If you are looking for an acoustic guitar for your child who is between the ages of 7 or 8 to about 10 or 11 a great model to have a look at is the Yamaha FG JR1 3/4 Size Acoustic. The FG JR1 is a fantastic price for the quality you are getting, and it size makes it comfortable for younger kids. This is a three quarter size which means that is 3/4 the size of a full sized guitar. Full sized models tend to overwhelm kids because they are physically too small to play them comfortably. It obviously isn’t a high end instrument, as it has been designed as a starter guitar for children so you cannot expect the same sound and features that you would get on a more expensive model, but it does serve its purpose as a beginner instrument very well.
*If you are interested in the JR1, you should also have a look at the JR2, which is also a fantastic guitar for kids.
The FG JR1 is an acoustic guitar which just means that it has steel strings, as opposed to the nylon string of a classical style. Some people prefer children to start on nylon stringed models because they are a little bit more comfortable for kid’s fingers. Kids can play steel string, they will just need to play for a few minutes each day so they can build up calluses and then they will be fine. So if you have a child who is starting lessons and you need an easy to play, real instrument that sounds great and doesn’t cost a fortune, you should try out the Yamaha FG JR1.
As mentioned above, this is a smaller model because it is 3/4 scale. It is very lightweight making it ideal for kids. It has a beautiful spruce top, a nato neck, a rosewood fingerboard and meranti body that all look really nice and have a nice finish.
Because of its size the FG JR1 is very easy and fun to play. Your kids will be able to practice on it without their fingers getting too sore. Also the neck is slimmer than a full sized model so it is much easier for kids with small hands to play.
The sound is very good on the FG JR1 especially since it is a 3/4 scale, which don’t tend to have the same warm rich tone that a full sized guitar would have. Smaller models also don’t generally project as loud as a full size but the FG JR1 has a very respectable sound and tone. It stays in tune as well as can be expected for a guitar in this price range, but it is easy to retune it so it isn’t a big issue.
Yamaha’s craftsmanship is usually very good and this instrument is no exception. To me it feels very well made and pretty solid. There are no obvious flaws on the FG JR1’s that I have come across. Also the out of the box string action is pretty good and most likely can be played as it is.
Things to look out for with the FG JR1
If you are buying for a young child and it’s their first guitar you should be aware that the FG JR1 has steel strings which can sometimes be a bit hard for kids who are learning to play. If you are not used to steel strings it can be a little bit painful, so kids will just need to play for a short period each day until they built up some callouses on their fingers. It’s not a huge deal, but something to be aware of. If that is something you are worried about, you can also look into nylon stringed (classical guitars) that can be somewhat easier on kids fingers
The best things about the FG JR1 is its size, its playability, and the low price, which combine to make it an ideal starter guitar for young kids who would like to learn how to play. Yamaha has done a great job designing a small guitar that has tremendous volume and tone considering its price point. Most kids would be lucky to have such a good instrument to learn on.