How To Choose The Right Size Guitar [Complete Guide]


Guitars come in a variety of different sizes.

So what size of guitar should you get? Aside from a few exceptions, most adults are comfortable with full-size guitars. If you’re short, a 40″ Concert bodied acoustic guitar is a good option. If you’re tall, a 41″ Dreadnought guitar is the way to go.

So as you can see, the size of the guitar you get will depend on your body size as well as what type of music you want to play.

In this article, I’ll discuss the various types of guitars available and which one might be best for you!

So without further ado, let’s just get straight into it, shall we?

How do I know what size guitar I need?

The best way to find out what size guitar you need is by taking a look at yourself.

Take a measuring tape and measure from the tip of your shoulder down to the bottom of your wrist bone.

This will give you an idea as to how long or short your arms are relative to your body frame. If this length falls within 23″ and 33″, you’re an average-size adult and should be fine with a full-size guitar.

If your length falls within 24″ and 34″, then the next step is to measure from the top of your shoulder down to your waistline. If this measures at or below 21″, you’ll want smaller-bodied guitars such as ¾, parlor, or folk-sized guitars.

If this length is 22″ and up, then you go for full-sized acoustic guitar bodies.

Finally, if your overall length falls within 28″, 31″, or 33″, it’s time to purchase a jumbo-bodied dreadnought electric guitar!

Read Also: My Recommendations

What size guitar should I get for my height and age?

Average AgeHeight of PlayerSize of Guitar  
2-5 years old3’3″ to 3’9″1/4-Size
5-8 years old3’10” to 4’5″1/2-Size
8-12 years old4’6″ to 4’11”3/4-Size
12 and Adults5′ or taller4/4-Size

When it comes to body height, the most important factor is comfort.

If you’re a shorter individual by nature and want a full-sized guitar, then don’t feel limited just because of your stature.

There are plenty of great players that have smaller statures but can play with ease due to their flexibility and usage of proper technique.

For example, the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan was a smaller individual by height but used a full-size guitar to create his work.

If you’re tall and want a dreadnought body, then it’s probably not going to be as comfortable for you because of its size.

You’ll definitely need some time getting used to it, but if you’re a tall person, then this is the way to go.

Guitar Size Breakdown

1/4 Guitar

1/4 guitars are simply for smaller kids. They’re also known as 30-inch guitars.

The scale of a 1/4 guitar is about 19 inches, whereas that of a normal guitar is 25 inches.

A 1/4 guitar is approximately 10 inches shorter than a full-size guitar.

1/2 Guitar

A 1/2 guitar is 34 inches.

A 1/2 size guitar is ideal for individuals aged 5 to 8 or anyone who is 4′ tall and below.

Furthermore, if a kid is 4 years old but is still shorter than 3’10”, it may be worthwhile to invest in a 1/2-size guitar.

Don’t be fooled though. Just because it’s a smaller-sized guitar doesn’t mean that your child won’t develop into playing a full-size guitar in the future.

3/4 Guitar

The 3/4-size guitar is suited for children aged 8 to 11.

They are also known as 36-inch guitars.

The most popular student guitars for kids and youth are the 3/4 size and 1/2.

4/4 Guitar

A 4/4-size guitar is commonly referred to as a “standard” or “full-sized” guitar and is 40 inches.

If you’re an adult, then this is the way to go if you want an acoustic guitar.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 6 feet tall; the 4/4 guitar will work for anyone with the right technique.

Things to consider when it comes to size

The scale length is the distance between the nut and bridge’s saddle, which is determined by the luthier (guitar-maker) for fret placement, string tension, tone, and intonation.

The standard scale length of a modern full-size classical guitar is 25.6 inches (650mm). A somewhat shorter scale length encourages smaller fingers and hand span.

About 5′ tall, some guitarists play the guitar with a scale length of 640mm.

Neck Width – A wider fretboard may be easier to precisely finger notes on the strings since the strings will be further apart, but it will be more difficult for small hands to navigate.

The neck’s radius is set according to the length of the back of the neck.

This measurement will give you a sense of how thick the neck is.

If you have small hands, a small radius neck is recommended.

On the 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4-size guitars, the necks feature radiuses that are appropriate for the player.

What is the best size guitar for beginners and children?

The 36-inch guitar is the best bet for a beginning player since it has less neck and fretboard thickness, making them simpler to access from the top of the fretboard to the bottom (something that’s necessary when strumming chords).

I recommend a smaller guitar as a beginner since it’s simpler to learn and have fun with.

Guitars with a length of 38 inches are ideal for children under the age of 12 or anybody who is shorter than average height (approximately 5 feet tall).

Guitars from 38 inches to 40 inches are best for those who are approximately 5 feet tall or taller.

In terms of the scale length, a shorter scale length is better because it will make the guitar easier to play and allow for a lighter touch when strumming chords.

Another reason why you would go for the 38-inch guitar is for sound purposes:

  • If you don’t want a boomy (high-volume) guitar, a smaller one is an excellent alternative. Smaller guitars have shorter bodies, which means there is less resonance chamber. The smaller the resonant chamber, the less bass there is.
  • If you want a more quiet guitar. Because smaller guitars have shorter bodies, they feature a smaller resonance chamber — which translates to lower noise levels.
  • If you want to cut through the clutter better. Because smaller guitars have shorter bodies, this implies that your sound will have less bass, which may assist your guitar in standing out when there is already a lot of noise going on, especially in the low-end. Imagine a conference room with everyone shouting loudly except for one person who has a high voice.

What size guitar is for adults?

Adults are generally comfortable with full-size guitars (acoustic and electric) that measure 40” Concert or 41” Dreadnought. Consider a 40” Concert guitar or smaller if you are small in stature. Consider a 41” Dreadnought guitar if you are tall.

That being said, nearly all guitarists can use a full-size guitar with ease.

Some guitarists actually prefer a larger size including players like Jimmy Page, Dave Matthews, Tony Rice, and Mark O’Connor.

So the bottom line is this:

If you want to look cool in front of your friends (and the ladies), go with the full-size

If you’re not comfortable holding down chords on a full-size guitar, go with a smaller one.

If you have small hands and want an acoustic (or electric) that’s good for playing chords, choose a smaller size like the 3/4 or 1/2 size guitars

What size guitar should a teenager use?

Generally, teens are comfortable with a full-size guitar, but the 3/4 size is another great option that most teenagers prefer.

Remember, though, that playing an acoustic guitar is not easy because it requires holding down strings on the fretboard.

Smaller fingers may have trouble reaching across frets or chord changes may be difficult due to the shorter scale length.

A smaller guitar (1/2, 3/4) is generally easier to play than a full-size guitar because it requires less finger strength and dexterity to navigate the neck.

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