9 Guitar Sizes: An Easy Guide to Buying the Perfect Guitar

Learning the guitar is one of the most rewarding and satisfying hobbies out there. But with the wide range of factors to consider, it’s not a very easy skill to grasp. With the right guitar sizes and types to suit you, you can easily flatten the learning curve.

There are several options available in terms of guitar styles and sizes, and it can get confusing to choose the right one. Here is a complete guide for you on choosing the right guitar size for beginners along with ways to measure the size of guitars.

How to Measure the Size of a Guitar

measure the length

There are two main ways to measure a guitar’s size — by its total size or by its scale. This applies to both electric and acoustic guitars as they follow the same size system. However, scale length plays a more important role than total length.

• Measure the Total Length

The total length of the guitar is the length from the tip of the headstock to the end of its body. It can range from 35 inches to well over 40 inches and differs according to the different shapes of the body.

However, this shouldn’t be a primary factor for comparing guitars as some brands can have shorter headstocks while others can have longer ones.

The total length does not impact your music because you never touch the headstock or bridge end while playing. It only matters when you’re traveling or need to store it.

• Measure the Scale Length

Scale length refers to the length from the bridge to the nut under the headstock. In other words, it’s the area of your guitar strings.

Some guitar bridges have an angle, making measurements uneven. In this case, calculate the length from the twelfth fret to the nut and then multiply it by two. For example, if this length is 10 inches, then your guitar’s total scale length is 20 inches.

This is more important than any other factor as this is the part you’ll be primarily using to play music. The scale length is crucial not just in terms of comfort but in terms of string tension too.

The greater the extension, the tighter the string tension that creates a deep, humming sound.

9 Different Sizes of Guitars

Guitar sizes vary largely depending on the material, strings, or cutaway designs. Let’s take a look at some guitar sizes from smallest to biggest.

1. Ukulele: The Smallest

Ukulele

The ukulele is the smallest guitar with four strings. It is ideal for small children, adults with tiny fingers, or anyone who doesn’t wish to carry around anything big or heavy. It generates a very trebly sound with almost no low end.

However, it’s not recommended for people who have plans of gradually shifting to a full-sized guitar in the future.

Scale length: Approximately 15 inches.

2. ¼ Sized Guitars: The Guitarlele

¼ Sized Guitars

Image source: Pinterest

One of the smallest guitars, a guitarlele can look very much like a ukulele at first glance. But it has six strings and is slightly bigger.

The guitarlele offers the portability of a ukulele and the versatility of an ordinary guitar. It is thus the ideal choice to get the best of both worlds. Guitarleles are tuned higher than standard guitars but possess the same key as standard ones with a capo on the 5th fret.

Similar to the ukulele, they have a trebly tone. A huge advantage of a guitarlele over a ukulele is that you can use the chord shapes of an ordinary guitar on a guitarlele.

Scale length: Approximately 19 inches.

3. Half-Size Guitar

Half Size Guitar

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As the name implies, half-size or the ½ sized guitar is half the size of a regular guitar. With a standard guitar tuning or the concert pitch, it’s best for children who find adult-sized guitar difficult.

Scale length: Approximately 22 inches.

4. Three Quarter-Size Guitar

Three Quarter-Size Guitar

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The ¾ or the three-quarter size is the best guitar for teens and young adults. Like the half-size guitars, both acoustic and electric guitars are available in this size. However, the body of an electric three-quarters guitar is thinner than that of an acoustic one.

Scale length: Approximately 24 inches.

5. The Parlor Guitar

Parlor Guitar

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The parlor guitar meets the middle ground between a ¾ sized guitar and a full-sized one. It’s ideal for people who find the full-sized one very bulky and is a favorite among women because of its balanced and rich midrange sound, the cutaway shape that makes it easy to place them on the knee, and their accessibility.

Scale length: 25 inches and lower.

6. The Concert Guitar

Concert Guitar

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Parlor guitar’s larger cousin, the concert guitar offers the same tone but with a somewhat richer range owing to its larger frame. It’s ideal for finger-pick playing.

Scale length: Up to or less than 25 inches.

7. The Auditorium Guitar

Auditorium Guitar

Image source: Pinterest

With a medium frame and deep, bassy, and big tone, an auditorium guitar is perfect for people who wish for a big-sounding guitar but are not necessarily big themselves. As the name suggests, this guitar is ideal for producing great sound in live performances. They have a curvy cutaway shape for easy knee placement and provide more depth for lower range noises.

Scale length: Approximately 25 inches.

8. The Dreadnought Guitar

Dreadnought Guitar

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Perfect for producing deep, lower range sounds, a Dreadnought is a bulky guitar that lets a lot of sounds bounce inside it. It’s not suited for small people or for those who need a more treble-rich or mid-tone. Crisp and adaptable with a wide waist, it’s perfect to use on stage, in a studio, or for a solo performance.

Scale length: Approximately 25 inches.

9. The Jumbo Guitar

Jumbo Guitar

Image source: Pinterest

The largest of acoustic guitars and a favorite among top rock players, the Jumbo guitar is a great strumming guitar that produces a big sound. However, it’s very bulky to carry around, so you may have to invest in an attachable strap.

Scale length: Above 25 inches.

What Size of Guitar Does a Child Need?

child play guitar

It’s important to choose the right sized guitar for a child so that they can comfortably reach over the body and the fretboard. Children tend to have a lower attention span, so it’s vital to make the learning process as easy as possible so that they are less likely to give up.

It’s not recommended to buy a full-sized guitar for children under the age of 7. Although the advantage of buying a full-sized guitar for a child is that they will never grow out of it.

Here’s a helpful size guide to help you pick the right-sized guitar for your child.

• Up to 5 years of age: ukulele or ¼ sized
• 5–7 years of age: ½ sized
• 7–10 years of age: ¾ sized
• 10 years of age and older: full-sized

How to Choose A Guitar Size for Beginner?

If you are a beginner, here are a few things to consider when choosing a guitar size.

1. Cost

Fix a budget and stick to it. This will help you rule out the options better. It’s recommended to never spend more than $250 on a beginner guitar.

2. Sound and Feel

Strum a few chords and see how the guitar feels on your thigh and palm. For a beginner, the sound is not as important as the feel since sound is greatly affected by how long the guitar’s strings have been used.

It is also important that you feel comfortable using the guitar, so look out for body cutaway. For instance, the Dreadnoughts have a deep, loud tone but may be too bulky for smaller players. Parlor guitars, on the other hand, have thinner bodies that are better suited for practice playing.

3. Choose the Guitar Type

Decide whether you want an electric guitar or an acoustic one. Acoustic guitars are great for learning as you can focus on precision and clearness of sound while playing them. A classic nylon-stringed acoustic is less demanding to play and quieter, whereas a steel-stringed acoustic is louder and harder for beginners.

However, some famous guitarists began their guitar journey with an electric guitar simply because they liked it better. There’s a greater variety in looks, sound, and playing styles but it can be harder on un-callused fingers.

A Few Parting Words

Various factors affect guitar sizes and styles, including the type of music you wish to play and your physical features. We hope this guide has given you some useful insights and has made your search simpler. Make sure you see and try different guitars in person before making the final choice.

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