Children’s guitars

Introduction

[New comments 2013-Feb-16. I encourage readers to check out the comments, and I thank the commenters for generously sharing their experience and information.]

An expert player can make even a crummy instrument sound good. But a beginning player will probably be demoralized by trying to learn on a crummy instrument. So:

  • If you want to give your child the best chance to succeed at learning the guitar, buy a guitar that is:
    • playable and decent quality; and
    • the right size.
  • On the other hand, you may be setting your child up to fail at learning the guitar if you buy a guitar that is:
    • the cheapest guitar you can find, regardless of quality; and
    • the wrong size.

*Note: If you simply cannot afford anything but an extremely inexpensive instrument, then by all means, give it your best shot with whatever you can afford. (It worked for one commenter; see the comments section.) But keep in mind that if your child doesn’t succeed at learning, it might be partly the instrument’s fault, and you might want to rent or save up for a better instrument and try again when you have one.

A decent, playable, right-sized guitar will almost certainly cost more than you think you should spend for a child’s first guitar, particularly if you’re starting lessons at 4 or 5 years old. But here’s a universal truth of music education:

A beginning student  has a greater need for a good instrument than an advanced player does.

This makes sense, if you think about it: An advanced player can work around a bad instrument’s flaws. But a beginning student has a hard enough time learning the basics; how can she learn to play if the instrument is fighting her? A crummy guitar will fight a student in several ways:

  • The action of a crummy guitar will almost certainly be too high (i.e., the strings will be too far from the fingerboard).
  • If the action of a crummy guitar is set lower to improve playability, you’ll probably get string buzz on some frets.
  • A crummy guitar will be hard to get and keep in tune (the tuners will be sloppy and the strings will stick in the nut).
  • A crummy guitar will have intonation problems (i.e., as you move up the neck, the notes will get out of tune, even if the open string is in tune).
  • A crummy guitar won’t have a pleasing tone, even if it’s in tune and the intonation is okay.

Further, a student learning on a badly sized guitar will likely develop bad technical habits that will interfere with playing and will have to be unlearned (unless, of course, the student quits  — something made more likely by learning on a wrong-sized guitar). What’s worse, those bad technical habits can lead to injury.

In short, getting a decent, playable, right-sized instrument is important.

Guitar sizes

Background

Small guitars are also known as “fractional” guitars because they are designated by fractions, from 1/8 (the smallest) up to 7/8. Certain small classical guitars are also known as “requintos.” Requintos are not actually designed for children.

Unfortunately, you can’t entirely rely on these size designations, because their meaning (like the meaning of clothing sizes) varies from one guitar maker to another. Instead, you need to look at a guitar’s actual measurements.

The three  measurements that matter, from most- to least-important, are:

  1. Scale length (the distance from nut to saddle).
    • This determines a guitarist’s left hand/arm position. The wrong scale length will cause awkward bending at the wrist.
    • A standard classical guitar has a 650 mm scale length (25.6 inches).
  2. Nut width.
    • This determines two things: (1) the position of the fingers on the guitarist’s left hand, and (2) the amount of space for the fingers on the right hand.
    • If the nut is too wide, the left-hand fingers will have to stretch too far, which will create intonation problems.
    • If the nut is too narrow, the right-hand fingers won’t have as much room to move, and it may be harder to get clean individual notes. (Strings on a classical guitar are further apart than those on a steel-string guitar precisely to allow more room for the right-hand fingers.)
  3. Box depth.
    • This determines the guitarist’s right hand/arm position. A too-deep box will push the hand out too far.

As you will see from my discussion below of particular guitars, sometimes the only information you can get about a guitar’s size is its scale length.

But scale length isn’t everything. In particular, although requintos generally have a short scale, they have a relatively wide nut (designed for an adult-sized left hand) and deep box. So a child might have a hard time playing a requinto even if its scale length seems suitable. Note, however, that at least one well-known Suzuki guitar teacher (Mary Lou Roberts) says good things about requintos (see her comment below).

Fitting a child to a guitar

There’s only one sure way to know if a guitar fits a child: Have the child try it out. A qualified teacher will be able to tell whether the guitar fits.

But as a rough guideline for picking the right scale length, measure your child from the floor to the belly button, and consider a guitar with the scale length in this table:

Child, from floor to belly button Guitar scale length
24 inches 40 cm
26 inches 45 cm
28.5 inches 50 cm
33.5 inches 55 cm
35.5 inches 60 cm
36.75 inches 63 cm
higher full-size (65 cm)

 

Note 1: There is a lot of terrible information on the internet about sizing guitars for children. Specifically, this post at ActiveMusican.com is wrong, wrong, wrong! The guitars they call “just right” are laughably oversized.

Note 2: In dire need — say, if the child’s guitar is in the shop for a day or two — a child can practice with a capoed adult guitar. I did this a few times with M. But you can’t actually teach a child the guitar that way.

Specific guitars

Only a handful of companies make fractional guitars. From my research, I would arrange the guitars I know of into three groups:

  1. Guitars that Suzuki teachers generally recommend or accept;
  2. Guitars that are probably okay, based on specs, price, and feedback from commenters on this page, but that I know little about personally and that are less well- known to US Suzuki teachers; and
  3. Crummy guitars.

For each group, I first provide an overview of what I know about the guitars in that group.

At the bottom of this page, I provide a table with whatever I know about the dimensions of guitars that are in either group 1 or group 2 (i.e., non-crummy guitars).

Group 1: Guitars recommended or accepted by Suzuki teachers

From cheapest to most expensive, guitars that Suzuki teachers recommend, or at least sometimes find acceptable, are made by:

