In the world of children’s instruments, so few are actually playable. Fewer still are durable enough to withstand the abuse a child will inevitably visit upon them. I began playing drums (literally) when I was 1. I began taking lessons when I was 5. I have been playing professionally since I was 15. The number of drum sets I went through before I started working is equal to the number of drum sets I have owned in my entire adult life. That means, in the first 15 years of my life, I trashed as many kits as I’ve played and preserved in the last 30 years.
That’s a lot of drum sets.
Further, I have owned (and destroyed) just as many guitars. Both my father and grandfather nurtured my budding musical interests by bringing home guitars for me, first acoustic, then electric. These were sometimes professional model guitars. (I am loath to admit that I once had a vintage Guild, probably worth thousands today. I trashed that sucker along with all the rest.)
The point here is that, in a child’s hands, even a sturdy, made-for-an-adult instrument will suffer. The trick is, when purchasing an instrument for a child, that you buy within a reasonable price range but still find a quality piece. For a drum set, that means sturdy hardware, decent drum heads that stay in tune, and pedals that don’t collapse under constant stomping. For a guitar, it means a neck that remains true, strings that remain in tune and that can handle some extra tension, and a body that’s made of wood (not plastic).
Too many kids guitars are, quite frankly, junk. In the very early stages of a child’s musical development, the most important factor is a neck with a scale that fits your little one’s hands. This can be a problem for some, because parents often put form over function, and either get their kid the coolest looking guitar with little or no consideration for how the instrument will play or how it will feel in their child’s hands.
The Schoenhut Classic Electric Guitar is a sound option for parents looking to get their Tiny Yngwie something substantial to learn on without breaking the bank. The reduced-scale neck is good for little hands, getting them used to moving into the right position to play chords and simple runs. The bridge is actually a “real” bridge, with adjustable saddles (the smaller, spring-tensioned channels through which the strings pass at the tail of the guitar). The pickups are pretty solid as well, giving an accurate representation of the sound of a typical Stratocaster (the guitar on which this body style is based).
The tuners on the headstock (the “top” of the guitar) are fairly reliable, though no student-model guitar ever stays in tune for long. To expect a kid’s model to retain perfect tuning is unreasonable. But I have personally played this particular model, and it does a pretty dang good job of … doing its job.
What you don’t sacrifice with the Schoenhut is looks. This thing sports a sweet tobacco sunburst and clear coat, making it nice and shiny (and resistant to dings and scratches).
Again, don’t expect top-of-the-line here. This thing costs less than a C-note (and I don’t mean middle C, either). A student model guitar — a good one anyway — runs close to $300, and even those don’t stay in tune. But for a child who is beginning to show interest in music and gravitates toward the six-string, this one will do just fine.
(Oh one more thing …. Hide the lighter fluid.)
You can pick up the Schoenhut Electric Guitar at Tension Wire.