Most parents are now privy to the benefits of introducing music to a child’s repertoire at a young age. Oftentimes professionals will begin instruction on an instrument that encompasses all the basics of music: chords, sight reading, scales, and discipline.
The most common lessons, of course, take place on the piano, but the guitar is also a wonderful tool used by educators to explore a child’s talent and passion for music.
The biggest setback of learning any set of strings at such a young age is its sheer size; namely, children whose hands and fingers are much smaller than an adult’s will have difficulty handling an instrument of that length and width.
In addition, there are many (mostly female) adults whose hands only grow to a certain threshold and are in need of a guitar whose parts are fit for their small frame. Instrument manufacturers know the ins and outs of this demand, and thus have created a litany of guitars suitable for hands of any size!
But instead of letting you be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options out there, we’ve compiled a list of the best and worst guitars on the market for smaller hands. Let’s get started!
5 Best Guitars for Smaller Hands
|Pyle’s Junior Size Guitar Bundle
|Music Alley’s Kid’s Acoustic Guitar
|Master Play’s Wood Classical Guitar
|ADM’s Beginner Acoustic Guitar
|Yamaha CGS102A Half-Size Classical Guitar
We will begin with Pyle’s Junior Size Guitar Bundle. With an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars and 81 % of consumers awarding it 5 stars after purchasing, we have high hopes for this product.
Pyle’s instruments are specifically marketed to be affordable and portable, which they live up to by charging only $102.99 for this bundle which includes the guitar, the storage case, 6 spare strings, a detachable strap, a pitch pipe cleaner, a cleaning cloth, and picks. It sounds like a steal!
At only 34″ in length compared to an average guitar’s 38″, and with a total scale length of only 22.9″ as opposed to the normal 25.5’, this seems like the perfect beginner guitar for small hands. Many reviews note that it is much lighter and easier to handle than a full-sized guitar, but to keep in mind that the craftsmanship is not suitable for extensive travel or to those who may be rough with the instrument.
So if you’re an adult and are aware that this product may not stand up to rough and tumble, this might be the one for you!
- An all-in-one acoustic guitar set
- Much lighter and easier to handle than a full-sized guitar
- It is made of wood and is handcrafted
- Not suitable for extensive travel or to those who may be rough with the instrument
Moving on to a much cheaper option is Music Alley’s Kid’s Acoustic Guitar, with an overall rating of 4.2 stars from almost 4.000 purchases. Music Alley is known for specializing in children’s and beginner’s instruments so our expectations are high for this purchase.
Coming in at only 34″ in length and being composed of a lightweight linden wood as opposed to a heavier wood, they boast that anyone ages 5 and up can easily find their way around this guitar. They also note that every string on this guitar is made out of nylon which is known to be much easier on the fingers than a guitar’s typical steel or nylon-steel hybrid strings.
Retailing at a shocking $36.00, it seems like a wonderful deal, but some reviews warn buyers that the nylon strings can be much more difficult to tune, as the guitar itself arrives in the box untuned. Its moderate quality makes this purchase only a stepping stone to a better instrument down the road.
- The metal gearheads on this guitar allow for faster and more accurate tuning
- Comes with extra strings and fretboard stickers
- Its nylon strings are gentler on the fingers and intended to produce a warm tone
- Some customer reviews warn that nylon strings can be much more difficult to tune.
Next we looked into Master Play’s Wood Classical Guitar. The smallest of all these options so far, Master Play’s guitar reaches only 30″ in length and weighs an amazing 2.86 pounds compared to the average 8 pounds.
With a 4.4 out of 5 star rating from over 5.000 customers, we were surprised to find that this product was one of the worst on the market. Most people who left reviews noted that it was wonderful for getting beginners excited about playing the instrument and the size was exactly what they needed for small hands and frames.
However, serious musicians admitted that it was incredibly difficult to tune and that its build lended itself more to being a toy than a tool for music As a result, at $44.99 apiece, we recommend that you pass this product by.
