What Size Guitar Should I Get? – A Guide For The Whole Family

The different sizes of acoustic guitar one next to the other. The sizes are: full size, 3/4 size, 1/2 size, and 1/4 size acoustic guitars.

As a beginner, one of the most frustrating things is to no have a guitar that fits your body built.

I know this because I had this issue. When I first started, I was using my husband’s dreadnought, the Seagull S6 original acoustic guitar.

A woman with the Seagull 046386 S6 Original New 2018 Model Acoustic Guitar

Although this guitar is beautiful and sounds fantastic, the Seagull S6 is too large and too heavy for a petty, 5 feet female like me.

However, when I got my PRS SE P20E Tonare Parlor, my learning experience changed.

I finally had a guitar I could wrap my hands around the neck with ease.

A woman with the PRS Paul Reed Smith SE P20 Parlor Acoustic Guitar

Kids also struggle if their guitars are too big for their built.

Their small hands and short arms make it very difficult for them to form chord shapes or learn riffs on a big guitar.

This is because their fingers won’t reach the frets.

The wrong guitar will discourage any beginner from keeping to their path of learning.

Fortunately, guitar manufacturers produce a wide variety of guitar sizes to suit different ages, builds, and capabilities.

In general, a 30” guitar is perfect for most 5 and 6 years old. A 34” guitar is perfect for 8 and 9 years old. A 36” guitar will fit 12 years old, and a full-size guitar will suit anyone from 13 years old onwards.

Age Average Person’s height Guitar Size Guitar Type Guitar Pick Guitar Length Price

5 year Old 42.5″ (107.9 cm) 30” (¼ size) Classical acoustic Stagg C505 30” (76cm) $135.99

6 year Old 45.5” (115.5cm) 30” (¼ size) Classical acoustic Stagg C505 30” (76cm) $135.99

8 Year Old 50.5” (128.2 cm) 34” (½ size) Classical acoustic Hohner HAG250P 86.36cm $60.00

9 year Old 52.5″ (133.3 cm) 34” (½ size) Electric guitar SX RST Sunburst Guitar 86.36cm $105.00

12 year old 59.0″ (149.8 cm) 36” (¾ size) Electric guitar Ibanez GRGM21BKN 91.44cm $149.99

13 Year Old 61.7″ (156.7 cm) Full-sized guitar Electric guitar Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster 101.6cm $429.99

Adult Female 63.7” (162 cm) Full-sized guitar Acoustic Guitar PRS SE P20E Tonare Parlor 102cm $578.00

Adult Male 69.1” (175.5 cm) Full-sized guitar Electric Guitar Seagull S6 Original Scale length 62.865cm  $579.00

In general, we can measure guitars either on the length or on the scale length. It is best for kids or people with small frames and short arms to use the scale length measurement. This is because a shorter scale always means a smaller body and a shorter neck.

Length measures the distance from the headstock to the end of the body.

A woman measuring the length of the guitar (headstock to the end of the guitars' body)

Whereas scale length measures the distance from the nut to the bridge.

A woman measuring the scale length of an acoustic guitar (from the nut to the bridge)

Buying a guitar based on length can be deceptive.

This is because a small guitar can have a full-scale neck.

Making it difficult for someone with small hands to wrap their hands around the guitar’s neck.

Lots of travel guitars, for instance, have short bodies with full-scale necks.

The best way to determine if a guitar is right for your child, or you, is to go by scale length instead of guitar length.

A shorter scale always means a smaller body and a shorter neck.

For adult beginners, the size of the guitar is all about your own personal comfort.

In general, adults with large frames tend to have large hands and long arms. They tend to prefer the bigger guitars such as the dreadnoughts.

Whereas the smaller-framed individuals tend to have short arms and small hands. They tend to prefer either the smaller-bodied acoustic guitars or electric guitars.

Related:What Acoustic Guitar Body Type Should I Buy; Ultimate Beginners Guide To Buying An Electric Guitar.

Tip

If you are a small frame, consider a guitar built for the Japanese market such as Yamaha, Orville, or Takamine.

Japanese people, on average, are smaller than Americans…

And these brands cater for us the small build people!

When you’re starting out, regardless of the size of your frame, you want a guitar with low action.

Action is the distance between the string and the fretboard.

