Half-size acoustic guitar that isn't classical/nylon string?
November 12, 2017 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I can't find a half-size guitar that isn't a classical (or worse, toy-style -- all cheap stiff nylon strings that are impossible to get or keep in tune). Does such a thing exist?

Husband and I have and play lots of guitars, and playing music and singing is a family activity. Kiddo is 4, but the size of lots of 5-6 year olds (hooray for 95th percentile height). He regularly plays around with some of our guitars -- we have acoustic guitars, a classical guitar, acoustic electrics, actual electrics, a bass, and a ukulele, all in regular use. Kiddo has been allowed to mess around with them his entire life.

Lately, kiddo has been attempting to actually play our guitars, and we're attempting to teach him, but he can barely even handle our 3/4-size electric. We tried to get him interested in the ukulele, but he really, really wants to play an acoustic guitar like mama and daddy usually play.

Is there such a thing as a half-size acoustic guitar that isn't classical-string?
posted by erst to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have a “concert size” guitar that is smaller than a full-size acoustic but definitely sounds like one. It would probably still be too big for a kid, but it’s also not classical/nylon-string.
posted by okayokayigive at 2:32 PM on November 12, 2017

Sounds like the size and scale you want in a steel string guitar is the parlor guitar.

This site has some useful info on size: What is a parlor guitar?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:54 PM on November 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Would something like a Baby Taylor work?
posted by bradf at 2:56 PM on November 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

I've been playing ukulele for 10 years but missing the 6-string-ness of the guitar.
I've been looking at guilele's or things like that.
6-strings, but in the ukulele range. Also smaller than guitars and having nylon strings.
(Easier on the fingers)
posted by MtDewd at 2:59 PM on November 12, 2017

Best answer: I’m a much more casual guitar player than your family is. I had an electric guitar growing up but it has stayed in the closet for a long time. A few months ago my significant picked up a FirstAct acoustic guitar that seems half size or maybe 3/4 size at a consignment sale for $5 for the kids. My significant other has joked that I have made it my guitar. All the strings are metal. It’s not a classical guitar. I personally have tuned it up a step with the lowest string to A. This is my first encounter with a smaller guitar and it’s amazing how many weird chords I can now reach. As an adult I’m pretty satisfied so I think a kid would be fine as well. Anyway, check out the FirstAct FG211, that’s the number that’s on this guitar.

The body is 31” long, first fret to last fret is 13” with 19 total frets.
posted by friendofstone at 3:22 PM on November 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Suzuki guitar might be a search term. That one is 31", metal strings, $68.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:51 PM on November 12, 2017

I don't think you'll get smaller than a ¾ size, otherwise the tuning wouldn't work (fret board not long enough).

In a pinch, you might try down-tuning your ¾ electric and using a capo so it's easier to chord and not as long a reach.

Or try a three-stringed Loog! Ages 3 and up. Acoustic and electric versions.
posted by qwip at 3:53 PM on November 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Gretsch Jim Dandy is the example of a parlor guitar used in the mandolin conspiracy link, it's a nice little guitar in the intermediate price range.

I think you should get a parlor guitar and let kiddo grow into it. I don't think that you can find a decent 1/2 scale steel string at an affordable price, unless I'm wrong.
posted by ovvl at 5:06 PM on November 12, 2017

I was gonna say what qwip said - capo up. I have stubby little fingers, so I couldn't really do much on my 12-string when I first got it, so I tuned it down two whole steps and capo'd 4. Did the same when teaching my niece on an electric when she was 5 or 6.
posted by notsnot at 7:19 PM on November 12, 2017

lots of half scale acoustics out there. but...i recommend a uke for starters, just due to my experience with my own kids. smaller scale, less strings, thinner neck...
posted by j_curiouser at 9:36 PM on November 12, 2017

Yamaha makes a guitalele which is a uke body but strung like a guitar, five frets higher. Pop a capo on your guitar and you can quite happy jam along.
It's not good for guitar classes since they wouldn't be in the same key as everyone else but it's great for home.
posted by NailsTheCat at 9:53 PM on November 12, 2017

Any chance you can get kiddo interested in a violin or cello instead? While 1/4 size string instruments never sound great, the mechanics of unfretted strings make them easier to scale down and keep them playable.

If not... 3/4 size guitar tuned down a step or two with a capo on it to get the standard tuning, or you could try sticking a capo on the 12th fret of a guitar with a cutaway and see what happens. I’ve heard stories or children learning cello in really high positions kind of like that.
posted by asphericalcow at 10:15 PM on November 12, 2017

I have this (3/4 size) and I adore it.

Turner Guitars
posted by Hugobaron at 2:23 AM on November 13, 2017

You might want to check out Loog acoustic guitars. They are for ages +8 but since your kiddo seems to be eager, it might work for him. They also make a classical mini version that is probably more suitable size wise but it is not acoustic. My wife did a quick write-up on the mini here.
posted by NickNYC at 1:10 PM on November 13, 2017

2nding Baby Taylors, I have one and I love it.
posted by ananci at 5:05 PM on November 13, 2017

By the way, you can always get nylgut or other strings for an otherwise-nylon-stringed instrument. Changing strings isn't too hard!
posted by eviemath at 7:08 PM on November 13, 2017

Response by poster: After I played around with a FirstAct at a local store, I went with that one, to be unwrapped this Xmas. If kiddo likes it, then great. If he doesn't, then I'm going to claim it for myself! Heck, I might have to get one of these for myself anyway!
posted by erst at 9:24 PM on November 29, 2017

Response by poster: To follow up on this: Kid loves the FirstAct, and it's exactly the right size and action for his little hands to begin learning open and bar chords... once he stops trying to "tune it himself." :) He's already pounded on it for a bit and declared he was playing "Ring of Fire."
posted by erst at 7:23 PM on December 26, 2017

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