Best Electric Guitar for Small Hands – 2020 Update

Best Electric Guitar for Small Hands - 5 Features to Make Your Life Easier

+ 5 Famous Guitarists with Small Hands

Okay, so you've got small hands and maybe short fingers and you like to play guitar but you want to find the best electric guitar for small hands so that it's fun and easy to play. The good news, is that's okay, it's not hard to find an electric guitar to meet you needs. There is nothing stopping you from playing and enjoying guitar to your heart's content. 

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a good electric guitar for small hands and we've sifted through a lot of them. We're going to look at some of the best electric guitars with thin necks, short necks, and those that have a short scale. These are excellent features that will make playing guitar with small hands easier.

We'll also consider small body electric guitars and see if that might be a good choice for you. Since solid body electric guitars don't rely on a resonance chamber, you're not really losing anything by playing one with a small body. If it makes playing easier and more fun, then it might be a great solution for you - there are some very cool guitars that fall into this category.


Don't worry if you're a smaller adult, a teenager, or pre-teen, we're going to look at all of the things you need to consider before buying this guitar. When we're done, you're going to be able to rock the block, hands down. (See what I did there?)

It's true that electric guitars are already easier than acoustics for dealing with small hands and a shorter reach. But some electric guitars are still better suited than others.

Ack---Barre-Chords

So, you might face a few unique challenges – but your choice of guitar can go a long way to alleviating the toughest of them. In the guitar realm, it's leveling the playing field. That's why I'm going to help you find the best electric guitar for small hands – the one that's right for you.

Just to encourage you, we're also going to share the profiles of 5 famous guitarists with small hands. I think some of them will surprise you.

Let's take a look.


*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.

Best Electric Guitar for Small Hands - Reviews


This guitar has been patterned after the legendary Kurt Cobain's guitar, meeting the exact same specifications. Ironically, Cobain's hands weren't small at all, but he liked this vintage modified Jaguar set-up anyway.


The 9.5 inch radius of the C-shaped neck and rosewood fingerboard is ideal for small hands, as is the shorter scale, at 24 inches.


It's the additional features, like the Stratocaster headstock, tremolo bridge, humbucker pickups make this one of the first, and topmost choices, for a player wanting an electric guitar for small hands.


This V-Mod Jaguar has been enhanced and designed by Michael Frank to expand the sound and tonal range, heat up the mid-range definition while not forgetting its vintage roots. This guitar is top quality all around.


Not for kids, not for beginners, this short scale guitar is serious.


Don't hesitate to add all the grunge creating,or any other, pedal effects you want. This guitar is ready for anything.

Pros:  With so many of the scaled down guitars being targeted at kids and beginners, it's nice to see a truly professional quality guitar this size.


Cons:  It ain't cheap.


I love that Daisy Rock has a Bangles tribute guitar of the same model that Vicki Peterson played.


If you don't know Daisy Rock, they specifically set out to create guitars that would be more comfortable to encourage girls and women to play more. A lot of their models are designed a little more feminine in color and glitz, but let me tell you something; these are serious guitars.


I especially love that this one is a semi-hollow, which broadens the range of genres it is eminently suited for. Blues, country, rock, grunge, jazz – this guitar can play them all.


(Look here for more information on the advantages of semi-hollow guitars.)


For comfort, there's a slim and narrow neck and lighter weight body. For quality, you've got a tune-o-matic bridge and Grover tuners to keep the guitar in tune and create rock solid playability. The vintage humbuckers that give this guitar such a full, rockin' sound are the icing on the cake.


I don't care what gender you are, this is a darn fine guitar that you should be proud to own. If you have small hands, or short fingers, you should definitely take a good look at this one.

Pros:  Great to have a semi-hollow option in this size range and I can easily recommend this guitar for anyone who likes to play in multiple music genres.


Cons:  Not quite as big of a sound as some semi-hollows, but because of the smaller size, that's to be expected.


The Epiphone Gibson Special comes with all the features Gibson is famous for while providing a slightly shorter neck at 24.75 inches.


However, the shorter scale does mean that there are only 22 frets, but this is one top quality, beautifully designed guitar.


On the whole, Gibson is known to have a shorter fret length than Fender. It's one of the reasons this model (replica), the Special SG, is a favorite of Angus Young, lead guitarist for AC/DC – who has small hands (see below).


I'm going to go out on not much of a limb here and say this might be the best metal guitar for small hands.


The pickups lean dark and do well in overdrive to push the classic metal feel. This legendary SG model is a dream to play. It might not be the actual Gibson, but it's a fraction of the price and you get far beyond your money's worth.


