Your Kids First Guitar - The Best 1/2 Size Guitar For 2021

Your child may have expressed an interest in playing guitar. In this case, they will need one that their tiny hands can navigate.

The fretboard and neck on a full-size guitar can be virtually impossible for a kid to form chords on. The body of a large acoustic guitar can even be a struggle for them to get their arm over.

If your child is below 4’6” then a 1/2 size guitar would be an appropriate match for them. If they are taller than this, perhaps consider a 3/4 guitar instead.

You could, of course, be shopping for a small guitar for yourself to travel with. We have included some pricier picks that are more appropriate for adults.

Personally, I would opt for a 3/4 guitar for travel. They are more comfortable to play for someone that normally plays a standard size guitar. However, a 1/2 size is less likely to get rejected as carry-on luggage. An electric 1/2 size guitar may even fit inside your luggage in its gig bag. Pretty convenient!

There are a few things to think about when purchasing a 1/2 size guitar. It may be a good idea to have a quick look at our FAQ section at the bottom of the page before you commit.
A Quick Look At The Best 1/2 Size Guitars 
The Best 1/2 Size Nylon String Guitar
Cordobra Requinto - Product Image
Cordoba Requinto 1/2 Size Classical Guitar
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The Best 1/2 Size Electric Guitar
Vox SDC1 Mini - Product Image
VOX SDC1 MINI Electric Guitar
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The Best 1/2 Size Acoustic Guitar
Little Martin - Product Image
Martin - Little Martin Series
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The Best 1/2 Size Guitars With Nylon Strings

Nylon string guitars, also known as classical guitars, are often considered the best guitars for learners. The strings are a little easier on the soft fingertips of new guitar players.

The Best ½ Size Nylon String Guitar Over $300

Cordoba Requinto 1/2 Size Classical Acoustic Guitar

Cordobra Requinto - Product Image

Stats

  • Body: Solid Cedar Top, Mahogany Back And Sides
  • Neck: Mahogany With Rosewood Fretboard
  • Scale Length: 22 ¾”
Pros
  • Solid top
  • Reliable
  • Great sound
Cons
  • Expensive
This is a little pricey for a half size guitar. Yet, it sounds amazing when compared to the more budget-friendly options.
 
You may ask yourself why you would spend so much on a half size guitar. However, if your child was learning a woodwind or brass instrument you would be looking at a similar cost. It may be worth considering an expensive option if your child is committed to learning. If you can justify the cost, we think this is the best 1/2 size guitar in terms of classical options.
 
This is a serious instrument and would be a good choice for an adult that wants to travel with a classical guitar.
 
It produces a surprising amount of volume for a guitar with such a small body. This is thanks to its premium features such as a solid cedar top and 5 fan Torres style internal bracing.
 
The other tonewoods used for this guitar are also great. It has a mahogany neck, back, and sides with a rosewood fingerboard. Cordoba hasn’t skimped on any of the materials. This is partly why this guitar is more expensive than some of the competition.
 
The construction is another defining factor for this guitar. It is a handmade guitar with many refined features. It has an all rosewood bridge, binding, and heel cap. These not only look great but contribute to the quality warm tone of this guitar. The rosette is also inlaid by hand with all-natural woods.
 
On top of great sound, the benefit of getting a premium instrument is reliability. There is a lot less chance of this guitar having tuning issues or warping of the neck.
 
This is an instrument that could easily pass down between siblings. It could also be nice to continue practice on the go as an adult or teen.

Cordoba Protégé C-1M Half-Size Classical Acoustic Guitar

Cordoba Protege C-1M - Product Image

Stats

  • Body: Spruce Top, Mahogany Back And Sides
  • Neck: Mahogany With Rosewood Fretboard
  • Scale Length: 22 ¾”
Pros
  • Nice tonewoods
  • Reliable
  • Truss rod
Cons
  • Not as impressive as the more expensive Cordoba
I didn’t want to make this our pick for this price range. I thought it may seem like we are just favoring Cordoba guitars since our top pick was also from this brand. However, I couldn’t find another classical guitar in this price range that had a truss rod.