- The entire structure is made of wood
- Great for children or beginners learning to play the guitar
- Has a smooth and glossy finish
- Serious musicians admitted that tuning was extremely difficult
Now we get to explore the higher-quality end of the market, which unsurprisingly comes with a higher price tag. ADM’s Beginner Acoustic Guitar also totals 30″ in length and includes in the kit a case, picks, shoulder strap, digital E-tuner, extra replacement strings and one month of free lessons.
On Amazon, this seems to be the best bang for your buck. Many reviewers mention specifically that the size is perfect for small hands, with the scale totaling only 13.5″ and the frets being very easy for even short fingers and arms to reach.
The only downside seems to be that 3 of the strings are made of steel, which can feel harsh on a player’s fingers until callouses form to protect them.
However, the steel strings are initially much easier to tune than the nylon strings, making the sound produced more stable overall until the player becomes more comfortable with tuning and until the nylon strings stretch into place. At a total of $56.99 and with 63% of purchasers giving it a 5-star rating, this purchase is a no-brainer.
- Ideal for beginning students or a young player
- The back is arched to provide a longer sustain and a fuller sound
- It features a Maple Rosewood fingerboard and bridge for a comfortable playing experience
- Three of the strings are made of steel, which can be harsh on a player’s fingers.
Last but certainly not least, our number one recommendation is the Yamaha CGS102A Half-Size Classical Guitar. Totaling $129.99 for just the guitar, this is the most expensive of the options we have covered, but the reviews speak for themselves.
With over 76% of purchasers giving this a 5-star review compiled with Yamaha being the international gold standard for instruments of all classes, there are very few downsides to this investment.
This is one of the few products on the market that can be played by both left- and right-handed musicians, and with its finger board width totaling only 2.05 inches, this would be the easiest guitar to play for those with small hands. The only con here seems to be that a strap cannot be attached anywhere on the instrument, but weighing in at only 3.84 pounds it seems unlikely that the player would require a strap at all.
- The easiest guitar to play for those with small hands
- Features Rosewood fingerboard & bridge with natural finish
- Looks and feels very luxurious
- Sounds balanced in the tonal range
- A strap does not appear to be able to be attached anywhere on the instrument
Some budding musicians fear that their hands are too small to play the guitar at all! But fret not – masters have been making these machines as long as music has been around, and they’ve picked up a thing or two over the years. It’s simply the consumer’s job now to know what to look for and what to avoid before making such a serious purchase.
The most important factor the small-handed guitarist must consider is, of course, the length of the scale and the width of the finger board.
Again, with the average scale reaching about 25.5 inches and the average finger board measuring up to 44.96mm. any guitar with a shorter scale and slimmer board than the previously listed measurements will be most ideal for players with limited grips. In addition, any guitar with a smaller finger board radius will have to result in a flatter neck, meaning someone with short fingers will not have to reach over as strong of a curve to strum the farthest chord.
This means that when you look at the guitar parallel to its neck and the radius of the neck measures up to more than 12 inches, it probably is not ideal for someone with petite hands. One must also take into account the total length of the device; due to the fact that many players with modest hands will also have a shorter wingspan, the length of the guitar will have to be lesser than the normal 38″.
This will make the instrument as a whole much easier to handle, as well as making tuning and riffing more accessible between sessions. However, if you have small hands but lengthy arms, good for you – this isn’t a concern on your list!
The weight of the instrument is not necessarily as crucial for novice adults who are taking up the discipline, however, for children who are learning to juggle notes and chords and learning to read music for the first time the weight might be something that makes the learning process even more challenging.
Furthermore, musicians who have muscular setbacks or simply do not want to juggle a heavy instrument day in and day out may be in the market for a lighter device. Therefore, with the average 6-string weighing about 8 pounds but ranging anywhere from 6 to a whopping 12 pounds, it would be optimal for a blossoming perfomer to seek a guitar that weighs between 2-6 pounds.
