Need Help Choosing the Right Guitar for Your Young Player?

Here are 4 Simple Tips to Make Your Life Easier!

Guitar Lessons in Mesa

Choosing and buying a guitar for young beginning players can be a MASSIVE source of frustration.

However, having a game plan before heading to the music shop can make the experience much more enjoyable while providing great results.

Here are 4 quick and simple things to consider before choosing and buying a guitar.

Tip 1 – Type of Guitar to Buy

Don’t start with the traditional question of “Which kind of guitar should I buy, acoustic or electric?” Everybody has their own opinion of why one is better than the other. Unfortunately, if you ask somebody why they would choose an acoustic over an electric or vice-versa they can’t give any definitive reasons.

That said, here’s our two cents:

Simply start by asking “What type of music does your child want to play?”

This one question sets you up for a much greater chance of success.

For instance, if the goal is to play rock music, an acoustic is probably not the best choice. If the goal is to play like Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift, an electric will definitely disappoint. . .

Playing guitar is all about having fun, making music and experiencing pleasing results. If the guitar your child is playing isn’t fun and doesn’t fit the end result, progress will most likely stop and the chance of quitting becomes much greater.

Quick style and type of guitar used breakdown:

  • Pop, Rock, Metal or Alternative: Electric Guitar
  • Folk, Country, Bluegrass or Campfire Entertainment: Acoustic Guitar
  • Jazz or Blues: Electric Guitar
  • Classical: Acoustic Guitar

Pros and cons of an acoustic and electric guitar

Acoustic                                                                     Electric


  • Doesn’t need an amplifier to be heard
  • Suits many grassroots musical styles like folk, bluegrass, blues, etc.
  • Easy to learn open chords and strumming on
  • Easy to perform in front of others without extra equipment


  • Can’t be turned down or listened to through headphones
  • Doesn’t suit most rock and metal styles
  • Very difficult to play barre chords on
  • Hard to learn lead guitar techniques such as bending and sliding on
  • Can be painful on the fingers when first learning


  • Is much quieter when played without an amp
  • Can be listened to through headphones and is less disruptive in close quarters
  • Suits most rock, blues and metal musical styles
  • Easier to learn power chords and barre chords on
  • Easier to learn lead and techniques such as bending and sliding on
  • Easier on fingers when first learning


  • Can get loud if restraint is not exercised when using an amp
  • Doesn’t suit folk, bluegrass or other acoustic based music
  • Requires more equipment to perform in front of others

mesa kids guitar lessons


Tip 2 – Determine What Size of Guitar Your Child Needs

The size of guitar you choose for your child is one of the most important factors affecting their ability to learn and progress on the instrument. A guitar that’s too big will make it almost impossible to play well and could cause injury to growing tendons and muscles.

Below are some general guidelines based on height:

  • Children ranging in height from 3’10” to 4’5” tall typically need a 1/2-scale guitar
  • Children ranging in height from 4’6” to 4’11” tall typically need a 3/4-scale guitar
  • Children ranging who are at least 5’ tall can typically play a full-scale guitar

We would suggest searching the terms “1/2 scale guitar” and/or “3/4 scale guitar” on sites like to get an idea of what’s available in the type of guitar determined in tip 1 above. We periodically do research on what new guitars are available and provide recommendations based on that research. Contact us if you’d like more info on those recommendations.

Tip 3 – Determine a Budget

The best advice we can give anyone is to buy the best instrument you can afford.

This answer always causes controversy, and rightly so . . . At least at first glance. However, by staying away from the cheapo guitars all music stores offer and buying a higher quality instrument, you kill several birds with one stone.

First, the higher quality instrument will be much easier to play, stay in tune better, and get a pleasing, musical sound out of. This really encourages new players to continue on the path to success by removing a great deal of struggle that a low-cost instrument tends to add to the situation.

Second, if guitar just isn’t the instrument for your child, you have a much better chance of selling a higher-grade guitar. You may even be able to trade a higher-grade guitar back to the music store you purchased it from towards another type of instrument that better suits the tastes of your child (maybe a keyboard, set of drums or a bass)…

The best advice we can offer regarding budget is:

  • Determine the highest price you’re willing to pay for the guitar and needed accessories
  • Determine the cheapest price on the size and type of guitar you chose
  • Start looking at guitars that are priced right in the middle of the highest price you’ve set and the lowest priced package deal. Finding the median price point gives you wiggle room when shopping.

Knowing this number before you go shopping will really help you control the situation at the store. Which leads us to . . .

Tip 4 – Going Shopping

So far you’ve decided what size and kind of guitar will best suit your child’s goals and personality, and have a ballpark idea of how much you want to invest in the guitar and accessories. . .

To the music store you go . . . This is usually when people get nervous. Walking into a music store and seeing what seems like a million different guitars staring back at you can be intimidating. That’s where the homework we did in tips 1, 2 and 3 starts paying off!

By knowing what size of guitar (1/2 scale, 3/4 scale or full scale), what type of guitar (acoustic or electric), and what price range you are starting at (middle of the road between highest and lowest prices), you have already won 75% of the battle!

You can walk right up to a salesperson and confidently state:

“I’m in the market for a (1/2 scale, 3/4 scale or full scale) (Acoustic or Electric) guitar for my (son or daughter) that’s roughly priced around $XXX (median price). Can you show me what you have in stock?”

You have just let the salesperson know you mean business and totally leveraged the situation in your favor. This limits their ability sell you something way over your price range or try to pawn off a cheap guitar on you.

Now comes the fun part…

If you don’t play guitar have the salesperson literally play every guitar matching your criteria in the specified price range and make note of the following item as they play each instrument:

  • How does the guitar sound? (Does it have a pleasing ring to it or is it muffled? Hear any buzzes or rattles? In tune?)

If you already play guitar you get to have some fun and play every guitar in your price range making note of the following items:

  • How does the guitar feel? (Solid and well crafted or cheap and flimsy?)
  • How does the guitar sound? (Does it have a pleasing ring to it or is it muffled? Hear any buzzes or rattles? In tune?)

This leveraged trip to the music store will really help you bypass all the name brand hype and friendly advice you get from everybody.

Of course, if you can have someone you trust who knows about guitars go with you that would be great but don’t feel it’s a necessity.

If you have any hesitation before buying you have some options:

  • Make sure the store has a good return policy. This enables you to purchase the instrument and give your child a chance to try it out during a guitar class. If something isn’t quite right you can then return the instrument.
  • Again, assuming the store has a solid return policy, you can make the purchase and have the guitar checked out by a qualified luthier or guitar repair shop.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, this info has removed a bit of the mystery surrounding choosing and purchasing a guitar.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Decide what kind of music your child likes to play and choose the best corresponding type of guitar (Electric or Acoustic)
  • Choose a guitar size based on your child’s height (1/2-scale, 3/4-scale or full-scale)
  • Discard all guitars outside of your price range along with the super cheap guitars to find your median budget (Buy the best instrument you can afford)
  • Play, or listen to a salesperson play EVERY guitar within your decided budget to find the best fit for your child (Forget about name brands and go by what sounds good)
  • Happy shopping! Have fun and all the best on your child’s musical adventure:-)

Return to our kids guitar class page by clicking HERE

Visit the East Mesa School of Guitar home page by clicking HERE