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Children’s Guitar Size Calculator 

 January 27, 2021

By  Kale Good

This article is one part of my Ultimate Parent's Guide to Kid's Guitar Lessons.

How to perfectly size a guitar for your child

By inputting a straightforward measurement, you can use the Guitar Size Calculator to avoid the most common mistake when buying your child's guitar: getting an oversized guitar based purely on your child's age.

Instead, this calculator will tell you what size guitar to buy based on your child's body size. That makes a lot more sense.

At the bottom of the page, you can check out some of my recommended guitars in each size. These guitars are some of the best guitars for the money. 

To find a guitar that fits well, measure the height of your child's belly button when standing. Then, put that measurement into the guitar-sizing calculator to find the proper-sized guitar and click "Calculate" to be shown the sizes and guitars that will work for you. 

Optionally, you can also take another measurement using forearm length as a secondary measurement. To do this, put your child's elbow on a table and measure from the table to the wrist bones outside the arm. 

In my experience, a guitar the same height as your child's belly button will be perfectly sized for playing. However, most parents want a guitar their child can use for a few years. I've slightly sized up the "maximum size" the calculator gives to account for this.

Problems of Oversized Kids Guitars

If your child uses an oversized guitar, they'll encounter three issues, each compounding the others:

  1. Larger guitars have higher-tension strings. Your child will need to use more muscle to get the notes down. That's never beneficial; any experienced musician will tell you to play with as little force as possible.
  2. Your child's fingers will need to stretch beyond their optimal range, making it even more challenging to apply the force needed.
  3. Your child's arm must also be further away from the body, compromising the wrist, hand, and finger positions.

They'll also end up tensing up their shoulder muscles to support their arm. All of this will make playing a strenuous activity for your child and can minimize their enjoyment.

It's like going for a run in sweatpants two sizes too large. Sure, you can do it, but you won't develop a good technique, improve quickly, or have much fun doing it.

Problems with most recommendations

Parents face compounding problems regarding most guitar recommendation charts. 

Age-based Recommendations

Most guitar sizing charts for kids are age-based recommendations. However, age isn't the best determinant of what size guitar will fit your child. Your child's size best determines what size guitar fits your child! 

Fractional Guitar Sizes

Instruments for kids are typically called "fractional instruments" ( ¼, ½, or ¾, and so forth) to indicate their size. These sizes are often recommended based on age. 

This sizing works well for violins, and many other instruments, but fractional guitar sizes are not standardized. Getting a ½ sized guitar because your child is 9 yr old will be very problematic if your child is small for their age and the guitar is a larger ½ sized guitar.

gUITAR sIZE cALCULATOR

Belly Button Height: Measure the height of your child's belly button when standing

Forearm Length (optional): Put your child's elbow on a table and measure from the table to the wrist bones outside the arm

Guitar Size Calculator

Your child needs a (not calculated) Cm Scale Length Guitar

Your child needs a guitar with a scale length between (not calculated) and (not calculated)cm. By going with the larger of the two sizes listed here, you can expect your child's guitar to last 1.5-2 years.

In Person Purchases

If you're lucky enough to try out guitars in-person, sit your child down and have them hold the guitar in the proper playing position.

Look out for their right-shoulder rising as your child sits in the proper position. Their shoulders should remain level and well-aligned as they hold the instrument.

Suppose they are taking Suzuki or Classical guitar lessons. In that case, their left hand should be a little below their shoulder when their hand in the first position (by the headstock).

If you are unsure of which fit is best, err on the side of the larger scale length.

What kind of Guitar Should I buy for my child?

One of the biggest hurdles your child will face as they start playing guitar is the development of calluses. Good technique helps to minimize the pain involved and shortens the time it takes to develop the callouses. Unfortunately, the pain makes developing good technique quite challenging!

I teach my students using the Suzuki method, which is classically-based and uses nylon string guitars exclusively. Nylon strings are both lower tension and larger diameter than the steel strings used on Acoustic guitars. The lower tension means that my students don't need to press down as hard to make a note sound. The larger diameter means that the force required to push the string down is spread over a larger portion of the finger. These two differences allow my students to develop their technique without a painful "breaking-in" period before developing their calluses. Then, when they are ready, their excellent technique allows them to easily transition to a steel-stringed guitar.

Another advantage of nylon guitars, especially for younger students, is that they are available in a much more comprehensive range of sizes. You may find that there are no steel-stringed or electric guitars made that will fit your child. In that case, start them off on a nylon-stringed guitar and transition to a larger instrument after they've grown a bit.

Where Can I find the Best Kid's Guitar Lessons?

You're in the right place. For more information about the best kid's guitar lessons online and in the Philadelphia area, read this page

Select Testimonials

Emily Collier

Parent 

Our older kid has been taking lessons with Kale Good for 3 years now, and our younger could not be more excited to start this week. Both my husband and I are classically trained, former-professional musicians, and we can say hands-down that Kale is the best music teacher we've ever encountered, anywhere... 

