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Best Guitars for Small Hands

Getting a guitar of the right size for you (or the person you’re giving the guitar to) is essential to being able to play songs as they’re written. With that in mind, here are some of the best guitars for small hands currently on the market, as well as some additional information about guitars and related products that you should keep in mind when making a purchasing decision.

Here are my favorite guitars for small hands. The reviews below are numbered for convenience, but the reviews themselves are in no particular order, and the numbers are not a rating.


1. Hola! HG-36PK

 

Don’t let the bright color options on this acoustic guitar fool you. It features a spruce top, mahogany for the back, sides, and neck, and a rosewood fingerboard for playing. All of these are solid and reasonable choices, especially with the 36” sizing that makes it better for smaller hands.

This particular product comes pre-strung with EXP16 coated phosphor bronze strings, a full case, several picks, and several other features that make it particularly good for beginners. This guitar isn’t quite durable enough for a musician on the road, but it works well as a first instrument for children or other smaller users.

The HG-36PK is also surprisingly loud for its size. Most 3/4ths-size guitars are inherently quieter than their full-size cousins, but this instrument can still play loud enough for most performances. The pickguard is an optional component, and I recommend using it if the user is a beginner themselves.

Pros:

  • The bright coloring makes this guitar series easy to find
  • It comes with high-quality strings that you only need to tune to pitch
  • It also comes with a full set of essential accessories
  • Durable materials help ensure this guitar will last for years
  • Reasonably affordable for the amount of stuff you get

Cons:

  • Colors tend to move in and out of availability, which makes it harder to get what you want
  • Not suitable for road gigs
  • Some units have poor fits and pieces come off easier than they should
  • May be poorly packaged before shipment


2. Yamaha APXT2

 

Yamaha is one of the most famous brands in the industry, so it’s no surprise that they have a product on our final list. The APXT2 is a 3/4-size acoustic-electric guitar designed to mimic the best-selling full-size APX500III. Notable features include a spruce top, meranti back and sides, and a built-in tuner for added audio control.

However, the standout feature of this guitar is definitely the pickup. When plugged into a proper amplification system, this guitar can deliver audio equal to that of instruments costing as much as thousands more. The reason that description isn’t an exaggeration is that Yamaha really is that good with their audio tech.

Less-obviously, this instrument also features a smooth cutaway design. Aside from appealing to modern aesthetics, this allows easier access to the lower frets. Finally, this guitar holds up better in most climates thanks to the cured wood, which almost never splits or warps as long as it’s kept indoors. Overall, this is an outstanding product.

Pros:

  • Durable wood holds up better in different environments
  • Outstanding audio quality
  • Usually comes set up for easy playability among beginners
  • Distinctive design choices provide practical benefits and support for users
  • Impressively affordable for the overall quality

Cons:

  • Still somewhat more expensive than many other 3/4ths guitars
  • Comes with poor tuning keys; consider replacing these
  • Does not have rounded edges around the fretboard, which can be uncomfortable during long sessions
  • Requires additional adjustment if you change to extra-light strings


3. Donner DAG-1M

Donner’s DAG-1M is a top acoustic guitar for beginners that emphasizes a full tone suitable for all music styles. The classic dreadnought-style body works well for this purpose, while the spruce top and mahogany back and sides are a reliable, if not innovative, choice for general performance.

In addition to a 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee, the DAG-1M comes with a gig bag, a guitar strap, a guitar cap, strings, a digital clip-on tuner, a polishing cloth, and some picks. This is everything most people need to get started, and the fact that these are guaranteed sets this above companies who don’t always include the extras they show.

Donner is a relatively new company in the industry, so they don’t have the institutional experience of companies like Yamaha, but they’ve managed to produce some excellent instruments despite that. Overall, I see this as a good mid-range product for smaller musicians.

If the DAG-1M has one advantage over the Yamaha model above, it’s that this instrument is wholly acoustic and performs better in situations where you can’t use an amp.

Pros:

  • The mid-range pricing offers a balance of cost and quality
  • The materials offer time-tested sound quality
  • Not particularly innovative, but does everything well
  • Stays in-tone for a long time compared to other guitars
  • Comes with a great set of extras, particularly for the price

Cons:

  • Tuning pegs may not work right
  • Only available with right-hand orientation
  • Not as good for children who may quickly outgrow this instrument
  • Only comes with a soft case



4. Fender Squier

Fender’s Squier line is a learn-to-play mini Stratocaster that offers a lightweight body, classic styling, and three-way single-coil pickups. Like most of the better guitars for small hands, this is a bundle that comes with an instrument cable, a strap, some picks, access to online lessons, and an instructional DVD. It also comes with your choice of a tuner or an amp.

With a 22.75” scale length, this electronic guitar is ideal for most children between the ages of 6 and 12. However, the lightweight body is the real value here. Children often have a difficult time holding large instruments for extended periods, so a thinner and smaller instrument makes it easier for them to practice as much as they want to.

