The Worst Beginner Guitar in the Universe

worst kids guitar first act

I usually write about the best guitars and guitar-related-accessories.

Not today.

Today we’re going to learn about the absolute worst guitar.

When you’re buying a new guitar it’s important to know which guitars are best and which ones to avoid.

For the purposes of this article we’re going to focus on beginner guitars.


What to look for in a beginner guitar.


When buying a starter guitar, there are a few key factors to consdier:

  • Is the guitar easy to play?
  • Is the guitar the correct size?
  • Will the guitar stay in tune?

If your beginner guitar hits on all of these points, you’re good to go.


Is the guitar easy to play?


Learning the guitar can be challenging at first.  This is especially true for kids.

Anyone who has tried to play the guitar knows about guitar finger pain.

Pressing down the strings with your fingers hurts.

Your sensitive newbie guitar fingers aren’t used to pressing down metal (or even nylon) strings.

To make matters worse, cheap guitars are even harder to play.

This seems kind of backwards – you would think that beginner guitars would be easier to play.

But here’s the thing:  most beginner/cheap guitars are mass produced which results in a crappy product.

So how does this relate to finger pain?

Well, when you press down the strings on a guitar your fingers have to push the string firmly (and hold that string down).

On well made guitars this is no problem.  The strings are very close to the fretboard so you don’t have to use a lot of finger effort to press down the strings.

On cheap guitars, the opposite is true.  The strings are far away from the fretboard so your fingers have to exert a lot of energy and effort just to get a note to make a sound.

This is awful for new guitar players.

What’s worse is that learning to play the guitar on a cheap model can turn a lot of new players off.

It’s sad but true.


Is the guitar the correct size?


If you’re an adult, any standard sized guitar will work.

There may be a little bit of variation between guitar models and brands, but for the most part all guitars will be roughly the same size.

However, if your a kid it’s a different story.

Buying a guitar for a child that they will “grow into” may seem like a good, cost effective idea.

In reality, you’re just making it harder for your child to learn to play.

When your child is learning to play the guitar make sure you get one that fits them.

If you’re not sure if it fits them, take them to a music store and try out a few different models or brands.

Or read any of these articles to help you get started:


Will the guitar stay in tune?


Obviously when you play the guitar you want it to sound good.

This shouldn’t be an issue if you’re buying  a good entry level guitar.

But again, just like our finger pain issue – finding a cheap guitar that stays in tune can be difficult.

Many retailers sell beginner “guitars” which really aren’t guitars…. they’re closer to toys.

If you’re buying a guitar from places like Target or Walmart, you’re probably not getting an actual guitar.

If you’re buying a guitar online, please use my recommendations.

You can get great guitars online (both cheap and expensive).

But you can also get really crappy guitars online.


So what are the worst guitars?


Toy Guitars

cheap toy guitars


These look like guitars.

You can probably pick a simple melody out on them.

They’re affordable (less than $30).

But that’s about it.

These guitars will not stay in tune.

You will not be able to strum along and play chords on them.

Now, maybe an advanced guitar player can get these to sound ok.

But there is no way that a beginner will be able to make music on this.


First Act Guitars

worst kids guitar first act

First Act is a popular brand of guitars for kids.

While they are better than cheaper toy guitars, they’re not much better.

They’re still difficult to tune (which makes playing chords and strumming your favorite songs hard).

The strings are going to be hard to press down (especially for little fingers).

They run about $30 – $40.

My advice, skip the first act guitar and go with a similarly priced Honer or Yamaha.

Or read this article for more details on the best starter guitar for kids.


What about cheap guitars for adults?


Don’t worry – I got you covered.

As a guitar player who has never spent over $200 I am an advocate of cheap guitars.

But just because these guitars are affordable, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be poorly made.

Here is a list of the best cheap guitars.

A good rule of thumb when buying a new guitar for an adult:  Don’t spend less than $80 (but don’t spend more than $150.

That’s it!

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

If you have a question about whether or not a certain model or brand of guitar is good or bad, just leave a comment below with a link or photo of the guitar and I’ll check it out!

Jake Posko does Online Guitar Lessons and Coaching as well as in-home lessons in the Annapolis, Maryland area including: Annapolis, Edgewater, Severna Park, Pasadena, Crownsville, Arnold and Kent Island, inquire about lessons by e-mailing him at

How to Teach a Child to Play Guitar?


If you’re interested in teaching your child to play the guitar, or if you want to find the best way to get your child to learn guitar – you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide we’re going to cover the best websites to teach you kid guitar (as well as some of the best beginner guitar books for kids and parents).

Let’s get started:

Do you have a child sized guitar?


First, make sure you have a kids beginner guitar.  If you’re not sure what is the best guitar for kids, check out this article.

If you don’t want to go into the research (but still need to buy a kids guitar) – I’d probably just go with any of these:


If you think your child is more interested in electric guitar, this Fender Squire Mini is awesome.