  • Strunal — This Czech companyhas dominated the low end of the market in the past. New, these run around $200.
    • I have a 1/4-size Strunal that my normal-sized daughter has played since she was 4 1/2. It’s quite playable and sounds good (you can judge yourself from M’s recordings). But I’m told that their quality is very uneven — some are very good, others very bad — which makes ordering one online risky. And even the good ones have poor hardware — the tuners are sloppy, and I had to get the nut on mine replaced when it cracked.
    • As for specs, the Strunal has the second-narrowest neck of any child-sized guitar whose dimensions I could determine — the 1/4- size guitar has a 43 mm-wide nut. Unless your child has abnormally fat fingers, this is  a point in its favor — but the nut size of some guitars on this list is unknown, so it’s possible that their necks are as narrow as the Strunal’s.
    • I’m told that they’ve become scarcer in the past couple of years than they used to be, but you can get them from:
  • Gringo Star Guitars— These are Mexican-made guitars imported by a Minneapolis-based Suzuki guitar teacher, Brent Weaver. Many Suzuki teachers recommend these guitars. Two lines are available for young kids for the same price — $495 plus shipping, which includes a hardshell case:
    • Little Gringos — These have a wider nut than the Benjamin Garcias; they’re made by luthier Francisco Navarro.
    • Benjamin Garcia —  These have the narrowest nuts of any child-size guitar for which I have dimensions. They also have a pretty shallow box. The ones I’ve heard sound great.
    • He sometimes has other guitars available in various sizes, so it’s worth contacting Brent directly to ask about inventory.
  • EsteveFernandez Musicin California sells these Spanish-made guitars for $795, which includes a hardshell case.
    • Ron Fernandez seems to be a skilled luthier and an honest guy: he actually talked me out of buying a guitar from him because he thought, from what I told him, that my daughter didn’t need a bigger guitar yet. And I love his YouTube video about how he sets up the classical guitars that he sells.
    • Summerhays Music in Utah also sells some of the child-sized Esteves for around $500, but I don’t think this includes a case.
    • But they have a 48 mm nut, which strikes me as wide.
  • Ruben Flores— My studio teacher likes these Spanish-made guitars, which range in price from $470 to $910 (not including case). But they come in only two small sizes, and the nut’s pretty wide:
    • A child’s guitar, the Cadete (58 cm scale/48 mm nut); and
    • A requinto (54.4 cm scale/50 mm nut).
  • Moreno Moore — These Chilean-made guitars must be special ordered from the luthier (eduardo@morenomoore.cl) well in advance of delivery. They look fantastic, and the ones I’ve heard sound great, but I’m told that they can be inconsistent and are expensive (I don’t know the exact price but I hear it’s well over $800).
  • Some guitars from Germany
    • I personally bought a 48-cm Hopf-Hellweg Bronco from Thomann.de this March. Overall, it’s an excellent guitar — tone quality is good, sound is loud, intonation is perfect, action was good out of the box, and the tuners are extremely high-quality. The stock strings are a little too slack, but that’s easily fixed. M’s studio teacher approves. The shipping was a hassle, and it took me a while to figure out what to do about a case, but (particularly if you need this size guitar) I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. (For the case, I modified an SKB Baby Taylor case that I got for $70 from Amazon. I’ll be posting about that in depth at some point.)
    • A commenter (see below) bought an Aranjuez 1/2-size (52 cm-scale) from leihinstrumente.com and says “you can’t go wrong” with these.

Group 2: Guitars that are probably okay

The following guitars are probably worth considering. I lack firsthand experience with most of them, but a number of commenters have said positive things about many of these guitars:

    • Kremona/Orpheus Valley SofiaKremona is a Bulgarian company that’s been making stringed instruments for around 100 years. The make various child-sized solid-top guitars that sell in the $300 to $400 range and have a relatively narrow nut (generally a good thing).
    • Almansa — This Spanish company’s guitars are distributed by Ruben Flores, discussed above. They range in price from $490 to $640 and must be special ordered. Like the Ruben Flores guitars, these come in only two sizes:
      • A child’s guitar, the Cadete (58 cm scale/48 mm nut); and
      • A requinto (54.4 cm scale/50 mm nut).
    • Amigo — These are sub-$100 guitars made somewhere in Eastern Europe. Multiple commenters, both here and on Amazon, say that it’s not a toy. Then again, a number of commenters on Amazon say that it doesn’t stay in tune, and several commenters talk about adjusting the action and replacing the tuners. I suspect that the Amigo sounds pretty good but is (1) hard to play because the action is too high, and (2) hard to keep in tune because of low-quality hardware. But read the reviews and the comments below, talk to a guitar teacher, and judge for yourself whether you want to try one.
      • Amazon.com sells what it calls 1/2 size and 3/4-sizeAmigo guitars.
        • The 1/2-size is either 32″ or 34″ long in total (i.e., from the bottom of the body to the top of the neck). The 3/4-size is 38″ long in total.
        • These numbers don’t tell you much, but I expect that even the 1/2-size is too big for normal-size kids younger than 7 or 8.
    • Various guitars sold in Germany. I don’t know why, but fractional guitars seem to be more readily available in Germany than in the US. I found three online stores that sell fractional guitars ranging in price from roughly 200 to 375 euros — a price range suggesting that they are not toys.
      • Musik & Pianohaus Dressler sells several fractional guitars in three sizes: 48 cm scale (1/4 size), 53 or 54 cm scale (1/2 size), and 58 cm scale (3/4 size). The non-toys seem to be:
        • Hopf-Hellweg Bronco (48, 53, 58) – solid cedar top – 359 euros — as noted above, I bought one in March 2012 and am very happy with it. The sound is great, and the tuners are the best I’ve seen on a small guitar.
          • The same German company makes Hellweg and Hopf guitars. Hopf is the higher-end line.
          • According to Thomann.de, the Bronco is recommended by the European Guitar Teachers’ Association.
        • Antonio Ruben (48, 53, 53, 58, 58)  – solid cedar top – 329 euros (sapele sides & back) or 349 euros (bubinga sides & back)
        • Hopf-Hellweg Pony (48), CJ8 (53), and CJ10 (58) – solid spruce top – 329 euros
        • Alhambra (54.4 requinto, 58) – solid red cedar top – 259 euros
        • Granada (48, 53, 58) – solid cedar top – 189 euros
        • Hopf-Hellweg Junior Super CM 1 (48), 2 (53), and 3 (58)  – solid cedar top – 189 euros
        • Hopf-Hellweg Junior SH 1 (48), 2 (53), and 3 (58) – solid spruce top – 169 euros
        • Hopf-Hellweg Junior 1 (48) – spruce laminate top – 149 euros
      • Thomann.de also sells a lot of fractional  guitars, including some 44 cm-scale guitars. The non-toys seem to be:
        • Some of the Hopf-Hellweg models guitars listed above:
          • CJ10 (58) – solid spruce top – 289 euros
          • Junior CM 2 (53), 3 (58) – solid cedar top – 173 euros
          • Junior SH 1/44 (44), 1 (48), 2 (53), 3 (58) – solid spruce top – 153 euros
        • Höfner H-RZ (48.5, 54.5, 61) – solid spruce top — ~200 to 272 euros
        • Höfner HG604 (58) – solid cedar top – 211 euros
        • Höfner HC504 (54.5, 59) – solid cedar top – ~165 to 185 euros
        • Höfner HC 502 (58) – laminated cedar top – 161 euros
      • Leihinstrumente.com sells various fractional guitars that are available in many sizes and don’t seem to be toys:
          • Toledo (53, 58) – solid cedar top – $384 USD
          • Valdez (48) – solid cedar top – $324 USD
          • Aranjuez (52, 58) – solid cedar top, rosewood back and sides – $259 USD — as noted above, a commenter says good things about Aranjuez guitars
          • Aranjuez (48, 52, 58) – solid cedar top – $240 USD
          • Pro Natura Bronze (53) – solid cedar top – $181 USD
          • Pro Arte GC (44, 53, 57) – solid spruce top – ~$160 USD
    • Some guitars available from Classical Guitars Plus in the UK.
      • An Alhambra 4P 58 cm-scale guitar (i.e., “cadete” or 3/4-size) – solid red cedar top – £369
      • A Liikanen Kantare 53-cm-scale guitar – materials not specified – £195. Liikanen is a Finnish guitar maker.