Expect to do a little set-up when it arrives, but it's mostly ready to go out of the box. The quality and finish are sweet, suitable for a beginner or to take on stage.


If you're looking for lessons in how to shred, check out this class:



Pros:  There's everything right about this guitar and it's perfect for any metal head with small hands (or not).


Cons:  No real negatives unless you're applying it to a genre where it's not well suited. 

Angus Young

Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1955, he began playing musical instruments as a very young boy. He and his brother, Malcolm, were part of a group with their brother George called the Marcus Hook Roll Band. In the early 1970s, Malcolm formed AC/DC with Angus as a guitarist. They got the name from the back of their sister’s sewing machine. She inspired Angus’s signature school-boy costume for the eventual legendary bad. Young’s style is mainly straight blues, but with hints of Scottish folk, and one-handed pull-off arpeggios which continue to be heard around the world in such songs as Who Made Who, Dirty and Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.

Angus-Young

Famous Guitarists with

Small Hands - #1


This Ibanez has a very comfortable 22.2" scale with 24 frets on a nice maple fretboard, making this a great, and affordable, electric guitar for people with small hands.


If you're a metal fan, you'll love the Infinity R humbucker pickups that give more edge and big sound.


It has a nice finish and is well made, but you should expect it to need some set-up straight out of the box. Whether you do that yourself or get a professional to do it, a little set-up will go a long way to making this guitar sing.


Overall, this guitar is a solid choice.


It's not the moon and the sky, not at this price, but in this price range, it's a heck of an instrument and is very easy to play.


The Ibanez GRGM will give you all the space and flexibility you need to play the way you want, without struggle for reach or stretch.


You can't go wrong with this Ibanez.

Pros:  This is a really great choice if you're on a limited budget, need a guitar that fits and you want an edgier look than a fender. 


Cons:  Far better than its price, but wish there were a higher end model like this from Ibanez.


This is one sweet little guitar and it's entirely designed for people with small hands.


The 24" scale fingerboard, with 20 frets, is a full 1.5" shorter than a standard Strat. The overall length of this short scale Strat is 36", which is 3.5" shorter than standard.


It also has a C-shaped, maple neck with an easy 9.5" radius. Obviously they were working hard to make this guitar comfortable.


If you're worried about this guitar being anything less than a true Squier Stratocaster, put your fears to rest. The Fender Short Scale Strat carries the exact same pickups as its big brother and matches the sound wonderfully. The only catch is if you're dying to play wild solos up on the 21st and 22nd frets, this guitar will come up short.


The finish is gorgeous and there are 4 colors to choose from.


The link here is for a really solid bundle pack, perfect for the beginner because it's both affordable and good quality (includes a practice amp). But this is not limited to being a beginner guitar. It's a good instrument that definitely slides into the intermediate quality range and will be a guitar you'll be happy to play for years to come.

Pros:  A great compromise that accommodates small-handed players and achieves that great Stratocaster sound. 


Cons:  No real negatives. This one's pretty solid all around.

Andy Summers

Born in Lancashire, England on December 31, 1942, he began intensively learning guitar and studied jazz by participating in the local scene near him. He eventually joined bands, including the Animals, in a brief line up in the late 1960s. After that and other stints failed, he studied classical guitar and composition at UCLA. Eventually, he gigged and taught lessons and was invited to join the jazz/rock/reggae band, The Police, with Sting and Stewart Copeland. It's with them he created his signature minimalist guitar sound, with avant-guard styling using multiple effects pedals.

AndySummers

Famous Guitarists with

Small Hands - #2


If you read my earlier Daisy Rock Guitar review, you know I really like these guitars. A lot of the same features hold true here.


The slim neck and lighter weight make this guitar comfortable to play for people of smaller frame, or with short fingers. The Grover tuners and tune-o-matic bridge system provide solid and reliable intonation and tuning. A set neck increases sustain and stability. It's just a well-made guitar.


This model, the Venus guitar, also features an innovative push-pull tone control that alters the humbucker signal to give the sharper tone of a single coil pickup. Playing with this control provides a wide range of tones that can make this guitar sound like many different types, thus providing great flexibility in genre.


This guitar isn't just all glitter. The mother-of-pearl inlay is fantastic and stylish, and the action on the fretboard is slick. The vintage pearl finish is all sorts of fun.


If you're worried about it looking too 'girlie' (a wrong-headed term if I ever heard one), no matter your gender, then slap a skull sticker on it and get over yourself. This is a great guitar and you're going to love playing it. That's all that should matter.