A truss rod helps with adjustments to the neck of the guitar. Without it, a neck is much more likely to warp out of shape and there is then little you can do to fix it.

The inclusion of a truss rod for this guitar means that they designed it to last. An important consideration for any instrument. You don’t want to have to replace the guitar before you were planning to upgrade. With a lower quality instrument, you may have to buy a second 1/2 size guitar for your child. Only for them to then outgrow it after a growth spurt. This is for this reason the C-1M is a standout for me.

There are some other nice features the guitar has such as a comfortable slim neck profile. It also has a rosewood fretboard and bridge. However, it is missing a lot of the inclusions that make the Requinto great. This model is missing a solid wood top and rosewood binding but for half the price it can't have it all.

The Protégé is also available in other sizes. This is convenient for when your child is ready to move on to a bigger size, they can still have the same guitar. Replacing instruments in this manner will help keep consistency in their playing.

I will mention there are other nice guitars like the Yamaha CGS102A in this price range. This is a classic choice for music schools around the world to introduce students to guitars. It does not include the truss rod though so it just missed out on being our top pick.

Hohner HAG250P Classical Acoustic Guitar

Hohner HAG250P - Product Image

Stats

  • Body: Agathis
  • Neck: Mahogany With ‘Hardwood’ Fretboard
  • Scale Length:19”
Pros
  • Cheap
  • No plastic parts
Cons
  • Tuning issues

Hohner is a brand that is more well known for their harmonicas and accordions. They produce some of the best instruments in these categories. You could even say they are industry leaders in these niches. While this guitar is not quite up to the same standards, it is a decent entry-level instrument. It also comes at a more than fair price.

The construction of the body of this guitar is Agathis wood. It’s not the most resonant tonewood but for the price you pay, it is pretty decent. The fretboard is also generic hardwood. With these features, you can’t expect this guitar to sound like a guitar that costs twice as much. However, this guitar is not a toy like some of the even cheaper classical guitars available. This guitar actually plays fine and sounds like a real guitar and is not built of plastic.

This guitar will hold its tune for long enough to play a few songs. The tuners are budget and with a plastic nut so it will need tuning after it has been idle for a while. Yet, it is ready to rock once tuned.

You may want to switch to a new set of strings once you get this guitar. The included ones are a little dodgy. Consider buying a set designed for small guitars. They are relatively cheap to buy and easy to change.

This is the lowest budget guitar we can wholeheartedly get behind. Spending less will likely net you a generic rebranded Chinese guitar. These often have no quality assurance standards. These kinds of guitars can have a range of issues from tuning to sharp frets and warped wood.

The Best ½ Size Nylon String Guitar Under $30

Music Alley MA-52 ½ Size Classical Guitar

Music Alley Half Size - Product Image

Stats

  • Body: Basswood
  • Neck: Plastic - EWW!
  • Scale Length: N/A
Pros
  • Extremely cheap
Cons
  • Plastic parts
  • Unreliable
As mentioned at the end of the Hohner guitar’s review it is hard to promote a very budget guitar. There are many potential issues with choosing a cheap guitar. These Music Alley guitars are more for a child to muck around with and get a taste for the instrument.

These guitars sound okay and they have metal tuners that should help them to stay relatively in tune. However, they aren’t up to the standard of our more expensive picks. Not even close.

The plastic neck could also be a problem for both playability and tuning.

These guitars are not ideal for use in a school band or orchestra. This is because of the potential tuning issues. You would not want to come out of tune during a concert and make the whole thing sound terrible.

Go for this one if you aren’t sure if your child will actually stick to the guitar or will only use it as a toy. If you are sure they want to learn to play, it’s worth spending the extra money to get the Hohner guitar instead.

The Best 1/2 Size Guitars - Steel String Acoustics

Steel string acoustic guitars provide the correct tone for most popular styles of music. They are tougher on the fingertips of new players but are worth the effort for the tone.

