There are several different guitars and many different guitar sizes out there, and the different sizes are intended for use by people of different sizes and age groups. Deciphering the world of guitar types and sizes to buy a guitar for a child can be confusing. Let’s clear up much of this confusion and help you determine which guitar you should buy for a child of any age.
There are several guitar sizes, and choosing the right one is important. ¼-size guitars are ideal for the 4-5 age group. 5- to 7-year-olds should play ½-size guitars. ¾-size guitars are best for those who are 7-10 years old. Full-size guitars are good for anyone who is 10-12+ years old.
Choosing the right size guitar for a child can be very challenging, as the guitar that a child plays must be the correct size for them if they are to make any meaningful progress on the instrument whatsoever. This is an important decision to make, and this article is designed to make that decision easier. Let’s explore the different guitar size options for kids and learn which is best for the different age groups.
What are the Guitar Size Options?
There are many different guitar sizes, and they are all designed to be used by guitarists of different ages and sizes. The size of the instrument that a person uses is integral to their progress and playing ability when using the instrument, which makes buying the right size instrument for a child critical in their guitar playing journey.
The guitar sizes availed right now are varied, and there are multiple sizes to choose from, but not all guitar sizes are widely available. Some very niche sizes are intended for very small age groups, but we will focus on the most commonly available guitar sizes for children from slightly broader age groups.
By looking at guitars that are designed for broader age groups, we eliminate the need to buy a new guitar every year and instead allow young guitarists to play the same instrument for a few years before requiring an upgrade.
With that in mind, the guitar sizes available include:
- ¼ size guitars
- ½ size guitars
- ¾ size guitars
- Full-size guitars
¼ size guitars are generally around 31″ (78.7cm) in total length, ½ guitars are typically 34″ (86.4cm) in total length, ¾ size guitars are 36″ (91.4cm) in total length, and full-size guitars are usually around 38″ (96.5cm) in total length.
This demonstrates that there is a significant size difference between each guitar type, which means that the different sizes are ideal for specific age groups and not for others.
There are some other options that include instruments that are not strictly guitars, but of the sizes available for true guitars, these are the best options for kids from different age groups.
Now that we have established the various sizes that are available let’s identify which age groups are best for the various sizes.
Which Guitar Size is Best for which Age?
The multiple sizes of guitars can make it difficult to know which is best for which age group, but when you examine each guitar size individually, the appropriate size for specific ages becomes clear.
However, not everyone has access to all guitar sizes simultaneously. For this reason, here is a table compiled with all of the common guitar sizes and the age groups that these guitars are appropriate for:
|Appropriate Age Group
|¼ size guitar
|4-5 years old
|½ size guitar
|5-7 years old
|¾ size guitar
|7-10 years old
The size of a guitar is an important factor in how well a person can play the instrument, which in turn determines how well the person will learn and how quickly they will progress on their guitar journey.
Let’s go deeper into each type of guitar and what makes them ideal for specific age groups, as well as some important information that every guitar buyer should know when purchasing an instrument for a child.
4-5 Years Old: ¼ Size Guitar
The ¼-size guitar is the least commonly available instrument on this list, but this is only because very few children of this age want to play the guitar, and even fewer show signs of guitar playing ability at this age.
However, there are some children of this age group that are very interested in playing the guitar, and the ¼-size guitar is made for them.
This guitar is available in both electric and acoustic versions, but the acoustic version of the guitar is far easier to find. These guitars are not typically made to meet the very high standards, and very few string instruments of this size can produce a good tone due to size limitations.
This, unfortunately, means that no ¼-size guitar is a world-class instrument, but there are plenty of these guitars made to a high enough quality for a 4-year-old person to begin playing.
When buying a ¼-size guitar, always be sure that the instrument is functioning well, and be sure to install the correct strings on the instrument, as high-tension strings will cause serious damage to the guitar over time.
¼ guitars are ideal for small children, especially those who are 4 or 5 years old. This instrument is small enough for them to hold comfortably, short enough for small children to reach all of the frets, and the body size is not too big for them to reach over to play the strings.
These guitars are very small, and children are likely to outgrow them very quickly, but the good news here is that ¼ guitars are very inexpensive to buy, which makes upgrading less painful to do in a year’s time when the child needs a larger instrument.
5-7 Years Old: ½ Size Guitar
The ½ size guitar is becoming increasingly more common as guitar players begin playing at younger ages.
These instruments are far more widely available, especially from online stores, and there is a much wider range of ½-size guitars than there is of ¼-size guitars.
½ size guitars are ideal for children who are between the ages of 5 and 7, but when the child reaches 7 years old, they will be too big for this instrument and will need an upgrade very soon.
However, with that being said, these instruments are ideal for this age group because they are made to be slightly bigger than a ¼-size guitar, and they are well on their way to a fully-fledged guitar rather than being more similar to a toy.
These instruments have increased in quality recently, and they have become very decent sounding instruments by any standard. There are some guitar brands that are better than others, but most ½ size guitars are quite good for what they are.
