Best Guitars For Small Hands

Best Guitars For Small Hands

A perfect guitar is pretty much a matter of preference. There are different types of woods, shapes, and many other things that have an impact on sound characteristics. Still, what about the playability? Which are the best guitars for small hands?

Best Guitars For Small Hands

Although there are some general rules, this is mostly about our physiognomy. While those with big hands can relatively easily adapt, people with smaller hands need to pay attention to many aspects, as their playing requires much more effort compared to most guitarists. Fortunately, most manufacturers realize this problem, so the market is full of guitars that are designed to provide best-possible playing experience for kids, teens, women, and others with small hands. Before I start with the list of best guitars for small hands, here are the most important factors that determine guitar’s playability:

Neck Dimensions

Of course, the best guitars for small hands should have a neck that is slim and comfortable to play. Therefore, make sure to check dimensions of a guitar before you even take it for consideration. The things you should check are thickness, fingerboard width, and neck shape.

Neck Thickness

For players with big hands, this is nothing more than a matter of preference. For those with small hands, it is much more than that. Practically, you need a neck that you can envelop with ease. Generally, electric guitars have slimmer necks, though there are differences between them as well. For small hands, the friendliest guitar necks are probably those that can be found on Stratocaster-like guitars, particularly superstrats. For example, the famous Wizard III neck from Ibanez is one of the thinnest necks you can find around, so take its dimensions as a reference. LP-style and hollow-body guitars usually have a little bit fatter necks.

In the past, acoustic guitars were characterized by notably fatter necks. However, things are a little bit different these days, as you can find models with necks that are as thin as on electric guitars. For example, Fender Malibu Series features pretty much the same neck as electric guitars like Stratocaster and Telecaster.

Neck Shape

Another thing that plays an important role is neck shape. Although it doesn’t look as important as neck dimensions, it can have a huge impact on your playing comfort. These days, manufacturers offer various kinds of neck shapes on their models, as guitarists have different preferences. Some of the most common shapes are:

  • C-Shape
  • Modern C-Shape
  • U-Shape
  • D-Shape
  • V-Shape
  • Asymmetrical Shape
Source: Premier Guitar

Fingerboard Width

Fingerboard width also has a huge impact on guitar’s playability. The bigger width, the bigger distance between strings. In practice, this means that small hands would probably struggle to reach low strings on a guitar that has a pretty big fingerboard width. Fortunately, most acoustic and all electric guitars will do the job very well. Still, keep in mind that width grows as you’re moving to higher frets. So, don’t forget to check fingerboard dimensions on the 12th fret as well.

If you are choosing an acoustic guitar, keep in mind that most of your playing will probably be chords. So, don’t choose too small width where strings may be to close, which could cause muting and similar issues with certain chord shapes.

Scale Length

This may be an even more important aspect than neck dimensions. The scale length is a distance between nut and bridge and longer scale also more distance between frets, which would require more finger stretching, especially in the first couple of frets, where most chord shapes are actually played.

If you want to prevent chord-shapes and other issues as much as possible, pick a guitar that has a shorter scale. A typical scale length measures between 24 and 26 inches. For example, Fender Stratocaster has a 25.5” scale, while Les Paul guitars feature 24.75” scale. So, both guitars are small-hands-friendly in their own way. The Strat has a slimmer neck, but Les Paul features a shorter scale. It’s up to you to decide which aspect is more important.

Acoustic guitars feature similar scale lengths, while there are also electric guitars with significantly shorter scales. For example, some Rickenbacker models measure only 20.75 inches, which seems perfect of small hands.

Guitar Size

Another thing you should consider is small-size guitars. Although designed for kids, these guitars can be used by anyone who has small hands. They usually come with a ¾-size of a “normal” guitars and that means a couple of important benefits. Obviously, the smaller size means a shorter scale, which means a smaller distance between frets. In most cases, these guitars feature scale lengths around 22-23 inches, which definitely makes a notable difference. They can also be a great choice for traveling.

