My undisciplined and lazy nephew wants to learn guitar. I do not want to spend much because I am 99% certain he won't stick with it. He's 5' and 120 pounds and huge for his age.

I think steel strings are iffy because the kid is a softie and might give up on the first discomfort (pain before calluses). So nylon strings are probably called for. That being said I think acquiring callouses might be good for that creampuff of a kid. I am thinking a 3/4 scale guitar would be a good size for him.

I would prefer to spend under $100, but might go a little higher, and if he sticks with it maybe will get him something better next year. Are any of the el cheapo brands okay for a kid to learn on? Sound quality isn't real important...the ability to stand up to a giant kid's incidental abuse is.

I bought a Taylor for myself last week which delegates my Dean tradition to permanent "never going to be played by me again" status. The low E-string has fret buzz in open position but otherwise the guitar plays well and stays in tune, would the kid be able to handle it maybe? It has steel strings but the action is low and the neck narrow.

Thanks much.

I feel the need to answer your question because its struck a personal chord in my heart.

My interest playing a guitar was killed 25 years ago. I did the same thing with my son 10 years ago when he was 7. I was wrong, I was wrong to have killed his interest based on my own negative judgment of his character. Now 10 years later, I asked him if he wanted to learn playing the guitar again. His answer was 'I am too old to learn dad'! This is why I took his challenge and started learning on my own of which I intend to pursue a Trinity course later on. I like my son to know that if its not too late at 50, its never too late at 17. What will I give to rewind the tape and changed my ideology.

I sense so much negativity in your opening paragraph. The war is lost even before its fought. Have you consider sitting him down and talk to him? Have you considered perhaps as an uncle you could be a role model to him by playing the guitar with him as this is a great way to bond and encourage him to press on even if his finger hurts?

He may be on the heavy side but I don't know his body frame size and giving him a standard folk size guitar may be too big.
Last edited by stkhoo at Jun 28, 2015,
buying cheap guitars is the best way i know to get someone to quit playing. even the cheap 3/4 yamaha costs more than a hundred, and about half of them require exchanges due to intonation problems. i have one, btw - i play it and so does my 6'7" husband. if you can score one that's intonated properly, it's not as bad as those first act POS.

are you going to be teaching him? if so, i imagine your negative feelings toward him will also cause him not to want to try.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
The boy is super lazy. That isn't negativity on my part, it is just a fact. He isnt fat so much as huge. I was a good sized 12 year old and the boy is bigger than i was at 12. He's a 9 year old Yeti, essentially, but a straight A student. He is a road grader on the offensive line in football and the league has special rules regarding big kids. He is quite spoiled and spends almost all his time killing zombies online.

If i did not live 800 miles away I would gladly teach him myself. But he will be on his own (on the guitar) once I head back home. That is why I think he'll give up once the going gets tough. I love the kid but the only discipline he gets is when I visit. I don't punish him (not my place) but I don't indulge his vices either. I force him to be active by taking him to the zoo or walking with him. He has expressed interest in guitar but has done so with many other things in the past and loses interest in those things after a couple weeks.

I saw a Fender 3/4 nylon string guitar for $129 but I dislike Fender and don't want to give them my money.
Last edited by TobusRex at Jun 28, 2015,
I ordered the Yamaha FG Jr1 3/4 acoustic guitar bundle with tuner, gig bag, etc for $149.95 from amazon. Made sure to get the 2 year service plan. Poor Yamaha, haha. Will be delivered on Monday. Amazon rules. That is great because I can teach him a few things before I go home.

Thanks for the suggestion above.
the best thing, imo, that you can do is either get him a decent used guitar or a cheap new one. when i started learning i had a 3/4 acoustic bought for me with nylon strings and i honestly hated it. don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad guitar, it just had terrible action and wasn't exactly what i was after, so i saved up and bought myself a HondoII Les Paul and a little Marshall MG15DFX amp. the amp was crap, the guitar i actually loved until i either broke it or sold it, i can't remember which... but anyway i'm going off topic so back on topic, pro's and cons of new vs old are:

new guitar:
+you can guarantee it works
+you can guarantee there's no knocks or scratches
+you'll probably get a few extras with one (plectrums, strap etc)
-cheap new guitars have this weird feeling, almost like a film or powder coats the fretboard
-worse quality than if you buy used for the same price

used guitar:
+cheaper usually or better quality for same price
+some have been very well looked after
+you may be able to haggle on prices
-some will have dings, knocks, dead frets etc
-at worst, it could well be counterfeit and therefore reselling it will be a nightmare

maybe finding out what bands or artists he likes may be worth a shot, eg if he likes ed sheeran, by all means get a 3/4 acoustic and it'll be perfect but if he likes someone like MUSE then an acoustic guitar to him will be as of much interest as a plant pot.

given you feel he's not going to stick with it, i'd say get a <$100 used guitar that seems to have been looked after and not Pete Townshend'd into the nearest hard floor and go from there... of course an electric will need an amp, but a voxplug can be got for cheap enough. and also an electric guitar doesn't annoy people when played badly because anyone more than 6 feet away can't really hear an electric if it's just being played without an amp.
Belief is a beautiful armour but makes for the heaviest sword.