Low action means you don’t have to press as hard on the strings to make a sound.

Guitars with higher action require more finger pressure to make a sound.

Related: Why Do Cheap Guitars Have High Action.

The best guitars for small children aged 5 and 6 are the ¼ length guitars.

Below we described three fantastic guitars to suit the 5 to 6 years old.

A 32" Stagg C505 Guitar, a cardboard box, a gig bag, and spare strings

Key Features

  • Beefy neck for large hands
  • Incredible sustain and tone
  • Perfect for a variety of genres

Best Suited For

  • Country, pop, blues or folk
  • Gigging guitarists
  • People with big hands or bodies that don’t mind extra weight on the guitar

Don’t let this beautiful little guitar size fool you!

Thanks to its quality construction and basswood/maple tonewood combo, this guitar produces a warm and clear sound.

When strumming chords, there is minimal fret buzz, and its compound radius is optimized for comfort.

Its tuners work smoothly but will not hold a pitch for alternate tunings beyond EADGBE.

The neck gets slightly wider as you move down towards the body, nothing a 5 or 6 years old can’t handle.

Tip: Ensure you stretch the strings when they are fresh to ensure that it maintains accurate intonation.

Related: How Long Do New Guitar Strings Tak To Settle

A Master Play 30" guitar, 3 picks, spare steel strings, a strap shoulder, a capo, a tuner, a gig bag and a microfibre cloth

Key Features

  • Comes in a range of colors
  • Affordable price
  • Its low price is reflected in its quality. Less resonant compared to the Stagg

Best Suited For

  • Kids learning to play for the first time
  • Beginners who are trying out the guitar world and are not sure if they want to spend big on a new hobby

This sturdy guitar comes in 9 different colors.

The guitar is made of linden wood, top, bottom, and neck.

The strings in this guitar are half steel and half nylon. Perfect for those beginner little fingers to develop some calluses without causing too much pain.

The strings are also easily replaceable. This allows your kid to practice restringing the guitar. A skill they will need in their guitar-playing career!

It has a midrange-heavy sound, which is good for fingerstyle playing.

A young kid will enjoy learning this guitar because of its bright colors and ease of playability.

The guitar is easy to tune, and the tuning pegs and hardware feel sturdy.

Note: the strings will need to be stretched until they settle.

So if you find that the guitar is not holding its tune, give the strings some time.

After a few plays, the strings will set in.

This guitar comes with:

  • 2 picks of different thicknesses,
  • a spare set of strings,
  • a tuner, and
  • a gig bag.
Be Aware: The gig bag does not have any padding. While the bag will protect the guitar against any scratches, it will not protect the guitar against any bumps.

This is a great value for money bandle!

A 1/4 Pyle Classical Acoustic Guitar, a gig bag, a tuner, 2 picks, spare nylon strings, a shoulder strap and a fibre cloth

Key Features

  • Comes with picks, a strap, a guitar case, and a tuner
  • Deep, rich sound
  • Included tuner is easy to use

Best Suited For

  • Fingerpicking
  • Learning to play chords
  • Singer-songwriter genre

As this guitar is made from linden wood, its tone is very warm and deep.

As such, it isn’t best suited for chords, even if its diminutive size makes them very easy to play.

Its small light size makes this guitar perfect for 5 and 6 years old to hold.

The guitar comes with:

  • a gig bag case,
  • detachable guitar shoulder strap,
  • a digital tuner,
  • spare nylon strings,
  • a cleaning cloth, and
  • 2 picks of different thicknesses.

Great value for money!

As per the other guitars in this list, it is hard to keep the guitar in tune until the strings settle in.

The best guitars for children aged 8 are the ½ size guitars.

Below we described three fantastic guitars to suit them.

A Hohner Accordions 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar

Key Features

  • Blended wood, making it cheaper than solid cedar or spruce
  • Crisper, more robust sound compared to ¼ size guitars
  • Low action
  • Very stable tuning

Best Suited For

  • Strumming chords or playing with fingers
  • Blues & folk music

German brand Hohner has an excellent reputation in the instrument manufacturing business.

At only 30 inches long, it will feel comfortable for kids aged around 8.

This guitar is made from a blend of several different types of wood. Making it cheaper than those guitars that used solid blocks of cedar or spruce.

