Guitar sizes can vary greatly, from small travel guitars to full-size models that are ideal for stage performances. Understanding the different sizes available is essential when choosing a guitar that will feel comfortable to play and produce the sound you’re looking for.
Measuring a guitar involves looking at several factors, including the scale length, body shape, and overall length. It’s also important to consider whether you want an acoustic or electric model, as these can have different sizing standards.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about guitar sizes, including how to measure them and which size might be best suited for your needs.
Having a good understanding of guitar sizing can help ensure that you make an informed decision when buying your next instrument.
How to Measure a Guitar
So, you want to measure your guitar? Well, there are a few key measurements you should know about.
- First, the total length of the guitar from end to end will give you an idea of its overall size.
- Second, the scale length – which is the distance between the nut and bridge – can affect how the guitar feels and plays.
- Finally, measuring the neck width can help determine if it’s comfortable for your playing style.
Knowing these measurements can be helpful when selecting a new guitar or making adjustments to your current one.
Guitar’s Total Length
The total length of a guitar includes the body and neck and can range from as small as 30 inches for a travel-size guitar to over 41 inches for some jumbo models.
Here are some common guitar sizes based on their total length:
- Travel-size: around 30 inches
- Parlor: around 36 inches
- Concert/Grand Auditorium: around 40 inches
- Jumbo/Dreadnought: over 41 inches
Knowing the size of your guitar is important not only for comfort while playing but also for finding the right case or stand to keep it protected when not in use.
Guitar’s Scale Length
The scale length refers to the distance between the nut (where the strings begin) and the bridge (where they end). It’s important to note that this measurement doesn’t include any portion of the instrument’s body or neck.
Scale length can vary greatly between different types and sizes of guitars. For example, a classical guitar typically has a longer scale length than an electric guitar.
Generally speaking, a longer scale length means more tension on the strings and therefore requires more pressure to play notes. This can be challenging for beginners or those with smaller hands.
However, some players prefer longer scales for their tonal qualities. On the other hand, shorter scale lengths require less tension and are often easier to play, making them popular among beginners and those who prefer a lighter touch while playing.
Guitar’s Neck Width
The width of a guitar’s neck is an important factor to consider when choosing the right size for you.
A wider neck can be more comfortable for players with larger hands or longer fingers, as it allows for easier finger placement and less cramping. On the other hand, a narrower neck can be better suited for players with smaller hands or shorter fingers, allowing for faster playing and more precise movements.
It’s important to find a balance between comfort and playability when choosing a guitar based on its neck width, as both factors are crucial to creating an enjoyable playing experience.
What is the size of a ‘full size’ guitar?
A full-size guitar, also known as a dreadnought guitar, is perfect for those who want to feel like a true rockstar. It has a powerful sound and a larger body.
The standard size for a full-size acoustic guitar is around 41 inches in length, with the lower bout measuring roughly 15 and a half inches across.
Here are some additional characteristics of a full-size guitar:
- They often have more volume and projection compared to smaller guitars.
- Due to their larger size, they may be less comfortable for players with smaller hands or frames.
- Full-size guitars are commonly used in genres such as folk, country, rock, and pop music.
- They typically have six strings but can come in variations such as twelve-string or seven-string models.
Overall, if you’re looking for a traditional and versatile acoustic guitar that’s suitable for most styles of music, then a full-size dreadnought may be the right choice for you. Just keep in mind that they can be heavy and bulky, so make sure you try one out before committing to it.
Different Acoustic Guitar Sizes
When it comes to acoustic guitars, there are several different sizes available.
Parlor Acoustic Guitar
The parlor acoustic guitar is typically around 38-40 inches long and has a smaller body than other acoustic guitars, making it easier to hold and play. Despite its smaller size, this type of guitar can produce a surprisingly rich and warm sound.
Here are some interesting facts about the parlor acoustic guitar:
- They were popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century before being replaced by larger guitars.
- Many famous blues musicians, such as Robert Johnson, played parlor guitars.
