Compared to other instruments, student guitars are fairly inexpensive (almost always under $130.00), and although they can be rented, it usually makes sense to purchase a size-appropriate guitar for your child.  Here are some tips as you begin the journey:

Instructor and boy play guitarSize makes all the difference!

It is just no fun at all to learn on an instrument that is not the right size, but how do I know if it is?  Until students are the size of a child 12 years of age or older, it is likely they will need a reduced-size instrument. The best way to determine the correct size is to visit a guitar or instrument store (see below) and have your child sized by an educated guitarist.  Once the proper size has been determined, you may feel more comfortable finding a used instrument or purchasing online. 

  • Approximate guitar sizing:  1/4 size: ages 4-6; 1/2 size: ages 6-9; 3/4 size: ages 9-12 (NOTE: This varies by guitar and the size of the child.)
  • Pat C., guitar specialist, strongly suggests that children who are measured to need a half size or smaller begin with baritone ukulele instead. The baritone ukulele is about the size of a half size guitar (much bigger than the small soprano ukuleles that seem like toys), and the four strings (and therefore fingerings) are exactly the same as the first four strings of a 6-string string guitar.  Because the hand size and strength needed are much less, these ukes lend themselves to greater success.  When kids are bigger, then switching to 6-string guitar later is easy!

What type of guitar is best?

Acoustic guitars with nylon strings are best for most beginners.  If This is because before the callouses are developed, steel strings cause young fingers to be more tender and therefore discouraging.

NOTE: Only the three highest strings of the guitar are 100% nylon. The lower three strings are nylon wrapped with metal to help maintain the pitch.

Rent or Buy?

This depends on several factors:

  • Size of child: Most stores do not rent smaller-sized guitars. (1/2 or 1/4--see note on baritone ukulele) If your child is starting very young (and small), it might make sense to rent your instrument and trade up as he grows in size, but finding a place to do that would be challenging.
  • Apply rent to purchase? If you do rent, look for stores that allow you to apply your rent toward the purchase of an instrument. Stores that rent-to-own usually average out the cost of the instrument over 2 years until you would own it.

Group of boys play guitar How much should I expect to spend?

  •  You can purchase a decent (but not fancy) student sized guitar for under $100.00, so usually buying it makes more sense. Keep in mind that you may purchase a less expensive guitar but it might be more challenging for your student to play. For example, if the strings sit high off the fingerboard, the student will have more difficulty pressing the strings down to play certain chords.
  • Approximate rent: The rent for a guitar will usually be based on the value of the instrument, but may start at a minimum of $25.00-$30.00 per month. 


GUITARS: One guitar faculty member suggests the Cordoba Student Guitar (about $130.00)

 STORES: In the San Jose Area

  • Park Avenue Music: 1717 Park Avenue, San Jose, CA 95126; Tel: (408) 279-5100
  • Guitar Showcase: 3090 S Bascom Ave, San Jose, CA 95124;(408) 377-5864
  • Music Village: 2971 Union Ave San Jose, CA 95124 (408) 377-2504; or 5885 Santa Teresa Blvd San Jose, CA 95123 (408) 629-1812

STORES: In the Saratoga/Sunnyvale Area

  • West Valley Music: 262 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041; (650) 961-1566
  • Starving Musicians: 3939 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051; (408) 554-9041
  • Guitar Center: 3677 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051: (408) 249-0455
  • Crossroads Music: 10564 S De Anza Blvd, Cupertino, CA 95014; (408) 996-8742

Request options to try a guitar lesson that fits your schedule.