While this instrument is mainly designed for children, it’s still viable for adults less than six feet tall. The slightly smaller number of frets also makes it easier to play the full range on the instrument, rather than having to reach further. Fender is nearly as reputable as Yamaha, so overall, this is a product worth serious consideration.

Pros:

  • Thinner and lighter than most of the competition, which makes it easier to hold and play
  • Provides the classic Fender tone while playing
  • Particularly good for children under 12 years old
  • The bright coloring is more attractive to kids

Cons:

  • Does not come with a bag
  • Does not have the full fret range
  • Not as suitable for touring and travel
  • The plastic gets scratched particularly easily


5. Oscar Schmidt OG1B

 

Oscar Schmidt isn’t as well-known as some of the other companies on this list, but the OG1B is an excellent learn-to-play acoustic model that comes with a gig bag, strings, a tuner, a strap, several picks, an instructional book, a capo, a DVD, and a polishing cloth. It’s slightly on the expensive side, but still more affordable than the Yamaha model above.

The OG1B features a spruce top, like most other guitars, but it uses catalpa for the sides and back. Catalpa isn’t quite as common as mahogany, but the two kinds of woods are competitive in overall quality, so this detail is more of a point of interest than a deciding factor for most buyers.

Other features on this model include a rosewood fingerboard and bridge, a mahogany neck, a fully adjustable truss rod, and - most importantly - a lifetime warranty. This model is available in a left-handed version, too, which is surprisingly rare for products in this size range.

Pros:

  • It comes with an excellent set of accessories
  • It has a better warranty than most of the competition
  • The dark-top version hides minor scuffs and marks
  • The frets are small enough to reach easily

Cons:

  • The left-handed version has fewer color options
  • It may be missing an attachment peg for the strap
  • Only a little less expensive than the Yamaha, so you might as well just buy the best instrument in this category

What Is The Best Size Of Guitar For Small Hands?

That depends on how small the hands in question are. For that matter, manufacturers may create guitars at slightly different sizes from each other, so even commonly-used sizes aren’t universahttps://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dwarfism/symptoms-causes/syc-20371969l. Here are the most common sizes of guitars on the market and how they relate to users with small hands.

  • Full Size (4/4): A full-size guitar is usually about 38 inches long, with a scale of 25.5 inches. These are the most popular types of guitars overall, but since they’re sized for adults, small users and children may have difficulty playing them.

  • 3/4 Guitars: Guitar sizes are quite misleading. 3/4ths guitars tend to be about 36 inches long, which is just a little smaller than full size. This makes them good for children of about eight years and older. Some adults prefer these because they tend to have a punchy sound. All guitars reviewed above are this size.

  • Half Size (1/2): The only common size that breaks the format of the others, 1/2 guitars are about 34 inches long and are suitable for children of 5-8 years, as well as adults with similar body sizes. 

  • 1/4 Guitars: The smallest size of normal guitars, 1/4 instruments are about 30 inches long. These are ideal for children of 4-6 years old, and since they outgrow them quickly, you can often find used ones on the market.

The only proper way to select a guitar size is to judge the physical size of the user. This is mainly about arm length, rather than height and overall size. For example, some individuals with dwarfism may have comparatively short arms compared to their torso size.

All of the products reviewed above are high-quality options, especially for their price range, but there’s no substitute for holding a few guitars in-person to find out which of them fit you the best. If possible, try to visit a music store before buying a guitar so you can ensure you’re getting the correct size.


What’s The Difference Between Guitars For Small Hands And Guitars For Children?

These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, since many individuals with uncommon body proportions love music even as adults, manufacturers prefer the term “small hands” because it’s more inclusive and better represents the customer base they’re trying to sell to. That being said, it's essential that guitarists learn the fundamentally correct ways to hold their guitar (with proper posture & positioning), before assuming they need a "special" kind of guitar at all.

That said, there are a few actual points of difference. A guitar that’s merely for small hands is a proper, professional instrument in every sense of the term, regardless of its size. A guitar for a child usually has simpler, durable parts and bright, child-friendly colors. They may include elements designed to make them more resistant to being slammed around or treated as toys.

There’s one other thing to keep in mind when deciding how large of an instrument to buy: the number of strings. Some types of guitars only have four strings instead of the more-common six. While this significantly affects the range of sounds you can produce, fewer strings are inherently easier for people with very small hands to play. If you're buying a guitar as a gift for someone, keep in mind their hand size!

Are There Any Other Types Of Small Guitars?

Yes! The sizes above are the most traditional options, but there are several other types of small guitars on the market. They generally don’t have the same volume or tone range as a proper guitar, but they are part of the same family of instruments. Here are the alternatives to consider.

  • Ukelele: This tiny guitar has just four strings and is most often associated with its home in Hawaii. As the smallest member of the guitar family, they’re easy for almost anyone to use. However, their sound is distinctively trebly and tuned differently than regular guitars, so this isn’t a viable choice as an introductory instrument.