Group 3: Crummy guitars

The kids’ guitars available through retailers like Guitar Center, Musician’s Friend, and Amazon.com are generally so crummy as to be unplayable. But even crummy guitars come in two groups: (1) guitars that you’d expect to be better; and (2) guitars that are obviously toys.

  1. Guitars you’d expect to be better:
    • Yamaha makes a 1/2-sized guitar (the CGS102) that I tried and found unplayable. This surprises me because some of Yamaha’s full-sized guitars are serviceable, and by making such a terrible small guitar, they’re tarnishing the brand.
      • Note, however, that guitarist and teacher Tomas Rodriguez says that Yamahas are inconsistent but can sometimes sound good (see comment below). I don’t doubt it, though I bet that they typically require significant saddle and nut adjustment (and possibly replacement) by a competent luthier.
    • Takamine makes 1/4- and 1/2-sized guitars (in the Jasmine line). I’ve never played them, but they’re so cheap (under $150) that they’re almost certainly terrible. Like Yamaha, Takamine makes some serviceable full-sized guitars, so I’m surprised they bother making a toy entry-level guitar.
  2. Guitars that are obviously toys: almost anything under $100 or painted. For instance:
    • Lucero guitars. (Even their full-sized classical guitars are unplayable.)
    • Lauren guitars.
    • Dean playmate guitars.

Basic dimensions of non-crummy guitars

To the extent that I could find them, here are the basic dimensions of specific models of non-crummy guitars discussed above:

Brand Scale length – Nut width – Fraction/model (if used by sellers)
Strunal (specs) 44 cm – 43 mm – 1/4-size (per retailers) or 1/8-size (per Strunal)
53 cm – 43 mm – 1/2-size
57 cm – 45 mm – 3/4-size
Gringo Star Little Gringos (Francisco Navarro)
(see additional dimensions below)
44.8cm – 44.5 mm – [not used]
51 cm – 47.6 mm – [not used]
55 cm – 50.8 – [not used]
58.6 cm – 50.8 – [not used]
Gringo Star Benjamin Garcia
(see additional dimensions below)
40 cm – 36.5 mm – [not used]
45.2 cm – 41.3 mm – [not used]
50 cm – 41.3 mm – [not used]
52 cm – ? – [not used]
55 cm – 44.5 mm – [not used]
Esteve (specs at Fernandez Music) 40 cm – 48 mm – [not used]
48 cm – 48 mm – [not used]
53 cm – 48 mm – [not used]
58 cm – 48 mm – [not used]
Ruben Flores (specs) 58 cm – 48 mm – cadete
54.4 cm – 50 mm – requinto
Moreno Moore 38 cm  – ? – [not used]
40 cm   – ? – [not used]
43.2 cm  – ? – [not used]
46.7 cm  – ? – [not used]
50 cm  – ? – [not used]
53 cm  – ? – [not used]
55 cm  – ? – [not used]
Kremona/Orpheus Valley Sofia (specs) 44 cm – 44 mm – S44C
48 cm – 44 mm – S48C
51 cm – 44 mm – S51C, 1/2-size
53 cm – 46 mm – S53C
56 cm – 46 mm – S56C
58 cm – 48 mm – S58C
61 cm – 50 mm – S61C
62 cm – 50 mm – S62C, 7/8-size
63 cm – 50 mm – S63C
Almansa (specs) 58 cm – 48 mm – cadete
54.4 cm – 50 mm – requinto
Hopf-Hellweg Bronco 48 cm – 43 mm (per seller) or 45 mm (per manufacturer in email to me) – (1/4 size)
53 cm – 46 mm – 1/2 size
58 cm – 46 mm – 3/4 size
Antonio Ruben 48 cm – 48 mm – 1/4 size
53 cm – 48 mm – 1/2 size (sapele back & sides), 1/2 size (bubinga back & sides)
58 cm – 49 mm – 1/2 size (sapele back & sides), 1/2 size (bubinga back & sides)
Hopf-Hellweg Pony, CJ8, and CJ10 48 cm – 48 mm – 1/4 size
53 cm – 48 mm – 1/2 size
58 cm – 48 mm – 3/4 size
Alhambra 54.4 cm – 47 mm – 1/2-size/requinto
58 cm – 49 mm – 3/4 size
Alhambra 4P 58 cm – ?? mm – 3/4 size
Granada 48 cm – 46 mm – 1/4 size
53 cm – 48 mm – 1/2 size
58 cm – 48 mm – 3/4 size
Hopf-Hellweg Junior Super CM 48 cm – 46 mm – 1/4 size
53 cm – 48 mm – 1/2 size
58 cm – 48 mm – 3/4 size
Hopf-Hellweg Junior SH 1 44 cm – 44 mm – 1/4 size
48 cm – 46 mm – 1/4 size
53 cm – 48 mm – 1/2 size
58 cm – 48 mm – 3/4 size
Hopf-Hellweg Junior 1 48 cm – 43 mm – 1/4 size
Höfner H-RZ 48.5 cm – 46 mm – 1/4 size
54.5 cm – 47 mm – 1/2 size
61 cm – 48 mm – 3/4 size
Höfner HG604 58 cm – 48.5 mm – 3/4 size
Höfner HC504 54.5 cm – 47 mm – 1/2 size
59 cm – 48.5 mm – 3/4 size
Höfner HC502 58 cm – 44 mm* – 3/4 size (*this nut width is from a seller’s site but is almost surely not correct)
Toledo 53 cm – 48 mm – 1/2 size
58 cm – 48 mm – 3/4 size
Valdez 48 cm – 47 mm – 1/4 size
Aranjuez 52 cm – 45 mm – 1/2 size
58 cm – 47 mm – 3/4 size
Aranjuez 48 cm – 45 mm – 1/4 size
52 cm – 45 mm – 1/2 size (rosewood back & sides), 1/2 size (mahogany back & sides)
58 cm – 47 mm – 3/4 size (rosewood back & sides), 3/4 size (mahogany back & sides)
Pro Natura Bronze 53 cm – 43 mm – 1/2 size
Pro Arte GC 44 cm – 43 mm – 1/8 size
53 cm – 43 mm – 1/2 size
57 cm – 45 mm – 3/4 size
Liikanen Kantare 53 cm – 45 mm – 1/2 size

Additional dimensions

Guitars with the same scale length can, of course, differ in the size of the body. It’s hard to get body dimensions online, though, and I tend to think that the variability in body size among similar-scale guitars is unlikely to be significant for playability. But I do have these body dimensions for Gringo Star Guitars:

Brand Scale length – LowBoutW – LowBoutD – UpBoutW – UpBoutD – BodyL (Fret 12 -> butt) – FretboardW at Fret 12
Gringo Star Little Gringos
(Francisco Navarro)
44.8cm – LBW 26.03 cm – LBD  7.62 cm – UBW 20.96 cm – UBD 7.46 cm – BodyL 34.13 cm – F12W 50.8 mm
51 cm – LBW  29.85 cm – LBD 8.26 cm – UBW 22.86 cm – UBD 8.26 cm – BodyL 38.42 cm – F12W – 54.0 mm
55 cm – LBW  31.43 cm – LBD  8.57 cm – UBW 24.13 cm – UBD 8.57 cm - BodyL 41.28 cm – F12W 55.6 mm
58.6 cm – LBW  33.81 cm – LBD 8.57 cm – UBW 25.72 cm – UBD 8.41 cm – BodyL 44.29 cm – F12W 57.2 mm
Gringo Star Benjamin Garcia 40 cm – LBW 22.2 cm – LBD 6.19 cm – UBW 17.15 cm – UBD 6.03 cm – BodyL 29.21 cm – F12W – 44.5 mm
45.2 cm – LBW 23.97 cm – LBD  6.51 cm – UBW 18.42 cm – UBD 6.19 cm – BodyL 31.75 cm – F12W – 50.8 mm
50 cm – LBW 25.72  cm – LBD  6.99 cm – UBW 20.32 cm – UBD 6.99 cm – BodyL 35.88 cm – F12W – 50.8 mm
52 cm – not available
55 cm – LBW  31.12 cm – LBD  7.94 cm – UBW 23.81 cm – UBD 7.78 cm – BodyL 41.59 cm – F12W – 54.0 mm

64 Responses to “Children’s guitars”

  1. I agree with your opinion about selecting a guitar for a youth with one minor point. I have heard and played a low budget Amigo guitar made in Bulgaria – Their 3/4 size classical guitar with a solid spruce top. In my limited experience as a guitar player ( I have played the violin,mandolin,and ukulele prior to begin learning to play the classical guitar) , this instrument is not a toy and certainly a good starter instrument to consider for new players with limited budgets.-between $100 – $150.- The other good short-scale CG that I have played and have used with students is the 7/8 size Strunal guitar – also a solid top made in the Czech Republic.The cost moves you up to the $200. level but a very good value and certainly much better than the Yamaha and Takamine products you mentioned in the short scale guitars.
    Moving up in price the Cordoba Dolce a short scale instrument (630mm) will place you just under the $300. level but again it is a good value for this solid top guitar with short scale.
    I am always reminding new players that choosing a guitar is like purchasing a new pair of shoes – Not One Size Fits All – You must try them with little regard to the “label” since two guitars by different makers advertised as for example 1/2 siz or 3/4 size will have different scale length within the same iverall size designation. Playability and Sound should be prefered over looks and “brand” names.

  2. Joseph, thanks so much for the feedback. I have updated my post to reflect your comment about the Amigos, particularly since they get pretty good reviews on Amazon.

    I agree that Strunals are playable. I have one, and they are the first brand listed under section 1, guitars Suzuki teachers recommend.

    As for the Cordoba Dolce 7/8-scale instrument you mention, it doesn’t really fit within the aim of this page. A 7/8-scale guitar is, for all practical purposes, a full-size instrument. It’s not something a small child could play. This page is focused on instruments for a beginning Suzuki student, who will typically be somewhere between 4 and 8 years old. Kids that size and age need a genuinely fractional instrument.

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks for the great page. I recommend looking on it to all my starting Suzuki parents. To me, the Strunals concert solid wood top guitars are the best economic option and then when the parent feels comfortable with an upgrade, I recommend the Garcia or Flores guitars which is a huge jump in sound quality. I had students in the past, including my son, play the Amigos guitars. They are playable and are more than a toy. Compared to the Strunals, the sound quality is inferior and I always have a problem with them staying in tune, mainly the 3rd string. However, for the below $100 price, you can’t beat the Amigos.

      • Thanks for your comment. It’s always helpful to hear from folks who have experience with particular guitars. From your comments and others, it sounds like the Amigos are workable for folks on a very limited budget, which is good to know.

        Also, for what it’s worth, you might want to consider the Dieter Hopf/Hellweg guitars from Germany as a step-up from a Strunal. I am really liking my solid-top Hopf Bronco that I got last year — it sounds great, and the build quality (especially the tuners) is fantastic. I think the tuners are better than what you get on a Flores or Garcia guitar.

        Of course, it requires patience and a bit of a leap of faith to order from Germany, and you need to make or modify a hard case if you want one. But for the price (about $400 after exchange) the Bronco is a really nice guitar.

  3. Very thorough article, thanks.. The Requinto has been very useful in my studio, I like the sound quality, and most students can work around the nut issue with good thumb placement. In some students with wide fingers, it’s an advantage. The Ruben Flores guitars have lasted and been sold and re-sold in my studio for many years now. The Strunal guitars have improved, although I have to adjust the nut every once in a while. They seem to be tough enough with the laminated top, and make a nice economical first guitar. For me the thing that makes a guitar playable is the shape of the neck, if it is too round, the left thumb can bend, or is always unstable. I can always adjust the nut. Thanks!

  4. Thank you for this very comprehensive and understandable summary of small classical guitars for child students. Somebody needed to do this and I guess so many of the teachers are too busy or haven’t shared their information outside of their schools/studios. The market for less expensive child guitars is indeed an interesting topic. There is much to be said for encouraging parents to spend more for a quality instrument, however some families just can’t do this. They should not be excluded from the “mix” because of this. My experience with the 1/4 size and 1/2 Strunals and the 1/2 Yamaha’s is different. I have found the Strunals to be more consistent than the in terms of stability and construction than the Yamahas. However the good Yamaha guitars I have worked with sound much much better and are more soulful and musically responsive than the Strunals I have worked with. As you mention, the problem is that they are not consistent and therefore I don’t recommend them anymore. But I think they can still be a good option if the teacher can okay them first.

    • I know I’m a year late on this, but I’d like to say that I’ve had a similar experience with the Yamaha’s. They are very inconsistent but shouldn’t be ruled out entirely. Ideally there is some form of help to allow financially less capable families/students to own a decent guitar, but sometimes this just isn’t the reality. For those parents a Yamaha that has been properly adjusted is much much better than no guitar at all.

      • Mike, thanks for the comment. It’s never too late to comment here!

        I appreciate your point about making music lessons more accessible. It is a shame how expensive it can be.

  5. Mary Lou & Tomas,

    Thanks to both of you for your feedback. I incorporated your comments into the body of this post. I really appreciate the information. As a parent, not a teacher, I have only limited experience to draw on, so your comments help me improve the quality of this page.

  6. Hi, I’m looking for a 40 cm guitar for my 4 years old son who is starting a Suzuki guitar class. Unfortunately I cannot afford a $500 guitar right now and would like to see if you know someone who may be interested in selling a small guitar or a place with second hand inventory.
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Hi Natalia, thanks for reading.

      I assume that you already asked your child’s teacher and struck out. If not, I’d start there.