When purchasing a guitar of this size, it is important to remember that the child will outgrow the instrument very quickly, and if the child is big for their age, it may be better to buy a larger guitar that will last them longer than buy a ½ instrument that they will grow out of very quickly.
These guitars are comfortable in hand for kids in this age group, and they are easy to play as well. There are several variations of this guitar to choose from, so be sure to find the type of guitar that the child is interested in, be it a classical acoustic guitar, a steel-string acoustic guitar, or an electric guitar.
Finding the right type of guitar according to the music the child likes makes it far more likely that the child will practice and continue learning the guitar as they get older.
7-10 Years Old: ¾ Size Guitar
The ¾-size guitar is the most commonly available guitar size after the standard full-size version of the instrument. By extension, this guitar size also has the second-most number of variations, colors, styles, and guitar types and is also available in a very wide range of prices and levels of quality.
These guitars are very playable, and they sound great when they are made well. There is such a wide range of ¾-size guitars out there that there are some very cheap models, but there are also some good-quality versions that are exceptionally made.
When buying a ¾ -size guitar, be sure to find one that is made by a trusted guitar manufacturer. Avoid the temptation to buy an inexpensive, low-quality instrument because it is intended for use by a child.
Buying a good-quality instrument will always encourage a child to practice more and improve more quickly, as poor-quality instruments feel nasty in the hands, and they are not enjoyable to play.
This guitar size is appropriate for children of many sizes and ages, and they can be used well past 10 years old. The instrument will begin to feel small when a child reaches 10 years old, but it can still be used for a long while without any problems at all.
¾-size guitars are not much smaller than full-size guitars, which means they are very useable, they sound very good, and they are as versatile as full-size guitars. Take your time when buying a ¾-size guitar, as there are many variations available.
¾-size electric guitars are smaller overall than ¾-size acoustic guitars, which makes them useable for a shorter time, but it also makes them more useable for smaller kids. If a child is using a ¾-size electric guitar, they will need to upgrade to a full-size instrument much sooner than if they are using an acoustic guitar.
10-12+ Years Old: Full-Size Guitar
Full-size guitars are the standard size for this instrument, but that does not mean that there are no size variations among full-size instruments. The overall length and dimensions of full-size guitars vary widely, and the general standard length of the instrument only applies to the most widely available versions of the instrument.
There are several different body types, body shapes, lengths, and depths of full-size guitars, and this type of guitar has the widest range of options and hardware available as well. When purchasing a full-size guitar, there are endless model types, brands, levels of quality, and price ranges.
This means that this is the most difficult guitar type to buy for a child, simply due to the shockingly wide range of full-size guitars on the market right now.
When buying a full-sized instrument, keep in mind that the child will never need a larger size, so it is important to get a good-quality instrument that they can feasibly use for the rest of their guitar-playing life.
Buy something that is as good quality as you can afford, and be sure to take the child along with you to find the right guitar for their size and interests. Let the child try the guitar before buying it, and find an instrument that feels comfortable for them and has the appropriate dimensions.
Choosing a guitar with the right looks and aesthetics is important for kids in this age group as well, so be sure to buy a guitar that they like, not only a guitar that is functional.
The full-size guitar is the best guitar for kids that have outgrown a ¾-size guitar. There are some in-between sizes that may work better short-term, but a full-size will never work well forever, and the young guitarist will never need to buy another guitar unless they want to.
Are there any other Size Options?
When searching for the best-sized guitars for kids of very young ages, you may come across some instruments that are not guitars, but they are very well-suited for very young children, specifically those that are 6 years old or younger.
These instruments form the range of other options that fill in some of the in-between guitar sizes for very young children, and they are good choices for kids of these ages because everything they learn can be transferred to the guitar, so long as their lessons are structured to do so.
These options are the ukulele and the guitalele. The ukulele is similar in most aspects to the guitar, but the standard concert size instrument is only 23″ (58.4cm) in total length, which makes it among the smallest string instruments available.
The ukulele is an instrument on its own and should not be seen as a toy, but it is small enough to be played by very young children without any issues at all.
The guitalele is another good option and fills the gap between the ukulele and the ¼-size guitar. The guitalele is a ukulele with six strings, which means it is played in exactly the same way as the guitar, making all of the lessons on this instrument completely transferable to the guitar.
This small instrument is only 27.5″ (69.85cm) in total length, which is perfect for kids under 6, but they are also a unique instrument that can be played by any age, which is also true for the ukulele.
Starting a child on the ukulele or a guitalele is an ideal option because these are both instruments that they can play forever, as they can be played by anyone regardless of age, and they also open the door to learning to play the guitar well.
There are several guitar options for young guitarists of all ages, but using the right size instrument is important. Using the right size guitar allows any young guitarist to practice and play well, removing any difficulty that may be attributed to using an oversized instrument.
Spend the time to find the right guitar size for the young guitarist in your life, and they will be far more likely to continue playing the guitar as they grow older. Investing in the right instrument is always worthwhile, but be sure to buy something that the child is excited by, not only something that is purely functional.