Before we get to the best acoustic guitars for kids, can you remember our first acoustic guitar? I expect most can remember the excitement of that first instrument. Even if you have never had a guitar, this is an important thing to consider when buying a child’s first ‘real’ guitar.
One of our number here didn’t have that experience. His sister was given a plastic guitar. It had a strange contraption that you put on the neck. You pushed buttons to give you one of four chords.
It was bought for her because she liked Elvis Presley. His face was all over it. A toy, really. She wasn’t allowed to play it as she was Royal Academy bound to study piano. Then it was handed down to him. ‘He played it “till his fingers bled”…not quite, until he broke one of the plastic strings actually. No replacements, of course. That was that — no more guitar.
Years later, as a 12-year-old, the annual school music production has a bass guitar, but no player. He said he could play it. How hard could it be, it’s only got four strings? He had to learn pretty quick. That prompted his trip to the music shop even if later than everyone else. And for a bass – not a guitar.
Receiving it is life-changing for many. Therefore you need to get it right. There are lots to choose from — some very good, some terrible, and every level in between.
So, let’s have a look at the Best Acoustic Guitars For Kids and find the perfect one for your little one…
Top 10 Best Acoustic Guitars For Kids in 2023
1 Yamaha JR1 3/4-Scale Acoustic Guitar Bundle
Yamaha arrived in the western world with their acoustic guitars in the 60s. We were naive to think it was their first effort. They had been making and selling guitars for years but only in Japan. This JR-1 acoustic is based on the Yamaha FG folk series guitars. A series they are well-known for.
A young player is going to get a buzz from this three-quarter size Dreadnought shape. It is made with typical Yamaha excellence and features a Meranti wood back and sides. Meranti is a hardwood with many applications, decorative and practical and is a good choice for an entry-level guitar. The top is Spruce, which gives this guitar a great sound. A Spruce top, of course, is used on many of the best guitars in the world.
The neck is Nato wood with a Rosewood fingerboard. The fingerboard has inlay dot markers. The bridge is also made from Rosewood, and there are open chrome-plated tuners. The top is glossed, and it has a gentle decor around the soundhole. It has a tasteful binding and the standard Yamaha pickguard.
Being a three-quarter size Dreadnought has two great advantages for a young player. First, it is the right size. Not too big with its scale of 21 ¼”. The neck is not too long, and the body is not too big. And at just 9 pounds it is not heavy. The other is the sound. The Big sound of the Dreadnought provides a rich, warm tone that any player starter or improver is going to appreciate.
It comes as an all you need to start a package that includes a gig bag and tuner. It also provides a string winder, extra set of strings, picks, and cleaning cloth.
Real quality costs a little more, and here is the proof. It is a little more expensive than some. But if you are looking for the best acoustic guitar for 12 years old or near that age, this will take some beating.
- Built with traditional Yamaha excellence.
- Great sound and easy to play.
- Some may find it expensive.
2 Yamaha C40II Classical Guitar
Staying with Yamaha for this ⅞-size classical guitar. This is a nylon-strung instrument that is an ideal step forward from a ¾ size or as a first guitar for a new player. There is a widely-held belief in acoustic guitar circles. That is that a laminated body doesn’t produce such a good sound as solid wood. There is some truth in that, of course, but this guitar will make you think again. More on this later,
Buying a classical guitar, you usually buy it for a reason. Learning a classical style of playing means adherence to technique. This guitar is built with a full two-inch nut. This spaces the strings and allows the formation of the correct technique in the early and improver stages.
In other words, fine craftsmanship and the use of good materials within the constraints of the price point. The back and sides are made of Meranti wood, which is a popular hardwood used for a variety of products.
It has a neck made from Nato wood and a Rosewood fingerboard. The scale length is 25.5 inches, and it has 18 frets. At the headstock are traditional classical guitar tuners. However, there are no fittings to attach a strap; classical guitars don’t normally have them.