      Options for used guitars are likely to be limited. If you’re on Facebook, you could post an inquiry in this group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/suzukiguitar/ Lots of Suzuki teachers are members. I believe you could also post to the group by sending an email to suzukiguitar@groups.facebook.com, but I’m not sure about that. If you did post by email and are not on Facebook, you’d have to put your email address in your post so you could get answers.

      If you can live with 44 cm (not 40 cm), you could get a new 1/4-size Strunal for under $200. Elderly Instruments sometimes has them used, but they don’t list any now.

      You might also check with Brent at Gringo Star (gringostarguitar@gmail.com) to see if he has any used guitars, but I don’t think that he usually does.

      I’m afraid that used child-sized guitars tend to get passed down within studios, from older to younger students, so there just isn’t a robust market in used child-sized guitars. I wish you luck in finding one.

  7. [...] my girl will need a 48 cm guitar, so I was looking back at my children’s guitar page. When I browsed the European stores that sell kids’ guitars, I discovered a higher-end model [...]

  8. [...] updated my page about children’s guitars. Mostly, I added various additional models of guitars from German sellers. There’s a good [...]

  9. [...] son requested guitar lessons and I found Suzuki Dad‘s post on best guitars for kids to be really helpful, particularly when you need a 1/8 size [...]

  10. Purchased an Aran Juez 1/2 guitar from leihinstrumente.com and could not be more happy with the instrument. It has a lovely tone and perfect action. The build quality is excellent from what I can tell. I am espeically impressed with the quality of the tuners. Although I ‘m not a professional musician (I played for about 12 years), I know what a good guitar should sound and feel like. IMO, you cant go wrong with this. The one issue I had was with the transit time of the shipment. I took a month to arrive. If you can live with that, the current exchange rate of $ to Euros makes this a great bargain.

    • Thanks for this comment. I revised the post to reflect it.

      Which Aranjuez did you get — cedar top/mahogany sides (cheaper), or cedar top/rosewood sides (more expensive)?

    • SuzukiDad – We purchased the cheaper model (A4/Z 52).
      It’s my daughter’s first guitar so I couldn’t really justify the next level as she will probably outgrow this one in a year or so.

      If she sticks with it, we’ll probably get her a Gringo Star Guitar when she is ready.

      Please let me know if you need anything else – Chris

  11. [...] updated the children’s guitar page to reflect two new recommended [...]

  12. What are your thoughts on the Cordoba guitars?

    Thanks

    • Mpickle, I assume you are referring to Cordoba’s three fractional guitars: the Dolce 7/8 size, the Cadete 3/4 size, and the Requinto 580 1/2 size.

      I don’t have any experience with these guitars, and I don’t know anyone who has one. As I said to an earlier commenter who mentioned the 7/8 size, that’s practically a full-size guitar, so I don’t consider it relevant to this page, which is aimed at guitars for younger Suzuki students. The 3/4 size is also obviously too big for a beginner. It’s hard to know about the 1/2 size, but I’m suspicious given that they call it a “Requinto.” As I explain above, the term requinto generally refers to a guitar for adults with a small body and short, but adult-width, neck. Some teachers use requintos with success with Suzuki students, but I think you need to approach them with caution.

      I can say two things about the brand: (1) I tried some Cordoba adult guitars at a Guitar Center when I was shopping for my own classical guitar, and I found them unplayable as set up from the factory. The action was way too high. A luthier can fix this, but that adds to the cost. (2) I bought a Cordoba concert-size ukulele just for giggles, and it’s actually a really nice instrument, despite having been incredibly cheap ($70 on sale at Best Buy).

      So, to sum up, I have mixed experience with the brand’s adult instruments, and I have no experience with the brand’s fractional guitars. But the 1/2 size is almost certainly too big for a kid 7 years old or younger.

  13. Hello all,

    I am commenting a bit off subject here, but wanted to say that my son learned to play on a $20 guitar from meijers (of course, he REALLY wanted to learn). We have since bought him a $200 guitar off Amazon, I think it’s an amigo? In any case, I just wanted all of those parents out there with limited funds, and a kiddo that really wants to learn not to be discouraged by articles like these. If I had read this before he began, he never would have :( He is now in Suzuki book 4, and is just as enthusiastic as when he began-probably even more so now that he is playing some impressive pieces. He is now 10 years old. Good luck to all those moms and dads out there :)

    • Nina, thanks very much for this comment. I’m glad to hear your son stayed with it despite starting on an inexpensive instrument.

      I’m not trying to be discouraging. It’s surely true that some kids can keep playing despite learning on a budget instrument — you’re proof of that.

      My real point is to say that some kids who quit playing an instrument would not quit if they were using a better instrument. And if a parent can afford a high-quality instrument, then they should get one. They shouldn’t skimp if they don’t have to, because buying an inexpensive instrument because you aren’t sure your kid will keep with it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy: your kid ends up quitting precisely because it’s too difficult to make progress on the inexpensive instrument. But I agree with you: an inexpensive instrument is usually better than no instrument, particularly if that’s all a family can afford. After all, some of the best blues guitarists of all time got started on cigar-box guitars made basically from trash!

  14. Nice site. I am surprised you left off the Aria “Pepe” series of child sized classical guitars. They sell for around $450 new and come in several sizes. I have two that were made in Japan…beautifully made…although now they’re made in Spain. They feature solid Cedar tops and the Japanese ones has a Rosewood fingerboard. They run the range from 48-49mm to 58-59mm(older vs. newer). I’ve bought these with a hardshell case on occasion for $150.

    • Thanks for the comment. I have never seen or heard of these guitars. Are they available online anywhere? Were they distributed in a particular region of the US at some point?

  15. http://www.ariaguitars.com/english/category/classical
    See the Mini Series…Pepe Guitars. I have 2…both from when they were made in Japan…solid cedar tops…extremely well made…nice tone. I have no experience with the Spanish ones…
    San Diego Music Studio…look on line…$375

  16. The 53 would fit the SKB Baby case, the 58 would need the Gator 3/4(Amazon)

  17. How is a guitar for a first instrument though?.

    IMO, Piano is the easiest instrument to sound good at right from the beginning, lowering frustration levels for the student and the people around them. I know because I learned the violin too and I’ve been to my share of violin recitals and band concerts. This advantage for piano is actually both a blessing and a curse–especially when you reach the advanced levels.

    Also, the piano helps to lead into just about any other instrument your child could want to play next. I even know any drummers who started with piano. It helped with timing and playing with others well.

    • Thanks for the comment. I would say that the best first instrument is the one your child practices enough to learn to play. Every instrument has its pluses and minuses.

      As far as sounding good when starting out, the guitar is closer to the piano than to the violin. If the guitar is in tune, then most kids will be listenable when they play it. String instruments are a whole different story; they call for a special kind of patience on the part of a young string player’s parents and teacher.