However, there is a couple of drawbacks as well. The first one is the sound. Due to a smaller body, they obviously can resonate as full-size guitars, which has a bad effect on the sound. Also, these guitars usually aren’t as sturdy as regular guitars, so probably won’t be able to stand the strain of heavier string gauges.

String Gauge

Although not a deciding factor, string gauges can also affect playability, especially for players with small hands. Therefore, keep in mind that the best guitars for small hands should also feature lighter gauges. For electric guitar, that would be something like 0.08 or 0.09, while 0.11 gauges seem like a perfect measure for acoustic guitars.

Here is a list of some of the best guitars for small hands:

Best Electric Guitars For Small Hands

1. Ibanez RGRT421

Ibanez RGRT421

This company is known for many great things and its patented Wizard III neck is definitely one of them. With just 19mm of thickness at the 1st fret and two more and the 12th, this is definitely one of the thinnest guitar necks you will find. Also, the fretboard width measures just 43 mm at the 1st and 58 mm at the 24th fret, so there’s no doubt that people with small hands will definitely find this neck very comfortable and playable. Still, keep in mind 25.5” (648 mm) scale, which isn’t the shortest in the industry.

Another important thing to mention is that this is a neck-through guitar, which allows a much easier reach of high frets. Jumbo frets and typically-great ergonomics are another great reason why you should try this one.

When it comes to general characteristics of the guitar, it features a mahogany body and a typical H-H configuration. Unlike most RG guitars that have Floyd Rose, this one comes with a fixed bridge.

Generally, any guitar model from RG series seems perfect for small hands.

Pros

  • One of the thinnest neck around
  • Small fingerboard width
  • Jumbo frets
  • Excellent ergonomics

Cons

  • 25.5” scale

2. Fender Jaguar

Fender Jaguar

If you have small hands and also prefer vintage-style guitars, this one would be a great choice. Compared to more popular Stratocaster and Telecaster, the Jaguar has one important advantage, when we are talking about small-hands-friendly features. Compared to Strat and Tele, which feature scale length of 25.5 inches, this one has 24” scale. In practice, this means that frets are closer, which is most notable on the first couple of frets on a guitar. Also, it has a comfortable C-shape neck and comes with medium jumbo frets.

Such a combination of short scale and slim neck is something you won’t find on many guitars.

Other than the neck, this guitar is characterized by a genuine vintage look, highlighted by odd body shape and lots of small knobs and switches. That is also the dividing point on this guitar and guitarists either like or don’t like its shape at all. In most cases, it comes with an old-school tremolo, with either single coils or humbuckers.

Pros

  • Short 24” scale
  • Comfortable C-shape neck
  • Medium-jumbo frets are perfect measure

Cons

  • Its look isn’t everyone’s cup of tea

3. Squier Jaguar

Squier Jaguar

Fender guitar models are characterized by some of the most iconic body shapes and that is one of the main reasons for their popularity. However, the price of the original Fender model is usually quite high, so Squier comes as a perfect alternative. As Fender’s subsidiary brand, it is allowed to produce identical shapes and the only visual difference is in the name on the headstock.

Squier guitars are far more affordable, definitely the best choice for those with a tight budget, who still want to get a genuine Fender feel in their hands. Just like the original model, this one also comes with a short 24” scale, which is a great choice for small hands.

Pros

  • Short 24” scale
  • Genuine Fender feel
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Notably lower quality compared to original Fender models

4. Charvel Pro-Mod

Charvel Pro-Mod

This is a typical superstrat. Moreover, Charvel is also owned by Fender, so it’s no wonder that guitar models from this company feature pretty similar shapes to a Stratocaster. For example, Charvel uses the same headstock design, while necks are usually quite the same. This is a great thing, as the Stratocaster features one of the most comfortable necks in the industry. The neck features pretty comfortable shape with rolled fingerboard edges, while the fingerboard measures less than 43 mm (1.69”). On the other side, a possible drawback could be a long 25.5” scale.