Ted Wongcini

parent

Kale is a fantastic teacher. He seems to know how to attune to each kid, figuring out the balance of challenging and reassuring his students. His lessons have helped our daughter grow tremendously, especially her confidence. We highly recommend Kale.


Complete testimonials here.

Necessary Accessories

If your child is just starting off on guitar, you'll want a few extra items (affiliate links below):

  • assorted pics, if you'll be strumming chords
  • a guitar amp, if you're playing electric. I recommend the Orange I20 amp. It's got an excellent cabinet simulator that makes it sound like a cranked amp at a rock show, even through headphones. Way better than the boring practice amp I started off with.
  • A case. Make sure is either hardshell or has some padding and is the correct size. Avoid the bags that are just a thin nylon; they offer no protection from the scrapes and bumps that kids put instruments through. Additionally, if you buy an accoustic guitar, they will not seal well enough to allow you to properly humidify your guitar in dry climates and seasons. 
  • if playing a classical guitar and strumming chords, kling-on soundboard protector

Recommended Guitars

Note: Some of these links below are affiliate links and may make some money if you buy them.

You can check out this article to see what you can expect at different price points (this article is geared towards classical guitars).

More expensive guitars sound more beautiful; your child will enjoy playing them more and you'll enjoy hearing them more. Cheap guitars sound lousy and are hard to play; your child won't understand that it is their guitar that makes it hard to play and sound bad, not their own ability or effort. Please get your child the best guitar you can afford.

Classical (Nylon-Stringed) Guitars

These are the guitars with which I have the most experience as a teacher.

The Benjamin Garcia guitars are hand-built and will blow you away with their fantastic tone and perfectly miniaturized proportions. The LaMancha and more-expensive Cordoba guitars are well-built and have a pleasant tone.

Note that guitars under $200 can experience quality control issues and may need to be taken to a guitar repair person for minor adjustments.

Please take note that some of these guitars come with cases. Others will require you to buy a case.

Cordoba Cadete 3/4 Size

  • Scale Length: 61.5cm
  • Price: $389
  • Amazon

Cordoba Dolce 7/8 Size

  • Scale Length: 63cm
  • Price: $399
  • Amazon

Cordoba C1M 1/2 Size

  • Scale Length: 58cm
  • Price: $179
  • Amazon

Cordoba C1M 1/4 Size

  • Scale Length: 48cm
  • Price: $179
  • Amazon

Cordoba C1M 3/4 Size

  • Scale Length: 61.5cm
  • Price: $179
  • Amazon

Guitar

Scale Length

Price (at publication)

45cm

$595

48cm

$595

50cm

$625

53cm

$650

55cm

$675

59cm

$675

62cm

$675

64cm

$850

65cm

$850

La Mancha cm-41

41cm

$190

La Mancha cm-47

47cm

$275

La Mancha cm-53

53cm

$299

La Mancha cm-59

59cm

$299

La Mancha cm-63

63cm

$299

Acoustic Guitars

Note that steel string and electric guitars usually have their scale lengths measure in inches. I've provided both measurements here so you can be certain your buying the correct guitar.

If you're child is still fairly small, you'll likely need to start off on a nylon-string, classical guitar.

Martin LX1 Little Martin

  • Scale Length: 58.5cm (23in)
  • Price: $399
  • Amazon

Talyor Academy 10

  • Scale Length: 63.5cm (24.875 in)
  • Price: $699
  • Amazon

Taylor GS Mini

  • Scale Length: 60cm (23.5 in)
  • Price: $699
  • Amazon

Yamaha JR1 FG Junior

  • Scale Length: 54cm (21.25 in)
  • Price: $139
  • Amazon

Martin Dreadnaught Junior

  • Scale Length: 61cm (24 in)
  • Price: $499
  • Amazon

Fender CD-60s

  • Scale Length: 64cm (25.3 in)
  • Price: $199
  • Amazon

Electric Guitars

Just like with steel-string guitars, there aren't a ton of options out there for smaller kids. Starting off on a nylon-stringed, classical guitar may be your best option.

You will need an amp. I recommend the Orange I20 amp. It's got an excellent cabinet simulator that makes it sound like a cranked amp at a rock show, even through headphones. And that's going to keep your kid motivated!

Ibanez Mikro

  • Scale Length: 56.5cm (22.2 in)
  • Price: $199
  • Amazon

Mitchell MM100 Mini

Squier Mini Stratocaster

  • Scale Length: 57.7cm (22.75 in)
  • Price: $189
  • Amazon

Epiphone Slash Appetite Les Paul

Related Content:

Conclusion

Now that you know which guitar you'll be buying, see what other Essentials You'll Need for Your Child's First Guitar Lesson.

Kale Good


Educator and Founder of Good Music Academy.

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