If you think your child is interested in electric guitar, this Fender Squire Mini is an awesome kids electric guitar.


For Smaller Kids

Honer classical guitar


If your child is small, this Hohner HAG250P 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar will probably fit them nicely.  It also uses nylon strings (which are typical of classical guitar) as opposed to steel strings.

Nylon strings tend to be easy on little fingers.


For REALLY Small Kids

If your child is really tiny, you may want to consider starting them on this Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele.

If your child is really tiny I would suggest starting them out on a ukulele.

I would go with a concert ukulele like this Cordoba 15CM model.

Ukes come in various sizes – the most widely available size is the soprano ukulele (which is very tiny – but what most people think of when they here “ukulele”).

I’m not a big fan of soprano ukuleles as replacement for beginner guitars because they are just too small.

On the other hand – Concert ukes are great.  They’re smaller than a guitar – but close enough that when you child gets a little bigger, the transition to guitar will be fairly natural.

Note about guitars for kids:  I suggest either going to a music store and trying a guitar out (and then buying online – it’s usually cheaper).  Or make sure the online retailer has a good return policy. 

Sizing guitars for kids can be tricky.  Just because a guitar says “child sized guitar” doesn’t mean that it will fit your child. 

Having said that, the three models recommended above have served my guitar students very well and will likely serve your child pretty well too. 

How do I Teach my Child Guitar?



Now the hard part.

If you don’t already play the guitar it can be tricky – but not impossible – to teach your child guitar.

Here are the best kids guitar resources (from most expensive to least expensive).


Face-to-Face Kids Guitar Lessons


Obviously private guitar lessons will do the best job of teaching your child guitar.

But they’re the most expensive and least convenient.


I’ve found that teachers who travel to your home are generally worth the price of lessons (especially for kids).

Having a child learn to play guitar in their home does a few things:

  • Keeps the lessons in a comfortable environment
  • Keeps the guitar available in the home (as opposed to packing and unpacking for travel)
  • Maintains a high level of convenience on parents

The downside is that these lessons are usually more expensive.

There is an alternative…


Online Video Guitar Lessons


Online video lessons can be a great supplement or even substitution for a motivated guitar player.

The bad news is that I haven’t found a decent online video lesson series for kids.

Even the lessons geared towards kids aren’t that great.

Here’s why:  Kids need interaction and feedback when learning to play the guitar. 

Since there is a physical aspect of playing the guitar it’s necessary for an instructor (whether that’s a parent or teacher) to provide feedback and reinforcement, as well as confirmation that the student playing correctly.

It’s just to easy to pick up bad habits and techniques if a child is left to their own devices.

Fortunately, there are very good online resources that parents can use.

This is my favorite. 

If you don’t know about JamPlay, you can read my full JamPlay review here.

It’s cheap and easy to follow – best of all: it’s a great resource for parents who are looking to learn the basics of the guitar so they can teach their kids. 

For most kids, I wouldn’t recommend learning from JamPlay directly – at least not until they have a little it of experience under their belt.


The Best Kids Guitar Books


There are two books that I recommend for kids to learn guitar.

The Best Beginner Guitar Book

best beginner guitar book for kids

Well obviously.

This is my book.

I wrote it with parents in mind.

Essentially, it assumes you know absolutely nothing about the guitar and teaches you the basics to help you get started (so you can teach yourself guitar, or teach your kids guitar).

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive kids guitar book I’d go with…

Ernie Ball – How to Play Guitar; Phase 1

best guitar book for child

I usually hate kids guitar books.

They’re typically written in a fashion that makes it hard to learn for kids.

They typically only focus on reading music (which is just about the worst way to start teaching a child guitar).

This book covers reading music, tablature (a sort of short-hand music for guitar), and guitar chords.

The learning curve may be a bit steep if you’re coming in with no experience, but this book is pretty good to get started.

What are the Best Free Guitar Resources?


Everyone wants to learn guitar for free.

I get it.

And given the resources available online – it’s definitely possible.

While I absolutely suggest getting started with something like JamPlay first, I understand that some people will go to YouTube or Google for their guitar resources.

Best Free YouTube Lessons

  • Justin Sandercoe
  • Marty Schwartz
  • Andy Guitar
  • Brett Papa

These are the youtube teachers who I consistently use.

While I think it’s good to get the basics down via a Guitar Book or JamPlay – Justin Sandercoe ( has some great beginner resources.

Other Free Guitar Resources

  • (chord and tab resources)
  • Chordify
  • Songsterr
  • Just Google: [name of song you want to learn] + chords

As you can see – when you get into the realm of free guitar resources it helps to know what to look for (again, why you should establish a basic understanding of the guitar first).


A Word of Warning…

Warning Number 1

Do NOT buy a toy guitar like this. 

I know the price tag looks nice, but if you’re spending less than $50 on a new guitar, you’re wasting your money.

