Going guitar shopping either for yourself or for your loved ones and choosing the right one can be very taxing as you can find a range of sizes and shapes like a small guitar, large guitar, Ukulele, Halfie, Parlour, and more. Learning the guitar is a rewarding hobby that can be a lot of fun, provided you pick the appropriate guitar that suits you. Let’s go through all the details related to guitar sizes that will help you make an informed decision before purchasing a guitar.
Types of Guitars
Before jumping into learning about guitar sizes, it is advised to know about the different types of guitars available in the market. There are thousands of guitar variants available, but there are literally three main types.
- Classical Guitar
These are similar to acoustic guitars but are relatively smaller in size and have a wider neck. The strings of this guitar are made from nylon material that produces a distinct sound that may not be as impactful as your steel-strung guitar. However, classical guitars are excellent for beginners since the nylon strings are thicker and hence less straining on your fingertips than steel strings. The wider neck helps for players who have particularly large hands. They are relatively budget-friendly, but the drawback is lesser sound and not ideal for strumming chords.
- Acoustic Guitar
These guitars are made up of steel strings and make a much brighter and louder sound when compared to classic guitars. They are excellent for strumming chords and hence popular among beginner guitar players of a certain age. The strings are a bit sharp and may be uncomfortable for beginners and hence ideal for seasoned players with callus hands and better strength.
- Electric Guitar
It is tough to generalize electric guitars as the size and shapes are irrelevant for the sound produced. They differ from acoustic and classic guitars in the fact that they can produce sound without an external amplification device. Except for some jazz guitars, these have no cavity and are made from solid wood. The sound is produced from the conversion of magnetic energy to electrical energy. By tweaking the signal, a variety of sounds can be produced, which is not possible in other types of guitars. Electric guitars are relatively smaller compared to acoustic and classic and are ideal for most ages and heights.
Parts of a Guitar
There are 10 parts of a guitar:
- Headstock: It is the top of the guitar where tuning pegs are placed
- Body: It is the main part of the guitar. It is large and hollow for an acoustic and solid for an electric guitar
- Neck: It connects the body of the guitar with the headstock and contains frets and fingerboard
- Strings: There are six strings in standard guitars and made up of steel and nylon.
- Frets: These are hard metal strips that combine with strings and create a musical note
- Pegs: They hold the strings in tension at the headstock and aid in tuning
- Nut: It is located at the end of the neck and provides the endpoint for the string vibration.
- Fingerboard: It is the top surface of the neck of the guitar where frets are installed
- Bridge: It sits on the soundboards where the other end of the strings is locked. These help to transmit string vibrations to the soundboard.
- Pickguard: It protects the soundboard from getting scratched.
Image sourced at https://www.ducksters.com/musicforkids/guitar_parts.php
How to Measure a Guitar
It is crucial to know the correct way to assess the guitar size to make valid comparisons. There are two methods to gauge the guitar. In the first method, the guitar size is measured from end to end and given as guitar length. The second way is known as scale length, which is the distance between the guitar bridge to the nut. Although knowing the total length is handy, scale length takes precedence when choosing the right guitar size.
- Total length: The straight distance from headstock tip to end of the body is termed the guitar’s total length. Generally, the total length of the guitar can vary from 36 inches and exceed even 40 inches. However, it is not an excellent measurement method as many brands have a longer or shorter headstock that can throw off measurements and confuse you in assessing the right guitar size.
- Scale Length: It is better to measure guitar sizes as it affects the feel of the guitar when you play it. Even a minuscule difference in scale length can change the guitar output sound creating an odd feeling. The scale length of a guitar is the gap measured from the guitar’s bridge to its nut.