In terms of base design characteristics, this is a typical superstrat, as I’ve already mentioned. Jumbo frets, Floyd Rose and hi-output humbuckers make this guitar a perfect shred machine.

Pros

  • Thin and comfortable neck
  • Jumbo frets
  • Lots of color options

Cons

  • 25.5” scale
  • Not particularly good for vintage styles

5. Ibanez GRGM21 ¾-Size Micro Electric Guitar

Ibanez GRGM21 ¾-Size

A I’ve already mentioned, small-size guitars could be a great choice as well, though they are designed primarily for kids. The thing with such guitars is a smaller body, and smaller body means a shorter scale. For example, this one measures just 22.2 inches, which is notably shorter compared to most full-size guitars.

Typically for Ibanez, the neck is pretty thin, so you will hardly find such a combination of short scale and thin neck.

The price is very affordable and the cool thing about this guitar is that it features a genuine RG look, which is one of the most iconic guitar shapes of all time. However, keep in mind that this is still a guitar that is primarily designed for kids, so the overall quality isn’t very good. We can hardly consider it as a real instrument.

Pros

  • Super-short 22.2” scale
  • Thin, Wizard-like neck
  • Genuine RG shape
  • Very affordable price

Cons

  • The overall quality isn’t very good
  • Still a small, ¾-size kid’s guitar

6. Squier Classic Vibe 50’s Stratocaster

Squier Classic Vibe 50’s Stratocaster

In this price range, you will hardly find a guitar that combines vintage and modern design solutions in such a good way. Basically, it is a classic Stratocaster that mimics legendary ’54 Strat, which with Fender’s badge costs thousands of dollars. In addition to a classic look and feel, this Squier adds a bit of modern flavor, which is particularly beneficial for people with small hands.

The main difference is in the neck, which in this case features more comfortable “modern C-shape”. Also, there are significantly more massive, medium jumbo frets that improve playability for a lot. Other than that, count on a typical 25.5” scale and genuine vintage Stat sound and feel. This is a typical old-school strat, with a vintage feel, low-output single coils and bright tone.

Pros

  • Looks and sounds great
  • Has real vintage Fender flavor
  • Affordable price
  • Comfortable modern-C neck

Cons

  • Someone may find it too expensive for a Squier

7. Gibson SG Special

Gibson SG Special

This guitar is amazing in so many ways. One of its main characteristics is a pretty unusual design which, interestingly, has benefits as well. When it comes to neck characteristics, Gibson guitars usually have thicker neck compared to, for example, Fender. However, that doesn’t mean they are less suitable for small hands. The SG’s main advantage is a little bit shorter, 24.75” scale, so it would require a little bit less finger stretching. Also, its design allows much easier reach to high frets and I’m pretty sure you would appreciate this.

The rest of the guitar comes in a typical Gibson manner – set-in neck, mahogany body and a couple of humbuckers are everything you need to rock all day long.

Pros

  • Shorter 24.75” scale
  • High frets are easy to reach
  • Looks distinctive
  • Sounds distinctive

Cons

  • Not the best ergonomics
  • Not very comfortable to play in a seating position

8. Squier Strat Mini

Squier Strat Mini

Although this is a product designed for kids, it could be useful for those with small hands as well. Practically, you will hardly find an electric guitar that is so small-hands-friendly. First of all, this is a ¾-size guitar, so it’s no wonder that scale measures only 22.75 inches. Frets are much closer compared to a regular Strat, but the fact is that the fingerboard width is also much smaller, as the nut width is just around 1.6 inches (40.6mm). In practice, this means that strings are maybe too close in the first couple of frets, so you may struggle to play chords clean enough.

The rest of the guitar comes in a typical Strat manner, just in a smaller package. There is a typical SSS pickup configuration and you can choose a couple of different colors. On the other side, this guitar comes with a fixed bridge, instead of the famous Strat tremolo.

