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When looking for the best acoustic guitar for kids, most of the time you’ll be looking at smaller models that are ¾ the size of a “normal” guitar. That’s what you’ll find in the four models I’ll review for you here.
In this review, I’ll look at two nearly identical models from Fender and one each from Yamaha and Taylor. Information on these smaller models is a little hard to come by in many cases, but I think you should be able to decide which one is best for your situation by the end of this article.
If you are in a bit of a rush and just want to check the pricing and availability of each of these ¾ size acoustic guitars at Amazon, you can click (tap) the links in the list below.
- Fender MA-1 Steel String Parlor Acoustic Guitar
- Fender MC-1 Nylon String Acoustic Guitar
- Yamaha JR1 Junior Acoustic Guitar
- Taylor Baby Taylor BT1 Acoustic Guitar
If you want to skip ahead to a specific section of the review, you can click (tap) a link in the box below. Otherwise, you can simply keep on scrolling (swiping) and reading the article as you normally would.
Table of Contents
What Are the Main Features of the Fender MA-1 and MC-1 Guitars?
As I mentioned above, these two guitars, the MA-1 and MC-1, are nearly identical. The main difference between them is that the MA-1 is designed for steel strings, and the MC-1 is designed for nylon strings.
The difference between those types of strings is two-fold. First, the tone produced by each is different. Steel strings will sound a little brighter than nylon, which sound “warmer”.
Secondly, the touch, especially for a beginner, will be tougher and rougher at first when playing steel strings. These are, after all, metal. Playing for an extended period when just beginning will cause your fingers to hurt a little more and a little sooner than with nylon. In the end, however, after your fingertips have become callused, it really won’t make any difference.
At that point, it will come back to which sound you prefer to get from your acoustic instrument.
Both models have an agathis top with a satin finish, a satin finished nato neck, sapele back and sides, and a rosewood bridge with compensated saddle. Perhaps much of that doesn’t matter to a youngster who is just getting started.
Both also have an 18-fret fingerboard. Beginners learn chord at the far end, so the number of frets is less important at first.
The MA-1 has X bracing inside, while the MC-1 has fan bracing. This almost certainly won’t matter to a beginner, but you should know that each type of bracing is well-suited to the stresses placed on the instrument by the strings.
Check out the video below about the MC-1 presented by Musician’s Friend.
What Are the Features of the Yamaha JR1 Acoustic Guitar?
Yamaha describes the JR1 this way.
“The steel string JR1 is modeled after the FG series. Yamaha craftsmanship and the use of select woods throughout this instrument create a compact folk guitar offering authentic acoustic sound.”
Those wood types, which are all finished in satin, include a top made of spruce, back and sides of meranti, neck of nato, and fingerboard and bridge of rosewood.
The depth of the body itself varies from 3 1/8 to 3 9/16 inches. Thus it is not extremely rounded as a few models can be.
This is the only model here that has a pickguard. If that is important to you, then your search ends here. It also has 20 frets – the most of any of these – but those extra couple of frets aren’t likely to be used by a beginner.
Along with the purchase of this guitar, you also get a soft case (gig bag). For models that don’t come with a case of any kind, you will want to buy one for protection and transportation right away.
What Are the Features of the Taylor Baby Taylor (BT1) Acoustic Guitar?
Taylor, in general, makes top of the line guitars, so you should expect a lot even from this Baby Taylor, as it’s called.
Taylor provides a lot of information about this model, but I’ll only include here those main features that are similar to the other models above so you can more easily compare them.
The top, back, neck, and sides have a “varnish” finish. This is a somewhat unusual description. It doesn’t tell us whether that varnish is satin, gloss, or something else. You’ll have to rely on the pictures or seeing one in person to determine whether this finish is one you like or not – if that even matters to you.
Despite giving many details, I could not find what the top of this Baby Taylor is made of. The back is a laminate, while the neck is made of sapele. The fingerboard is West African ebony, and the rosette is plastic.
The nut (at the far end of the neck where the strings are lined up) is Nubone, and the saddle (at the other end) is Micarta.
The Baby Taylor has 19 frets, but again, that extra one will very rarely be used, especially by those just getting started.
The body has X bracing, like the Fender MA-1, and a gig bag, like the Yamaha JR-1. The body depth is a consistent 3 3/8 inches.
Conclusions about These Acoustic Guitars for Kids
Any of these smaller acoustic guitars would make a great starting point for kids who want to learn to play. Many adults use smaller sized guitars just for their special sound, so it’s not like you have to get a larger guitar later as the child “grows into” one.
Each of these models has slightly different features, many of which will not be significant to the beginner. This might bring the choice down to the amount you are willing to spend and the availability of each model. (Availability should really only be a factor if you’re buying locally in person. All should be readily available online, but this does change from time to time.)
If none of these are what you’re looking for, check out this Donner guitar review instead.