. As the name suggests, this is a shrunken down version of a classic dreadnought and offers a pretty accurate approximation of the tone - considering its ¾ of the size.  

The spruce top and meranti back and sides deliver a rich and warm tone - precisely what you'd expect from Yamaha. The JR1 also comes with a handy gig bag for taking the guitar to lessons or school.  

Best guitars for kids: Electric guitars

Best guitars for kids: Squier Mini Jazzmaster HH

(Image credit: Fender)

1. Squier Mini Jazzmaster HH

Mini electric guitars just got a whole lot cooler

Specifications
Price: $179/£139/€150
Key Features: 100% Designed by Fender, Thin and lightweight body, Dual humbucking pickups, Sealed die-cast tuning machines, Hardtail bridge
Age Range: 6+
Reasons to buy
+Great Humbuckers+Classic Fender looks+Nice range of colours     
Reasons to avoid
-Offset body not for everyone 

Until very recently, if you wanted a mini electric guitar, you had to settle for a mini Stratocaster or Strat-shaped object. Well, not anymore. Storming on to the scene last year, these mini Jazzmasters have left quite the impression on new and old players alike.

This miniature alt-rock icon features the stylishly wonky offset body of the Jazzmaster and a very comfortable 20 fret narrow maple neck. The dual humbuckers are more than up to the task of recreating several classic rock tones, while the Fender-designed hardware will ensure you are always in tune.

You'll also find a fantastic range of vintage Fender colours on offer from Black, Olympic White, Surf Green, and our personal favourite Daphne Blue.

Best guitars for kids: Yamaha Pacifica PAC112

(Image credit: Yamaha )

2. Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V

Is there a better first guitar out there?

Specifications
Price: $299/£323/€329
Key Features: Alder Body with Gloss Polyurethane Finish, Bolt-On Maple Neck with Rosewood Fingerboard, Alnico V Pickups Deliver Warm, Clear Tone
Age Range: 10+
Reasons to buy
+Great build quality +Very comfortable to play 
Reasons to avoid
-May be too large for very young players 

For as long as the Yamaha Pacifica has been around, it's been referred to as the ultimate first guitar. Players of all ages gravitate towards its impeccable build quality, impressive tones, and variety of finish options. 

This entry-level guitar feels and plays like a more premium option, featuring an alder body, comfortable maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. The HSS - one humbucker and two single-coils - setup offers a wide range of sounds. The humbucker in the bridge position delivers the perfect hard rock or even metal tone. At the same time, the two single-coils offer a bright treble, ideal for clean playing. 

It's worth bearing in mind that this is a full-sized guitar, and therefore it's not for the youngest players, as they may have issues reaching the machine heads. 

Best guitars for kids: Epiphone Slash AFD Les Paul Special-II

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Epiphone Slash AFD Les Paul Special-II

For the kid with an appetite for destruction

Specifications
Price: $245/£219/€255
Key Features: Built in pickup ring tuner, Custom gig bag with 'Snakepit' logo, Guitar strap, Guitar lead, Torex Picks
Age Range: 10+
Reasons to buy
+Comes with a bag and accessories+Built-in tuner+Only one colour option 
Reasons to avoid
-Bare in mind this is a full sized electric guitar 

At the early stages of your guitar development, it's only natural to want to emulate your heroes. For many players, that hero is Slash. The top hat-wearing axe-man has inspired more guitarists to pick up a Les Paul than anyone else, and now with the Epiphone Slash AFD Les Paul Special-II, your little rocker can join the ranks of the guitar greats.

This ridiculously cool guitar not only features a thin, comfortable neck, but the slimline body is incredibly lightweight, perfect for younger players. The dual humbuckers offer a surprisingly excellent rock tone, while the in-built tuner, which is hidden within the pickup ring, is a handy addition and will save you a bit of cash on a clip-on tuner. 

This rocking little pack comes with a Slash branded gig bag, guitar cable, and plectrums. So, all you need to do is pair it with an amplifier, and you're good to go - you'll be hearing bad renditions of Sweet Child O' Mine in no time. 