Venus Rocks.

Pros:  Well-made, well-designed and ready to rock.


Cons:  Some people may discount this guitar because of the finish, and that would be sad for them because they'd be missing out.

Nancy Wilson

This California girl, born in 1954, is one half of the legendary band Heart. Her sister Ann pled with her to join in the early 1970's, as the band began taking off in the Pacific Northwest. It took some cajoling but eventually Nancy took her guitar talents to be with her sister and legends were born. She started out as an acoustic guitar player, but eventually moved to electric.


Her inspirations were Paul Simon and Jimmy Messina. She told Guitar Magazine in 1979 that one hand was glamorous, and the other, a worker with broken nails. She is especially known for “Crazy on You.”

Nancy-Wilson---Heart---1978

Famous Guitarists with

Small Hands - #3


Cut to the chase, the things that put this on the list of best electric guitar for small hands is the 24" scale length and the C-shaped neck with a 9.5" radius.


This is a very comfortable guitar. It's also a Fender and has all the wonderful features that come with that.


Two MP90 single coil pickups give you a fat, but edgy sound typical of Fender. The master volume, tone control and 3-way pickup switch let you alter and play with your sound until you get it exactly where you want it.


There's a lot of range here for fine tuning your sound and style.


And if you're still looking for your style, this guitar will help you find it.


This Mustang certainly knows its roots in the rebellious music underground from which it was birthed. This affordable version of a grunge classic will not let you down.

Pros:  This guitar has such easy dimensions that it's going to appeal to a wide range of people looking for a smaller guitar.


Cons:  Would love to have a 5-way pickup switch, just to push this guitar to its limits.


This classic electric guitar has all the trademark Fender features with a vintage look and feel, and of course, the legendary single coil pickups.


The maple 9.5 inch, C-shaped neck and fingerboard with tall, narrow frets, is ideal for small hands.


However, the distance between the frets is the same as for a regular sized electric guitar, which means the scale is the same and the frets are spaced the same distance apart. This is the one thing that can make it a little more challenging for smaller hands.


This Squier has really achieved that classic Fender sound, due in no small part to the trio of Fender-Designed Alnico single-coil pickups.


There's also a classic tremolo bridge (whammy bar) for all your favorite string bending action.


If you have small hands and want all the glory of a classic Strat, this guitar is a great choice.

Pros:  I have to admit to loving the classic Strat and this version is really true to form, even if it doesn't have every feature to cater to small hands.


Cons:  The standard fret distance and scale might still make this less than ideal for guitarists with short fingers.

Paul Simon

Songwriter and guitarist, Paul Simon was born October 13, 1941. He gained commercial success with an act he formed in 1956 with Art Garfunkel called Tom and Jerry, which later took over as the world-famous Simon and Garfunkel. He has won 16 Grammys for both solo, and collaborative songs, and is known on guitar for his expert, nimble finger stylings despite having small hands.  Simon has made a huge impression on music aficionados for his relatively unsung guitar work including that on the Simon and Garfunkel Live 1969 album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and Graceland.

Paul Simon

Famous Guitarists with

Small Hands - #4


This is another slam dunk by Squier to bring a classic Fender Stratocaster to the next generation.


This 22.75" scale, 20 fret, Mini-Strat is designed for kids and beginners, but it is not a toy. The quality would be suitable for an adult to play, if the size of the guitar is right.


The small hand accommodation of a C-shape neck with 9.5" radius almost seems standard, but this has a nice, smooth rosewood fingerboard.


The nut width is a modest 1.6". Definitely catering to guitarists of all ages with short fingers.


Three single coil pick-ups keep the classic Fender Strat sound and don't skimp on tonality and function.


This Mini Strat is fun and lively and will satisfy anyone's inner rocker.

Pros:  If this guitar is the right fit, it's a great little guitar that's easy to play.


Cons:  Might be a little too small for some, so watch the size. If you can handle a larger scaled down Strat, I'd look at the Vibe 50's or the Short Scale Strat (both above).


This Fender Duo Sonic has an easy 24" scale, a C-chaped neck and 9.5' neck radius make it perfect for guitar players with small hands. But there is nothing small about what you get from this guitar.


Seriously, this is one of those guitars that doesn't always get a lot of notice, but delivers like a workhorse.


The Duo Sonic has a string-thru-body hardtail bridge that is great for both sustain and stability. Of course, that means no whammy bar. If you're a tremolo lover, you're better off with one of the Strat variations we've featured here. 