Pros

  • Very short scale
  • Extremely thin neck
  • Affordable price
  • Original Stratocaster shape

Cons

  • Many will find this neck way too thin
  • ¾-size guitar, designed for kids

9. Yamaha Pacifica 112V

Yamaha Pacifica 112V

The Pacifica is arguably one of the best electric guitars when it comes to balance between price and quality. It is also a very good choice for people with small hands, as it is practically a typical Stratocaster. A thin and comfortable neck makes it very comfortable to play.

This is an affordable guitar, known as one of the best beginners’ electric guitars around. If you want something more upscale, there are numerous Pacifica models that come in a wide price range. A great thing is that all of them feature the same neck dimensions.

Pros

  • Thin neck and comfortable shape
  • Great value for the money
  • Works great for both beginners and skilled guitarists
  • Great for further upgrades

Cons

  • Tuners could be better
  • Not the prettiest guitar around

Best Acoustic Guitars For Small Hands

1. Taylor Academy 12E

Taylor Academy 12E

For small hands or not, this is a great guitar. A well-balanced tone is combined with playability pretty well, thanks to the guitar’s excellent ergonomics. The neck is quite slim, with a pretty small width, which measures less than 43 mm (1.6875”) at the first fret. Also, the scale is relatively short – 24.75 inches. Another great thing is that the action is pretty low and, interestingly, there is almost no buzz. For the right hand, there is a nice and comfortable armrest.

This is an acoustic-electric guitar and it comes with a decent quality of electronics. Even a built-in tuner is included for more convenient use on stage. The thing I like about it is that it sounds great, plugged or unplugged.

Pros

  • Good balance between price and quality
  • Comfortable neck with low action
  • Built-in tuner
  • Sounds very good for the money

Cons

  • Electronics are good but definitely not the best in this price range

2. Fender Malibu Player

Fender Malibu Player

Malibu series are some of the newest products that come from Fender. It’s not hard to see that these guitars are designed for the most comfortable playing experience. There is a Stratocaster-like neck, which is thinner compared to most acoustic guitars. Moreover, another important thing to mention is scale length, which measures only 24.1 inches. That means frets are notably closer, which is highly beneficial for players with small hands, particularly comfortable for those tricky chord shapes where a lot of stretching is required.

Other than a comfortable neck, this guitar has everything you’ll need for convenient use. Good sound, decent electronics and a variety of colors in the offer are some of the highlights. Also, the price is quite affordable.

Pros

  • Super-comfortable, electric guitar-like neck
  • Strat-like headstock
  • Fishman pre-amp
  • Attractive price

Cons

  • Low action can create a lot of buzz sometimes
  • Hybrid look doesn’t make it the prettiest guitar around

3. Epiphone DR-100

Epiphone DR-100

Yes, there are many guitars with a slimmer and more comfortable neck, but the DR-100 earns its place on this list because of its great popularity and super-affordable price. You will hardly find a guitar with better playability for this price. The neck is relatively thin, but the fingerboard width is very small-hands-friendly, as it measures typical 1.69 inches on the first fret. If you like to play chord shapes with a bit of stretching, keep in mind its 25.5” scale length.

Besides comfortable design, this guitar offers a pretty decent sound quality. Still, keep in mind that we are talking about one of the most affordable guitars on the market, so don’t expect miracles. In any case, you can count on a great value for the money.

Pros

  • Super-affordable, decent quality
  • Small neck width
  • Low action
  • Sounds good

Cons

  • Long 25.5” scale
  • There’s a bit of buzz

4. Fender CC60S Concert

Fender CC60S Concert

This is another very affordable acoustic guitar that offers great playability and overall quality. The first thing that should be mentioned about the CC60S is its very comfortable neck. It is slim and has a small fingerboard width. Moreover, it comes with rolled fingerboard edges, which makes it even more comfortable to play, perfect for small hands. On the other side, the 25.3” scale isn’t the most-friendly for short fingers.