Read our full Epiphone Slash AFD Les Paul Special-II review 

Best guitars for kids: Jackson Dinky Minion JS1X

(Image credit: Jackson )

4. Jackson Dinky Minion JS1X

The ultimate guitar for the budding shredder

Specifications
Price: $159/£139/€155
Key Features: Body Shape Dinky Body Shape, Poplar body Material, Gloss Finish, 1-Piece Maple, Bolt-On Neck with Graphite Reinforcement and Scarf Joint
Age Range: 6+
Reasons to buy
+Big 80s shred vibes+Affordable+Nice colour options     
Reasons to avoid
-The look isn’t for everyone  

The Jackson Dinky Minion is a kids guitar with attitude. Taking the popular Dinky model, and making it accessible to the younger shredder. This 80s throwback features a 2/3 scale length, so is very comfortable, and doesn’t feel too small. 

The poplar body and fast bolt-on maple neck feel solid, and well built, while the sharkfin inlays and rear-angled Jackson pointed 6-in-line headstock seals the deal, adding a level of authenticity to this awesome little axe. 

The Jackson humbuckers feature ceramic magnets for a thick, full sound perfect for hard rock and metal, while the string-through-body design and hardtail bridge with block saddles provides perfect intonation and singing sustain.

Best guitars for kids: Ibanez Mikro GRGM21M

(Image credit: Ibanez)

5. Ibanez Mikro GRGM21M

A surprisingly versatile kids guitar

Specifications
Price: $207/£175/€220
Key Features: Humbucking pickups, Undersized basswood body and 22.2-inch-scale maple neck, Medium frets, Maple fretboard with classic dot inlays
Age Range: 6+
Reasons to buy
+High-output humbuckers+5-way switch for a variety of tones+Cool finish options     
Reasons to avoid
-Some may prefer a traditional look 

Ibanez is known for making some of the coolest guitars, for the worlds top players such as Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani, and Steve Vai. Whether Ibanez are making high-end instruments for the guitar playing elite, or a miniature electric guitar for kids they do so to the highest quality, and it shows in the Mikro GRGM21M. 

Not only does this guitar look impressive, but it may actually be the most versatile on this list. The Ibanez Mikro GRGM21M  features a dual set of humbuckers and a Strat-style switch, delivering five unique tones, from bone-crushing metal, crisp clean sounds and everything in between.  

So if you are looking for a well built, gorgeous to look at guitar, that delivers on tone then this might be the best option for you. 

Best guitars for kids: Buying advice

Father showing son how to play the guitar

(Image credit: Getty/Image Source)

What makes a good guitar for kids? 

If it encourages them to play, it's a good guitar - it's that simple. Kids can be fickle, and their new guitar needs to be able to hold their attention. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the best guitar for kids. The guitar needs to be an appropriate size for starters - but we'll talk about this in length later - and be comfortable to hold. It also needs to look the part. At the end of the day, if the guitar looks nice, your child will want to pick it up and play it. 

What's a good age for my child to start playing guitar? 

There really aren't any hard and fast rules when it comes to introducing your child to the joys of the guitar. With that said, you don't want to start them too early and scare them off the instrument forever. Usually, we'd suggest starting them around the age of six. However, it's worth remembering that you know your child better than anyone else, so it is worth encouraging them when you feel they are ready. If you want to develop their musical appreciation early then, we recommend the ukulele, as it's the perfect gateway instrument. 

What size guitar is right for a child? 

This is a difficult question to definitively answer. Again, it all depends on your child's requirements. Smaller kids will benefit from a short-scale instrument. The scale length is a measurement of the distance between the nut and bridge. This will ensure they can reach not only the lower-frets but also the machine heads for tuning the guitar. 

You'll also want to match this short neck with a scaled-down body. It's essential to make sure your child can get their arm around the body with ease and not feel uncomfortable - this is extra important when considering an acoustic guitar. 

For older kids - 10+ - then you are usually looking at a full-sized guitar. However, if you are considering an acoustic guitar, we would still suggest you steer clear of a full-sized dreadnought as the deep body can still feel unwieldy. 

Kid playing an electric guitar

(Image credit: Getty/Peter Dazeley)

Is an electric or acoustic guitar better for kids? 