The top surface is important. It is responsible for a big part of the creation of the sound, especially the higher frequencies. This has a Spruce top, which is a high-quality wood for a top surface. This top, though is laminated. Not a plastic laminate but a Spruce laminate, which will put some people off.
Listen first, though. The sound is warm and rich. It is full of clarity and resonance with a solid bottom end but with a sweet top – In short, a great sound.
Yamaha has this knack of producing great guitars even at entry-level like this item. At a price point that makes it very affordable, this must be the best inexpensive classical guitar you will find.
- Great build quality at an affordable price.
- A rich, warm, resonant sound and easy to play.
- At this price for this sound and quality, nothing.
3 Yamaha JR2 Junior-Size 33-Inch Acoustic Guitar
Still staying with the mighty Yamaha, here is a junior-size guitar from the JR range. This is a 33-inch guitar with a scale length of 21¼”. It is beautifully made in the traditional Yamaha style in Indonesia. It has a Mahogany back and sides and a Spruce top. Together as tonewoods, they are well-known for producing great sounds.
It might not have the body size of some of its larger cousins, but it still produces a big sound. The body design is finished off with the familiar Yamaha scratchplate and a gentle decoration around the soundhole. There is a black binding around the edges of the body and neck.
The neck is made from Nato wood, and it has a Rosewood fretboard. The bridge is also Rosewood, and at the headstock, there are chrome-plated Yamaha tuners.
It has been made easy to play and produces rich, warm tones. The bottom end isn’t as resonant as some of the larger Yamaha guitars. Smaller body size determines that. But it still has a nice rounded resonant sound.
It comes as part of a starter package that includes a gig bag, spare strings, a tuner, picks, and a winder for the strings. Also in the package is a teaching DVD and a cleaning cloth,
At this price, it is a great guitar at a very affordable price. Some may find it expensive for a first guitar. It could be the best acoustic guitar for kid beginners.
- Impressive materials and high build quality.
- Great sounds for an entry-level instrument.
- It might be expensive for some.
4 Arcadia DL36NA Parlor Size
The Arcadia DL36NA is very much a budget range entry-level guitar. It is best suited for young players of about eight years and older, but that depends, of course, on size. Parlor guitars are interesting because they are a complete genre on their own. We are not sure this is exactly that, but size-wise it conforms.
The back and sides are made from Linden wood, and it has a Spruce top. Tonewoods then are quite decent, and it has a Lauan neck. Lauan is a tropical hardwood most found in plywoods.
The neck has a Rosewood fingerboard and a double-action truss rod. The inside of the guitar has a decent bracing system, which will help the resonance of the guitar as well as its stability.
The design is simple but quite standard and appealing to the eye and is improved by the ivory ABS binding. There is an elaborate decor around the soundhole, which is also quite attractive and a fairly standard scratchplate. The bridge is made of Rosewood, and the nut and the saddle is plastic.
All quite conventional so far for an entry-level instrument, but then we get to the headstock. Someone in the design team had ‘a moment’ up there, deciding that black closed head tuners would be a good choice. They are different from the standard chrome-plated we would agree, but hardly for the better.
It sounds quite nice and plays quite easily. It will almost certainly need to be set up properly at first. As an entry-level starter guitar, it will do the job and at an affordable price. Not the best guitar out there, but it does a basic job.
- Decent build quality and materials.
- Affordable price.
- Black tuners rather ruin it for us.
We move on to a very serious instrument manufacturer which we have looked at before. This guitar, as are most of the instruments made by Martin, is a class act.
This particular model is made in the Martin factory in Mexico and is a three-quarter size guitar. It is just the right size for a young beginner. It features a mahogany laminated body with a textured finish that has internal X-bracing. The top is Sitka Spruce.
Both of these, as we all know, are excellent and well-used tonewoods. There is an attractive decor around the soundhole. The X bracing pattern used on many Martin guitars ensures stability. It also adds to the sound production.