      The piano has only three clear pluses to the player (as opposed to the player’s parents) as a starting instrument: (1) it makes music theory more transparent than other instruments because the keyboard is linear, (2) you learn to read two clefs, and (3) you learn to attend to multiple voices. But the guitar calls for a similar ability to attend to multiple voices, as intermediate pieces all involve some combination of bass (with the thumb) and harmony and melody (with the fingers). The guitar also leads fairly easily into theory because of how easily one can play chords.

      String instruments have the advantage of fostering better ear training than the piano, since a player (if he wants to play in tune) must carefully listen for pitch and make adjustments on the fly. The guitar requires less of this skill, but more than the piano does, as a guitarist needs to be constantly listing for the possible need to retune. String instruments also provide lots of opportunities for playing in groups (orchestras and chamber groups), so string players tend to develop ensemble skills earlier than piano players, who usually play solo (especially in early years). Guitar players, depending on the program their in, can also have ensemble opportunities (my 7-year-old plays in a quartet).

      Further, not everyone has the money or space for a piano. And it’s a heck of a lot easier to travel with a guitar or a violin than it is with a piano, making it easier to keep up a regular practice routine on those instruments.

      In short, the piano is a fine instrument, and it’s even a fine first instrument. But the idea that it’s somehow clearly or inherently superior as a first instrument is a myth.

      • I see now that Lacefield Music is a piano store that also offers piano instruction. It’s not surprising that a piano store that offers piano instruction might argue that piano is a better first instrument than the guitar. As I said, piano is a perfectly fine instrument; it was my first instrument. But other instruments, including the guitar, are perfectly fine first instruments too.

  18. Dear Suzukidad,

    This is an amazing amount of research and valuable information that you have been so kind to share here. As another non teacher suzuki dad, this page is a tremendous resource. I only wish it were around 6 years ago when I started my quest to find a decent little guitar for my son. It would have saved me countless hours of searching on the internet, reading through forums and listening to many peoples opinions. Not to mention a hand full of purchases.

    The first guitar we tried was a Strunal, it was a decent first guitar. When my son showed interest and potential, we upgraded to a Benjamin Garcia that we got from his teacher second hand. It was highly recommended. For some reason, we were never very pleased with it. Maybe the one we got was not the best example of the makers craftsmanship. Or maybe the material wasn’t the best. The tuner posts had worn elongated holes in the headstock and the whole tuners were pulling out of the headstock on both sides. I spent a weekend fixing it up. These guitars are very popular in the suzuki community, I think we just got a lemon.

    We finally found Kremona and have been very very happy with the sound and craftsmanship of their instruments. As a non-expert suzukidad, I would highly recommend Kremona.

    We have never tried the Flores, Esteve or Moore. I did not come across them in my searches years ago, and quite frankly, stopped looking once we found Kremona. But I would trust anything Mary Lou says. She is one of the very best suzuki teachers we’ve ever met. We had the pleasure of meeting her a few years ago at a suzuki festival where she worked with my son. She’s as nice as she is talented, a special lady.

    I may look into some of the other options you’ve mentioned here. But my son was recently asked to be a featured artist on Kremona’s website, check him out – kremonausa.com – (he’s the little guy), so we’ll probably stay with the Kremona’s we’ve been happy with for several years.

    It has been my experience that finding the right strings for these little guitars has a big effect on the sound they produce. Do you have any thoughts on string preference?

    We’ve been very happy with the Royal Classic Kinder Sattel I found not too long ago. We tried Hannabach, LaBelle and many others, but didn’t find them to be all that much better than the D’Addario Pro Arte. The Royal Classics are not cheap, and I’ve only found them online, but we think they are well worth it.

    Thanks again for sharing all of your knowledge and the great amount of information. I am sure there are a lot of future suzuki moms and dads that will find this to be an invaluable resource!

    • Tom, thanks for the kind words, and for your experience and information. I’m a little obsessive about things, and I figure, why not share? And comments like yours really add to the value of this page.

      Thanks for the info about the Kremonas. Do you have any idea where to get them in the US? I was extremely interested in a Kremona when I was shopping for my daughter’s last guitar, but I couldn’t find many dealers selling them. We’ll need another guitar this summer or fall, and I’d certainly consider a Kremona if I could find one.

      As for strings, I’ve been happy with D’Addario, either Pro Arte or EXP, extra-hard tension (on both our 44 cm Strunal and our new 48 CM Hopf/Hellweg Bronco). But the only other kind I have tried is LaBellas, and I hate them because they have a wound G string. Maybe I’ll give the Royal Classics a try next time I change strings.

      Cute pictures of Kayden at the Kremona site! You and he must have put in a lot of hard work over the years!

  19. Dear SuzukiDad,
    Thank you for this page, I am recommending all my parents to take a look.It makes it even more instructive to have so many comments and opinions in here. Thanks.

  20. I am wondering what your thoughts are on the Baby Taylor as a childs guitar? I did not see it mentioned and since I am totally ignorant about this that is why I am asking. Someone recommended it to me for my 6 year old daughter… she had been playing with theirs a little and seemed to like it. I would appreciate any info. I am willing to spend up to about $350. If you wouldnt mind emailing me your response also I would appreciate it. Thank you so much!! Great site by the way… very helpful to me.
    Chyrl

    • I don’t think the Baby Taylor is a good choice for a 6-year old, for two reasons. First, it’s quite big – the scale length is basically 58 cm. By comparison, my daughter played a 44-cm scale guitar from age 4 1/2 to age 7, and has played a 48 cm-scale guitar from ages 7 to 8. I felt like 51 cm was too big for her at 7, so 58 cm would have been out of the question. I can’t imagine a kid younger than 9 playing a Baby Taylor-size guitar successfully. Second, it’s a steel-string guitar, not a nylon-string guitar, and steel strings are painful for a child’s fingers.

      For $350 and under, the best guitar is probably a Kremona Sofia fractional guitar if you can find one (Amazon has some) or a Strunal. Depending on how much you want to pay a luthier to set it up, a cheaper guitar might work too (some commenters like the Amigo). If you read this page and the comments, I think you can get a good sense of your options.

      Good luck!

  21. Just to throw it out there I have built quite a few smaller classical guitars many more full size for players of all ages.I build to any size required with high quality materials and quite enjoy making the shorter scale instruments.Can anyone direct me to a source for smaller cases for these instruments?Great site by the way. Dave

  22. What do you think of the guitalele? Either tuned as it’s intended or tuned as a regular six-string guitar. My 5-year-old daughter has been denied lessons by all the local teachers because she’s too small for even their smallest guitars, but a guitalele is small enough for her. Or should I just be patient?

    • That’s an interesting question. I think that there are two issues: (1) the suitability of a guitalele as a starter instrument, and (2) the advisability of working with teachers who don’t really want to work with a 5-year-old.