- The neck of a parlor guitar is usually shorter than other acoustic guitars, making it easier to play chords and frets.
- Due to their smaller size, they are often more affordable than larger acoustic guitars.
Concert Acoustic Guitar
the concert acoustic guitar it’s larger than a parlor guitar but smaller than a dreadnought, making it an ideal choice for folk, blues, rock, country, or fingerstyle music.
The concert acoustic guitar usually has a lower bout width between 14 and 15 inches and a scale length around 24 inches.
Its body shape is somewhere between oval and hourglass, with curved sides that provide good projection and resonance.
The neck is usually narrower than on dreadnoughts or jumbos, making it easier to fret chords or solo lines.
Additionally, some concert guitars come with cutaways that allow you to reach higher fret positions without difficulty.
Auditorium Acoustic Guitar
The auditorium acoustic is perfect for fingerstyle players or those who enjoy intricate solos, with easy access to higher frets. With a slightly smaller body than dreadnoughts, it offers a more comfortable playing experience without sacrificing sound quality.
If you’re looking for a guitar that can handle both strumming and fingerpicking with ease, the auditorium guitar won’t disappoint. Its mid-range frequencies are well-balanced with clear highs and lows, making it ideal for both lead and rhythm playing.
Its versatile sound makes it suitable for a wide range of genres including folk, blues, rock, and country music.
Try experimenting with different string gauges to find the perfect balance between tone and playability. Consider investing in a solid wood auditorium guitar, as they tend to have better resonance and projection than laminated models.
Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
The dreadnought has a larger body than the auditorium, which means it produces a louder and fuller sound. If you’re looking for an instrument that can hold its own in a band setting or fill up a room with sound, then this is definitely the guitar for you.
The dreadnought was first introduced by Martin Guitar Company in 1916 and has since become an industry standard. It’s known for its powerful bass tones and balanced sound across all frequencies.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that due to its larger size, it may not be as comfortable to play for smaller individuals or those with shorter arms. However, if you’re willing to sacrifice comfort for sound quality, then the dreadnought is definitely worth considering.
Jumbo Acoustic Guitar
Get ready to experience the booming sound and impressive presence of the Jumbo acoustic. As one of the largest acoustic guitar sizes, the Jumbo is renowned for its deep and resonant tone.
It’s an ideal choice for players who want a powerful and full-bodied sound that can fill up any room.
Here are some key features that make Jumbo guitars stand out:
- Large body size: With a width of around 17 inches at its widest point, the Jumbo has a big and bold appearance on stage.
- Rich bass response: The larger body size allows for more air to be moved, resulting in a deeper low end that’s perfect for strumming chords or playing fingerstyle.
- Versatile tone: Despite its emphasis on bass response, the Jumbo can also produce clear and articulate highs. This makes it suitable for a wide range of genres including folk, blues, country, rock, and more.
The travel guitars are designed to be compact and portable, making them ideal for musicians who want to practice or perform while on the move. These guitars typically have a smaller body size than standard acoustic models, which allows them to fit easily into overhead compartments or backpacks.
Despite their small size, travel guitars produce a surprisingly rich sound that is comparable to larger models. They often feature solid wood tops and backs, which help to enhance their tonal quality and sustain. Additionally, some travel guitars come with built-in electronics that allow you to plug directly into an amplifier or PA system.
Whether you’re camping in the woods or playing on a street corner in Paris, a travel guitar is an excellent choice for any musician who wants to stay inspired and connected while exploring new places.
Different Electric Guitar Sizes
There are four main categories:
- Hollow electric guitars
- Semi-hollow electric guitars
- Chambered electric guitars
- Solid-body electric guitars
Each type of guitar has its own unique sound characteristics and design features that make it stand out from the others.
Let’s dive deeper into each category to help you choose the right size for your playing style and preferences.
Hollow Electric Guitars
You’ll be surprised to know that hollow electric guitars were first introduced in the 1930s and became popular among jazz musicians.
The main difference between a solid body and a hollow body guitar is the way they’re constructed.
