If you are looking for a budget classical starter kit for a child to learn on, the Valencia Classical Kit 1 1/2 Size is a decent option. It goes for under $50 and it includes a gig bag and an instructional DVD. It is pretty hard to get a guitar for under $50 that is playable but this one isn’t bad. It is a 1/2 size nylon stringed model, which just means that is half the size of a full sized classical model and the top 3 strings are nylon while the bottom 3 strings are nylon wound with wire. If you are looking for a child in the 5 to 8 year old range you will want to look at smaller guitars that will be comfortable to play, so a model that is 1/2 sized is a good fit for this age range. Also the nylon strings make playing much easier than an acoustic that has 6 steel strings. This model is available as a standard right handed guitar as well as a left handed version.
The Valencia Classical Kit includes a guitar that has a body made of basswood, with a nato wood fretboard and bridge. It also has classical style open tuners and an ornate sound hole binding. The overall length of this Valencia is 34″ and the scale length 21″.
For a budget model the playability of the Valencia 1/2 Size is decent. Since the strings are nylon when you first get the instrument you will need to give the strings a week or so to stretch out and settle before it will stay in tune for a good amount of time. This just mean that you or your child will have to tune it probably more than you will like in the first few days. After a week or so it should hold tune longer and be easier for your child to play. The lightness and small size of this model make it very comfortable and easy for small kids to play, which is an important factor when you are learning.
Again for a guitar in this price range the sound is pretty good. If you are used to the sound of a full sized you might be a little disappointed by the sound of a 1/2 size. It doesn’t have the same kind of range or tone, so don’t expect it to have a big sound. Also since this is a budget model, you can’t expect it to sound the same way a $500 or $600 guitar would sound, the intonation isn’t the greatest but for what you are paying it is good enough for a small child who won’t be bothered by this.
For a classical model that costs less than $50 you obviously can’t expect a perfect instrument but the workmanship on this Valencia surprisingly good quality. There were a few flaws in the model that I looked at, but the wood was solid and the finish was nice. The frets were a little sharp, but not to the point that it would impede a child’s ability to play.
Things to watch out for
There is no strap attachment for this guitar which is standard for classical guitars. This can be a problem for kids if they aren’t planning on playing while they are sitting down. If this is a issue you can buy attachments at music stores that will let you add a strap to the body.
With the Valencia 1/2 Size it is probably a good idea to replace the string with some better quality ones. If you aren’t sure how to do this there are lots of videos on YouTube that show you how it is done. The strings this guitar comes with aren’t the best, so if you are finding that you aren’t happy with the sound an easy fix is to buy better strings and it will improve the sound quality.
The gig bag that comes with this package is a little on the flimsy side so there is a good chance you won’t be happy with it and will want to replace it. So that might factor into your budget when you are figuring out how much you want to play. A good padded gig bag runs around $40 and up.
If your budget is limited and you want a good starter package to get your child interested in guitar and aren’t super picky about the gig bag, then this is a good package to get. If your child is taking lessons or is very serious about learning I would personally try to spend a bit more for a higher quality instrument, but if you can’t then this is the best one to get for this price range.