      I think that Yamaha’s guitalele is a fun instrument, and the scale length is probably reasonable for a small child, but I’m pretty sure that the neck is quite a bit wider than the neck on an ordinary fractional guitar. I also think that the box dimensions are a little awkward for a small child. So I would think that a guitalele is not a great substitute for a fractional guitar. If you’re willing to buy your own instrument, I would think you should just get a 44cm-scale guitar such as a 1/4-size Strunal or, for a little more money, an Orpheus Valley (which Amazon now sells).

      Having said that, I think that if your local teachers are refusing to teach her because they don’t have small enough instruments, they may not be the best teachers for a small child. A teacher who wanted to teach a 5-year-old student wouldn’t just refuse to teach the child; the teacher would work with the parent to get a right-sized instrument. So if I were you, I don’t think that I’d be rushing to get my child into lessons with a teacher who is not experienced at, and enthusiastic about, working with a 5-year-old. It takes a special kind of teacher to make that relationship work.

      Thanks for visiting, and good luck. I’d love to hear what you end up doing!

      • You are probably right. Everyone seems to think the minimum age is 6. I’ve told everyone I talked to that I have no problem purchasing an instrument online if need be, but people insist that either such instruments don’t exist (although upon looking into it more, I see this isn’t true), or that 5-year-olds just can’t learn.

        I think I will search harder for a willing teacher and if I really can’t find one, we’ll get an instrument and make due at home until she’s older. I barely play guitar myself, but it’s better than nothing. She’s not letting go of her desire to play and I want to strike while the iron is hot!

        • Two thoughts: (1) You can always get the Suzuki Guitar CDs and start listening to them now. That would give your daughter a big head start if she starts Suzuki guitar lessons. (2) You might want to start her on a concert-sized ukulele.

          I know that many Suzuki guitar teachers (and teachers of other instruments, for that matter) recommend against letting a child start using the instrument before starting lessons with a teacher. There are two reasons for this: (1) The instrument may be more special if it’s first introduced in connection with lessons. And (2) it’s really easy for a child to develop bad habits on an instrument, and if that happens, the teacher then has to work to undo those habits.

          With a ukulele, you’d avoid the problem of bad habits. And if you string it more like a guitar – i.e., if you drop the 4th string down an octave – you’ve got an instrument whose geography is just like a guitar’s. For teaching materials, look at Ukulele in the Classroom by Hill and Doane. It’s aimed at slightly older kids, but it’s a pretty good method, and you need only minimal skills as an adult to teach a kid with it. Good luck!

          • We had thought of that, also. My older son, 7-years-old, is starting guitar lessons soon so she will be exposed to the sounds of Suzuki guitar through him, and we will be getting him a guitar so she will have a guitar to grow into as well.

            We were also looking at some pretty neat pictures of cigar box guitars and how to make them. I even thought of making one of those for my daughter, either a 4-string or a six-string. I’m good enough of building and making things that I’m confident I would make a good one. What do you think of those?

          • I have a stack of cigar boxes in my basement, though I haven’t yet made a cigar-box guitar. I think they’re a fun hobby, but I’m not sure I’d go that route for a kid’s first instrument. For one thing, they’re usually steel string, and a kid’s better off with nylon strings. For another, a fretless one isn’t really reasonable for a kid, and a fretted one is a ton of work for the maker. I think you’d be much better off with a concert-sized ukulele. If you want a DIY feel to it, you could get a kit. The Wolfelele kit is easy to put together. But a kit doesn’t save any money, really. I got a concert-sized Cordoba ukulele on sale at Best Buy a while back for $70, and it’s pretty great. As I said, if you drop the 4th string down an octave, it’s a heck of a lot like a guitar.

          • Well, I suppose if I make it myself it can be whatever I want. I can give it frets and use nylon strings. I’ve seen quite a few on etsy that are custom-made, too. I was mainly suggesting a cigar box guitar because it’s like a traditional guitar but isn’t quite one, like a ukulele, but a little closer. I did get interested in them just because I want to make one for fun, though. This was an after thought.

            I think I will just get her a ukulele and teach her to play it like a ukulele. The more I learn about them, the more I am respecting them. I will probably build a cigar box guitar because my son and I are really interested in doing that. He especially wants to make an electric one, but that’s a fun project in addition to the classical guitar we’re buying him for his suzuki lessons.

            Anyway, thanks for your feedback! Thanks for writing this article as well. I went to every music store in town today and was told by salemen that the Yamahas are the “best child’s guitar there is.” Hurray for the internet!

  23. I like to bring up an issue refering to the post about the Requinto. A Requinto is a different instrument than the standard guitar. Yes it is a bit smaller than the guitar BUT- and this is the issue- it is also tuned different than the standard guitar. A true Requinto is tuned – from 1st to 6th string: – A-E-C-G-D-A just like placing a capo at the 5th fret of the standard guitar.There are some larger requintos but still smaller than the guitar that are tuned like placing a capo at the 3rd fret of the guitar : G-D-A#-F-C-G.
    The Cordoba people sells a smaller guitar they have called a “Requinto” but it is a misnomer since they have tuned it like the guitar. Upon inquiries they have admitted that they wanted to make a “small guitar” and decided to call it a “Requinto”.My views are that a young child who wants to learn guitar should have a true guitar with a short scale or even consider a Baritone Ukulele that have only 4 strings but are tuned exactly like the guitar E-B-G-D. To my knowledge some music courses for young children are using the Barritone Ukulele as a beginner pre-guitar introduction. You can learn to strum and make chords that are exactly those like the guitar but wiithout the lower two strings A-E that makes it easier for children.
    Now how do I know all this? I am part of a trio that plays and sings music from all of latin america and the Requinto is the instrument that carries the melody.The other two guitars are playing the supporting chords.
    I also play the Baritone Ukulele in a Ukulele Ensemble.The Baritone is the only ukulele that is standard tuned llike the guitar.The Soprano,Concert, and Tenor Ukuleles are tuned A-E-C-G like the capo at the 5th fret (first four strungs) of the guitar.
    The Baritone also uses nylon strings that are much easier than steel strings on fingers, of particularly importance when considering the young people.I hope this will be useful information to someone new to
    the world of guitars.

  24. Have you heard about Guitar Works Inc? What you think about them compare to Amigo?

    • I assume you are talking about the Guitar Works, Inc. guitars listed here.

      I have never heard of these guitars before. It is hard for me to believe that they are very good for the low price, and the store that sells them provides no information about where they are made (probably China) or what they are made from (probably plywood). On the other hand, the seller says sensible things in the ad copy on the website, so they might be worth a look. But I would want to know their return policy.

      Thanks for bringing them to my attention!

  25. Thank you very much for sharing. My son is going to turn 4 next month. He loves guitar. I play too though I’m nowhere close to being a professional. I got him a toy guitar just before he turned 2 – $35 from Zeller’s. It’s the best gift I’ve given him. I’m now thinking of getting him a good guitar that he can learn on. And either start teaching him myself or get him into guitar lessons. This blog is going to be very helpful to me in choosing a guitar. Any advice on getting him started on learning the guitar?

