Crescent MG38-PK 38″ Acoustic Guitar Starter Package

If you have been looking around Amazon or EBay for a child’s acoustic guitar, you may have come across the Crescent MG38-PK. On first glance, this appears to be a wildly popular instrument for a very low price. As someone who loves both acoustic and electric guitars, and have spent a lot of time playing different models, I’d never come across any Crescent guitars before and was thinking I should probably check them out. This particular model has over 1100 reviews on Amazon which is, quite honestly really odd, leading me to wonder how legit the reviews actually are. I was planning on going ahead and ordering the guitar to do a review, but then I came across this interesting review from The Useless Critic. If you are looking at purchasing this instrument I would highly recommend reading the article first.

My general philosophy with children’s guitars is that you should try to get the best quality instrument that your budget will allow. It is so much easier to learn to play on something that stays in tune and is made well, than an instrument that slips out of tune easily and the strings are hard to press down on. If you buy a piece of junk that is hard to play and doesn’t sound good, your kids won’t want to play because it is too frustrating. Of course you don’t want to spend a lot of money if you aren’t sure that your kid will stick with it, but there are some very nice guitars that are pretty good quality in the $50 to $70 range that are great for beginners.

Since I like good quality instruments that have a decent resale value and are playable, I decided not to purchase this model after reading a large number of the reviews. Since I can’t write a review myself, here is some of what I discovered about the Crescent MG38-PK from what other people are saying about it.

Appearance

You can get the MG38-PK in a number of appealing colors for kids: black, blue, natural, pink, sunburst, and coffee. There are a fair number of complaints about chipped, scratched or peeling (!!) paint finish and some customers even report a strong chemical smell (presumably from the paint) upon opening the box. The decorative inlay (rosette) around the sound hole is a sticker and a few people mentioned that it began peeling off.

It is supposed to have steel strings although a lot of customers have complained about the quality of the strings and some variation in what the strings are made of, most customers switch them out almost immediately. Steel strings aren’t generally recommended for kids who are getting their first guitar. Most kids start on nylon stringed/classical models, as they are not quite as hard on kid’s fingers. Eventually players build up calluses, so sore fingers aren’t a problem, but for beginners it is something to be aware of.

Playability

The Crescent MG38-PK is most like a likely a 3/4 size guitar, which just means that it is 3/4 the size of a full sized guitar. The listing says it is 38″, which is sort of a weird way to measure the size. It would have been more useful if the company provided the scale length, which is the length of the strings not the full body. To be certain of the size you will need to measure the scale length.  If it is a 3/4 size, than this is typically the right size for kids ages 8-11.

Some customers report that the action on this Crescent model is quite high. When you are looking for a guitar for a child, you want to look for something with low action. Guitars that have low action are easier to play because it is easier for kids to press the strings down.

Sound

For me, one of the biggest factors when choosing a guitar (especially for a beginner) is that it is able to stay in tune. Yes, strings need a little bit of time to stretch and relax, but you do this in the tuning process (nylon strings take much longer to stretch than steel). Once tuned it should stay in tune for a reasonable amount of time. Some customer reviews complain about this model going out of tune really quickly, or not being able to get it in tune in the first place.

Workmanship

Since this is a budget guitar and you are paying very little for it, the quality isn’t going to be great. The reviews are very inconsistent as far as quality is concerned. A lot of players say it sounds good, looks great and plays well (usually with the caveat of ‘for the price’). While other people strongly question the quality of the MG38-PK, some even comparing it to plywood that has been painted.

As with a lot of kits, the accessories that come with it aren’t great. This is pretty common if you are buying a starter package. Most reviews seem to agree that the gig bag that comes with the package is sub-par with no padding and not worth much of anything. Including a tuner is a nice touch, although a number of issues with the tuner have been reported.

Things to look out for

  • With guitar pricing there is always a list price/manufacturer’s suggested retail price and an actual price. The list price ($129) and actual price (around $40) on this model seem to be particularly out of whack. Remember that no guitar ever sells for its list price and the company just want you to feel like you are getting a good deal.
  • If you purchase the MG38-PK, it would be a good idea to replace the strings right away.
  • If you are changing the strings or tuning, be careful of the bridge. Some report that is very delicate and snaps easily.
  • A high number of customers complained about the paint being scratched or divots in the body.

Overall

If you don’t know much about guitars and just want something inexpensive and brightly colored that your young child can mess around with, then this model is probably okay. To me there are enough terrible reviews that you should take a pause before buying it, and head down to your local music shop to look around. At least then you can see what you are buying for the money.  If you want your child to learn to play and love playing or are planning on taking lessons, I would stay away from Crescent. Instead put your money toward something better quality like the Valencia Classical Kit, or for a bit more money the Hohner HC03. If you are looking for a child who is 4 to 7 years old, you can try a 1/2 size nylon string like the Barcelona 30-Inch.