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The age of 13 is a common time when developing personalities start to become interested in the guitar. Whether they are influenced by media or their perception of what is hip, it’s best to capitalize on their interests.
All of the following guitars are excellent options for any 13-year-old, whether they want an acoustic or electric. There’s something here for everyone, no matter if they have some experience or they’re complete beginners.
Yamaha PAC012DLX – Best Overall
Throughout the last decade, primarily 1 family of electric guitars has been recommended the most for beginners. The Yamaha PAC012DLX (see price on Sweetwater, Guitar Center) is one of the highly acclaimed guitars from the Pacifica line.
What makes this guitar so unique? The PAC012DLX is essentially modeled after a Fender Stratocaster while providing its own distinct character and is packed with value.
In terms of quality, this guitar is solid, featuring an Agathis body, a Maple neck, and a Rosewood fretboard. A pair of single-coil pickups, with a humbucker at the bridge, provide those classic Strat tones with a punch.
Yamaha has provided some intense body bevels which will feel very comfortable for any person to play with. Compared to the Stratocaster, the forearm bevel is deeper and at a more extreme angle.
Despite the fact that it doesn’t say “Stratocaster” on the headstock, the PAC012DLX provides a similar experience. This is seen with its vintage-inspired tremolo bridge, which allows for greater playing expression and experimental tones.
The PAC012DLX is an absolute bargain considering its price and what is offered compared to other guitars. You could easily find a bundle with an included gig bag and still walk away with hole-less pockets.
Squier Affinity Series Telecaster Deluxe – Best Premium
The Telecaster has seen a resurgence in being considered a “hip” and “cool” guitar over the last few years. Any 13-year-old would seriously enjoy playing the Squier Affinity Series Telecaster Deluxe (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon).
Despite being the pick for the most expensive guitar in this article, it’s still unquestionably affordable for any budget. In turn, its price does play an important factor in helping the guitar earn this title.
The Deluxe Telecaster models have historically featured larger pickguards, humbuckers, and different electronics schematics relating to knobs and switches. This Squier version hits the nail square on the head by providing an authentic replica that is insanely affordable.
Telecasters are known to be a little sharp around the edges, but this model is unbelievably comfortable to play. Squier has an excellent belly-cut bevel to allow for hours of play without rib bruising.
With a Poplar body, a Maple neck, and a Laurel fretboard, there isn’t anything to dislike here. This is a solid guitar through and through, with specs that you would find on any higher-priced Squier/Fender guitar.
Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA – Best Budget
There’s a good chance that you (or the 13-year-old in your life) desire to be a guitar shredder. For this, one of the best options is the Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon).
Aesthetics have always played a role in music, with shred-based music being the biggest example. Historically, Jackson has been a torchbearer in producing guitars built for the heaviest and shreddy-est of music.
That’s precisely why no 13-year-old would attest to playing the Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA. This guitar features a Poplar body, a Maple neck, and an Amaranth neck that is wickedly smooth to play.
A pair of humbuckers are wired tastefully hot, ensuring they can handle all the chugs and squeals. Plus, a tremolo bridge is included to give you the ability to dive-bomb your notes into oblivion.
Not to mention, the Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA is one of the most inexpensive shred guitars on the market. It even comes with that classic Jackson aesthetic, including highlights like the signature angled headstock and Sharkfin inlays.
Yamaha APXT2EW – Best Overall
When it comes to beginner acoustic guitars, there is one model that stands out among all the rest. If you seek the most bang for your buck, the Yamaha APXT2EW (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is the answer.
The APXT2EW might be marketed as a travel guitar, but don't let that fool you. This 3/4-size acoustic guitar has everything that an aspiring performer could want in a beginner instrument.
For starters, the guitar has a cutaway design with a slimmer and, yes, smaller Meranti body. Despite its smaller size, it still provides full-scale playability, with an electric pickup and preamp included.
So, not only can you play acoustically, but the guitar can easily be plugged into an amplifier or PA system. Yamaha even includes a gig bag with the guitar, which is almost unheard of at this price point.
The APXT2EW might be a smaller guitar, but it isn't too small that it becomes obsolete into adulthood. In fact, many adults have opted for this guitar over a full-size model for a multitude of reasons.
At this price, you’re getting a perfect transitionary guitar, complete with electronics and a gig bag. You simply won’t find another acoustic guitar packing in the same value at this price.
Yamaha FGX800C – Best Premium
Has the 13-year-old in your life been playing a borrowed guitar and is overdue for an upgrade? The Yamaha FGX800C (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is a quality dreadnought acoustic that is built to last.
This acoustic guitar is ideal for any instrument purchase that is designed to last into adulthood. It has everything you’re looking for in a guitar that can carry the guitar player to higher levels of skill.
The FGX800C features a Solid Spruce top, giving the guitar a sweet and balanced tonal profile. A cutaway body design gives access to the full breadth of the Nato neck and Walnut fretboard.
It must be said that the guitar plays a bit better than expected for a guitar at this price point. However, it’s Yamaha’s inclusion of a pickup and preamp system that seals the deal for this winner.
Plugging this guitar in for gigs will be a breeze and is a necessity for any aspiring performer. A feature like this adds years of use to a guitar, ensuring that the initial cost is more than realized.
