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Do you have a 14 year old in your life that expresses a desire to play the guitar? This is a pretty common age for kids to take an interest in the instrument.
How does one know what guitars are suitable for a young teenager? Read on to discover some excellent options available today.
You’ll also begin to understand what to look for when buying a guitar for a 14 year old.
Yamaha PAC112J – Best Overall
This guitar features an Alder body in a shape very reminiscent of a Fender Stratocaster. It comes in the color choices of:
- Metallic red
- Old violin sunburst
The PAC112J’s neck is crafted from Maple to have a C-shape contour and a 25.5” scale length. Rosewood is featured for the fretboard, which has a 13.75” radius, and 22 frets outlined by dot inlays.
As this is an electric guitar, the PAC112J features pickups in an SSH combination. These include a pair of Ceramic single-coils in the neck and middle positions, and a Ceramic humbucker at the bridge.
Yamaha has included a knob for both volume and tone. In addition, a 5-way switch is provided to dial-in your favorite guitar tones.
Other hardware to be found on the PAC112J include:
- Die-cast sealed tuners
- Vintage-style tremolo system
- Urea nut
Unfortunately, this doesn’t come with a gig bag, but you can usually find this pairing in a bundle sale.
What’s So Great About The Yamaha PAC112J?
There’s no denying that the Stratocaster is one of the most iconic guitars ever made. The PAC112J essentially upgrades the classic design into something more befitting of modern players.
Differences and similarities between the 2 guitars can be seen at almost every juncture in the spec sheets. The biggest change you’ll notice is that the body contours are much sharper on the PAC112J.
Just the forearm rest alone features a sharp, angular cut. This is leagues away from the rounded and subtle design that Fender has used.
Another difference is in the fact that it has a flatter fretboard radius. Large string bends will not choke out here, which can be an issue with rounder fretboard radiuses.
While it might seem small, the PAC112J has 22 frets, which essentially makes it suitable for modern guitarists. This is also more suitable for those who might have an interest in more technique-heavy genres.
Aside from these differences, the PAC112J gives a definitive nod of respect to the original design. Details like the tremolo system and headstock shape retain the character of the Stratocaster.
The PAC112J does have a bit more of a thicker sound compared to Stratocasters made by Fender/Squier.
What is unbeatable here is the amount of playability offered at such an affordable price. This is a dream guitar for any beginner.
Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster – Best Premium
If you have no budgetary concerns, check out the Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon). This guitar is a faithful Stratocaster on every level, with a bit of an extra aesthetic flair.
Its body is made of Poplar, with this particular model featuring a flamed Maple veneer. This top comes in the attractive color options of:
- Black burst
- Sienna sunburst
The Affinity Series Stratocaster features a Maple neck with a 25.5” scale length and a C-shape contour. Maple is also used for the fretboard, which features a 9.5” radius and 21 frets.
This particular Stratocaster features an SSH pickup configuration. These include Ceramic single-coils in the neck and middle positions, and a Ceramic humbucker at the bridge.
For tone control, Squier has provided a 5-way switch, a volume knob, and a pair of tone knobs.
Other hardware found on this Stratocaster include:
- Synthetic bone nut
- Sealed die-cast tuners
- 2-point synchronized tremolo system
What’s So Great About The Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster?
There was a time when it was recommended that one run in the opposite direction of the Squier Affinity Series. All of that has changed drastically, as it is now one of the most trusted lines for affordable beginner guitars.
This particular Stratocaster model provides an authentic Stratocaster playing experience. Every element of the guitar’s design follows the traditional build specifications of even more expensive Stratocasters.
The biggest exceptions here are in its flamed top and its pickup configuration. It is certainly not every day that you run into an authentic Stratocaster with these features at this price.
Sure, this might be priced near the beginning of the intermediate budget. However, it’s sure to serve your 14 year old for many years into the future.
There isn’t really much to be changed here, as this is a Stratocaster in all of its classic beauty. Even the tone produced by these pickups is reminiscent of the classic Stratocaster tones everyone knows and loves.
When compared to the aforementioned Yamaha PAC112J, these pickups have a bit more of a rounder and more vintage sound. It is also just a tad bit thinner in presence, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Sometimes, kids want nothing but something authentic. A guitar like this Stratocaster is sure to keep the coals of inspiration burning hot for many years to come.
Epiphone SG Special Satin E1 – Best Budget
For decades, the SG has long been hailed as one of the most iconic guitar designs of all time. This Epiphone offering is especially ideal for beginners looking for their first electric guitar.
The SG Special Satin E1 features a Poplar body with a Mahogany veneer on its top. It comes in a vintage worn finish, giving an aged look to the color options of:
Okoume is used for the neck, which has a SlimTaper D-shape contour inspired by vintage 60s models. Its scale length measures to 24.75”, providing a hint of slinkiness to the playing action.
