Best Acoustic Guitar for Small Hands - Reviews + 7 Features that Make Playing Easier - 2020 Update
Choosing an acoustic guitar can be really fun, there's such a wide range of models - but for people with small hands, there are important things to consider. Don't worry. We're going to help you find the best acoustic guitar for small hands – the one that's right for you.
When we refer to small hands here, we're referring to adults, and older children or teenagers, that would be considering something like a parlor or 3/4 guitar, or larger. Smaller than that and you might want to take a look at our Guitars for Kids page for a good size chart.
I also have an acoustic guitar size comparison chart here that goes from Parlor size to Jumbo.
One more caveat. When discussing acoustic guitars, I'm including acoustic-electric guitars for small hands by default. Since the electronics don't change the nature of the sound, it's entirely your choice whether you want to be able to plug in, or not. Personally, I think it's better to have the option, but that's up to you.
Also, the things we're discussing here apply to both steel string acoustic, parlor and classical guitars. No one of any acoustic persuasion is being left out. (Electric guitars for small hands have a separate page.)
So, you need to consider certain physical factors - such as the size of your hands, length of your arms and even width of your shoulders. These can all play a role in choosing a guitar that is comfortable to play.
The structural elements of a guitar are what will determine what is preferable for each individual guitarist. Let's look at some of the most important features to keep in mind when selecting an acoustic guitar for small hands.
*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.
Fast View: Best Acoustic Guitars for Small Hands - Top 3
Best Acoustic Guitars for Small Hands - Reviews
Taylor is one of the top acoustic guitar brands for a reason. They make some mighty fine guitars, and the BT2 Baby Taylor is no exception.
This is one of those smaller guitars that creates a bigger sound than you'd expect. Not only is it a big sound for its size, it's a quality sound, with strong, spicy mid-tones and warmth from the mahogany top.
It's a lightweight guitar, and the low end is a little less powerful because of it. But there's give and take in any system and smaller scale guitars just don't have booming low ends.
This guitar is nicely finished and very comfortable to play, especially for those with small hands. Unlike some smaller guitars, the Baby Taylor never strays toward a tinny or cheap sound. Their quality maintains throughout.
If you want a smaller guitar with a big sound and great quality, you should definitely check out the Baby Taylor.
Pros: The Baby Taylor creates a big sound, far more than you'd expect for a guitar of this size, and it can hang nicely with a larger crowd.
Cons: There is so little to complain about on the Baby Taylor. If anything, it'd be nice if they had a solid top version.
This Oscar Schmidt 3/4 Dreadnought produces a bigger sound than you'd expect from a smaller guitar. The low end is strong, relative to its size and the top end is bright without sounding tinny or shrill. It doesn't have the big rich tones of a full size dreadnought, but that's to be expected.
Overall it's well made, especially for this budget range. It's solidly built with an adjustable truss rod, and nice trim and binding. The color on the Flame Yellow Sunburst is quite bright, so don't be surprised. The action is fairly low, making it easy to play which can be a nice relief for beginners.
The tapered neck gets pretty narrow, perfect for an acoustic guitar for small hands or short fingers. The body of this guitar feels a little bigger than you might expect for a 3/4, partly due to the dreadnought body style. So if you're also slight of frame, in addition to having smaller hands, this might not be the best guitar for you.
This guitar falls into the category of a good starter guitar, travel guitar or as some would say, a 'beater' guitar. It delivers far more than most in this modest budget range but it does not compete with a Baby Taylor acoustic or a Little Martin. There's a reason those are more expensive guitars and there's a reason this one is so affordable.
If you're someone with small hands who's not sure about playing guitar and you want to take a test drive, or you just need an acoustic guitar that's easy on your budget, this Oscar Schmidt is an excellent choice.
Pros: A good guitar for the money that has nice tone for its size and budget. A solid buy.
Cons: The lower quality does show in places and that can be disappointing, even with the lower price.
Technically, with a 25" scale length, this Yamaha APX 600 thin-body, acoustic-electric guitar is a little bit longer than ideal for people with small hands.
However, the thin body, closer frets and narrower string spacing should compensate for the extra ½" in scale length. Plus, this is a quality Yamaha guitar that sounds great and looks gorgeous, so I decided to not let this one pass by.
The sound from this steel string acoustic guitar is a resounding plus. It gives robust, full sound, despite its smaller body size. The Yamaha APX600 is clear and sweet and holds its own in a practice jam or on stage. Plug it in and you've got another formidable dimension to work with. The electronics on this guitar perform exceptionally well across all ranges.
Right out of the box this is a pretty playable guitar. Some people may prefer to have the action lowered, but for overall comfort and playability it gets an A+.
