You don’t have to spend a fortune these days to buy a very good instrument. With advances in manufacturing and technology you can actually get a pretty decent instrument for not a whole lot of money. Although, when buying a guitar the more you can afford to spend, the better quaility you will be able to get. You should also be realistic about just how important sound and quality are to kids; there is no reason that you need to spend more than a few hundred dollars to get them started.
Most people agree that a reasonable budget for a starter instrument is $100-150. At this price you will get an instrument that will most likely stay in tune and you will be able to find something that is comfortable to play. If you buy a guitar that is too cheap they tend to be difficult to play and don’t stay in tune so it makes for a very frustrating experience for beginners. If you are buying for teen and expect the instrument to last a long time you should consider spending a bit more ($400 range).
Should I buy a larger guitar so my child can grow into it?
Generally we wouldn’t recommend buying a make and model that a child can ‘grow into’. You want to make the learning experience as easy and comfortable for the child, so a huge part of this is buying the right sized guitar for the kid. There is no way that 6 year old is going to be able to play a full sized guitar comfortably, however your highly motivated 9 or 10 year might be able to manage with a full size model. The best indication of a size of instrument that your child can handle is going to a music store and playing a few different sizes and models.
Are different types of guitars harder to play or hold?
It depends on the player. It’s always best to try out any instrument out before you buy. For children you want to make sure you aren’t buying something that will be too heavy to hold. You also want to test out a few different body type to figure out what works be for them.
What should I look for when shopping for a guitar?
Workmanship — Check the body for obvious flaws. Flaws can include things like jagged edged frets, bad finish, machine heads that are hard to adjust.
Straight neck — Make sure the neck isn’t warped. Pick the guitar up by the body and look down the edge of the fretboard toward the body of the guitar. It should be straight without any kind of warping.
Action — Action is the distance that the strings are from the fretboard. You can adjust this on most guitars a bit, generally you want to avoid guitars with very high action because it will be hard for your kids to hold the strings down.
Tone — When you play a note it should take a little while for the note to fade, if it doesn’t do that you should try a different model.
Playability — For most people this is one of the most important things to look for. Does it feel good to hold and play? Are there any obvious problems that will hinder your child’s playing.