The FGX800C might be priced a bit higher than is appropriate for the absolute beginner who has never played. But for the 13-year-old with some experience, the FGX800C can quickly become a lifelong companion.
Epiphone DR-100 – Best Budget
Not everyone has the budget to splurge on their dream guitar, and not everyone has a preference for style. Sometimes, what is needed is something basic to get started learning the fundamentals and to have around the house.
The DR-100 features a laminated Mahogany body with a Spruce top, and a comfortable, slim Mahogany neck. Its Rosewood fretboard has 20 frets and is a welcomed sight at this price.
There is no electric pickup or preamp, and the guitar does not come with a gig bag of any sort. With that being said, you may want to factor those into your budget if they are a necessity with priority.
The DR-100 is a capable guitar and is money well-spent compared to other guitars at this level. It might not be professional-grade, but it will likely always find continual use throughout the years.
Plus, it comes with multiple color finish options for extra aesthetic spank, including:
- Vintage sunburst
If you’re scrupulous in your research, you’ll find you don’t need to settle despite working with a smaller budget. The Ibanez PF15ECE (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is a stunning example for any 13-year-old guitarist.
This Okoume-crafted dreadnought acoustic features a Spruce top with a cutaway design for neck-length playability. All 20 frets on the PF15ECE’s Nyatoh neck are easily accessible.
While the guitar’s hardware isn’t something to write home about, it gets the job done while keeping costs low. This is important because it features a pickup and preamp system that would otherwise drive up the cost.
The preamp has a number of handy controls, including a volume knob, 2-band EQ, and a built-in tuner. Having this convenience is a necessity for any 13-year-old who wishes to play in front of an audience.
This guitar is in the perfect zone for any 13-year-old player as far as price and features are concerned.
What To Look For When Buying A Guitar For A 13-Year-Old
If you’re unfamiliar with what constitutes a guitar to be worthwhile, you might feel intimidated about buying a guitar. The pressure is only amplified when the purchase is actually for a child for whom you only want the best.
Some valuable food for thought follows, which will help guide you to the right guitar choice. They might not show it, but the 13-year-old in your life will appreciate your efforts toward research.
What Kind Of Guitar Are They Drawn Toward The Most?
Ditch the notion that somebody must start out on the acoustic guitar before playing the electric guitar. This common misconception often deters people from sticking with the guitar.
Instead, purchase the kind of guitar the 13-year-old is attracted to, whether it be an acoustic or electric. This will keep them motivated and inspired more than you might imagine.
Think about how difficult it can be to make yourself do something you don’t fully enjoy. A guitar that the 13-year-old doesn't enjoy will diminish the likelihood that they consistently play the instrument.
Once you find a few guitar choices, let them try it out for themselves, even if they can’t play yet. Comfort and an easy feel during play will go a long way in making the playing experience enjoyable.
Keep in mind that most guitars will play their best after they have had a professional setup. If requested, most guitar shops will have a maintenance tech on-hand to perform these duties for a reasonable price.
How Much Should You Spend On A Guitar For A 13-Year Old?
Generally, you shouldn’t splurge a ton of money on a guitar unless the 13-year-old has some experience. If they have a few years of experience, spending $350 is fairly reasonable and justified.
However, if they are a complete beginner, spending $150 to $250 might be the most appropriate. No matter how you go, buying used will give you the best value for your money.
How Can You Foster Growth And Keep The 13-Year-Old’s Future In Mind?
It’s a little tricky buying for a 13-year-old as it is usually a time of extreme bodily growth. Like shoes, a full-size guitar might be too large for them today but might be “just right” tomorrow.
Guitars do come in smaller sizes, however, it’s probably best not to go below a 3/4-size. This sizing is close to full-size and can still be more than appropriate well into adulthood.
However, if sizing isn’t such a big deal to you or the 13-year-old, consider going full-size. Within 3 years, the young guitarist will likely have the stature of an adult.
Best Brands For Guitars For 13-Year Olds
It never hurts to familiarize yourself with the established “big names” in the guitar manufacturing industry. A good reputation doesn’t come easily, and these brands have deserved the good marks acquired over the years.
Yamaha is a name that anybody can recognize, and is primarily known for its pianos. The company has continually exceeded expectations when it comes to the quality of its guitar product lines.
Yamaha consistently provides an example of how value can be packed in at any budget level without cutting corners. The majority of the company’s budget line is perfect for any 13-year-old inclined toward playing the guitar.
Squier is a company that receives some of the most recommendations for beginners and experienced players alike. The company produces authentic Fender designs with budget materials in overseas factories for a lower consumer cost.
In recent years, the quality of Squier guitars has skyrocketed exponentially, providing some of the best value on the market. These are definitely the go-to for anyone wanting a Fender guitar but lacking the proper budget to afford one.
Best Guitars For 13-Year-Olds, Final Thoughts
It’s a guarantee that the day the 13-year-old in your life receives their guitar will be a lifetime memory. And while it might be a momentous occasion, it has more fruits of benefit than can be counted.
If they stick with it, you’ll see how the guitar has influenced their life at each fork and turning point. Such influence might not have been possible without your openness and willingness to get them the right guitar.