Martin - Little Martin Series

Little Martin - Product Image

Stats

  • Body: Various
  • Neck: Various
  • Scale Length: 23”
Pros
  • Selection of models available
  • Excellent craftsmanship and quality
  • Solid top
Cons
  • Expensive

Martin is one of the most popular manufacturers of premium acoustic guitars. They are well known for making beautiful rich-sounding instruments. Of course, these little guitars don’t sound as good as their $2000+ models but they are one of the best for a tiny guitar.

These guitars are available in a range of different tonewoods. This means you can get the sound and aesthetics you want out of your guitar from the get-go.

For a brighter sound with classic looks, you could go for the solid Sitka spruce top. If you would prefer a warmer tone with beautifully grained wood the Koa LXK2 could be the choice for you.

These guitars are also available as an acoustic/electric model. Having a pickup means they are perfect for a working musician to travel with. The internal pickup is of decent quality and sounds good when plugged in. You may need to boost the bass a little on the PA but then you will sound like you have a full-size guitar.

All the hardware and bracing are of a standard you could expect from a big brand guitar manufacturer. That means this guitar suffers less tuning stability issues than many other small guitars. It also implies a rich and full sounding tone.

These guitars are available as an Ed Sheeran signature model. They are a little more expensive and don’t add a lot of value to the overall quality of the guitar. I would steer clear of the extra spend unless you or your child is a massive fan.

At a 23” scale length these guitars teeter between a 1/2 size and 3/4 size guitar. The small body is much smaller than most 3/4 guitars though so they are still a suitable choice for children.

If you are after something a touch smaller I recommend a Baby Taylor. They are similarly priced, slightly smaller, and of similar quality to Little Martins. It was a tough choice to choose a favorite between these two types of guitars for this position on our list. Both of them definitely leave most of the competition in the dust.

Oscar Schmidt 1/2 Size Dreadnought Acoustic

Oscar Schmidt Half Size - Product Image

Stats

  • Body: Spruce Top, Catalpa Back and Sides
  • Neck: Mahogany With Rosewood Fretboard
  • Scale Length: 22”
Pros
  • Selection of colors available
  • Good quality for the price
Cons
  • Not solid top

Okay, these guitars don’t sound as good as the Little Martins. However, you can often pick these guitars up for less than half the price of the Martins'.

They are a good instrument for the cost. A perfect choice if you don’t have the budget for the more expensive 1/2 size steel strings.

They have good tonewoods with a spruce top and mahogany neck. The rosewood fretboard also plays well and adds to the sparkling tone of these guitars.

Sometimes, these guitars come equipped with a composite fretboard. These are not as good as a rosewood one so check before you checkout on Amazon if you decide to get this guitar.

These are available in a range of different colors. The clear gloss finish is my favorite but the other colors may suit your children better. The bright pink one is a particular standout.

The hardware on these guitars is of acceptable quality. You shouldn’t expect any major tuning issues or immediate problems with warping.

An overall decent guitar. Definitely our favorite ½ size steel string in this price range by a mile.

The Best ½ Size Electric Guitars

Electric guitar sizes are a little different. The scale length of a 3/4 electric is similar to a 1/2 size acoustic. Therefore, your child could be comfortable playing one of those instead.

Since we have a full article on the best ¾ size electric guitars we have only included super small guitars here.

VOX SDC1 MINI Electric Guitar

Vox SDC1 Mini - Product Image

Stats

  • Body: Poplar
  • Neck: Maple With Purple Heart Fretboard
  • Scale Length: 18 3/4″
Pros
  • A real guitar brand
  • Good tuning stability for a small guitar
Cons
  • Strings can be tough on kids hands

This little bad boy eats all the dodgy 1/2 size generic electric guitars on Amazon for breakfast. There aren’t many options for ‘real’ 1/2 size electric guitars and this is one that can rock the house.