Manufacturers that make this possible include Fender, Ivy and the aforementioned Master Play, who boast that their mechanisms are built with materials like linden wood and hollow mahogany. Components from these specific trees are hand-picked because they mimic the acoustics of their heavier counterparts, such as maple and rosewood, without actually compromising any quality of sound.
The biggest pitfall that buyers fall into is that most people looking to purchase a guitar for small hands will have to settle for a product designed for children. What if you’re a full-grown adult who wants a quality guitar and just happens to have smaller fists? Usually you’ll have to trade in convenience for affordability.
The industry giants like Martin. Taylor, and Eastman have the small-guitar market cornered, but along with such fame and reputation comes a hefty price tag. The good news is that the proof is in the pudding: legends like Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and George Harrison swear by the machine’s quality of sound and long-term durability when made by a high-end manufacturer as opposed to an indie brand. However, if you’re in the market for a cheaper option, you’ve come to the right place!
Some artists argue that when instrumentalists opt for a smaller guitar, it actually affects the integrity of the sound created. In his 2021 article Top Five Best Guitars That are Meant for Small Hands, musician Danny Trent states that the four most important aspects of a guitar that would make it easier for small-handed musicians to play include a shorter finger board, a slimmer neck, a smaller body and light strings, all of which we’ve mentioned here.
However, the physical makeup of each of these components, especially when combined, has a profound effect on the resulting sound the guitar produces. The sound of a smaller guitar will not resonate the same way a larger-bodied guitar will, and the different strings that smaller-fingered people would need on their guitar sound very different than the heavy-gauge strings.
While these results are no reason to avoid purchasing a smaller guitar, especially if it makes the musical experience overall much easier to navigate, they are still changes that the performer will need to evaluate.
How important is the pitch and timbre of the guitar to you personally? Is it worth having something that’s simply easier for you to play? Ultimately, it’s up to you. You can lead the horse to the guitar, but you cannot make him play (or something like that).
The most common piece of advice for musicians with small hands actually has nothing to do with the strumming itself. Professor Lee R. Bartel notes that the best way for players with littler hands to become proficient is to do regular finger exercises.
In his article Guitar Class: A Multifaced Approach, he notes that finger stretches can be done daily that will improve dexterity and hand position for those with shorter palms and fingers.
Doing the common blues scale specifically is a great way to stretch the fingers and make a smaller-handed musician more familiar with how to perform these exercises themselves. Strengthening the pinky is notably the most difficult obstacle to overcome for those with lesser handspan, as it is typically the weakest digit.
But Bartel proves that regular stretching and consistent rehearsal on the instrument itself makes the small-handed player as easy to teach as those with larger hands. Good to know!
Musician Dan Harper goes into more depth about finger flexibility in his article Is Guitar Bad For Your Fingers? He concludes, of course, that playing the six-string is not bad for one’s fingers, but players will need about a month of consistent practice to build up the muscle strength necessary for painless playing.
This is especially true for players with smaller hands, as their fingers will have to learn to stretch more and move farther than the average guitarists’. He advises that the most effective ways to attain finger strength are to practice are in short periods throughout the day. as well as mimicking the hands’ shapes and positions without actually pressing on the guitar to minimize strain.
A protege must also remind themselves to keep the limbs relaxed as opposed to tense while playing. This will make the piece being played sound much more fluid and will contribute to the longevity of a player’s hands, due to the fact that one can play for much longer when the fingers remain relaxed and loose. Furthermore, he posits that even players with small hands, if maintaining at least 15 minutes of implementation a day, should develop calluses within 4-6 weeks and have relatively minimal difficulty going forward.
He also emphasizes the significance of having the guitar set up by a professional; namely, the action of the guitar needs to be lowered and the guitar needs to be strung with extra-light or light strings when a player has smaller hands. This can be done by any pro at a local music store.