The build on this Yamaha is solid with no cheap elements (one of Yamaha's strongest and most consistent points). The adjustable truss rod makes set-up easy if you need to mess with it. The finish is clean and pretty.
While this guitar could certainly be given to a beginner, it is not a beginner guitar. If the scale and thin body suit you, this is the kind of guitar you keep and play for a long time. A quality guitar great for people with smaller hands.
Pros: This is a really great application of a thin-body combined with other elements to make a great guitar for people of smaller hands or stature. Top shelf stuff here.
Cons: No serious negatives here. This guitar delivers exactly what it promises and then some.
The anatomy is a scaled down version of Taylor's Grand Symphony guitar. Scaled down in size, but it has a full guitar sound. The luthiers really outdid themselves with this one.
It comes with several solid top woods, including spruce, mahogany and a beautiful Hawaiian Koa, depending on your preference and budget. It's got a 23.5" scale length with a 20 fret ebony neck, so it's no stress for those of smaller stature.
This is a beauty of a guitar that doesn't let up.
2 Other Taylor GS Mini Options
Pros: You can't go wrong with a Taylor and this trio is a great example of their work. Truly big sound from a smaller guitar that's good for small hands. You won't feel anything lacking. What more could you ask for?
Cons: An option with a cutaway would be nice.
This is probably the best Martin guitar for small hands. It's a 3/4 size guitar which means that it is literally, 3/4 the size of a standard six string.
The Martin LXK2 Little Martin Acoustic does not compromise on sound. It delivers a deep, strong tone much like a standard size guitar. The guitar is constructed from quality materials and the dreadnought-shaped body is made from high pressure laminate that provides a durable guitar that's resistant to temperature and humidity changes.
Note: The Rosewood neck is a modified low oval and the scale (string length) is 23 inches. Both of these factors make it better suited to small hands.
2 Other Little Martin Options
Pros: Martin's smaller guitars are rare in that they manage to favor the low end of the range considerably more than other guitars their size. It's quite an accomplishment and one of the reasons that Martin is one of the top guitar brands.
Cons: Once again, it'd be nice to have a solid top option.
Best Parlor Guitars for Small Hands - Reviews
Okay, so this Yamaha CSF3M Parlor guitar is sweet, and serious. Its solid Sitka spruce top makes for a rich, resonant tone while being very versatile for a wide range of music genres. Then, you have the solid mahogany back and sides that ensure the mid-range has some pop while keeping overtones in check, making for a nice, balanced sound.
Yamaha went almost all-out on this one. The only place it really comes up short are the plastic nut and saddle, though those are both easily replaced for bone when you do your set-up.
This Yamaha sits squarely in the class with Baby Taylor and Little Martin.
The parlor size is comfortable and more accommodating for almost anyone, but especially so for people of smaller frame, or with short fingers, or small hands. If you ever doubted whether you would feel comfortable playing a guitar, your worries will melt away when you pick up this guitar.
As always, Yamaha build quality and attention to detail are top grade. It's nice looking, too. With all solid woods and great sound, you can't go wrong with this Yamaha.
Pros: This is a great guitar that puts Yamaha among the ranks of some of the best guitar brands. We love this guitar.
Cons: Just wishing for a bone nut and saddle to start.
Some of the best small guitar types for people with small hands are parlor guitars. Not a scaled down version of a larger guitar, but their own special size, that's a little bit smaller in scale. Luna does a great job of carrying on this tradition with their Gypsy Muse Acoustic Parlor Guitar.
You'll find a lot more bass than you'd expect in a guitar of this size, but it's the middle that really pops and sparkles. The Gypsy Muse has good sustain and the laminate mahogany gives it some added durability and a really nice look.
Speaking of nice looks, the laser cut rosette is subtle and gorgeous (even if it's hard to see in this picture).
You might end up needing to lower the action, or not. This one truly depends on your taste and previous guitar-playing experience. Adjusting the truss rod might be enough to do the trick.
The rich, warm sound you get from this guitar, in addition to it being a great fit for small hands, will make you happy to play anytime.
Pros: This guitar packs a lot of style into this smaller package and delivers on performance, as well. Nice combination.
Cons: We'd love to see a high end version of this guitar with top end materials to see what it can really do.
Gretsch has really done a nice job here with their Rancher Penguin Parlor guitar.
It has a nice, resonant tone and great electronics to boost it where its size doesn't. Not that it doesn't have good volume for its size, but its strength lies in the complexity and richness of the tone.
