What are the Best Guitar for 3, 8, and 12 Year Olds?
This is the question I am consistently being asked. Let’s face it, most guitars for kids are junk.
They really are. The majority of guitar brands make “kids” guitars in one of two ways:
- They shrink down their “real” guitars.
- They make a guitar with cheap materials and poor design at a smaller size and price.
Honestly, I’ve seen these two combined for some awful guitars.
Kids, especially 12 years old on down, need a guitar designed specifically for their size. But as a music teacher and guitar lesson instructor for over 10 years, I know how important a quality instrument is to learning and motivation.
I had one student with a lot of promise quite altogether because he hated playing his guitar. I would too; that thing wasn’t any good.
Fortunately, there are a handful of guitar makers out there who focus entirely on creating quality guitars for young people.
One of the best of these is Loog Guitars.
In this article, we’ll look at all the products offered and offer our unbiased opinion on Loog Guitars for kids.
What Is A Loog Guitar For Kids?
Loog Guitars was founded in 2010 by Rafael Atijas during his time at New York University earning his Master’s in Music.
While other guitar makers often begin to make profit or make their mark on guitar history, Loog was born from a need.
Rafael noticed a distinct lack of quality guitars specifically designed for kids at different age levels. He decided to fill this void himself and with a Kickstarter campaign in 2011 completed the design for the first Loog guitar.
Since then, they’ve grown to a small team and even expanded into more guitars, accessories, video lessons, and an accompanying app.
Each and every step of the way Loog has kept its original goal in mind: sustainable and quality guitars for kids.
Currently, Loog offers 3 acoustic guitar models for different age levels of kids and a handful of accessories. The biggest thing on the horizon currently is the impending release of Loog electric guitars for kids slated for release in July 2020.
Review Of Loog Acoustic Guitars
Loog started with acoustic guitars and has 3 top-notch models in their product bank. This section will cover each of the guitars and show why each model is a contender for the best acoustic guitar for kids.
Loog Mini Acoustic Review – Best Guitar for 3 Year Old
The number of acoustic guitars specifically designed for very small hands is minimal. This is why the Loog Mini – at Loog Guitars is so unique.
Logo designed this for play by kids ages 3 and up. However, the affordable price and small design doesn’t mean it lacks in quality or sound.
The first big difference is the choice to use only the first 3 strings of the guitar.
This may seem odd to some, but from a learning perspective, this makes perfect sense.
By focusing on the first 3 strings alone, the student learns the basics of fingering without being overwhelmed. This also allows the kid to apply their learning when they’re ready for 12 strings.
Most kid guitars are made from garbage wood composites which sound terrible.
The body for the Loog is made of basswood which is a strong wood with a powerful sound. This helps offset the smaller sound which would normally come from a small body cavity.
The neck and fingerboard are maple from maple which is another hardwood and perfect for guitars (may professional ones use them).
This also helps with projection and clarity.
The scale length is a short but impressive 15.6” with 15 frets to learn on.
The Loog Mini reminds some of a ukulele, and from a sound perspective, it’s similar. But the 3 string design and chord shapes transfer better to 6-string guitar later on.
The guitar looks sharp and is available in red, green, black, white, yellow, and pink.
Loog Pro Acoustic Review – Best Guitar for 8 Year Old
The Loog Pro Acoustic was and is the flagship guitar for Loog. This is designed to fill the gap in guitars for kids 8 and older before they move on to full-size guitars.
Like the mini, this guitar uses only 3 strings which are the first 3 on a standard 6-string guitar.
This will allow kids to learn the actual string patterns and chord shapes which transfer easily later.
The strings are steel which are just like a “real” guitar. This helps the kids develop calluses and finger strength without getting overwhelmed with all 6 strings.
The larger body and steel strings provide a good sound, but it’s the hard basswood body and maple neck which give the acoustic a powerful sound beyond its smaller size.
The Loog Pro Acoustic has a scale length of 20.4” with 18 frets. This is almost as many as some full-sized acoustic guitars without all the strings to mess with.
In my experience, most kids and even adult learners won’t use beyond the 7th fret for most playing.
The guitar fits smaller hands well but still feels comfortable for adult and bigger hands as well. It’ll grow with the learner.
The Loog Pro looks sharp and comes in the company’s standard black, green, white, red, yellow, or pink.
Loog Pro VI Acoustic Review – Best Guitar for 12 year old
The Loog Pro VI acoustic guitar is a full 6-string guitar for children of age 12 or older. Even adults can get a lot out of this guitar.
It uses steel strings just like a “normal” acoustic guitar, though I still recommend buying the strings directly from Loog as other ones may put too much pressure on the neck.
There are a few ways this guitar makes itself more user-friendly to young players.
The string action on the Look Pro VI is low. Low action means it’s easier to press down the strings.
The downside of this is that the strings may end up “buzzing” on frets further up the neck.
However, because Logo designed the guitar with such features in mind, they were able to find the balance of low string action without the buzzing.
