Young kids have smaller hands and so are unable to reach the neck of a full-size guitar. They cannot even wrap fingers around in order to play. As such, guitar manufacturers create different guitar sizes to prevent the frustration that parents may go thorough finding a perfect guitar for their little ones. Kids guitars are designed with smaller necks and bodies. Are you wondering, “What size guitar for a 6 – 10 year old?” This guide should help you make the right choice for your kiddo guitarist.
How is Guitar Size Calibrated?
The size of a guitar encompasses two aspects: the scale and overall length. The scale refers to the distance between the bridge and the nut. This is the vibrating section of the strings. The overall length of a regular guitar is quite straightforward. A shorter guitar could me a smaller body with a regular neck. But in kids guitars, the overall length is not a good indicator of the size. Remember that your child needs a short neck that fits their height. So, the right way to calculate the best guitar size for a 6-10 year old is through the scale. A shorter scale guarantees a shorter neck. For instance, a ¼ size means that the instrument is a quarter scale compared to a full-body size guitar.
Generally, guitar sizes fall into 4 categories:
- 4/4 size guitars for kids aged 12 years and beyond with an average height of 5’3″
- ¾ size guitars for ages 8 to 11 with an average height of 4’8″ – here are some recommendations on the best 3/4 acoustic guitar options.
- ½ sized guitar for ages 5 to 8 years with an average height of 4’3″
- ¼ guitars for 4 to 6 year old’s with an average height of 3’9″
The size of the musical instrument can determine how easy your child plays. It could be the correct size but if not properly adjusted, it becomes hard to maneuver. That is why you need to have an expert examine and adjust the strings to make sure that they are not hard to press. Also, the notes should ring clearly.
The correct guitar size may differ from one kid to the other. Kids with small to average heights for their age can stick with standard sizes listed above. If, on the other hand, they fall under the category of 2 groups, it is good to use their relative body size to figure out what group to stick with. In an instance, an 8 year old boy who is small for his age group should use the ½ guitar size from the 5-8 year group. If he is above average in size, move on to the next category (8-11 years) especially if he is on the cusp.
If you have a fast growing kid, you might want to choose a larger size. After all, they will outgrow the smaller guitar in a few months. Kids with longer arms also need larger fiddles. Generally, children can learn to play guitars with larger sizes than recommended. However, it is much easier to get their hands around the right sized instrument. Some even learn to play regular guitars at the age of 9. But this may bring complications like poor posture and poor hand positioning because they are forced to reach one hand below the neck to press down the lower strings. While they will seem to be playing just fine, it is good to avoid such issues by getting the appropriate size guitar.
For Kids Who Want Larger Guitars
Some highly motivated children are able to overcome the challenges of playing a regular guitar. Some are so experienced that they view regular guitars as being more mature. And so they develop a strong identity with a normal size. Such kids should not be forced to use the small sizes. All you have to do is find a good length for students from a knowledgeable dealer.
Keep in mind that the size is always indicated in the product description. Most manufacturers tag the overall length while others include the scale length as well. The best dealer refers to both measurements as far as kids guitars go. Be careful not to confuse kids guitars with other smaller but regular guitar types e.g. parlor and other travel guitars. These may have reduced body but the neck can be adjusted to fit the hands of an adult. You may consider them for children who are confident enough to handle regular guitars as mentioned earlier on.
Does the Neck Width Matter?
The neck width is not a critical factor in choosing the best size guitar for your child. Beginners are often confused with this measurement but it is still worth reading when you need a perfect size. Check the width at the nut to help you compare and contrast fret board widths. With a broader fret board, a child can precisely finger the notes with ease since the strings are placed far apart. But this may be difficult for smaller hands. Note that the neck radius is the same radius at the back side of the neck facing the child while playing. It is an indication of the overall thickness of the neck. Smaller hands obviously need a small radius.
Classical vs. Electric Guitars
These two types are ideal for young beginners. Kids guitar sizes are always featured in classical nylon string models. The acoustic steel strings models (look at these best acoustic guitar for kids options here) and electric guitars are also common but the classical is more recommended. This is because nylon strings are gentler on little fingers. Electric models are also good options for a best beginner electric guitar because their strings are thin and have low tension hence easier to press. The most difficult to play is the acoustic or acoustic electric steel string guitar. The strings are very hard to fret and they may cut into untrained fingertips thereby frustrating your little one.
If you are serious about what size guitar for a 6 – 10 year old, get the classical one first. The good thing about classical guitars is their light weight and finding the right it is easy since they come in 4 standard sizes. The electric guitar may be too heavy even for your kid’s age group. But it is quite fun when played with an amplifier or an effect pedal. That is why older kids love the electric model. Remember that the electrical guitars are more expensive than the classical ones so this is something to put into consideration before heading to a music shop.
In summary, get a classical guitar for any child between 6 and 10 years. After the age of 10, you can let them choose an electric guitar, like a Les Paul copy, to explore more. Make sure it neither too small nor big for the child. Get the right size if you want to make a big difference to the young enthusiastic player. They need a positive experience and their success starts with having the right instrument.