Deciding between an electric guitar or acoustic guitar can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. If your child aspires to be this generation's Jimi Hendrix, then it's best to go down the electric guitar route. Similarly, if they have aspirations of being the next Ed Sheeran, then maybe an acoustic guitar is more appropriate. Again, it's all about keeping your child inspired, and choosing the right guitar can make all the difference. So ask your little one which they would prefer because they are the one playing the guitar at the end of the day. 

Now, we have to mention the practicality of each option. Obviously, an acoustic guitar needs the least amount of accessories and is the most accessible. All you really need is the guitar, and maybe a plectrum. The electric guitar, on the other hand, is a little more involved. You'll need a practice amp and cable at the very least, which can result in a higher cost.  

How much should you pay for a kid's guitar? 

With this question, there are generally two main arguments. The first is, there is no point in spending a lot of money on something if they might not stick at it. While this is undoubtedly true, there is still a lower limit we'd recommend. Spending around the $/£200 mark will get you a guitar of a certain standard. With guitars, you really do get what you pay for, and if an instrument isn't fit for purpose, you aren't giving your child the best start. 

The second argument is to spend as much as possible and get the best guitar out there. While in theory, this is a great idea, in truth your child is simply too new to the instrument to make informed decisions about a high-end guitar. A lot of the choices about guitars are made from personal preferences, and we develop these preferences over time. So there is no point dropping thousands on a brand new Les Paul, only to find out that they prefer Stratocaster a year later. So, in that case, spending up to the $/£350 mark will get you a guitar that will easily do them well into the intermediate stages, where they then can make a more informed decision about a professional level upgrade.

Snark headstock tuner on Martin guitar

(Image credit: Future)

What else do I need to get them started? 

No matter if you choose to go down the electric or acoustic route, there are a few basic accessories that are absolutely essential. The first of which is a clip-on tuner. This handy little gadget is used to help you tune your guitar effortlessly. It is perfect for beginners who haven't trained their ears yet - or indeed professionals who need a quick and convenient way to tune. Next is a sturdy guitar stand. This will ensure your new guitar is safe and won't get knocked over and damaged. It's worth noting that leaving the guitar leaning against the wall isn't good for the neck and will cause problems later down the line. It's also worth picking up a nice comfortable guitar strap, so they can get used to playing the guitar standing up. 

Plectrums are a vital part of learning the guitar, so it's worth picking up an abundance of them. They will lose them. It's a natural part of being a guitarist - no one actually knows where they go once they are dropped. Lastly, you'll need to get a gig bag for your new guitar. This will help protect the instrument from the elements when going to and from guitar lessons or school. We recommend going for a soft gig bag over a hard case, as children can have issues carrying a heavy, cumbersome case, and as a result, they tend to knock it off every door frame they walk through or even drop it, causing more damage to the guitar inside. A gig bag has rucksack straps, so they can wear the guitar like a backpack, making things a little easier. 

Does my child need guitar lessons? 

While we think there is no substitute for one to one lessons with a trained professional, it's hard to deny the sheer amount of resources available online these days. From the chords to every song ever written, in-depth tablature, online guitar lessons, and even an abundance of YouTube guitar teachers, we really are living in the golden age of information. With that said, it's very easy to fall into bad habits - the YouTuber can't tell you that you're holding the guitar wrong. So, a mix of both would be the best option. 

At the very beginning, it's worth seeking advice from a qualified professional and learning the basics of how to hold your guitar, how to strum, and how to fret a note. Then once they have the basics down, they can look at the likes of YouTube and other online learning services to expand their knowledge. 

In terms of the best online guitar lessons, our favourite has to be Fender Play. It's easy to use, caters for all age groups, and most importantly, it's fun! 

Daryl Robertson

First and foremost, I'm a guitar enthusiast – a fanatic, some might say. I'm a firm believer that most of the world's problems can be solved with a Gibson SG and a catastrophically loud amp. Before writing about music gear for a living as a Junior Deals Writer on MusicRadar, I worked in music retail for 7 years, giving advice on guitars, basses, drums, pianos, and PA systems. I also have a love for recording and live audio production; I'm a fully qualified sound engineer with experience working in various venues in Scotland, where I live.