We’ve been getting some emails asking about bass guitars for kids. Bass isn’t nearly as popular as a starting instrument, but if your kid is looking for a bass, there are some cool ones available. You may have to look a little harder to find them, but some basses are perfect for kids.
What is the difference between a bass and a guitar?
If you’re buying as a gift, or are new to guitars, you may be wondering about the difference between a standard guitar and a bass guitar. The main differences are:
Pitch: Bass guitar plays notes an octave lower than a regular guitar. So it has a ‘lower’ sound.
The number of strings: Guitars have six strings, while bass guitars have four strings.
Strings: Bass strings are thicker than guitar strings.
Bass guitars are usually larger in size and length, and also heavier than regular guitars.
What should you be looking for when buying a bass guitar?
When shopping for a bass, it is worth doing a bit of research.
If you aren’t into playing music yourself and your child asks for an instrument, I think a lot of parents tend to go down to Toys R Us and pick up a First Act guitar and give that to their kid, or maybe order a generic Chinese import from Amazon.
Don’t do this if you want your child to develop a love of playing music. It is worth buying a quality instrument that’s the right size and plays well because it will give your child a higher chance of sticking with it.
Honestly, if you buy a cheap instrument, it’s going to be harder to play, and harder to stick with, and it may well end up being money wasted.
Have the child hold the bass.
After coming up with a list of a few models that you are interested in, head down to your local guitar store. They may not have a vast selection of short scale basses, but have your child hold a few different models to see what they like and what feels comfortable.
Learn about the specs of any models that you like. What are they made of? What is the scale length? What are the electronics?
If you have found a bass that you like, check over the instrument. Look at the neck, and make sure it’s straight and not warped.
Check how well your child’s hands fit around the neck; make sure it isn’t too wide. Have them hold it while they are sitting down as well as standing up, make sure it isn’t too heavy. Ask them if it feels comfortable and right for them.
As with regular guitars, the most important thing to look at is the size of the instrument. If it is too large or too heavy, it will be difficult for your child to play.
I wouldn’t buy even a small bass for anyone under the age of 8, but there are exceptions to this. If you are buying for a child in the 8 to 12-year-old age range, you should be looking for either a short scale or a 3/4 size bass. Some sellers use the term 3/4 size and short-scale interchangeably, but they are different.
A 3/4 size bass is, as you may have guessed, 3/4 the size of a regularly sized bass, with a scale length somewhere around 28.5”.
On the other hand, a short-scale bass means the length of the neck (and the strings) is shorter than a regular neck, somewhere around 30 to 32”. It’s essential to check the scale length because if you buy one that’s too long, it might be too difficult for the kid to learn on.
Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Short-Scale Bass Guitar
The GSRM20 gets recommended a fair amount as a good option for kids. The scale length is 28.6″ so it’s pretty small and easy for a child to move their fingers around. It’s also very lightweight, so it should be easy for most kids to hold. It is a great bass to learn on, has excellent tone and sounds good. The price is approximately $180 and also comes in a left hand model.
Gretsch Guitars G2220 Electromatic Junior Jet Bass II Short-Scale Bass
The Gretsch Guitars G2220 Electromatic Junior Jet Bass II Short-Scale Bass is one of the newer bass models that can work well for kids and teens due to it’s smaller scale. Since it’s a Gretsch you know you are getting decent quality. If your child ends up not continuing as a bassist (or they get so into it that they want to upgrade!), it’ll be easy to sell this, and get a nice portion of your money back. The neck is 30.3” scale length, so it is a perfect size for kids, Price: Approximately $300.
This pick is maybe kind of an odd option to include for kids, but I thought why not throw it in, so people know it is out there. This Hofner is a pricier short-scale bass, inspired by Paul McCartney’s classic Hofner, which he used on most of the Beatles recordings. It’s a different looking violin bass with some beautiful design features. It has a 30″ scale length, with 22 frets, making it a decent option for kids size-wise (if the price is no object). The cost is approximately $500 and you can get this model in a left handed version.
The idea of the 3/4 size models is that the whole bass is 3/4 the size of a full-sized bass, including the body as well as the neck. The 3/4 size models are different than the regular short-scale basses, because on short-scale models the body is regular size, and just the neck is shorter.
Dean Hillsboro Junior 3/4- 4-Strings Bass Guitar
The Hillsboro by Dean Guitars is a nice solid instrument that is priced slightly cheaper than some of its competitors, it has a 30″ scale and is a true 3/4 size, so it is great for kids. Price approximately $155.
SX has a bunch of different size and colors (purple, blue, red, sunburst) for basses. In the specs of the Ursa, it says it is a ‘3/4 size bass is about 3″ shorter and 2″ more narrow than a full-size bass. It also gives the height recommendation of between 4’2″ and 4’10” for this bass. This one is made for kids and would probably be a great choice. Find at Rondo Music.
Oscar Schmidt Electric Bass 3/4 Size
This is one of the few high-quality basses that has been specifically designed with kids in mind. The OB25 Oscar Schmidt Electric Bass 3/4 Size is an excellent entry-level bass for younger students with smaller hands. 3/4 size Price $170.