A question I’m sure many people have asked is “Why not just buy a cheap guitar at Walmart or on Amazon to get my child started playing guitar?” I get it, why not try to save some money. The truth is, hobbies cost money. This is true for sewing, fixing computers, skateboarding, horseback riding, cooking, photography, fixing hair, you name it. You can buy “beginner” gear for most things but at this level the quality usually isn’t the best.

I’m not entirely sure where my obsession with music comes from. My mom sings lullaby and folksy type songs and her harmony is fantastic. But she drives her car in silence which I never could understand. Anyway, somehow I have a music bug, and as a child and teenager I had always wanted to learn an instrument besides singing. So when I was 15, I saved up some money to buy a guitar. I chose an electric guitar, including a tiny amp, which was around $95. I was so excited. I started picking out notes by ear to songs I liked. The problem was that my guitar didn’t stay in tune for very long. I recognize the tuning issues now, plus, I later learned the neck was twisted. At the time, I did not understand what was wrong. I became very frustrated and I stopped playing.

I now have 2 young kids who are surrounded by pianos, singing, guitars, violins and ukuleles. I had an internal struggle though. I’m a guitar snob-because of my first experience when I was 15-which means I only play good quality instruments. If my kids wanted to learn guitar, I would want them to start out with a much more positive experience than what I had. With this in mind, I didn’t know what kind of guitar would meet my standards for my child to begin playing. Full sized guitars (dreadnought) are too large for a young child, and most half or ¾ sized guitars don’t meet up to my snobbery because they don’t stay in tune, or have neck issues, or they are not made with the best materials etc.

In the Teton acoustic line, we have 2 body types that are smaller sized, and so fit a child’s needs very well:

Parlor is very slender but has a long body. It’s also joined at the 12th fret, giving it a slightly shorter scale to contend with.

Range is short and round, a ¾ size version with the same body shape as our Jumbo. It also has a rounded back that gives nice, deep projection.

When I saw the Teton parlor and range sized guitars, I had the perfect answer to my concerns. I recently bought a basic Teton parlor (STP103NT), to add to my growing collection. My daughter picked it up the first day, and even though she hasn’t started any formal lessons yet, she grabs it and just plays around on it all the time. She tells me she’s going to write a song and just starts strumming and singing randomness. It makes me super happy because music is so important to me! I understand that plenty of guitarists learned on second hand or $75 guitars and are doing fine. I also see that having a guitar, even if it isn’t the best quality, is better than no instrument. I just know what my experience has been and I know that learning music can be hard, so I want to spare others (especially my own children) some frustration. 

Something else I feel like I should have done to get off to a better start, is started with an acoustic guitar which is why I’m only talking about them, and not electrics. Don’t get me wrong, electric guitars keep us rockin’ in the free world, but it’s less complicated to get started with an acoustic. There is less equipment needed and you also don’t need to understand what knob or switch does what. You will be spending a lot less just because you won’t need an amplifier, cables or pedals. All you need is a case or bag, tuner, and humidifier and you’re good to practice anywhere.

So if you are looking to start playing guitar (or your child) but a regular full size guitar seems a little bulky for you, I suggest any smaller size Teton. Grand concert is also a great option, I’d call it a medium size.  You will definitely not be missing out on quality and you will be able to bypass the frustration of an instrument that doesn’t sound good or won’t stay in tune. 

– Lindy
Please send questions or comments to team@tetonguitars.com