A solid-body guitar is made of a single piece of wood, whereas a hollow-body guitar has an acoustic chamber carved out of the wood.
The sound produced by a hollow electric guitar is warmer and more resonant than that of its solid-body counterpart. This is because the hollow space inside the instrument allows for more air to vibrate, creating a richer tone.
Hollow electric guitars are also popular among blues, rockabilly, and country musicians who appreciate their twangy sound. They offer great sustain and feedback control, making them ideal for loud performances on stage or in recording studios.
Semi-Hollow Electric Guitars
Semi-hollow electric guitars perfectly blend the full-bodied tone of hollow electric guitars and the sustain and feedback resistance of solid-body electric guitars.
Here are some key features that make semi-hollows unique:
- They have a center block running through the body, which reduces feedback and makes them easier to play at high volumes.
- The hollow wings on either side of the center block give them a warm, acoustic-like tone that is perfect for blues, jazz, and rockabilly.
- They come in various sizes, from full-size models like the Gibson ES-335 to smaller options like the Epiphone Casino Coupe. This means you can choose one that suits your playing style and comfort level.
If you’re looking for an all-purpose guitar that can handle everything from clean jazz chords to distorted rock riffs, a semi-hollow electric guitar might be just what you need. Their versatile tone and comfortable feel are becoming increasingly popular among guitarists of all genres.
Chambered Electric Guitars
Chambered electric guitars offer a unique combination of sustain and resonance thanks to their hollowed-out body design.
Similar to semi-hollow guitars, chambered guitars have added pockets of air within the body that resonate and amplify the guitar’s sound.
However, unlike semi-hollows that feature a solid block of wood in the center, chambered guitars have multiple chambers that are carved out from the inside.
The result is a lightweight instrument with improved sustain and an airy tone that’s perfect for genres like blues, jazz, and rock. Chambered bodies also allow for more versatility when it comes to playing styles as they can be used for clean or distorted sounds without losing clarity or definition.
Solid-Body Electric Guitars
The solid-body electric guitar is the most popular type of guitar among musicians today, thanks to its versatility and ability to produce a wide range of tones.
As opposed to chambered electric guitars, solid-body guitars are made from a single block of wood, giving them greater sustain and overall volume.
Some common types of solid-body electric guitars include the Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul. These guitars are known for their distinct characteristics, such as the Stratocaster’s three single-coil pickups and tremolo system, or the Les Paul’s humbucker pickups and thicker tone.
Solid-body guitars also come in various shapes and sizes, from traditional designs to more modern ones like the Ibanez RG series or ESP LTD models. Overall, these guitars provide musicians with endless possibilities when it comes to creating unique sounds for any genre of music.
Guitars for kids
If you’re looking for a guitar for your child, it’s important to consider their age and size.
Age group: 4 to 6 years
Children aged 4 to 6 years, with a height of 110 cm, are best suited for 1/8-sized guitars.
Age group: 5 to 8 years
For children between 5 and 8 years old with a height ranging from 110 cm to 130 cm, 1/4-sized guitars are recommended.
Age group: 7 to 9 years
Kids aged 7 to 9, with a height of 120 cm to 140 cm, will find 1/2-sized concert guitars suitable for their needs.
Age group: 10 to 13 years
Students aged 10 to 13, standing around 130 cm to 150 cm tall, can play 3/4-sized guitars.
Age group: 11 to 14 years
Children aged 11 to 14 have the ability to play 7/8-sized guitars.
The Smallest guitars
The smallest guitars hold an extraordinary capacity to captivate listeners with their distinct tones and playful melodies. The most popular instruments in this category are the ukulele and guitarlele.
With its four strings and small size, the ukulele produces a very trebly sound that is unique and instantly recognizable. It’s no wonder that this Hawaiian instrument has gained popularity all over the world.
One thing to keep in mind is that ukes are tuned differently than normal guitars, which can be confusing for beginners. But with practice, anyone can learn to play this charming little instrument.