You've got 2 versatile single coil pickups, the classic Fender choice, that work across a wide range of genres. This guitar is a bit of a chameleon in that it adds style and vigor to whatever genre of music you apply it to.


Personally, I love the orange color. It keeps this guitar looking sharp on stage. Shows you've got some flash goin'.  However, other colors are available.


This is one of those guitars that's fun to play and will just be there for you. Keep this one close.

Pros:  Love the color and styling of this guitar.


Cons:  Despite the orange, it's a very understated guitar that might not be taken seriously - until you start jammin' on it, of course. You and the Duo Sonic may have to prove yourselves.

Randy Rhoads

Born December 6, 1956, in Santa Monica, CA, he was one of the most influential heavy metal guitarists ever. He was a legend even before his tragic death in 1982. He formed Quiet Riot with Kevin DuBrow in the 1970's and the two made the group somewhat famous, in Japan, because they didn’t quite hit it in the LA club scene. Frustrated with the lack of success in Japan, he tried out for Ozzy Osbourne and was hired not for his playing but because he looked the part. He was known for incorporating classical music into his guitar playing - most notably the six-string work on “Crazy Train.”

Randy Rhoads

Famous Guitarists with

Small Hands - #5


First off, this Jazzmaster is well-suited for guitar players with small hands. The slim, C-shaped neck is comfortable and the smooth laurel fingerboard make for a slick and enjoyable playing experience. Your fingers will fly over the fretboard and they will thank you for it. The classic Fender-style tall and narrow frets make playing easier as well.


This Fender-designed, Squier re-imagining of the Fender Jazzmaster is perfectly in line with the traditional Jazzmaster tone which they achieve by a dual, single-coil pick-up configuration.


You've also got the vintage tremolo system with whammy bar. Nail those string-bending effects to complete the classic sound, or push the large tonal range on this Jazzmaster to blend the old and new.


The nickel-plated hardware and vintage headstock design only reinforce the classic nature of this guitar, so don't worry about the Squier name that some disparage.


This is classy, quality guitar at a reasonable price and it's great for people who need a small scale electric guitar for small hands.

Pros:  Good quality, classic tones and looks like it should belong to Judy Jetson.


Cons:  So classic it may not keep up as well with some more modern music styles.

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5 Features That Make Playing Easier With Small Hands

1

Neck Features for Small Hands - Width and Depth

Small-Hands-Playing-Electric-Guitar

The width and depth of the neck of the guitar is one of the most important considerations. This is the part of the guitar that needs to rest comfortably in your hand while allowing your fingers to reach the top E-string – ideally it'll be a thin neck.


If the neck of the guitar is too wide or broad, it can result in excessive stretching of the fingers, cramping in the hands, as well as difficulty sliding the hand up and down the neck. You want to look for small neck electric guitars. C-shaped is the best guitar neck for small hands.

2

Neck Length for Guitarists with Small Hands

A longer neck can make it much more difficult to reach the end of the neck and hit those more complicated notes. People with smaller hands often struggle with neck length as it also affects the distance between the frets. The greater this distance, the more the fingers will need to stretch.

  A shorter neck with a shorter scale length is a better fit for smaller hands.
Electric-Guitar-with-Hands

3

Action Height on Guitars for Easier Handling 

Best-Electric-Guitar-for-Small-Hands-Fender-Strat

The action of a guitar refers to how far the strings are placed from the fretboard. The further the strings are located, the harder they will need to be pressed in order to create the right notes. Strings can be brought closer to the fretboard in most types of electric guitars to accommodate small hands. This is called lowering the action of the guitar to make it easier to play. Ironically, many guitarists with larger hands also prefer a lowered action, as it makes the instrument much easier to play.

However, the action can only be lowered so far before problems start occurring. Fret buzz, where the string touches the fret after being played, is one of the most common problems that come with lowered action. It is often better to select a guitar that initially has lower action for small hands, than to have the action lowered too far on a regular, or larger sized guitar. Players who fingerpick often lower the action as well.

4

Scale Length for Guitarists with Small Hands 

The scale length of a guitar is measured from the nut of the guitar to the center of the 12th fret and then multiplied by two. Shorter scale lengths are preferable for smaller hands. However, the scale length does affect the tone of the guitar.


Generally, longer scales provide a more vibrant tone with a bell sound, whereas a shorter scale will produce a much warmer tone. Sometimes guitarists use mildly heavier gauge strings on guitars with shorter scale lengths to compensate for the effects of the difference in string tension.

With-a-Little-Practice

With a Little Practice...

