A guitar that’s too little can make it hard to play, while a guitar that’s far too big may feel impossible to learn. Fretboards on guitars vary greatly, and learning chords and finger placements on a guitar’s wrong size can significantly impede your ability to play.
Whether you’re an adult learning to play or a parent trying to find the best-sized guitar for your child, we’re here to help figure out the best guitar for you. Guitar manufacturers make a wide variety of sizes that will suit all ages and builds. Below, we will take a look at what size guitar you should get based on your age and your height. This will give you a good starting point. Let’s get right to it!
A Quick Guide
If you don’t have the time to measure everything, here is a quick guide to choosing the right guitar size for you. Of course, all guitars will fit better in your arms if you take the time to measure correctly, but if you are buying a guitar as a gift or a cheaper option to see if guitaring is for you, then the below guide will be sufficient.
|5 to 12 years
|3.2 to 3.9 feet
|1 / 2 size
|12 to 15 years
|3.9 to 5.2 feet
|15 years and up
|5.2 feet and up
Acoustic guitars are usually very lightweight but slightly bulky, which can make it harder for smaller bodies and shorter arms to wrap around and get in a good position. But, they are essential tools for good country, slow rock, and folk music, and are great for beginners who are just learning how to strum a chord progression.
|5 to 10 years
|2.6 to 4.1 feet
|1 / 2 size
|10 years and up
|4.1 feet and up
On the other hand, electric guitars are much smaller than acoustic guitars. They’re usually used for rock, metal, and pop music. While they’re smaller in size and not as bulky, they can be on the heavy side, depending on what model you pursue. They’re great for when you’ve already got the basics down and what to experiment with making music.
There are three major types of guitar that you can choose from: nylon string classical guitars, steel-string acoustic guitars, and electric guitars.
In all three categories, you’re going to find a variety of different sizes, makes, styles, models, and brands. If you’re brand new to picking up a guitar, the choices can seem daunting. The guitar you decide to choose depends on how dedicated you are to learning and the style of music you’re looking to play.
And really, any guitar player will tell you: there’s no shame in having more than one guitar! Once you narrow down your choice for your first guitar, you’re going to want to figure out the size that will work best for you.
In general, a guitar can vary widely in size. Choosing a guitar size is mainly about personal preference and playability. You want to choose a guitar size that is comfortable and sustainable, so you don’t get fatigued or injure yourself trying to play.
In general, a guitar comes in four different sizes: 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 4/4, also known as a full-body or full size. However, these sizing names can be a little misleading: for example, a 1/2 size guitar isn’t half the size of a full-sized guitar.
A 1/4 size guitar usually has a total length of around 31 inches and a scale length of 19 inches. Meanwhile, a 3/4 size guitar is usually only about ⅞ of the size of a full-sized guitar— or 36 inches in total length and 23 inches in scale length. These sizings are sometimes inconsistent and hard to follow.
This is why learning how to measure your guitar is extremely important.
If you’re curious about what guitar size you should get, then the best way to get the full scope of the situation is to take the time to measure out the guitar you’re looking to buy. This is an easy task that will help you accurately compare different sizes of guitars.
When it comes to measuring a guitar, you want to make sure you measure two things: the total length of the guitar and the scale length. If this is your first time, we’ll teach you how to measure both.
There are three main parts of a guitar: the headstock, the neck, and the body. Both acoustic and electric guitars have these three main parts, so familiarize yourself with them.
To measure the total length of the guitar, you measure from the top of the headstock to the bottom of the body. Pretty easy! Different types, brands, and models of guitars can have varying different body shapes, which can lead to a variety of different measurements across both acoustic and electric guitars.
Because there’s no actual ‘standard length’ for guitars, the total length of a full-size guitar could measure from 36 inches to over 40 inches.
See why measuring is important now?
But just measuring the total length will not give you an accurate reading of what size guitar you need to be. You also need to measure the scale length. The scale length affects how it feels to play the guitar.
To measure the scale length, you need to measure from the bridge to the top of the neck. The scale length can be anywhere from 24 inches to 34 inches— and that length can significantly change how well you can play a specific instrument!
Scale length can affect any number of things, including the string tension, the string action, and the fret spacing. For example, the longer your scale length, the more string tension the guitar has. This means that it takes more pressure to push down the strings.
You may hear the term “full size” guitar floating around guitar circles. This term is synonymous with “full-body” and “4/4 size” when guitar sizing. Most adults only need a full-size guitar unless, for some reason, their bodies and preferences fit a smaller guitar.
Full-size guitars, much like all other options, range in size. For the most part, however, a full-size guitar will be anywhere from 36 to 40 inches in total length. Depending on the brand, make, and model, you’ll probably find a variety of different sizes.
On average, most manufacturers make a full-size guitar at about 38 inches, with a scale length of around 25 inches, sometimes higher.
Make sure you measure your guitar and test it out to make sure it fits your preferences.
Now that you have all the tools to best measure a guitar, it’s time to look at the specifics of purchasing a guitar for a child.
The younger that a child is, the smaller the guitar will have to be. Children are still growing, and you want to make sure that they have a guitar that can grow with them for as long as possible. However, you should be aware that you will eventually have to replace their guitar as they get bigger!
We recommend buying a guitar that’s slightly bigger than what would be otherwise recommended for a child. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of trying to buy clothes for a child, you know that they grow fast. It seems like children outgrow their clothes and shoes just a week after buying them.
The same will inevitably happen to a child’s guitar. Make sure you purchase a guitar that the child can use while still being big enough to grow into. The perfect fit for your 10-year-old child might not be so perfect in another year when they have a growth spurt.
Picking a perfect guitar takes a little more know-how than just walking into the store and grabbing a model that you like! Guitars come in various sizes, and those sizes can vary in length. The most important thing when it comes to picking your guitar size is knowing how to measure your guitar.
While the entire length of the guitar is significant, the scale length will give you more information on how well you’ll be able to play the guitar. The scale length affects the tension in the strings, as well as how far apart the frets on the guitar are.
Now you know everything you need to know about what size guitar you should get based on your experience, height, age, and what you are hoping to do. We hope that this will be the start of a beautiful musical journey for you!