I'm looking to buy my daughter her first guitar. She's 6 1/2. I've looked at the child's & 3/4 guitars, and played some, and as near I can tell, they're all crap. I feel like I would not want to play them with the tone that comes out, so I worry that'll discourage her. Also, most are kid-size strats, and I really think it's a bad idea to put three pickups and a 5-way switch and tremolo on a kid's first guitar. Just too much distraction. One pickup makes more sense to me. (I've seen 1/2 size single pickup guitars, but I assume the quality on those is as bad, if not worse, than the 3/4 size).

I know these smaller guitars are cheap, like $100, and some people say what can you expect for that. Except I've seen used Yamaha SE110's for around $100, and the SE line was very decent in my experience (I have a couple SE612's that are great). So I think I can get a used 80's Japanese-made single pickup electric for the same price as a new crappy kid's guitar, and it'd play a lot better. However, I am ruling out the SE's simply because they were made of basswood, which makes them fairly heavy.

So I'm hoping some one knows of something along those lines, but not as heavy. Or I'd be open to suggestions for other types of guitars that are both light & simple, that I have not thought of (maybe a single pickup Danelectro?). My general preferences are:

- one pickup, simple controls (Van Halen style?)
- lightweight
- thinner neck
- good quality
- used
- price $100-$200


Bernie Sanders for President!
^I've heard these are pretty decent, there's probably better places to get them in the US but yeah, standard no-frills 80s style electric.
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I'd look into a Squire Telecaster Avril Lavigne Signature.

1 humbucker 1 volume, it does have a 3way for coil split, so she could grow into it.

It's 22 fret with a 9.5 radius, I think that'd help a little one grip the neck.

It's $270 new on Amazon, but they show up used on eBay, craigslist, gc for $150

So, a week ago I found a used Memphis 3/4 size electric guitar from the 80s, which is pretty much just what I was looking for. It just has one single coil pickup, one tone, one volume, generally "strat" shaped. I set it up and tuned it to "G standard," and I could not put it down. A lot of fun to play, surprisingly good sustain. It also sounds good unplugged (faint, of course) which is something I look for. The tuners seem kind of small, and the nut is plastic, so I know it was made to be a cheap guitar, but a lot of these cheap 80s imports are still better than the new cheap guitars of today.

Bernie Sanders for President!
Two things:

I doubt that someone 6 1/2 is going to be worried as much about tone as about figuring out where her fingers go.

It's YOU who's worried about that stuff ("good sustain" "sounds good unplugged," etc.)

And as far as "three pickups and whammies" go -- I've found that kids want their instruments to look as much like the adults' stuff as possible (except for the weight). It's not distracting at all, but seems to be more confidence building, and even has pride of position among their peers <G>.

Good on ya for starting them young; I started playing keyboards at around 5, and played my first 4-hour wedding reception (standards and showtunes) at a local Legion Hall when I was 11, on a Hall piano and our own Hammond M1 that my dad and I wrestled on and off a pickup.
If you want to start her on soemthing stringed, maybe you'd be better off with a uke?

Or, if you hate her, a violin.
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@dspellman. Yes, tone is absolutely the last thing to worry about, but "street cred" or image might be very important.

I would take her down the shop to get some sense of what she likes the look of.

I recently bought a Vietnamese-made (not Chinese) Peavey Raptor Plus Exp from the local hock shop for Oz$65 that would suit her just fine - good neck profile, weighs less that 5 1/4lb all up, exc condition, and even has what I think are very good pickups.

EDIT @slapsymcdougal Ukes are popular in schools here in Oz these days, replacing the recorder. I think they are a good idea for someone that age.
Last edited by Tony Done at Jun 5, 2015,
I bought my daughter a Squier Mini strat when she was 6, she is turning 17 this month. It was well worth the $100 new price. After it was properly set-up it was a very nice player for a young girl. My daughter actually still plays is some times.

I have been a gigging musician for over 17 yrs and I own several very nice very expensive guitars, and I am basing my answer on my experiences.

Fender also has the Squier Mustang that has a 24" scale and the VM Jaguar HH is also 24" scale. The Fender Super Sonic also has a 24" scale but must be bought used
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
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MXR Smart Gate
Squier Hello Kitty Strat, full-sized 25.5" scale, nice maple neck (mine has gorgeous grain), $125 used, 1 PU, replaced it with a Motor City Afwayu HB for grins. A 7-year old cousin is rocking it with a Bugera 6260 (MF Stupid Deal $200, 5150 clone) and 212 with V30 & T75.

25.5" scale is too big for a 6yr old girl, she will need a short-scale or she will end up giving up on playing
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
^^^^^Dunno, the Spanish Guitar Centre in Bristol used to have students as young as four years, and they all used full sized guitars IIRC. All those Asian kids seem to learn on full-sized classicals, so maybe the long scale really isn't that much of an issue.

And then there are capos.