5

Guitar Body Options for Players with Small Hands

The size of your hands may not seem important in selecting the body size of an electric guitar, but it can impact the overall comfort and dexterity that can be achieved while playing. People with smaller hands often also have smaller bodies, and/or shorter arm length. In these cases, it may better to choose a guitar with a smaller body size.

Best Electric Guitar for Small Hands

There are two options available for selecting an electric guitar for smaller hands. First, you can choose one that is 3/4 size - which is basically just a smaller version of a full size guitar with a shorter scale, neck and fewer, or narrower, frets.


 But you may be able to do great with just a 'normal' but smaller bodied electric guitar, like the Fender Duo Sonic or the Fender American Jaguar, (both above).

Guitar Techniques for Small Hands

Pinky – Good or Evil

Your pinky is always going to be an issue. The question is whether it's going to save you or make you curse because of its weakness.


With small hands your pinky needs to play a more vital role than for those players who assign it more auxiliary functions. You should train your pinky to substitute for your ring finger in difficult fingerings. Don't do this for every chord – but be prepared to employ your pinky if you need to. It's not the way the books will teach you, but when you've got small hands, sometimes you need to make your own rules.

 

Also, as demonstrated in the video below, it's okay to cater to your pinky when you're putting it to work. Give it all the help you can. You're asking it lot of it, the least you can do is treat it nice.

Capos

Use 'em. Don't apologize. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for it. Use a capo whenever you need it to make your life easier. One of the things this does is temporarily shorten the scale of your guitar. Sometimes you need it, and sometimes you don't.

Impossible Chords

No matter what you do, no matter how much you practice, there might be some chords that your hands just physically won't reach. You have a few options here.


One possibility is to play a simplified version of the chord. There's no shame in this. Guitarists of all ability levels simplify chords sometimes. Just do what you need to do and keep playing.


Another option is to skip some of the notes in the chord. You'll lose a little on sound, but hopefully this will keep you from running into songs that are just unplayable. Call it artistic interpretation. Or maybe you can find a slightly different voicing that keeps the spirit of the original but that you're able to reach. Don't worry, just do your best.


You could also move the fingering higher on the fret board. You might lose some of the bass, but playing an octave up is a perfectly legitimate alternative if that's the only way you're going to make that chord.

The Thumb

Keep your thumb in the center of the neck behind the fret board, and not any higher. This will give your hand maximum reach around the guitar neck radius while remaining stable and, eventually, comfortable. This takes a little time and training to get used to, but once you get used to it, you'll find it a very useful assist.

BW Close up of Hands on Acoustic Guitar

I know it's an acoustic guitar, but they're doing a really good job of demonstrating proper thumb placement.

FAQ - Best Electric Guitar for Small Hands

What's the best electric guitar for small hands?

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a good electric guitar for small hands, including searching out those with thin necks, short necks, and guitars with a short scale.


You can also consider small body electric guitars. Since solid body electric guitars don't rely on a resonance chamber, you're not losing anything by playing one with a small body.


In reviewing the field of best electric guitar for small hands, I have come up with 3 favorites:

If a smaller, more accommodating electric guitar makes playing easier and more fun, then it might be a great solution for you - there are a lot of very cool guitars that fall into this category.


Which electric guitar has the narrowest neck?

Ibanez is known for having a narrow neck across most of its electric guitar line. Models like the Ibanez GRGM Solid-Body Electric GuitarIbanez GRGM Solid-Body Electric Guitar are great for shredding, or if you have small hands. Likewise, some of the small body Fenders, like the Fender Mustang 90, or Fender Duo Sonic, have comfortably narrow necks for fast playing.


Are smaller guitars easier to play?

If you have a small to average build, and find full size guitars bulky or uncomfortable, you will probably find smaller guitars easier to play. Or if you have small hands, or short fingers, a smaller guitar will be easier to play. For a taller person, or someone with large hands, smaller guitars are not a good option. The best option for everyone is for each individual to find the kind of guitar that fits them, large of small.


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3 Comments

  • christopher

    September 12, 2019 - 5:29 am

    Great tips. Thanks

  • Martin rodrigues

    April 22, 2020 - 8:37 am

    What is best guitar width and depth of neck the smallest and a light body…

    • lyds42

      April 22, 2020 - 9:00 am

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks for posting this question.

      The safest bet for the smallest is probably the Squier by Fender Mini Strat that I share above. If you don’t want to go that small, I’d recommend looking hard at the Fender Duo Sonic or the Fender Mustang 90. They both have small bodies and are easy to handle. Most of the specs are in the reviews on this page.

      Hope this helps. Let me know what you end up with and how you like it.

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