Trent also delves into the difficulty of finding guitars for consumers with more compact hands. In the same article he details 5 high-end guitars for musicians with this requirement, but with all of those options retailing from $400 to $1.000 or more, it’s not a likely purchase for the average consumer. He does have plenty of advice for players with small-scale hands, though!
He writes that an easy way to play on a smaller guitar without compromising the constitution of its sound is to use Drop-D tuning. This method allows players to achieve a heavier and more profound sound without needing to buy heavier gauge strings.
He also recommends the purchase of a capo, which actually translates into the word “head” in Italian. On this side of the globe, however, a capo is a device that closes on the neck of the guitar and shortens the strings. For a large-palmed guitarist, this would allow them to play a song in a different key without retuning or changing chord forms. However, for teenier- handed players, this allows for ease of playing and ability to change the pitch without having to overwork their fingers and hands.
Interestingly, some instructors note that sometimes the length of the instrument is not the issue at all. but the width. Journalists at Guitar Gear Finder note in their article Ultimate Guide to Guitar for Small Hands: What You Need to Know that many students find the slim build of an electric guitar to be much easier to maneuver than its wider acoustic counterpart.
Not only is it easier for a pupil’s arms and hands to reach what they need to, but it allows the player to lean over the guitar and more easily observe what it is they are attempting to play. Predictably the other side of this is the usually significant weight of an electric six-string, but if playing with a strap or positioned comfortably on the musician’s lap. the weight may be of little consequence.
In addition to covering aspects of the guitar that we already mentioned, such as scale length, finger board width, and hand stretches, this author goes into more depth about neck length. They observe that in reducing the length of a guitar’s neck the frets are then forced to be closer together, resulting in less stretch overall for the player. This is ideal because, as we stated before, smaller-handed players are often accompanied by shorter arms.
The writer also emphasizes that even those with petite hands can play a full- sized guitar with ease, granted that the neck is flat enough for a player to fully wrap their palms around to reach the strings. Lastly, they advise that with the proper instruction, one might not truly need a reduced-sized guitar unless the person is extremely petite or under the age of 6.
Conversely, they raise the notion that half- or 3/4-size guitars are often much preferred by her adolescent and small-statu red students, so it is truly up to the musician themselves to decide what is most comfortable for them.
The overall winner of the options we have explored today is still, in our opinion, the Yamaha CGS102A Half-Size Acoustic Guitar. The consumer knows they are receiving the renowned quality and durability of Yamaha along with the warranty and moneyback guarantee provided by Amazon. Of the luxury manufacturers mentioned here.
Yamaha not only competes with them in terms of caliber and status, but in this particular battle far outruns its competitors in price. For all of the benefits that are needed for a musician with smaller hands, this instrument fully checks all of our boxes: lightweight Nato wood and Meranti construction, nylon strings. 21″ scale size. 2.05″ neck width, and ability to be played ambidextrously.
You would be hard-pressed to find another guitar so easily playable for musicians with small hands at such an amazing price point.
Many professional musicians in the reviews mention its remarkable timbre and ease of play, especially for being so inexpensive. Almost every person who mentions that they had trouble with larger or unwieldy guitars sings this one’s praises. Therefore, this is our final choice!
Of course, purchasers with smaller hands will also have to consider the same elements of the guitar that are unrelated to size. One has to weigh the portability, feel, mechanics, bracing, tuning, composition, intonation, and many more aspects of the instrument before deciding on a final purchase.
We wish we could come up with a one-size-fits-all guitar for every customer, but then we’d be out of a job! The soundest advice we can give (no pun intended) is to keep in mind the size and shape factors we mentioned today, in addition to visiting your local music store. Being able to hold a potential buy and decide what you do and don’t like about it will make purchasing a strummer online much less stressful.
No single guitar is going to have every single aspect that an artist needs or wants, but having a list of non-negotiable factors will make the ultimate choice of guitar much easier. Happy hunting!