This small scale length of this guitar makes it an amazing choice for a traveling musician. The fact that electric guitars also have a smaller body than acoustics doubles down on this fact. For these reasons, this is likely the best 1/2 size guitar in terms of portability.

This guitar can fit pretty much anywhere. Its small size also makes it easy for small kids to pick it up and reach around the body and fretboard easily.

This guitar has high-quality tuners and comes with strings designed to stay in tune. As mentioned in our FAQ, tuning stability is a common problem for small guitars. Avoiding this is a godsend when starting to learn.

Unfortunately, this also means the string tension can be more like a full-size guitar. This can cause sore fingers as your child first begins to learn. They will develop calluses, but nobody wants to see their kids in pain. Even if it’s only mild and just for a few days.

The pickup is also of a higher standard than most other 1/2 size guitars. This means the guitar will sound better plugged in. Couple this with superior tonewoods to the competition and you have a guitar that stands head and shoulders above the others.

None!

I have to be honest here. Most 1/2 size electric guitars in this price range come from the same factory. Even if they are different brands. You can tell by looking at the headstock shape, the body shape, and a few other giveaways. They are mass-produced rubbish.

These guitars are more for sparking an interest than for long term learning. You would be much better off going for one of our recommended ¾ size electrics. Getting a nylon string guitar could be another option to save money.

These will work and sound okay but will be very susceptible to many problems. These can include tuning issues, warped necks, and bad fretwork. This will especially be the case after prolonged use.

1/2 Size Guitar FAQ

 

Is A 1/2 Size Guitar Right For My Child?

Forget about age. The size of the guitar is relevant to the size of your child. This is so they can get their hands and arms where they need to be.

A 1/2 size guitar is suitable for a kid that is around 3’9” to 4’6”. Other factors can also come into play. For example, your child could have large hands for their height. They may be more comfortable with a 3/4 scale guitar if this is the case.

If you think they are due for a growth spurt it’s better to go for a 3/4 size guitar. That way they can grow into it. Just like buying a pair of shoes a few sizes too big.

 

Related Content - How To Play Guitar

 

How Many Frets Are On A 1/2 Size Guitar?

Usually 18-22. If you’re new to learning guitar you won’t often go past the first 5 anyway. If you’re a shredder that wants the extra reach you won’t be able to get as much sonic range as some full-size guitars. Sorry.

 

What Are Some Common Problems With 1/2 Size Guitars?

Small guitars often have trouble staying in tune. This is because the tension of the strings is lower than on a standard size guitar. Less tension means less stability in the strings. This is also not helped by the cheap hardware on many small guitars. It is a good idea to get a clip-on tuner to help keep the guitar in tune.

Smaller bodies on 1/2 scale acoustics cause them to project less sound. This is because the sound from the strings resonates inside the body of acoustic guitars. A smaller body means less resonation and less volume. Electric guitars don’t have this problem. They get their power from the magnetic pickups rather than the body of the guitar.

 

Which Type Of 1/2 Size Guitar Should I Get?

Nylon string guitars are usually the best for beginners. They are easier on the soft fingertips of new players. They often have a little bit more space between the strings too which makes it harder to pick at the wrong ones.

Playing steel-string and electric guitars will take time to build callouses on your fingertips. They form after a short while but can put you off wanting to go back and practice in the first few days/weeks. Many prefer the tone of steel-string guitars. For you, it may be worth going through this short period of discomfort.

Electric guitars also need to plug into an amplifier. If you don’t have an amplifier already you have to consider the extra cost of buying one.

 

Is It Worth Getting An Expensive 1/2 Size Guitar?

This depends on how much use you think it will get. An expensive guitar in all categories will play, sound, and even look better in most cases. The potential problem with a 1/2 size is that it may only see use for a short while before another guitar replaces it.

It’s a matter of choice for the individual. Personally, if I had the budget, I wouldn’t look twice at a dirt-cheap guitar. Something in the middle will always be better than the bottom if you can’t afford the premium products.

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