The neck shape is also thinner than many guitars “designed” for kids. This makes it easier to wrap your hand around the neck and reach the strings.
The neck design won’t hold up under the pressure of full guitar strings as well, and it may end up being easier to bend. So it’s important to be careful with this.
As with the other Loog acoustic guitars, they work around the smaller body by using basswood for the body wood and maple for the neck and fretboard.
These woods are tough which allows for more dynamic power and clarity. As a result, you have surprisingly full sounding guitars for kids 12 and up.
Personally, I find the intonation or tuning up the fretboard to be the most surprising feature of this guitar.
Most smaller guitars struggle to find the correct fret measurements for good and consistent pitch. But Loog has done a good job of making sure the guitar sounds in tune over most of its 18 frets.
Again, the sharp look comes in black green, white, yellow, red, or pink. Shop Loog Pro Guitars at Loog Guitars.
Loog Electric Guitars Review – Best Guitars for 3, 8, and 12 year old
Though the Loog electric guitar isn’t released yet, it has been designed. We know a lot about its features and design which we’ll discuss in this section. These will show why this guitar will be the best electric guitar for kids.
Loog Electric Guitars: Rock On Early (Coming July 2020)
The Loog Electric guitars were completed with a release date of July 2020. The exact specs of the guitar are still unknown to a certain degree, but there is enough to show the same level of craftsmanship and design intent as with the acoustic brands.
Loog is releasing their electric models in the same vein as with their acoustic brands. There will be 3 models:
- Loog Mini Electric for 3+ year olds
- Loog Pro Electric for 8+ year olds
- Loog Pro VI Electric for 12+ year olds
The same body shape and neck design is used for each as in the acoustic variation.
The Mini and Pro use three strings of the nylon and steel variety in that order.
The Pro VI will use all 6 strings with a thinner neck and low action designed for younger players and smaller hands.
As an electric guitar, these models won’t need the body space inside to project the sound. Loog is able to insert the pickup and output mechanisms where this space used to be.
What really makes these special (and simple for kids) is the built-in amp and speaker system. With a simple volume control, the player doesn’t need to lug around an amp to hear the electric sound.
The pickup system is simple and intuitive. You won’t become a rock star on the sound of one of these alone, but the skills and motivation you’ll develop as you play will get you there eventually.
There isn’t any choice with how the pickups function, and they collect the sound where the soundhole would be on an acoustic guitar. This lets the player get an all-around good sound.
I’m excited to buy one of these for my own kids (and myself) to play on. The onboard amp is a big bonus and most players at this age won’t need to mess around with too many pickup or sound augmentations.
Of course, much of this is achieved with pedals and control boards anyway.
I anticipate these electric models will eventually if not right away be available in the acoustic models.
Other Loog Guitar Accessories
Loog offers more than just their quality guitars for kids. They also offer a host of good accessories that will round out your budding guitar collection.
The gig bag or soft case is a must for anyone who buys the guitar. It needs to be kept in something to keep it safe, and gig bags are the way to go.
There is a specific gig bag for each of the models Loog produces. Check this one as an example: Loog Pro Gig Bag Paul Frank Edition at Loog Guitars.
The cases are affordable and durable being made from a cotton twill exterior which is waterproofed.
Combined with the bags, the guitar is small enough to be transported in any compartment or space, although you’ll still need to be careful.
Gig bags protect from most damage, but they’re still susceptible to getting squished and damaging the guitar.
The straps are made of nylon which should hold up well under normal wear and tear.
There is a handle strap for carrying the case and adjustable backpack straps for carrying on your back. With the mini model, the straps are quite small, so you or your kid may not ever actually use them.
The larger two versions have a small zipper on the front for storing your flashcards or extra strings. It’s unfortunate the mini doesn’t have this option.
The bag is also available as part of a package when buying the guitar at a cheaper price.
Chord Flash Cards
All guitars come with a set of chord flash cards.
These cards are fun, engaging, and a clear representation of how to play chords.
It makes a fun way to learn the chords for each guitar.
In the package or separately, you can also buy a standard strap. This strap is made to help people stand and sit more comfortably when they play and relieve the pressure on the hands.
It’s a common mistake for new players to use their left hand to hold the neck of the guitar when this hand should be focused on pressing the strings.
A strap tends to help relieve and prevent this mistake.
This strap is a decent 1.5” wide and adjusts up to 39” long making it a good choice for even adults.
It has leather ends to prevent damage at the places where it receives the most problems and has an easy-to-use tri-glide adjustment.
The strap material itself is made from polypropylene. This, in my opinion, works OK but will wear out in time.
You may be better off going with the next option.
Leather Slim Strap
Leather is much more durable and the material of choice when it comes to guitar straps.
This is a thin strap made of all leather with a thicker pad to adjust where the strap rests on your shoulder.
At the thinner end, the strap is 3/4″ while the pad is 1 3/4″. This is quite comfortable to play with.