  • Guitarlele: Sometimes known as a Kiku, the guitarlele is a little larger than the ukelele and has six strings instead of four. You can use the same general chord shapes on a guitarlele, while you can’t on a ukelele, so this is a better option overall for most users who want an exceptionally small guitar.

  • Traveler: Traveler guitars are specifically designed for use on the go, including making them as compact, lightweight, and generally portable as possible. These are often custom instruments, so they can be entirely unique. The sound tends to be different from regular guitars, so these are more for fun than for professional environments.

  • Parlor Guitar: The parlor guitar is a full-size guitar, but it’s on the smallest end of that family. That makes it ideal for users who are transitioning from three-quarters to full-sized instruments, as well as people who want a full-size guitar without going up to the largest instruments in that category.

As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to finding the best guitar for small hands. From tiny members of the guitar family to wholly-custom instruments, if there’s something you want, chances are a company out there can provide it.

Just like with sizing, the best way to decide what sort of small guitar is best for you is to try playing them for a little while. I could spend hours talking about the differences in tones, strings, and acoustics in different environments, but nothing substitutes for personal experience with a variety of instruments.


Common Mistakes People Make When Buying Their First Guitar

Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make when buying their first guitar, as well as how to avoid them.

  • Buying The Wrong Sound: There are three main types of sound with guitars: classical, acoustic, and electric. Many people buy an acoustic instrument first, then switch over to an electric guitar if they like that sound better. However, it’s better to start with the type of guitar that produces the music you like most.
  • Getting The Wrong String Height: String height is the distance from the bottom of the string to the top of the fret. Electric guitars usually have a shorter distance, while nylon string guitars have a longer distance. The extra movements required for dealing with greater string heights can noticeably affect users with small hands.
  • Using Bad Machine Heads: For a long time, guitars only used gears and pressed metal for tuning. While these tend to have a cool appearance, they’re difficult to keep in tune. Die-cast machine heads are fundamentally better and easier to use, making them especially appropriate for beginners.
  • Choosing A Name Just Because It’s Popular: Many of the most popular brand-name guitars are genuinely outstanding at high price points, but that doesn’t mean their entry-level guitars are good. Yamaha tends to be better than other instruments at practically any price point, but they’re the exception that proves the general rule.
  • Not Getting Additional Materials: Did you notice how my reviews above focused on products that come with a lot of support materials? Supplementary things like online guitar lessons and guides are critical for learning to play well. If you can stay at it for six months, chances are you’ll keep playing the guitar for life.
  • Buying Features You Don’t Need: Buying an expensive instrument doesn’t make it easier to learn how to play. In fact, it’s better to start with a cheaper acoustic guitar while you’re learning. You can get another guitar later, once you’ve pinpointed exactly what you want in the future. There are lots of things you need to learn, such as holding the pick, and reading guitar tablature correctly, before you're going to be any good with guitar. Why buy an expensive guitar that won't be utilized correctly while you're still learning?

Remember, player skill is just as important as the instrument itself. Every guitar has a physical limitation on the types of sounds it can produce, but the player is the one who determines how good it sounds within that range. There’s no point in buying a guitar that’s more advanced than you’re ready to handle.

What Are The Advantages Of Electric Guitars?

Electric guitars have several advantages over the more-popular acoustic styles. These include:

  • Being easier to play than other types of instruments
  • Available in a wider variety of shapes and sizes
  • Versatility when it comes to producing tones and sounds
  • A common choice for popular bands and musicians
  • Adjustable volume levels

That last point is particularly important for people who are buying a guitar for the first time. While some families love having the sound of music in the house, the ability to turn the volume up or down at-will is incredibly useful.

Personally, I try to keep things quiet when it could bother other people, but I also turn up the volume when nobody else is around so I can enjoy the full experience.

What Are The Advantages Of Acoustic Guitars?

Acoustic guitars remain among the most popular choices for guitars, and with good reason. The main advantages for these guitars are:

  • They do not require any additional amplification or supports
  • They have a bright, cheery sound that works well for all kinds of chords
  • They’re less expensive than most electric guitars
  • You can still amplify them with a removable pickup

That said, acoustic guitars are inherently louder than electric guitars, and that alone could be a deciding factor in which style to get.

Final Thoughts

Out of the five instruments reviewed above, I like the Yamaha APXT2 the most. While it’s more expensive than the other options, the actual difference in price is hardly noticeable, and the instrument itself is significantly higher in overall quality. 

A difference of $50 or so between instruments is still a higher cost, but in the long run, it’s better to get an instrument you really love than to try and save a few dollars. I know I discourage buying more than you need on an instrument, but when the price is practically the same, you may as well get the best instrument for your money.

While I like the APXT2 more than any of the competitors, and by a significant margin, it does have one limitation in that it’s an electric guitar instead of an acoustic. If you’re looking for a non-electric option, the Donner DAG-1M is the best choice on the list above. It’s solid, comes with great accessories, and is overall good for learning how to play guitar correctly.

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