    • If you can afford it and you have access to a good Suzuki teacher, I’d go that route. If you’d rather start him yourself, I’d just recommend that you keep it fun. You could also consider teaching him ukulele. I think Ukulele in the Classroom is a good method.

      Good luck!

  26. I have been using $50 1/2 size luceros for my students. definitely not a good guitar but good enough to get a kid going if budget is a constraint. constantly need retuning though.

  27. I’m shopping for a guitar for my grandson for Christmas. He is 7 years old so I don’t want to put a lot of cash into it if he doesn’t take to it. My son plays electric and acoustic guitar but he doesn’t feel comfortable advising me on this. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

    • Thanks for your interest. As I’ve said to other commenters and elsewhere on this page, it’s not a great idea to get a very cheap guitar as a starter instrument, because very cheap guitars are hard to play and sound bad. If you give a kid a bad guitar and he “doesn’t take to it,” the reason might just be that the guitar is bad, and it’s possible that the kid might enjoy playing a decent guitar.

      So I would suggest looking at the guitars that I’ve listed on this page or possibly a guitar recommended by one of the commenters. If you don’t want to spend $100 to $200 on a guitar, then I would recommend that you get a decent ukulele, string it in low-G tuning, and get Hill & Doane’s Ukulele in the Classroom.

      Good luck!

      • Thanks for the quick response. Now another question, if I get the ukulele, does it need steel or nylon strings? My son, hates nylon strings so he is biased. I want to give Cam the best opportunity as possible…
        Thanks,

  28. My almost 4 yr old son would like a guitar. I was not intending to start lessons or anything but wanted to find something better than a toy guitar. I was looking for something more in the $50-$100 price range.

    Your site is a wealth of knowledge but I was wondering if you had any recommendations for the guitar stage we are in. I’m not ready to spend a lot of money on something that he may have no interest in a few months. Maybe a toy guitar is the best option….

    • Thanks for commenting. I’d say the same thing that I said to a previous commenter: instead of getting a toy guitar, I’d get a decent ukulele and string it in low-G tuning.

      I’ll add one thing: If you ever plan to start guitar lessons for your kid, you’re much better off NOT getting him a toy guitar. He’ll develop bad habits on it. Teachers don’t like to have to fight against bad habits. But if you get him a ukulele, he won’t be as likely to develop bad habits that get in the way of learning the guitar.

      Good luck!

  29. Great information. Austin Guitar Company from St. Louis, Mo also makes a very nice fractional guitar for students. I would compare it to Strunal Quality or better and under the 200 dollar range.
    Tom Brown
    Suzuki Dad and Instructor

    • Thanks for the info! Are these available online?

      • http://www.austingtr.com/

        Here is the website, look at the pdf, page 8 and it tells you more aobut the classical guitar I bought for my son. As far as ordering online, i”m not sure, I bought my sons at our local music store. I’m sure an online search may yield someone who sales these guitars or just call the compnay. I hope that helps.

        Again, great website and keep up the good work.

        Tom

  30. A few years ago I bought an old full-size classical guitar at a rummage sale for my 10 year old son. It is made by Harmony and of solid woods. The guitar is in good condition and sounds good except for some buzzing sounds on the bass notes and full open strums. What’s weird is that the guitar has a wind up music box attached on the inside of the guitar. It has a winding key right near the lower bout on the right side of the guitar. The music box plays very, very loudly but I don’t know the tune. I took the guitar to a music shop for inspection and the young man at the counter said he never saw a wind up music box attached to an acoustic guitar. He thought it may have been a training aid for someone taking lessons a long time ago. He had the owner of the shop, an older man who’s knowledgeable about guitars, and he looked at the guitar and said it was from 1961 and that Harmony classical guitars are sought after guitars. But he was disgusted at the fact that someone attached a music box to the guitar’s top. He looked inside of the guitar with a mirror and saw that the music box was glued in place underneath the soundboard. Sadly the guitar’s top was damaged by a hole drilled for the winding key. He said he would have to replace the soundboard in order to make the guitar fully functional. The rattling sound that I mentioned earlier is actually the music box movement vibrating on the guitar’s soundboard when the guitar is strummed. A new solid spruce top would cost $400.00 for this guitar. I only payed $5.00 for it. So I declined on the repair. My son still is interested in playing the guitar despite the music box on it. A co-worker of mine recommended that I look at the Yamaha c-40 classical guitar. He said he plays one and that it has great bass and treble for around $140.00.

    • Thanks for sharing. Your music-box guitar sounds like a hoot! I agree that it’s not worth repairing, though.

      In my experience, inexpensive Yamahas do not sound great and have terrible action from the factory. And a full-sized guitar is probably too big for a 10-year-old. But you never know; my first steel-string guitar was an inexpensive Nagoya, and it was a great guitar for the money. So maybe a Yamaha will work out for you.

      –Brian

  31. Unless there re no other choices available for you to buy in the under $200. price range, I would avoid the Yamaha brand in that price range. My experience with them is that they tend to be “heavier” in weight and limited in sound projection than other similar price CG in that price range. The Amazon web site have many CG available within your designated budget. One of the best values in that price range is the Montana brand of CG. They are available in full size and 3/4 size and are a “twin” of the well known Takamine’s “Jasmine” line of guitars that sell for a bit higher price.

  32. My experience with small size Yamahas guitar priced under $200. is not as good as those of their competitors in the same price range. I am in agreement with Brian observation about Yamaha.
    As for sizes check the scale lenght of guitars – measure the length of the strings from the Nut to the Saddle – the white piece inserted into the Bridge of the guitar. The shortr the distance the closer the frets are to each other and easier to reach vertically for the playerwho often needs to play more than one nete at the time requiring to reach over two frets..
    If you are looking for a “short scale” guitr for a youth make sure that you measure his hand spread from tip of thumb o tip of pinky as a sure-way to make the right decision. Age or height of the child is often given as the way to determine the size of guitar to get for them but this is not a sure-fit for two important reasons: You play the guitar with your fingers/hands….
    1 Not all young people of similar age and height have the same size hand spread – think about buying a pair of shoes – Not one size fit all of similar ages – A fellolw plyear and CG teacher had a student age 11 whose hands/finger spread was barely 7 inches and another young boy age 8 whose hand spread was just over 8 inches.
    2. in the market place for short-scale guitars not all makers of smaller size guitars use identical scale length in their product. even when their guitars are lised at 1.2 or 3/4or 7/8 etc. For a new student I would recommend a nylon string guitar over a steel sting instrument. The nylon string guitars are often referred as a “classical guitar” but is tuned he same as a steels tring guitr and can play any genre of music that the teel string plays. Likewise a steel string guitar can play classical music just as well. The major difference between them is the neck width where the nylon strings have a wider separation between the strings han those in the steel string instrument. If you go shopping for a guitar take your youth with you and let him/her try as many as possible in your price range. That will be tjhe ideal way to select the proper guitar. Good Luck.

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