It has a Strata bond neck, which is a multi-laminated creation that has a ¾ inch scale. The fingerboard is Morado wood, or as it is sometimes called East Indian Rosewood. At the headstock, the tuners are chrome-plated.
Martin has cut corners in the making of this instrument to make it as affordable as possible. Nothing wrong with that providing you know in advance what you are buying. It must be said that the name Martin on the guitar doesn’t always mean a ‘dream’ sound like some have.
This is the other end of the scale and made for a starter. It won’t have that ‘Martin’ sound and isn’t made with the same quality materials. Having said that, they don’t make poor guitars so the quality will be good and a step up from many of its rivals. It comes with a padded gig bag.
Expensive for a starter, but it is a step up from some entry-level instruments.
- Well constructed.
- Nice sound from a small body guitar.
- The cost will put some people off.
6 Taylor Swift Signature Baby Taylor Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Another name that means quality in guitar manufacture. Taylor guitars were formed in 1974 and have grown into one of the premier brands of acoustic guitars. They might not sell as many as Yamaha, but at every level, they compete with them in quality.
This is a Dreadnought design guitar that is ¾ size. The back and sides are made from Sapele wood, and it has a Spruce top. The back is arched that will give it a bigger sound. Good tonewoods that produce great tones.
The standard Taylor X-bracing system in the body gives great stability but also ensures a warm and clear tone. The neck is made from Sapele, and it has an African Ebony fingerboard. Scale length is 22 ¾” inches, and it has 19 frets, of which 14 are easily played. It has a Nubone saddle and nut.
At the headstock are standard Taylor machine heads that give an accurate tuning. It is a classic design but in a reduced size that makes it great as a starter instrument.
The woods used and the arched back design brings out a warm and rich sound that belies its body size. Normally you would not expect a junior instrument to resonate as this does. It is a great sound. There are very few acoustic guitars that compete with Taylor for the quality of build and materials. One of the reasons for the way it sounds and plays.
This instrument is made in Mexico at the Taylor factory and stays true to its traditions.
It can, of course, be plugged in and has a new pickup system, the Expression, built-in. It is an under the saddle design. The preamp is standard Taylor and also gives you a chromatic tuner.
This guitar is endorsed by Taylor Swift, who talks about using it in her early days for songwriting. Her decal and name adorn the front. The price goes up a bit; we are sure because of that, and as a starter instrument, it is very expensive.
Quality guitar, though, for those that are willing to pay the money.
- Taylor quality in manufacture and materials.
- Great sound and plays beautifully.
- The name of the partner name-sake puts the price up.
7 Rogue Starter Acoustic Guitar
The next in our review of the best acoustic guitars for kids is a starter guitar that, when you see the price point, you have to look twice. Normally when you see a guitar listed at such a low price, then you automatically rule it out. This instrument, though is worth a closer look.
It is a 7/8th scale size, so it is ideal for young learners, and weighing less than five pounds is going to be easy for them to handle. We apologize, but there seems to be no confirmed information from the manufacturer in terms of the woods used in crafting this guitar. Therefore, we are unable to comment.
We did find it mentioned, but not by the manufacturer, that it was mahogany for the back with a laminated Spruce top. That might be a little hopeful. If it is those woods, then Rogue has done a good job. However, we do know that it has a maple neck, which is good wood. On top is a Rosewood fingerboard.
The bridge is interesting because it is pinless. That goes against the standard design of an acoustic, and some will prefer that. Certainly makes changing the strings easier for new players. At the headstock, there are open plated tuners and a plastic nut.
Sound-wise it is acceptable, and to be honest, at this price, it better than acceptable. However, we would like to make one point. Guitars like these are designed and made to be cost-effective. Corners are sometimes cut in the production process and, sadly, the checking process.
Some of the Rogue models will be very good and worth every penny. Others might not. It is a little bit of a lottery, and it doesn’t only apply with Rogue. If you happen to get a good one, you will be very pleased. But they do tend to be a decent guitar at an affordable price.