Yet, its tone is not compromised.

Your child’s hand will fit around this smaller neck perfectly.

This guitar stays in tune throughout hours of playing after the new strings have settled.

Related:How Long Do New Guitar Strings Tak To Settle

As the notes sound clean and clear all the way up the neck, this guitar works well for strumming chords and for picking melodies.

A YMC 30" Electric Guitar with 5-Watt Amp, gig bag, strap, cable, spare strings, and 3 picks

Key Features

  • All-in-one introductory package for electric guitar
  • One of the only electric guitar packages at its size
  • Double cutaway body maximises playability on the upper neck

Best Suited For

  • Learning to play rock music
  • Power chords and solos

If you have a budding rocker on your hands, this might be your best choice.

Although this guitar is 30 inches long, it has the scale length of a half-size guitar. So we are including it with the half-sized guitars.

This all-in-one-package from YMC includes:

  • an amplifier,
  • a guitar cable,
  • a carry bag, and
  • even extra strings.

The guitar’s construction isn’t as solid or durable as you would expect from a large brand.

Still, it is a guitar that will see your 8 years old until they are 12 years old when they are due for something bigger.

Although the guitar sound isn’t particularly distinctive, the tone is acceptable.

It has medium action – not too high, not too low – to balance playability and tone.

Yamaha CGS102A Half-Size Classical Guitar

Key Features

  • Mahogany and spruce body produces a very loud, very clear sound
  • High-quality construction

Best Suited For

  • 8-year-olds or people with smaller frames
  • Classical playing or fingerpicking
  • Cheap traveling guitar for camping trips

Japanese brand Yamaha is known for its high-quality instruments.

This classical acoustic guitar is more expensive than the Hohner. That is because of its superior build quality.

This guitar will hold its tuning much better than many other entry-level classical guitars.

Its soft nylon strings are pliable, easy to play, and produce a soft, mellow tone.

The fret edge is a little rough and could use smoothing out, but otherwise, it is a beautifully finished guitar.

The best guitars for children aged 9 are ½ or ¾ sized guitars.

Below we described three excellent guitars to suit them.

SX RST 1/2 Size Sunburst Electric Guitar

Key Features

  • Alder body and maple neck provide awesome rock, blues, and jazz tones
  • Works best with lighter string gauge

Best Suited For

  • Softer classic rock, jazz and blues
  • Children who already play guitar and want to play something better

SX isn’t a massive brand in guitar manufacturing. Nonetheless, they have some good guitars.

They occupy the beginner-to-intermediate niche. Perfect for kids that are in the middle to end of their beginner journey.

The SX RST is the kind of guitar that kids with some guitar experience should be playing.

It might be half-sized, but it is not a toy!

The small guitar works best with light strings.

Related:How to identify the gauge of strings on your guitar

This guitar provides a neat, easy transition to electric guitar playing for your kid.

It plays very easily and produces surprisingly good tones for something of its size and price range.

Ortega R121, 1/2 Size, Nylon Classical Guitar

Key Features

  • Spruce top with satin finish 
  • Produces sparkling and gorgeous tones
  • Bridge at a steeper angle to increase sustain and tone

Best Suited For

  • Classical, folk, country, pop
  • Students and beginners with small frames and hands

Ortega is a German brand that uses high-quality engineering for its guitars.

The R121 is beautiful, with a stunning spruce top and a silky-smooth satin finish!

The spruce gives it a bright, full tone when strummed, and picked notes are clean and articulate.

Satin finishes (which are matte to look at instead of glossy) are a little more of a personal choice.

Satin finishes encourage the wood to breathe. Giving this guitar a more open tone than the tighter, more controlled sound of a gloss finish.

Arpeggios and fingerpicking sound great on this guitar.

The increased string angle at the bridge reduces the string tension on the fretboard. Making this guitar very soft on little fingers.

It stays in tune and is very easy to play.

Oscar Schmidt OGHS 1/2 Size Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar.

Key Features

  • Comes in a range of bright colors including pink, blue, red and green
  • Steel strings are louder and brighter than nylon-stringed guitars

Best Suited For

  • Kids with playing experience and stronger fingers
  • Country, pop, and strumming chords

If your kid has already been playing for a few months to a year, the OGHS is perfect.

