View Full Version : Beginner Guitar for 10 year old

Uncle Boo
07-21-2017, 03:50 AM
I'm not much of a guitar player, just a few cords, I just like the uke. So my 10 year old grandson has taken an interest in the guitar and wants one. I figure I need to ask our guitar folks for a little advice on what and where to buy. I have read that Yamaha (with solid spruce top) makes a pretty good one, $180 at Guitar Center. It's a folk guitar, full size I guess, is that too big for a 10 year old boy? Where should I buy? We like to buy our ukulele's from reputable dealers that set up the ukulele properly, even if it is a lower end product, it can make all the difference in play-ability and sound. We would like to stay $200 or less on a beginner. What say you guitar people, help me out?

Uncle Boo

07-21-2017, 05:41 AM
Two yrs ago my sister asked me for advice in getting a guitar for my 11 yr old neice, who also plays a concert uke.

I went with them to the local shop (sister wanted my niece to see and play the instrument, AND THEN take it home same day and NOT wait for internet, etc).

I advised nylon strings as opposed to steel strings for LOWER tension, similarity to uke strings, and less cutting into the fingers.

We found an Ibanez classical, and since she had shorter fingers, we went with a narrower nut width (1.67", which was a sort of crossover guitar betw classical and steel). Most classical guitars have a nut width of about 2" and the string-to-string spacing is very close to that on an ukulele. A steel string guitar, acoustic OR electric is about 1.67" or 1 11/16" nut width...

She had no trouble fingering it, whereas for me the strings were too close together...

I showed her that if she put a capo on the 5th fret, the tuning moves from EADGBE to ADGCEA and all of her uke chords 'just work' and are in the same key...

THe experience confirmed that it was a good idea to have her try out the guitars in the store. They had smaller ones, various guilele and 'kids guitars' that sounded bad, but were easier to play, and they had full sized classical and flamenco guitars, standard 25.5" scale and full 2.11" nut width, but were very hard for her to play, but sounded much better.

My niece CHOSE the Ibanez as the most comfortable to play, and that same day she went home with it.

Ibanez classical Guitar +
hardwood/tolex case for CLASSICAL guitar +
Planet Waves NS-Micro tuner +
strap +
= something like $420 out the door

Maybe the above story will help you to decide what to do...:)

07-21-2017, 05:59 AM
I was playing with the $99 Yamaha Guitalele the other day at a Guitar Center, It might be a nice starter guitar for someone with smaller hands.

Side note: My local store is no longer carrying ANY Kala models...generally they are carrying Mitchell ukuleles (nice, but too heavy, likely overbuilt like many ukuleles made by guitar companies), Cordoba, and Luna. They had a used Pono AT at not enough of a a used discount, and one Lanikai hanging on the wall.

I do wonder why Yamaha hasn't gotten into the ukulele game. Or has it?

07-21-2017, 06:17 AM
I was playing with the $99 Yamaha Guitalele the other day at a Guitar Center, It might be a nice starter guitar for someone with smaller hands.

I have one of these. Coming from a full-sized Yamaha classical, it was a disappointment.

Build quality was rough, intonation was bad all over and action was 3mm at the 12th.

If one is willing to get those issues resolved, then maybe it could be made playable. Also, the nut is 43mm, which is QUITE narrow for 6 strings and thinner width than even a Fender strat.

I had thought to offer this to my sister for my niece, but likely the setup work would fall on me, and I dont like being put on the spot like that.

OTOH, you can get a full sized, but 'starter' Yamaha classical guitar for ~$100-$125 (models CG102a or CG120a), which will likely have a much nicer fit and finish, and due to the longer scale, any intonation problems will likely be mitigated. The action is likely to be a bit high as well, and even if a setup is done, you will end up with a much more playable instrument, albeit 8.5 inches longer in scale length and 4 times larger in body volume and size.

07-21-2017, 03:07 PM
Ask him what music he wants to play before deciding between steel or nylon. Both have their strengths. I wouldn't be overly concerned with pressing the strings. If he goes with steel he will build calluses and there are various gauges as well as silk and steel strings if pressing the frets is an issue. It's likely more important that he is excited. I'm not advocating either both have their strengths.

If he will be taking lessons at a reputable place, the teacher will be able to make recommendations based on his physiology and interests.

A good setup goes a long way on a beginner guitar and decent tuners are quite helpful.

07-29-2017, 01:05 AM
If you haven't made the purchase yet, I spent WEEKS researching which to buy one for my 5'4" wife. Between numerous YouTube videos, other sites, and three larger guitar stores there was one clear winner

If I was you I would get him the Yamaha FS800. This is like the FG800 but has a slightly smaller profile but is still a full size guitar. they also have FS 810, 820, 830 etc which has different woods (and goes up in prices) but the FS800 should be just fine.

This is the one to get.

Below is amazon link so you can read about it, but I would usually get a guitar from a store where I could hold and inspect it (If possible). Should be $199 in the store. you can also hoover you mouse over the two sizes and move it back and forth and you will see the slight differences in size I mean

this would be a bit smaller for a 10 year old but plenty big as he grows


08-03-2017, 08:33 AM
My daughter is now 9.5 and started lessons about 2 yrs ago. We got her one of the Yamaha 3/4 size guitars like this: http://www.musiciansfriend.com/guitars/yamaha-3-4-scale-folk-guitar

Yes, steel strings are harder than nylon etc etc, but about 3 months in I changed them to a set of Martin FX130 Silk and Phosphor Acoustic Guitar Strings - they are a bit easier on the fingers and she is loving them.

As for the guitar, they did use to have a solid top model and a laminate top model. She has the solid top, I don't know if they still have both available or if they have simply moved to laminate. You can find these on ebay/craigslist etc for pretty good deals at times...

Good luck!