- Nicely put together with a decent sound and a nice neck.
- Very affordable.
- Budget guitars can sometimes be not so good.
8 Luna Aurora Borealis 3/4 Acoustic Guitar
If you haven’t come across Luna guitars before, some of them have a very distinctive design feature. The Crescent moon around the soundhole can make you think at first sight the guitar is an inch thick. It isn’t, of course, and it is actually quite a nice feature of their guitars. They are nicely made with good materials in China.
This model is a three-quarter size model that is designed for the starter player. It is lightweight at just 4 pounds and therefore easy for them to be comfortable with.
The back and sides are made from Basswood, as is the top. It is made to be affordable, but Basswood is a good quality wood known as Linden in Europe. It is not as hard as mahogany, for example, but as nice tonal features.
The neck is made from Mahogany, which makes it strong and capable of delivering crisp notes through the Black Walnut fingerboard. It has 19 frets to the top, with 14 of them played comfortably. There are dotted inlay markers. The bridge is also made of Black walnut. Up at the headstock, there are sealed die-cast tuners and the Aurora logo.
It is a decent guitar for a young player. Not the best acoustic guitar for kid beginners by any means. It plays easily and sounds nice, which for a student is an important thing. At the price, it is good value for money. However, it doesn’t come with any kind of carry bag, which is a shame.
- Nicely made with decent materials.
- We like the crescent moon around the soundhole giving it a distinctive feel.
- No carry bag.
9 Hohner HAG250P 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar
Hohner is a German manufacturer founded in 1857 by Matthias Hohner, who made harmonicas. One hundred and sixty-plus years later, they are still making them. But also a wide range of other instruments.
They didn’t enter the acoustic guitar market until the 70s and a few years after their range of electric guitars and basses appeared. We have played a Hohner bass on demo, and the least said the better, really. Maybe it was just a bad one. Also had a few USA Fenders like that as well.
But their ‘Mad Cat’ guitar had a well-known fan. Prince used one all the time. To all intents and purposes, it looked like a Telecaster, but it wasn’t. It was said to be his favorite guitar — well done, Hohner.
This model, though, has no such claims to fame. This is a half-size guitar that is half-way between classical and just plain acoustic. It has Agathis wood for the top, back, and sides. Its length of 30 inches makes it ideal for a very small child. Strung with nylon strings, it has been made easy to play. At only one pound in weight, it is also easy to hold.
It has a nice finish with black binding on the edges and a nice design around the soundhole. There is also an attractive scratchplate. At the headstock are the usual open tuners for classical guitars with nylon strings.
What Hohner has done here is to design a very simple instrument. It has a reasonable sound and is easy to play. But most importantly, for a young child, it looks like the real thing. It certainly doesn’t look like a plastic starter guitar kids are often presented with.
A good look and a nice price by a quality manufacturer. It could be the best guitar for 6-year-old.
- Good materials and well-made.
- Nice simple sound and easy to play at an affordable price.
- Only nylon strings on this one.
10 Crescent MG38-CF 38″ Acoustic Guitar Starter Package
The last of our best acoustic guitars for kids is a very budget level instrument that is made essentially for someone who has never played. You might consider this guitar if you aren’t sure if the child is going to continue and don’t want to spend too much.
The back of the guitar is Linden wood, and though it is not mentioned, we suspect the sides are as well. The top is certainly Linden wood, as is the neck. It has a Rosewood fingerboard.
The scratchplate is a dark color to offset the wood stain of the body. The body color actually gives it an attractive look. There is a decoration around the soundhole, but it is stuck on rather than engraved or inset.
It feels and looks a little like a classical guitar. Up at the headstock are classical guitar-style open geared tuners. It has steel strings, though, which means it is not classical in its design.
This is a very low-cost instrument and to be honest sounds, and plays like one. It is not the best you will find, but it might be the cheapest.