This guitar makes the transition from nylon to steel strings very easy.

Its tuners grip the strings very well, and it will stay in tune, even if your child hits the strings extremely hard when playing.

The guitar’s slender, speedy neck is perfect for little hands.

At 12, kids can start to play ¾ sized guitars.

These size guitars often sound better and have superior build quality than the ¼, ⅓, or even the ½ size guitars.

On top of that, major guitar companies like Ibanez and Fender offer ¾ size guitars.

Ibanez GRGM21BKN 3/4 Size Mikro Electric Guitar

Key Features

  • Rock and metal shred machine
  • The narrow neck allows you to play very fast
  • Dual humbuckers for searing rock tone

Best Suited For

  • Guitar solos
  • Heavy metal and hard rock
  • Fast, powerful playing

The Ibanez Mikro might be small…

But its a high-powered instrument from a reputable manufacturer.

This guitar’s short scale makes it easy to play!

The neck is a single piece of maple, so the guitar has a beautiful, snappy tone.

The flat fretboard radius (about twelve inches) is very comfortable.

Its locking tuners keep it in tune

And its tiny size makes stepping up to shredding lead playing an absolute breeze.

It is very light and has low action.

A guitar with low action is perfect for beginners. This is because it requires:

  • less finger strength and,
  • less significant pressure to sound a note.

This beautiful axe comes with a humbucking pickup, which produces a thick, distorted tone perfect for metal or hard rock playing.

Yamaha CGS103A 3/4 Size Classical Guitar

Key Features

  • Spruce top and nylon strings for a pleasant, mellow sound
  • Great combination of price and playability
  • Surprisingly versatile for classical guitar

Best Suited For

  • Beginners who are unsure of the type of music they want to play
  • Chords, fingerstyle, classical, and folk

This guitar is far louder than you’d expect for its size!

Its tone actually improves with age, so the longer you play it, the better it sounds.

Related: Why acoustic guitars sound better with age.

The low action and slender neck make this guitar very easy to play.

It holds tuning very well once its strings have stretched out.

23 Inches Little Martin LX1 Acoustic Guitar

Key Features

  • Superb sound
  • Excellent quality
  • Beatiful to look at
  • spruce top with a bright sound and wonderfull blooming tone

Best Suited For

  • Country & Folk
  • Camping trips and travelling

The most expensive ¾ guitar on the list, but with very good reason.

Martin is an American brand with a global reputation.

This guitar, the smallest of the Martin range, packs a punch far beyond its diminutive size.  

This beautiful instrument from Martin is very comfortable to play!

The guitar sounds gorgeous for both fingerpicking and strumming.

It booms like a full-sized dreadnought, with a pleasant natural reverberation.

You can actually feel the guitar resonating against your body as you play it!

Melodies are bright and precise, while chords sound powerful and authoritative.

Because the Martin is a much more expensive guitar than the others here, we don’t recommend it for a true beginner.

However, If your 12-year-old has been playing guitar for a few years, and you want to really invest in their musical future, the Little Martin is the best choice.

13-year-old kids are bigger and stronger than any of the other ages discussed in this blog post. Thus you can start including full-sized guitars.

If your 13 years old has been playing for over 12 months, they will find steel-stringed guitars relatively easy to play.

Full Size Squier Classic Vibe 50's Stratocaster Electric Guitar

Key Features

  • Alder body for pure rock tone
  • Very comfortable C-shaped neck
  • Short scale length compared to other full-size guitars

Best Suited For

  • Rock & Blues
  • Smaller adults as well as kids

This guitar has a very comfortable C-shaped neck and a short scale length. These attributes will allow your 13+-year-old to wrap their hands around the neck with ease.

This mini Stratocaster plays really easily and has a gorgeous, ringing sustain.

When you play “Purple Haze,” it sounds so close to Jimi Hendrix (assuming of course, that you can play like Jimi Hendrix!) 

The pickups have a brighter, more modern voicing than the “classic” Strat pickups…

But it’s easy to swap them out for vintage pickups if you want to do so.

Like all Stratocasters, over-bending or playing too hard can affect its tuning stability. Still, this little Squier is built like a tank and is easy to play.