When it comes to other features, this guitar feature a typical concert body shape. Back and side of the body is mahogany, while the top is solid spruce, a pretty common combination in this price range, which ensures a quite decent sound quality. There are three body colors in the offer – Natural, Black and Sunburst.

Pros

  • Slim and comfortable neck
  • Rolled fingerboard edges
  • Affordable price
  • Decent sound quality

Cons

  • 25.3” scale
  • Action could be lower

5. Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor

Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor

A ¾-size guitar could also be a good choice if you are looking for something playable. Of course, the smaller size means a shorter scale, and this one measures only 22.75 inches, which makes it perfect for small hands and beginners. Additionally, the neck is quite slim and comes with small fingerboard width of only 1.69 inches (43mm).

Another interesting feature is a mahogany top, which delivers a pretty interesting sound character, which is darker compared to most other wood types. You get that “earthy” tone, so your fancy chords could sound even better. Electronics are good and you can also count on a built-in tuner. The overall quality is very good, but keep in mind that the price isn’t very affordable for a ¾-size guitar.

Pros

  • Short 22.75” scale
  • Slim and comfortable neck
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Seems quite durable

Cons

  • The neck may be too narrow for some
  • Typically for a ¾-size guitar, it lacks tonal range

6. Martin LXM Little Martin

Martin LXM Little Martin

Small body and short scale make this Martin a perfect travel guitar but the fact is that it is also great for small hands. Of course, a short 23” scale is the first thing that comes to mind, but the neck by itself is also very slim and comfortable to play.

Just like the Taylor Baby, it is more expensive than most small-size guitars, but that’s for a reason. It’s not just about the brand, but this guitar also delivers a little bit of extra quality, particularly in terms of the sound quality.

Unfortunately, there is a couple of common issues you should consider. The biggest one goes to the fact that many customers complained about the top split. That happens most likely because of the fact that small-size guitars can’t handle heavy gauges.

Pros

  • Short scale, comfortable neck
  • Sounds very good
  • Perfect travel guitar
  • Stays in tune

Cons

  • Seems too expensive
  • Can’t handle heavier gauges

7. Ibanez AW54OPN

Ibanez AW54OPN

The Artwood series are some of the most interesting models from the Japanese manufacturer, mainly because of a nice combination of traditional and modern design solutions. On one side, there is a mahogany body, including a solid top and a traditional dreadnought body. Such combination delivers pretty rich sound, something that is very hard to find in this price range.

On the other side, there is also a bit of modern approach and the first thing that comes to mind is slim and comfortable neck, which is also made of mahogany, with rosewood fingerboard. Speaking of the fingerboard, 1.69 inches of width on the first fret seems very small-finger-friendly. On the other side, the long 25.5” scale is certainly a downside.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Great sound quality
  • Attractive natural finish
  • Slim and comfortable neck

Cons

  • Long scale
  • Setup would probably be required

8. Fender MA-1

Fender MA-1

Compared to other small-size guitars, this one has a big advantage. As I’ve already mentioned, most ¾-size guitars don’t deal with heavy gauges very well. This one is an exception, as it comes with sturdy X-bracing, so you can use something like 0.12 gauges without bigger problems.

Typically for small guitars, there are several benefits for players with small hands, starting from a short 23.3” scale, thin and comfortable neck etc. Also, the price is quite affordable, so you definitely can’t go wrong with this one.

Pros

  • X-Bracing, perfect for heavy gauges
  • Attractive look
  • Slim and comfortable neck
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Not the best tuners in the class
  • A pickguard would be nice

Reference List

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gu

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scale_length_(string_instruments)

https://sixstringacoustic.com/the-different-acoustic-guitar-neck-sizes-and-shapes

https://ibanez.fandom.com/wiki/List_of_neck_types

https://www.collingsguitars.com/img/faq/Neck_Profile_Diagram.pdf

https://www.fender.com/articles/tech-talk/what-is-fingerboard-radius/

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