The Rancher Penguin has a solid spruce top with laminated maple body which is a perfectly acceptable quality combination. And Gretsch always has some nice style touches, like the contrasting body binding and vertical wing headstock. It never hurts when your guitar looks as good as it plays.
Oh, and this one does play easy. The narrower neck will be a delight to many, especially players with small hands. It's not too small, but it definitely will be a more comfortable fit for some.
This guitar sounds great and looks great. You won't be disappointed.
Pros: A great look to this guitar. It's nice to see something a little different.
Cons: There's a little more focus on style than substance, but it still puts out well.
This is a very lightweight option made from high quality materials and handmade craftmanship.
The Adirondack spruce solid wood top rides above a beautiful solid mahogany body to combine two wonderful tonewoods for a rich and lively sound.
The ebony fretboard is about 1 inch shorter than the standard length and the neck is a slim C shape – which is ideal for smaller hands.
The Eastman is well known for its bluesy sound and rich tones.
This is the kind of high-end guitar serious players with small hands deserve to play.
It's not a student model, or a 3/4 size or a travel guitar. This is some serious luthier craftsmanship and pride showing off. A quality guitar that the most experienced player would be happy to pick up and play.
Pros: Solid wood all around give this guitar a beautiful sound. In the right hands it will bring a tear to your eye.
Cons: It's not cheap, but at least you get what you pay for.
Best Classical Guitars for Small Hands - Reviews
This Cordoba 3/4 Nylon String Guitar is a delight to play. Easy on the fingers and the reach with a slim neck profile, it is well set and well designed – like all Cordobas.
The sound is clear and solid, though not quite as big as a full-size traditional classical guitar.
The build is solid, but at this price point, you're definitely looking at laminate spruce top and plastic components. In some environments, like places with humidity extremes, laminate woods have advantages. This is not a bad thing, but most would consider this a beginner guitar – a good quality beginner guitar.
If you're a casual player, you may get a lot of years out of this guitar, but if you become a serious player (or already are one), you'll probably want to scale up to a higher end model.
Pros: This is a good starter guitar and Cordoba really knows what it's doing with nylon string guitars.
Cons: It is a student guitar and if you really enjoy playing, you're going to want to upgrade at some point.
As with most Yamaha student level guitars, you get a lot for your money with their CGS103A 3/4-Size Classical Guitar. Always solid on quality and build, Yamaha guitars have great sound and playability. The size and scale are perfect for guitarists with small hands.
One of the exciting things here, at a great price point, is that this Yamaha has a solid spruce top. That is wonderful for a student guitar and is one of the reasons you won't grow out of this guitar quickly. In fact, for casual players, it may provide many years of fine service without that nagging feeling of always wishing you had something better.
The tones of this classical guitar are clear and rich, square within the traditional tones of a Spanish classical guitar. Yamaha's smaller guitars have the wonderful quality of providing bigger sound than you expect from them. This one does not disappoint.
The one consistent complaint is not with the guitar itself, but with the bundle being offered with it. Evidently not all of the items pictured always arrive, and the gig bag leaves a lot to be desired. While you should be aware of this, it shouldn't stop you from buying this great guitar. The plusses of the Yamaha CGS103A far outweigh any issues with the accessories.
Pros: You don't grow out of Yamaha student guitars quickly because their quality slides well into the intermediate range.
Cons: The bundle should be better quality and I wonder why it's not. That's not usually Yamaha's style (maybe not their bundle).
Best Acoustic Guitars for Small Hands - Comparison Chart
7 Features that Make Playing Easier
Size and Shape of the Neck
The neck of a guitar, which is topped by the fingerboard, or fretboard, can come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Thin neck acoustic guitars are more suitable for smaller hands, as are C shapes.
There are D, U and V shapes that tend to be thicker and chunkier, making it more difficult for a small hand to hold. On these, it's a tougher reach around the neck and to access the top strings, as well as the stretch between frets.
There are a variety of other shapes available, however these are usually modified versions of the basic C, D, U and V neck shapes.
Besides the shape, you would also want to look for a small neck acoustic guitar, rather than a wider one, for obvious reasons. Anything you can do to naturally reduce the reach will make your life easier.
Although the neck shape or thickness does not make much difference to the tone or sound of the guitar, it can make a difference to how it is played. Thinner necks make it easier for those who want to play faster as it is simpler to slide the hand up and down the neck as well as reach the different notes more quickly. So people with small hands are at an advantage for speed – your ideal guitar is already ready for your fingers to fly.
String Length and Scale
The shorter the neck, the shorter the string length of the guitar will be. This means that the frets are placed closer together which makes it easier to reach the chords on an acoustic guitar. Again, this is ideal for small hands.