Squier by Fender "Mini" Strat Beginner Electric Guitar - Full Size

Key Features

  • Slender, comfortable neck
  • Real Strat tones at smaller size

Best Suited For

  • Rock and blues
  • Learning to play guitar solos

If your 13-year-old isn’t quite ready for a full-sized guitar but wants to produce rocking Strat tones, fret not!…

The Squier Mini Strat is the perfect stepping stone before upgrading to the real thing.

This little Strat has a slender, comfortable neck.

It has a clear, bell-like classic Strat tone.

The bridge pickup is not at all harsh or overly trebly. Instead, it is perfectly balanced.

The smaller body does lack the ringing sustain of a full-sized Strat.

Its versatile pickups handle sweet cleans and high-gain leads with ease.

The action on this guitar is a little higher than you’d expect on a little guitar…

But switching to a lighter gauge of string (like .09) alleviates this issue.

Related: How to identify the gauge of strings on your guitar.

Yamaha JR1 FG 3/4 Size Acoustic Guitar

Key Features

  • Steel-stringed acoustic
  • Rosewood fingerboard is soft on your hands

Best Suited For

  • Country, pop, and strumming chords
  • First steel-string acoustic for a child or smaller individual

It plays easily, and it’s fun to play. As a beginner guitar should be!

This guitar has some issues with tuning stability out of the box…

But it stays in tune once the strings settle in.

It’s the only ¾ guitar on this list. As smaller-framed 13+-year-olds may be more comfortable using this little guitar.

The short neck allows those little fingers to stretch easily over the frets.

Its beautiful wood finish will only improve with age.

Women often have smaller hands, bodies, and arm lengths than men.

Thus you should consider a guitar with a short scale length (23.5” to 24”). This will be more comfortable for those with short arms.

Related: Best guitars for female beginners.

PRS Paul Reed Smith SE P20E Parlor Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Vintage Mahogany

Key Features

  • Light and small
  • Wide and smooth neck
  • It has a warm and clear tone

Best Suited For

  • Fingerstyle
  • Singer-songwriter

Hi dear reader, this article was written by Liam, an experienced musician. However, I (Carolina Winter) wanted to jump in here and do the review on this guitar.

The reason is I own one.

At 1.6 m (5 feet) high, I am a petite female that struggled to find a guitar that will suit my small built, hands, and arms…

But my playing experience change when my husband (Luke Winter, owner of this blog) bought me this gitar.

This small and light guitar is perfect for us, the petite females.

With a short scale (24.72 inches), you need less arm-stretching as you play. Making it more comfortable as you go up and down the neck.

The neck is wide, but I can still wrap my small hands around the neck with ease.

The wide neck also means that someone with bigger hands can also play it with ease.

I love the look of this guitar.

I have the vintage mahogany finish…

But it also comes in: antique white, charcoal, black, pink lotus, and tobacco sunburst.

I also love the decorative touches such as:

  • The butter bean tuners,
  • The PRS bird inlays, and
  • The cream herringbone binding around the outside of the guitar’s body and on the rosette.

The guitar is all-mahogany top, but the back and sides are mahogany veneer.

I don’t think this affects the tone, but then and again, I am a beginner!

Ibanez RG450DX RG Series Electric Guitar - 41.5 inches

Key Features

  • Slim, narrow neck
  • Humbucking and single-coil pickups for an astonishing array of tones

Best Suited For

  • Shredding lead guitar
  • Hard rock and heavy metal

This narrow-necked shred machine was built to rock.

It is versatile, producing tones from mellow 60s sounds to all-out metal.

No wonder the First Lady of Shred, Nita Strauss, only plays Ibanez guitars.

This guitar’s slender neck and light body make it comfortable for people with small hands to play.

Takamine GX18CENS 3/4 Size Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Key Features

  • Amazing amplified sound
  • Built for smaller-framed individuals

Best Suited For

  • Folk, country, or pop
  • Playing with a band or on a big stage

Takamine produces some of the finest acoustic guitars in the world, at a lower price point than the competition.

In fact, you’ll see a significant amount of artists in about every genre using a Takamine as their go-to live acoustic guitar.

This is due to the exceptional guitar’s electronics (the part of a guitar that amplifies the sound through a PA or amp).