The strap is adjustable with a buckle to be 43” through 53” long.
This length is great for most players, but the smaller Loog Mini players and some Loog Pro players may find this too big.
It looks sharp and is made with quality by a Canadian leather worker, Levy’s Leathers. The Loog logo is tastefully engraved on the strap.
Stands are for more than just displaying your guitar; it keeps them safe when you’re not playing them.
The metal stand is secure and safe. The Mini and Pro come in one size of stand while the Pro VI is a bigger one.
I can’t tell you how many times kids and adults leave their guitar on a bed, and then it falls and breaks. I’ve even done it myself.
Get the stand if you’re able to.
The wall hangers are another way to display and keep your guitar safe.
You’ll need a little technical know-how to get it installed. A couple of screws with wall anchors (included) will get the job done.
Make sure you get the right size and don’t try to use the hangers with other instruments, or they may fall and get damaged.
Loog sells a Swiff clip-on tuner to help people tune their guitars. This one is also part of the package deal if you wish to pay a little extra for some other accessories.
The tuner is backlit and simple-to-use. It’s clear directions are good for new players.
If you don’t buy the package, I’d actually recommend buying a higher end clip-on tuner to use. This one works fine, but getting the guitar in perfect tune is key for developing a good ear and joy when playing.
Loog’s string are quality options for your guitars. Due to each model’s unique design, I highly recommend getting the Loog strings for each model.
Other nylon strings for the Mini and steel for the Pro and Pro VI may work, but they also won’t work as well.
On top of this, most other strings come in packages of 6, so if you have the Mini or Pro, you’ll be paying for 3 extra strings you’ll never use.
Due to being a 3-string guitar, there aren’t many books or resources out there for the Mini and Pro. Loog offers some good books to learn on, but they’re limited in their availability so act fast.
You’ll probably get more use out of the chord cards and app (discussed below).
As of this writing, these are the books offered by Loog:
- Mozart for Loog Guitar
- Bach for Loog Guitar
- Easy Classical Loog Guitar Solos
- Loog Guitar For Kids
Loog has a single T-shirt design using the cartoon monsters they use with their cards, books, and app.
This isn’t a necessity, but the kids are sure to like it.
It’s available in the following sizes:
- 2 year
- 4 year
- 6 year
- 8 year
- 10 year
- 12 year
- S Adult
- M Adult
- L Adult
- XL Adult
Live Video Lessons And Loog Guitar App
Two things Loog does amazingly well is offer support for players on their unique guitar.
The video lessons are geared towards learning guitar bit by bit.
As an active music teacher, I appreciate how the videos are sequential and balance the learning between developing technical skill and staying engaged with fun songs.
The videos are available free on YouTube and taught by 2016 Grammy Award Winner Tim Kubart.
The app is another awesome thing to have, and it’s doing fascinating things.
It has a fun, cartoon design to keep the littles engaged. The app also helps teach kids how to listen and tune their guitar.
It features the same flashcards for chords and a song list with many popular tunes (all focused on the Loog guitar method).
The video lessons are embedded here as well.
There are games available to make learning fundamental technique less of a chore and more fun.
Best of all, it’s all responsive to how you’re actually playing. They even use augmented reality technology with the selfie camera to help you out by showing you on your guitar where fingers go.
What Features To Look For When Buying A Guitar For Your Kid
There are some things you need to watch for when buying a guitar for young people. I’ll briefly go over these, and you may start to see why Loog is a good choice for the best guitar for kids.
Neck Width – The neck and fingering is the trickiest part of guitar for young kids. A skinnier neck is better for smaller fingers. Loog has got this covered with each of its models.
Nylon strings – Learning guitar can be painful for new people. You need to develop calluses on your fingertips.
For the youngest kids, this isn’t even really possible for them. They must have nylon strings to make it easier. This is why the Mini is the best guitar for 3 year olds.
The skinniest steel strings are the worst (strings 4, 5, and 6). Loog knows this which is another reason they removed them from the Loog Pro. The thick low strings are more doable without being painful.
Another reason the Pro is my pick for the best guitar for 8 year olds.
Good sound – Smaller body sizes make the guitar easier to handle, but it often limits the sound of the guitar. Kids don’t want to play on things which sound bad (even if they don’t say exactly that).
The tough maple neck and basswood for woods pushed more sound out of the smaller design. The Pro VI in particular is compared to other “kid” guitars, but it has a much deeper and more powerful sound.
The Pro VI is the best guitars for 12 year olds.
Low string action – The lower the string’s action, the easier it is to play. Logo designs their guitars with low action without buzzing on frets when pressed down. Perfect for new players, especially kids.
All of this is helpful for developing the finger strength, coordination, and muscle memory which makes a good guitarist. The Loog Guitar is more than just a kid’s guitar.
It’s a unique and good guitar first designed with building students up to learning guitar and playing for the rest of their lives.