If you are looking for a guitar for a child aged 12, 13, 14, 15 or older, there are a lot of great beginner options. You have so many more options for teenagers because they are physically able to handle a full-sized model. If you are a teen, or a parent of a teen and aren’t sure where to start, we have put together a post with a few things to consider when looking for the best instrument for your needs. We have also come up with a recommended list of some of our favorite beginner electric, classical, acoustic and acoustic-electric styles guitars for various price ranges.
Before you buy
If you have never bought a guitar before, there are a couple of basic things to think about before you go shopping. The first thing you need to know to narrow down your search is to figure out what type you are looking for.
The four major types are Electric, Acoustic, Classical, and Acoustic-Electric.
If you aren’t sure what type to get, think about the kind of bands or music that your child listens to. If you or your child likes musicians like Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes or Taylor Swift, an acoustic or a classical style may be a great place to start. If you prefer rock or heavier music, then electric is probably the way to go. Most beginners aren’t going to need an acoustic-electric unless they are planning on using it for performing in front of an audience, where you would need the amplification.
Choosing between an acoustic or an electric is probably the most critical aspect of finding the right guitar. If you want an electric and your parents get you an acoustic or vice versa, it will make learning to play more difficult since you may not be able to stay motivated to play. Once you have learned to play one type, you can always easily switch to others, but it is best to start on what will keep you motivated to learn.
The second thing I would recommend is don’t buy the absolute, cheapest model you can find. You don’t have to buy a $500 guitar, but if you want an instrument that is going to stay in tune and be easy to play, try to get a decent quality brand like Yamaha, Fender (or at least their budget brand Squier, Epiphone (Gibson’s budget brand) or Cordoba. It is very easy to spend a lot of money on an instrument, but if you are trying out a guitar to see if it is something you want to get into there are lots of very playable options for a reasonably good price
Finally, check the size and feel of any model you are thinking about purchasing. Just because teens can generally play most full-sized guitars, they may not always be the best option. If you are on the smaller side or have little hands, you may find it more comfortable to play a smaller sized style like a Baby Taylor or other 3/4 sizes. If you are looking at acoustic designs the dreadnought styles can be pretty big, so you should test out whatever styles you may be considering. The other thing to keep in mind is the weight; some of the Epiphones are on the heavy side you should watch out for that.
Once kids get into their teens, the choices for electric guitars can be quite overwhelming since you aren’t as limited by size as you are if you are buying for a younger child. If you are purchasing a gift for a beginner, there are some excellent options that won’t break the bank. (Sorry my picks are a little Squier heavy, but I do love them as a beginner option, they are excellent quality for the price.)
Squier by Fender Bullet Strat
The Bullet Strat is a great beginner option for a teen. It is a classic Stratocaster shape from Fender’s budget brand Squier. The weight, size of the neck and the color options make this a perfect electric that will suit most teen’s needs very well. It’s excellent quality for the price.
This Squier Telecaster is very similar to the Stratocaster (above) but has a Telecaster shape which is a little different from the Strat. It comes in some beautiful color options and would make a great first guitar that will play well without having to spend the big bucks on the fancier models.
The Les Paul Junior is Epiphone’s number one selling model. Epiphone is Gibson’s budget guitar company. The Les Paul Junior has been produced since 1954 and is intended to be a budget alternative to a real Les Paul. It is a beautiful beginner model, although it is a little heavier than other options, try it out at a store if you can before buying.
The Squier Classic Vibe is one of my favorite guitars, period. It is a little pricier than most beginner styles, but if you want to invest a little more in your or your teen’s instrument, definitely have a look at the Classic Vibe, the sound, quality and feel of it are outstanding for the price.
There are a couple of outstanding options if you are looking for a classical or nylon stringed guitar for your teen. Nylon strings are considered easier to learn on because they don’t hurt your fingers as much as the steel strings of acoustic options.
Yamaha C40 GigMaker
Yamaha makes perfect guitars for beginners and students. The C40 is well made, very light to hold and stays in tune well (which is an essential feature on a beginner model).
Cordoba is well-known for its high-quality classical guitars. The C3M is one of their most popular models. It is full-sized, handcrafted design and has traditional Spanish fan bracing. It also has a beautiful inlaid wooden rosette, which helps to make this a beautiful looking instrument along with the rosewood fingerboard, and gold tuning machines with pearl buttons.
There are lots of beautiful and expensive acoustic guitars around, if you don’t mind spending some money, Martin and Taylor have some excellent models. If you want a few more budget-friendly options, the following are good quality for a reasonable price that should be sufficient for most beginning players.
If you want a decent quality, incredibly cheap acoustic guitar, this is a fantastic option. For a beginner guitar, it has excellent sound and some nice detailing on the body. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Acoustic-Electric guitars are great if you like acoustic designs and are planning on performing and need the guitar to be able to plug into an amplification system. Most beginners probably won’t need an acoustic-electric, but I’ve included a couple just in case people are interested in them. It is kind of hard to find cheap, good quality acoustic-electric design if you don’t mind paying a decent amount of money Martin has some nice ones.
Epiphone Hummingbird Pro
The Hummingbird Pro pops up a lot as a great sounding, good quality option that you can get in the $250-$300 range. The original Hummingbird model was made famous by Keith Richards; it is often described as having a “woody” tone.
Guitars in the Yamaha FG series are generally considered to be pretty good options as beginner models. The FGX800C Solid Top Cutaway Acoustic-Electric is an excellent choice if you are looking for acoustic electric. Learn more.