The SG’s fretboard is made of Rosewood, featuring a 12” radius, and 22 frets outlined by dot inlays. Other hardware on this SG includes:
- Closed-gear tuners with a 14:1 ratio
- NuBone nut
- Tune-O-Matic Bridge
- Stopbar tailpiece
For pickups, the guitar features a pair of humbuckers, including:
- 650R Ceramic-8 (neck position)
- 700T Ceramic-8 (bridge position)
A knob for volume and tone, as well as a 3-way switch, have been provided for tone control.
What’s So Great About The Epiphone SG Special Satin E1?
For the price, the Epiphone SG Special Satin E1 is definitely worth consideration. Despite its affordability, Epiphone hasn’t compromised too much on the building materials and components.
Perhaps the only things one could raise an issue about are the pickups and the guitar’s finish. The finish itself has a sort of grain to it that might not be to everyone’s taste.
Tonally, however, these pickups are able to produce quite a bit of warmth, without necessarily being too muddy. Nevertheless, if your 14 year old is into music with distortion, this guitar will fit right in.
In fact, that might be one of the best parts about this guitar in general. It isn’t uncommon for a child’s music tastes to develop and change over time.
The SG has an iconic and timeless look that will probably never get old. While its devilish looks are appropriate for heavy music, it can be quite versatile in its use.
For instance, you might not have ever guessed the SG to be a viable guitar for classic country guitar tones.
Again, it would have been a great addition to see a gig bag come along with this beginner guitar. Nevertheless, it is still one of the best budget guitars most appropriate for a 14 year old.
What To Look For When Buying A Guitar For A 14 Year Old
While the aforementioned guitars can serve as excellent examples, they’re of no help if your teenager doesn’t like them. This situation can often leave one perplexed, especially if you’ve never played the guitar before.
The following information can be of great use in your research phase. You can adjust this information to suit any scenario in which you may be buying a guitar.
A lower-budget instrument is generally recommended for a 14 year old that has never played the guitar before. This helps to prevent a sunk cost if they should decide that playing the guitar isn’t for them.
However, at this age, there’s a possibility that they may already have some experience with the guitar. You’ll want to take into account their skill level, as well as their potential aspirations, with the guitar’s purchase.
As such, an intermediate guitar might be suitable for a 14 year old with experience. Do check the used market, as you’ll likely find a deal on a quality guitar at a lower price.
It’s a common acceptance that guitars of lower cost generally have worse playability than those of higher cost. That doesn’t mean you should opt to only buy expensive guitars.
You really just need to have a keen eye for detail toward the build of the guitar. Some things you’ll need to ask yourself include:
- Do the fret ends feel sharp?
- Does it seem as if there is a wide space between the fretboard and the strings?
- Is it hard to press the strings into the frets?
Let the 14 year old try the guitar out for themselves to find the best fit for them.
Let’s be honest for a second: young teenagers generally tend to have quite a mind of their own. Many spend their entire teenage years making this fact known to everyone around them.
If they’re showing a desire in playing the guitar, pay attention to what their interests are. At this age, many usually have a few certain favorite bands, along with a few guitar heroes.
While it’s not always the case, many tend to buy a guitar similar to that of their heroes. This really helps to bridge the gap between dreams and reality, fueling long-term inspiration.
Keep in mind that most iconic guitar styles can be found in all budget ranges. This includes both acoustic and electric guitars.
Similarly, if they wish to primarily play electric, let them go that route. Learning on an acoustic beforehand is not a prerequisite necessity.
If the 14 year old should be of smaller stature, consider looking into a 3/4 size guitar. This will usually have a smaller body, with a shortened scale length.
Ultimately, this provides a more proportional playing experience. The shortened scale length also decreases necessary finger stretches by shortening the space between each fret.
However, many 14 year olds will usually be more than ready for a standard, full-size guitar. At this stage, they are nearer to adulthood than in their younger years, often with their stature reflecting that fact.
Best Brands For Guitars For 14 Year Olds
If you’re not sure where to begin your research, it's usually best to check out the best-known brands. The following brands are some of the most respected in terms of creating guitars for younger players.
Epiphone is one of the oldest names in the guitar industry and has been primarily operated by Gibson. Many guitarists seek out Epiphone guitars for their affordable entry into the Gibson playing experience.
Yamaha is one of the oldest Japanese companies and has been making organs since the 1890s. Today, Yamaha provides precision craftsmanship and loads of value in instruments of every price level.
Top Guitars For A 14 Year Old, Final Thoughts
Be sure to let your 14 year old try these guitars out for themselves. For someone at this age, there are few things more exciting than going to the guitar shop.
Getting their first guitar is truly a moment in time that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. So, don’t rush it, and be sure to enjoy every little moment that happens along the way.