The guitarlele combines the portability of a ukulele with the versatility of an ordinary guitar. The six strings and small size make it ideal for travel or if you want a smaller guitar without sacrificing sound quality.
One thing to note about guitarleles is their tuning. They’re tuned higher than guitars, but their key is the same as a standard guitar would be with a capo on the 5th fret. This can cause some confusion when playing along with other instruments, but once you get used to it, the unique sound is worth it.
Plus, like the uke, guitarleles are very trebly and have a similar tone.
How to Choose the Right Guitar Size?
When it comes to selecting a guitar, finding the right size is crucial to ensure optimal comfort and playability.
Here’s a brief list of considerations to help guide you in choosing the right guitar size:
If you have a smaller frame or are a beginner, a smaller-sized guitar is often more comfortable to play. Options such as 3/4 or parlor-sized guitars are ideal as they feature shorter scale lengths and narrower bodies. These qualities make them easier to hold and fret chords on, allowing for smoother transitions and improved technique.
Your preferred playing style can also influence your choice of guitar size. If you primarily strum chords and enjoy a lighter touch, a smaller guitar may suit you well. Conversely, if you’re inclined towards fingerpicking or require more string space for complex techniques, a larger guitar might be a better fit.
Consider your musical aspirations when selecting a guitar size. If you plan on performing live shows or desire a fuller sound, larger-sized guitars like dreadnought or jumbo models are worth considering. These guitars feature bigger bodies that produce louder volumes and deeper tones, making them ideal for live performances or genres that require a strong projection.
Comfort and Inspiration
Above all, choose a guitar that feels comfortable in your hands and inspires you to create music. Take the time to visit a music store and try out different sizes and shapes to find the one that resonates with you. Remember, the right guitar size should feel like an extension of yourself, allowing you to express your creativity and enjoy the playing experience.
Finding the right guitar size is essential for any musician looking to achieve their full potential. So take your time when shopping for a guitar, and don’t hesitate to ask questions or try out different sizes before making a final decision.
Whether you’re just starting out or are an experienced player, having a comfortable instrument will allow you to focus on what really matters – making great music!
And as a finale, I will share with you an interesting fact – the world’s largest playable guitar stands at an incredible 43 feet 7.5 inches tall, 16 feet 5.5 inches wide, and weighs 2,000 pounds. Crafted by students from Conroe Independent School District Academy of Science and Technology in Conroe, Texas, USA, it’s a tribute to the 1967 Gibson Flying V model. The price is US$3,000.
Are there any specific guitar sizes that are better suited for certain genres of music?
Yes, there are specific guitar sizes that are better suited for certain genres of music.
- If you want to play blues or rock music, a solid body electric guitar may be the way to go. These guitars have a smaller size and offer more sustain and distortion.
- If you’re interested in playing classical or fingerstyle music, a nylon string acoustic guitar is often recommended due to its wider fretboard and softer strings.
- If you want to play country or bluegrass music, an acoustic dreadnought guitar is often the go-to choice due to its loud volume and strong bass response.
Ultimately, the best size for your preferred genre will depend on your personal preference and playing style.
How does the size of a guitar affect its sound and playability?
The size of a guitar can have a significant impact on sound and playability.
Larger guitars tend to produce a louder, fuller sound, while smaller guitars are more comfortable to play for extended periods. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
For example, some smaller guitars are designed specifically for fingerstyle playing and produce a surprisingly robust sound despite their size.
Yet, the best guitar for you will depend on your individual intentions and playing technique.
Can a person with smaller hands play a full-size guitar comfortably?
If you have smaller hands, playing a full-size guitar may seem daunting at first. However, it’s definitely possible to play comfortably with some adjustments.
One option is to look for guitars with slimmer necks and shorter scales. These features will make it easier for your fingers to reach the frets and form chords without straining.
Another option is to adjust your hand positioning and technique, such as using your thumb more on the back of the neck or using barre chords instead of open chords.
With practice and determination, you can become comfortable playing a full-size guitar regardless of hand size.