The amplified sound of a Takamine is crisp, defined, and powerful. If you see yourself on stage anytime soon,

Takamine is perfect for you.

The GX18CE-NS has a scale length of about 22” and has a smaller body than a typical acoustic.

Its slim neck profile fits comfortably in small hands. Forming chords and picking your way through arpeggios is also very easy.

Chord progressions feel like they flow off the fretboard. So if you want something to go with you while singing, this guitar will be great for you.

Epiphone Les Paul Muse Electric Guitar

Key Features

  • Iconic Les Paul shape
  • Humbucking pickups produce roaring rock tones and sweet jazz sounds
  • Slimmer and lighter than traditional Les Paul

Best Suited For

  • Smaller individuals who don’t want a heavy Les Paul
  • Rock, blues, and jazz

The Epiphone Les Paul Muse is the most affordable version of the Gibson Les Paul.

The Muse is light and easy to play.

Its tone is articulate, warm, and friendly.

Individual notes ring out, and chords have the warmth and familiarity of an old friend.

Adding some distortion or overdrive turns it into a rock machine!

Power chords ring out with the authority to rock stadiums…

And melodies and lead lines play easily right out of the box, thanks to this guitar’s low action.

If you’re on the smaller side and you want the classic Les Paul look and tone, the Muse might be the guitar for you.

Consider a guitar with a full-scale length (25”+) if you have big hands and long arms.

Seagull 046386 S6 Original 2018 Model Acoustic Guitar

Key Features

  • Beefy neck for large hands
  • Incredible sustain and tone
  • Perfect for a variety of genres

Best Suited For

  • Country, pop, blues, or folk
  • Gigging guitarists
  • People with big hands or bodies that don’t mind extra weight on the guitar

This full-sized acoustic guitar is not to be trifled with.

Strapping this guitar on, you’ll hear how “alive” the instrument sounds!

This Seagull has a beefy neck, so large hands fit it comfortably. Furthermore, the neck’s width will make shaping chords very easy.

Its wider nut means more space between the strings. So it feels more open to playing than the more cramped feeling of narrower nuts.

This guitar’s deep, rich sound is reminiscent of the dreadnaughts that once dominated country music.

It’s also quite loud, with more than enough volume to go with a singer without a microphone.

If you need a hard case to protect your beautiful guitar; Amazon will sell you the guitar and the hard case for only $539. Giving you a saving of $110 should you purchase them separately.

Epiphone Riviera Electric Guitar full size

Key Features

  • P90 pickups are amazingly versatile
  • Bright sound
  • Larger body
  • Classic Epiphone model

Best Suited For

  • Classic rock, blues, and jazz
  • Playing with a band
  • Rhythm playing more than leads

This guitar’s neck is slender and fits into your big hand perfectly.

The guitar comes with medium-high action, so rhythm playing and strummed chords will ring out with incredible sustain.

Its P90 pickups have warmth and clarity, with sparkling high notes and crisp, powerful lows.

Perfect for the blues or rock and roll!

Takamine Pro Series 3 New Yorker Acoustic-Electric Guitar full size

Key Features

  • Thick neck and smaller body
  • Incredibly versatile
  • World-beating amplified sound

Best Suited For

  • Playing with a band
  • Folk, country, acoustic rock, blues, or jazz
  • People with large hands

Don’t let the P3 New Yorker’s diminutive size fool you.

This parlor-sized acoustic guitar’s neck is thick and meaty.

This guitar is amazingly loud for its size!

Melodies sound bright with plenty of character, and you can hear every note in every chord you play.

Irish singer-songwriter Hozier, who stands two meters tall, takes two P3NYs on tour. This is because of their enormous playability, reliability, and classic Takamine tone.

Our favorite feature of this guitar is its silky smooth satin finish.

All over the neck, the P3NY is smooth to play.

Switching from one area of the fretboard to another is easy.

You can play for hours without the natural oils from your skin making the finish sticky.

Whether you’re a woman learning to play the guitar, or a man with big hands. Or you’re looking to get your child interested in music, there’s a guitar out there for you.

There are affordable, high-quality guitars at ¼, ½, and even ¾ size that are perfect for about any genre of music.

So what are you waiting for? Learn a few chords, pick up your guitar, and start playing!

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