I know you’re thinking: “But it’s just a child sized guitar” or “I don’t know if my kid will stick with it” or “what if my child breaks the guitar?”

I get it.

But trust me: these toy “guitars” are very difficult to play.

They don’t stay in tune, they’re hard for little fingers to manipulate, and they sound terrible.

Any one of those factors is enough to get a kid to quit guitar before they even start.

Warning number 2

You are not a guitar teacher.

Let me tell you a little story.

I teach (and have taught) tons of kids under the age of 6.

It can be a challenge – but it can be done.

I also have a 5 year old daughter.

I have tried to teach her ukulele.

While we were slightly successful – she was able to play – it was very different to teach her (compared to my students).

It’s a parent thing I guess.

It can be done – it should be tried – but it may be tough.

My best advice would be to exercise patience and understanding….

…and ultimately sign them up for guitar lessons (or even JamPlay) if they’re serious about learning.


That’s it!  Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

(Jake Posko does Online Guitar Lessons and Coaching as well as in-home lessons in the Annapolis, Maryland area including: Annapolis, Edgewater, Severna Park, Pasadena, Crownsville, Arnold and Kent Island, inquire about lessons by e-mailing him at

My Guitar Accessory Bag….


Everyone seemed to enjoy my essential guitar accessories article… so I’ve decided to share whats in my guitar accessory bag.

So here we go….


How to Play Cups by Anna Kendrick (from the movie Pitch Perfect)

This is such an awesome little song... and great for beginners (especially the version below).  

Artist: Anna Kendrick
Song: Cups

  I got my ticket for the long way 'round
Em               D               G
  Two bottle 'a whiskey for the way
       C           G        Em        
And I sure would like some sweet company
         C         D                 G
And I'm leaving tomorrow, wha-do-ya say?

When I'm gone
When I'm gone
 G                             D
You're gonna miss me when I'm gone
              Em            D
You're gonna miss me by my hair
              C            G
You're gonna miss me everywhere, oh
 Em           D                G
You're gonna miss me when I'm gone
(Repeat Chorus)
Verse 2
  I've got my ticket for the long way 'round
Em                  D            G 
  The one with the prettiest of views
           C                   G                Em   
It's got mountains, it's got rivers, it's got sights to give you shivers
        C             D             G
But it sure would be prettier with you
When I'm gone
When I'm gone
 G                             D
You're gonna miss me when I'm gone
              Em            D
You're gonna miss me by my walk
              C            G
You're gonna miss me by me talk, oh
 Em           D                G
You're gonna miss me when I'm gone
(Repeat Chorus)

Guitar Chords for Riptide by Vance Joy

Artist: Vance Joy
Song: Riptide
Note:  The tuning on this song is a little weird.  
It's not 440 (as is pretty much every song in the universe).
If you're trying to play along with the recording it'll sound a bit off.

Am  G  C (x2)

Am              G                 C
I was scared of dentists and the dark,
Am               G                C
I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations,
Am         G                   C
Oh all my friends are turning green,
           Am          G                  C
You're the magicians assistant in their dreams.

Am     G    C
Ooh,   ooh ooh
Am    G           C (One Strum)
Ooh,      and they come unstuck

Am   G                    C
Lady, running down to the riptide,
C                  Am
taken away to the dark side,
G                C
I wanna be your left hand man.
   Am       G                        C
I love you when you're singing that song and,
C                   Am
I got a lump in my throat 'cause
G                            C
you're gonna sing the words wrong

Am                  G                   C
There's this movie that I think you'll like,
Am                   G                C
this guy decides to quit his job and heads to New York City,
     Am        G             C
this cowboy's running from himself.
    Am         G                       C
And she's been living on the highest shelf

Am     G    C
Ooh, ooh ooh
Am G           C (One Strum)
Ooh, and they come unstuck
Am   G                    C
Lady, running down to the riptide,
C                  Am
taken away to the dark side,
G                C
I wanna be your left hand man.
   Am       G                        C
I love you when you're singing that song and,
C                   Am
I got a lump in my throat 'cause
G                            C
you're gonna sing the words wrong

Repeat 4 Times:

Am                          G
I just wanna, I just wanna know,
C                                 F
If you're gonna, if you're gonna stay,
Am                          G
I just gotta, I just gotta know,
C                                          F (One Strum)
I can't have it, I can't have it any other way

One Strum Per Chord:
Am             G                  C
I swear she's destined for the screen,
Am                G                 C
Closest thing to Michelle Pfeiffer that you've ever seen, oh
CHORUS 3 Times:
Am   G                    C
Lady, running down to the riptide,
C                  Am
taken away to the dark side,
G                C
I wanna be your left hand man.
   Am       G                        C
I love you when you're singing that song and,
C                   Am
I got a lump in my throat 'cause
G                            C
you're gonna sing the words wrong
This file is the author's own work and represents his interpretation of this song. 
It's intended solely for private study, scholarship or research.