Smaller acoustic guitars for kids are often cheap and low-quality toys. But the Yamaha CGS102A is a proper instrument designed for budding students. Is it the best acoustic guitar for kids? Find out in our Yamaha CGS102A half-size classical guitar review.
Looking for a Kids Classical Guitar?
First, be sure that you choose the right size for your child. There aren’t absolute rules when it comes to sizing but here’s a good rule of thumb:
- Kids Ages 4-6: 1/4 size guitar
- Kids Ages 5-8: 1/2 size guitar
- Kids Ages 8-11: 3/4 size guitar
- Kids Ages 12+: full size guitar
The CGS102A is a half-size acoustic guitar with a short scale length, so it’s a great choice for smaller kids around 5-8 years of age.
Many people say it’s best for kids to learn on an acoustic guitar, but it’s not cut and dry either. Electric guitars have lower action, which makes it easier to press down the strings. And let’s be honest, they’re cooler. But the simplicity and portability of acoustic guitars make them a more popular choice.
Acoustic and classical guitars tend to have higher action and larger neck width. You also don’t need an amp like you would for an electric guitar.
For younger kids, a classical guitar with nylon-strings, like this one from Yamaha, may be the best option. Nylon strings are much easier on the fingers, which may help your child stick with it.
You likely won’t want to spend a large amount of money if you aren’t sure a child will stick with the guitar. But, it’s wise to make sure the instrument you buy is at least of decent quality. Most guitars for kids aren’t high-quality, but some brands are better than others. Yamaha, makers of the CGS102A, is amongst the market leaders for student guitars.
Introducing the Yamaha CGS102A – Best for Kids?
The Yamaha CGS102A half size classical guitar is part of the Yamaha School series. It’s designed as an affordable yet playable instrument for the classroom. And despite its small size and short scale length this little guitar isn’t a toy. It’s made with a classic spruce top, and it’s designed with playability in mind. Plus, the traditional slotted headstock (found on most classical guitars) and eye-catching rosette give it a polished look.
Features and Benefits of the CGS102A
Neck and Body
The neck of this guitar is nato, a very dense wood that looks a lot like mahogany. Density is important in a guitar neck, as it is durable and resists warping. The slim profile neck is designed for smaller hands, and the shorter 21″ scale length creates less tension on the strings. This makes it easier to press the strings to the fretboard.
The body of the CGS102A is a traditional classical acoustic guitar shape, like a grand concert body. Its slim waist makes it easier for kids to handle. The body is all laminated woods with a spruce top and meranti back and sides. Spruce is a classic choice for a guitar top, and meranti is a budget wood that isn’t known for great sound. But on a guitar for kids, this shouldn’t be much of an issue.
The Score: Given the price, this is a well-built guitar. We give it 3.5 out of five.
This guitar is well-appointed for something so affordable. The rosewood fingerboard and bridge are a high-end touch on such an affordable guitar. Rosewood fingerboards tend to be very easy on the fingers, which is best for children.
The tuners are open gear, which you’d expect to find on any classical guitar. They’re notable because they hold tune very well for a budget guitar. Poor-quality tuners will frequently go out of tune, frustrating new players.
The nut and saddle are urea, a composite material that seems to be Yamaha’s go-to for most of its inexpensive instruments.
This guitar doesn’t have strap buttons but you can still tie on a strap if needed.
The Score: This guitar’s components are decent. We give it three out of five.
Sound and Tone
The sound is surprisingly good for an inexpensive guitar this size. The tone might be a little weak compared to a larger classical, but the CGS102A avoids the ukulele-like sound that many smaller guitars seem to have. The intonation isn’t always perfect, but that’s common in 1/4- and 1/2-size guitars. And this shouldn’t be noticeable for beginning players.
All in all, the CGS102A has a pleasant, mellow tone, with a decent amount of sustain for a 1/2-size guitar. For kids and students, it’s encouraging when the notes or chords they play sound good.
The Score: The sound and tone of the CGS102A are decent, and we give it 3.5 out of five.
Action, Fit and Finish
The action is low for a classical guitar, but very young children may still have some trouble pressing the strings. But, the softer nylon strings combined with lower string tension should counteract this. In any case, it is likely to be easier to play than a steel-string guitar.
As with most Yamaha guitars, the fit and finish are very good. All components are secure, and this guitar should arrive with the action already set up well. In this price range, you might expect the occasional run in the finish, but this won’t impact sound or playability.
The CGS102A has a sleek, minimalist look. The gloss finish combined with the classic-looking rosette makes it look like a true classical instrument.
The Score: The action, fit, and finish of this guitar is very good. We give it four out of five.
Reliability and Durability
The CGS102A is a durable little guitar. Its laminated construction is less prone to cracking than solid-wood, and can also stand up to knocks.
Since it’s constructed with longevity in mind, the tuners aren’t designed to give out, and the fretboard isn’t prone to pitting. These features make it best for smaller kids, who aren’t always careful with their guitars.
The Score: This is a very durable guitar that’s well-suited to kids. We give it five out of five.
The Yamaha CGS102A offers incredible value.
While it isn’t the cheapest 1/2 size guitar, it sounds much better than toy guitars of the same size and should outlast them too.
It’s also very affordable and made with better tonewoods than most beginner guitars. The balance between quality and affordability is an important one to strike, and this guitar does an excellent job.
The Score: Excellent value, and we give it five out of five.
Last update on 2021-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API