Just so you know, a kids guitar is not necessarily the same thing as a small guitar. There are several different kinds of guitars that have small necks or bodies. Such instruments are used by professionals on stage and in the studio. However, these guitars are chosen purposefully for their sound or for other reasons, such as fitting better with a certain picking style.
When they were first made, small guitars were designed with kids in mind. It was rather obvious to manufacturers that a smaller size would make it easier for younger people to hold and play the instrument; making it easier for them to learn. They were initially made as more of a toy, and sold by toy stores, through catalogs and at some department stores.
While these kids guitars were smaller, and looked like mini versions of regular guitars, that’s where the resemblance ended. They were made cheaply, making them affordable for parents to give their kids. However, that low cost came with a price.
The truth was that these earlier guitars made for kids were not durable. They really were toys; toys that couldn’t be tuned (or would not stay on tune), had plastic strings, and were barely able to produce anything that sounded like music. But they were still a nice way to get a guitar of some kind into a kid’s hands. For the record, these cheap, toy guitars are still being made, but should only be purchased if you want your child to have a toy as opposed to a real musical instrument.
The toy guitars sold very well, and it didn’t take long before the makers of traditional insturments took notice. They started making kids guitars themselves. These were of a much higher quality than toy guitars, but they were also less expensive than their full-sized adult counterparts. While not all parents could afford them, it did allow real guitars to get into the hands of more kids than before.
Aria and Yamaha are two manufacturers that make high-quality kids guitars. Any kid that’s interested in learning how to guitar will find either of these brands to be a good choice. They are tunable, stay tuned, and produce a real guitar sound; making the entire experience more enjoyable for the younger student. This is far better than a cheap toy.
Kids guitars are typically made to one-half or one-third scale when compared to an adult guitar. This is beneficial because as the child graduates to a regular guitar, they will already have the right feel for the instrument. It is also easier for them to hold the guitar, to move their hand up and down the fretboard and to make chord shapes with their smaller fingers.
If your child just wants a fun toy to play with, and doesn’t want to lean, or isn’t interested in playing any actual songs, then a cheap toy guitar should be okay. However, if you or your child wants to learn how to play a real instrument, than a higher quality kids guitar made by a traditional guitar maker is the better choice.