The ideal scale length for small hands is between 22 inches and 24.5 inches.
The action of an acoustic guitar refers to the height of the strings above the fretboard. This height is normally measured at the center of the 12th fret. The higher the strings are placed from the fretboard the more difficult they are to press and hold down. The action of a guitar can be lowered in order to ease the amount of pressure that needs to be applied.
Lower action is more suitable for small hands. However it is important to note that lowering the action can make a difference to the bass and treble tones. Lower it too much and you'll get fret buzz because the strings are too close to the fretboard.
Steel vs Nylon
Lighter weight strings are easier to play and therefore also more suitable for small hands.
The steel strings of an acoustic give you a sharper, brighter tone. These strings are under greater tension and are generally a little more work for your fingers. This is where getting lighter gauge steel strings is a good idea to make your life easier. Steel string acoustics are used is a wide range of genres, including rock, blues, country and pop.
If you want a warmer, rounder tone and softer strings, you'll want to go with a classical guitar so you can get nylon strings. These are definitely easier on your fingers, but overall, the classical guitar isn't suited to as wide a range of genres (see this discussion). Also, most classical guitars have wider necks, so it can be a bit of a conundrum. Pay especially close attention to neck width if you go classical.
Are nylon and steel strings interchangeable on a guitar?
Not really. While you might be successful in getting nylon to work on an acoustic guitar, the technical difficulties are far more trouble than they're worth, and you're not going to get a great sound. And NEVER put steel strings on your classical guitar. It can't take the tension. You will break your guitar.
The body of a guitar is the big empty chamber where the sound resonates. Larger body guitars produce a richer and stronger sound. That doesn't mean that there aren't some awesome small body guitars out there. A couple of American companies, Martin and Taylor, are going out of their way to make their small guitars sound big (or at least, bigger). You're not going to lose out with a smaller guitar, and if the size makes it more enjoyable for you to play, then it's a win all around.
With acoustic and classical guitars, the shape of the body is very similar from one make to another because changing the shape will alter the way the guitar sounds. Unlike electric guitars, the structure or shape of the body cannot be changed dramatically in order to accommodate a smaller person.
However, there are alternatives available such that are smaller versions of regular size guitars. Baby and Parlor guitars are excellent options when looking for an acoustic guitar for small hands. They're also really well set if you want to do any fingerpicking. These guitars are of the same design and quality as a regular sized guitar, though they may produce a little less volume.
And if someone with a bigger guitar gives you a hard time about your 'cute' or 'little' guitar, just remind them that their dreadnought ain't got nothin' on a guitarron. So they ain't all that.
The construction of a guitar plays a very important role in terms of personal preference, as well as the quality of sound and durability of the instrument. Different manufacturers use different materials and construction techniques, both of which determine the quality of a guitar.
You never have to sacrifice quality because you're buying an acoustic guitar for small hands. There is nothing lesser about these guitars. Don't let anyone sell you something sub-standard while trying to convince you that there is.
I have a full rundown about quality materials and construction of acoustic guitars, if you're curious.
The distance between the frets can also play an important role in selecting a guitar that is suitable for small hands. The greater the distance between the frets, the more difficult it can be for small hands to hit the chords. Smaller guitars may have a shorter distance between frets, or fewer frets on a shorter fretboard, or scale. Shorter scales are generally more suitable for smaller hands.
There are three ideal categories to choose from in acoustic guitars for small hands - Baby, Parlor, 0 and 3/4 (three-quarter). Most of the top guitar craftsman like Taylor, Fender, Eastman, Martin, Gibson, etc. all have at least one small body model that is suitable for small hands, or young aspiring guitarists. These guitars all have shorter fret boards and smaller neck breadth and width. These companies take pride in their craftsmanship and do not compromise the quality of the smaller versions of their larger guitars.
Just because you don't have big hands with long fingers doesn't mean you shouldn't have a fantastic guitar that you love to play – and manufacturers are aware of this. Certainly, stay away from the cheap smaller models that are marketed for beginners, which are designed to sell but not necessarily sound good, or last.
You want a quality instrument.
Of course, there is only one best acoustic guitar for small hands, and that's the one that suits you.
We've offered a few great ones here. I'll bet something will suit you needs. If not, I'll be adding more in the coming months. If you have a favorite acoustic guitar for small hands that you think should be on my list, let me know in the comments.
Feel free to give our other pages on acoustic guitars a read, we have a lot of great info on making sure you get a quality guitar. But you may want to bookmark this page for reference.
As I also have a page on Electric Guitars for Small Hands, there is some really useful information over there you should take a look at, like playing techniques for difficult chords and managing your pinky.
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