If you are looking for a guitar that isn’t plastic for someone who isn’t sure about playing, this could be good. Just don’t expect too much in terms of build or sound quality.
- Very affordable instrument.
- Sounds and plays ok.
- Some will just want better quality.
Best Acoustic Guitars For Kids Buyer’s Guide
Buying a first acoustic guitar is a veritable nightmare. Everyone you meet will say this is the best. Most of them won’t be. Therefore, before you get the money out, ask yourself some questions…
If You Are Buying For a Child, Will They Stick It Out?
It’s not easy learning an instrument. The guitar might be easier than some, but you still have a few obstacles to overcome. Sore fingers on strings, especially steel strings. Lack of apparent improvement by the student. Frustrated because they can’t play their favorite songs from Day 1.
Will they see it through? If there is a doubt, you don’t want to go out and spend a lot of money. So what do you get? Well, there is an immediate choice to make.
Plastic or Wood?
You can get plastic guitars. They are not ‘real’ guitars, of course, and don’t sound like them. You can get a tune out of them, and maybe that is enough for some young people. It depends on how serious they are. Plastic is cheap, usually with weak nylon strings that won’t stay in tune and a poor sound. They will break easily, but they are lightweight and very, very cheap. But, they are essentially toys.
If you go for wood, then it is going to seem like the real thing. Depending on the quality of what you buy, it is going to play, sound, and look like the real thing. To a young player who wants to learn, that might be the incentive. You are going to pay more, though. Much more. Then if you decide that wood is best, which of course it is, one other choice needs to be made.
Classical or Acoustic?
This is a choice that will depend upon the child. Learning the classical guitar is a much more technical skill, and they will possibly have expressed a desire to learn that style.
Also, Classical guitars are made slightly differently. The strings are usually spaced wider to allow technical finger placement. The action is often smoother, and they have nylon strings which give young fingers less punishment.
Now, all of those attributes are also perfect for someone that just wants to learn. A classical guitar is a good option whether they end up playing John Williams or Jeff Beck.
While an Acoustic guitar will come with steel strings, it will probably be bigger and heavier, but it is more impressive to young eyes. Serious considerations need to be made.
A big factor is How much to pay?
There is a wide range in prices just as there is a wide range in quality and sound. Unfortunately, it is unlikely you are going to find a great guitar at a knockdown budget price.
Prices are affected by a lot of issues, but the ones to concern yourself with are all about the quality of the build. It’s got to be easy to play and not fall apart. If it is made well with good materials, it will probably also sound good. Take a look at what is available at both ends of the spectrum and try and pitch it in the middle somewhere.
We would avoid any guitar where the price is hiked because there is a ‘named’ endorsement on it. We would also go for a known recognized manufacturer with a high reputation. That is just us talking here. There are some lesser and even unknown brands that produce very good guitars. Some are very affordable instruments.
It will take careful thought and consideration. We have looked at some in this review that are very good instruments. But one final question. Is the guitar good enough that the child can learn and progress on it? That is the goal, after all.
The musical bug spreads quickly, and maybe another of your kids wants to take up a musical instrument. If so, check out our reviews of the Best Drumset for Kids, the Best Guitars for Small Hands, the Best Digital Piano Beginners, the Best Kids Ukuleles, and the Best Electric Guitar for Beginners currently available.
You may also be interested in our reviews of the Best Acoustic Guitar Strings on the market.
So, What Is The Best Acoustic Guitars For Kids?
For us, it is a simple decision. We want a guitar that a starter can learn and grow with. And we also want it to be well-made and have a great sound, not just a good one. We don’t want endorsements that double the price, nor do we want to spend too much because of the name. One guitar stands out for us, so as we say, it is a simple decision.
Therefore, our choice for the Best Acoustic Guitars For Kids is the…
Great Yamaha quality with some extras thrown in. Undoubtedly the most cost-effective guitar and the best acoustic guitar for beginners.