QUICK SUMMARY: Seven is an ideal age for kids to start learning an instrument and narrowing into more focused interests. In this article I cover what I believe is the most ideal acoustic guitar size for seven year olds (or near that age) and a few subsequent recommendations.
I’ve always believed the most ideal age to get kids started with the guitar is around seven. This has given them enough time to develop an ability to focus and to start honing in on consistent interests. As my son approaches that age (he and his twin sister just turned five a few weeks before writing this) my wife and I are starting to think about his musical interests and possibly getting him a guitar for his sixth or seventh birthday.
In this article, I’ll talk about the different guitar sizes and what size guitar a seven year old kid should be playing.
We’re not looking for toys, rather the best acoustic guitars that will provide an authentic experience for young students.
What size guitar should a 7 year old play?
For most seven year olds, a small 3/4 body design like the Martin LX1 will be the most ideal and functional fit. These guitars can also last far beyond a child's seventh birthday, as the “Little Martin” design is played by adults as well.
Speaking broadly, acoustic guitars come in the following body sizes:
- Full Dreadnought
- Full Concert (thinner cut)
- 15/16 Dreadnought
- 3/4 Small or “baby” design
- 1/2 "Mini" design
Based purely on physical size, most kids will be more comfortable with a guitar that employs the 3/4 body design. For example, the Little Martin is 15 inches long and 12 inches high, roughly 75 percent of a full dreadnought body. The entire length of the Little Martin acoustic guitar (going up to the headstock) is about 34 inches.
While there will be some variance in the stature of each seven year old, this is roughly the guitar size you’ll want to aim for.
Great Guitars for a 7 Year Old
We’ve already established some measurements based on the Martin LX1, but what about some specific guitars that are best for a seven year old beginner? I’ll dig a little deeper into three that I've used and recommend; the Little Martin LX series, Baby Taylor (BT1 and BT2) and Fender MA-1.
Taylor BT1, BT2, Fender MA-1 and the Little Martin
Based primarily on sizing and overall quality, there are two acoustic guitars that I would recommend to seven year olds who are just getting started. Both are 3/4 the size of a full guitar body.
The Taylor BT2 is marginally larger than the LX1, by less than an inch in both directions. Both acoustics are in a beginner pricing bracket and are designed with a reliable X-bracing interior.
I also recommend these because they have a lot of longevity and can be played well beyond the age of seven. They’re beginner acoustics that you won’t necessarily need or want to replace.
What about some cheaper alternatives?
I don’t like recommending most of the super-cheap guitars, partly because I have very little experience with them. However, I also understand that spending $300-$400 on your seven year old’s instrument might not be the most ideal option.
If you aren’t sure about your young student’s commitment to the guitar, here are a couple cheaper alternatives that I cannot vouch for personally, but I know a lot of people have been completely happy with them:
The Jasmine S34C is a little bigger than the typical 3/4 body size, though still scaled down enough that kids can play it comfortably. Again, I haven’t used either of these guitars, but am going off second-hand information. My take on them is that they’re better for a more fickle student, whose interest in the guitar is harder to verify.
They’re good acoustics to start with, but will have to be replaced, if and when the student decides they want to get more serious about their musical pursuits.
What about 1/2 size guitars or smaller?
You can get acoustic guitars that are designed with a body size smaller than 3/4. The “mini” size is usually around 1/2 of a full body, though I tend to avoid these models for a couple reasons.
First, they’re almost always too small, even for a seven year old. A guitar of that size doesn’t really provide an authentic experience with the instrument, which I think is important, especially when someone is first starting out.
Here’s how they look side by side:
The second reason is that they just tend to be very poor in terms of quality and design. With the 3/4 models we’ve still got plenty of reliable name-brand options to choose from. But when you drop down to 1/2, there isn’t much to pick from outside of the really cheap brands. It almost feels like you’re buying a toy instead of a guitar.
Keep in mind that pairing a child with a guitar size is not always a straightforward, uniform task. For example, I have a five year old and a two and a half year old that weigh roughly the same. Not every seven year old kid will be perfectly fitted to the 3/4 body size, which means some parents might have to improvise and pay close attention to product dimensions and specs.
Yet, the 3/4 body design is a good place to start and your best bet for most seven year olds who want to start playing the guitar.
I would strongly advise going to a local guitar shop (a Guitar Center if you live near one) and trying some of these guitars. There’s no substitute for having your child sit down and hold some of these instruments to see how comfortable they’ll feel.
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to try and help as best I can.
Leave them in the comments section below.