Guitar Size Chart based on brand and Scale Length
|Type of Guitar||Scale Length in inches and mm|
|Fender Mustang, Fender Jaguar||24″ (610mm)|
|Paul Reed Smith Santana Signature Series of Guitar||24.5″ (622mm)|
|Most Epiphone and Gibson models||24.75″ (628mm)|
|Most PRS, Danelectric, and Carvin models||25″ (635mm)|
|Most Fender, Schecter, Squier, Steinberger, Ibanez, Jackson, and Kramer models||25.5″ (648mm)|
|Most 7 string models of Schecter, Ibanez, and Jackson||26.5″ (673.2mmm)|
|‘Baritone’ guitars and also for 8 and 9 string guitars||27-30″ (686 – 762mm)|
|Standard bass guitars||34″ (863.6mm)|
Different Guitar Sizes
Guitars come in varied sizes, but there are some common sizes preferred which might be the right guitar size for you, specially for acoustic guitars. Let’s look at some of them below from the small guitar to the large guitar in ascending order.
The ukulele is a small guitar, also called a Hawaiian guitar. It is ideal for small children, adults with small fingers, and people who don’t like carrying heavy guitars around. These guitars produce very trebly sound and are tuned differently, unlike normal guitars, and are not ideal for students who want to make the transition to full size guitars. The different guitar sizes available are 21 inches (53 cm), 23 inches (58 cm), 26 inches (66 cm), 29 inches (74 cm), and 30 inches (76 cm).
Image sourced at https://yousician.com/blog/ukulele-sizes
At first glance, the guitalele resembles a Ukulele guitar but is slightly bigger in size and has six strings. It combines the carrying ease and versatility of a standard-sized guitar and is hence quite popular among guitarists. However, these are tuned higher than full-size guitars and confuse regular guitar players trying to use them. These small guitars’ sizes generally range between 27 to 28 inches in length.
- Half-size guitar
As the name suggests, the half-size guitar is half the size of a regular guitar and highly liked by children who struggle to play with bigger-sized guitars. It can be tuned similar to regular guitars. The majority of half-size guitars are 34 inches and ideal for young children from 5 to 8 years.
- Three quarter-size guitars
The Three quarter-size guitar is a bigger guitar than half size and ideal for 8-12 years old children. Also, the same guitars can be used by teens as it is available in both electric and acoustic forms. The scale length for these guitars ranges from 20 to 24 inches. It is an excellent choice for beginner guitar players as reaching the upper frets, and lower tones are much easier than large guitars. Also, these guitar sizes are available in acoustic and electric types.
- Adult guitar: The Parlor Guitar
The parlor guitar is the smallest of the full-sized acoustic and electric guitars. Therefore, it is the best choice for making the transition from ¾ size to full-sized guitar. Most women guitar players prefer Parlor guitars as it sits low on the knee and possesses a lovely tone. The size of these guitars ranges from 36 inches to 38 inches.
- The Auditorium Guitar
The auditorium guitar is a large guitar similar to Dreadnoughts but curvier and less thick. Hence, they are easier to carry and play music. These guitars have a deeper bass sound due to their bulk but feel lighter and easier to control. They are ideal for guitar players who need a big sound but are not heavily built. The guitar sizes for these guitars can be up to 40 inches.
- Classic shape: Dreadnoughts
A dreadnought is a large guitar famous for creating big sounds in the auditorium. Guitar players love this guitar for its adaptability as it offers an excellent balance of bottom end with highs which allows it to cover a lot of ground when it comes to playing complex notes. The size ranges from 36 to 40 inches.
- Jumbo Guitar
A jumbo guitar is the largest of all the acoustic guitars and has a large warm tone. Generally, heavy-built guitar players prefer this guitar as it is bulky and needs a lot of strength to complete a concert. The guitar size starts from 36 inches and can go over 40 inches.
- Full-size electric
There are many guitar sizes available for electric guitars, but the size doesn’t go beyond half-size, three-quarter-size, and full-size in most cases. It is because the sound generated from electric guitars comes from amplifiers and not from the guitar body. The electric guitars are made from solid wood and are generally thinner than acoustic guitars. The size varies from 24 inches to 38 inches.
Now we have realized that buying a guitar needs more background work than assumed. There are a lot of guitar sizes available in the market, and it’s not a one size fits all situation. The driving factors for purchasing the right guitar are your age, height, sound requirements, guitar proficiency, budget, feel, etc. It is advised for beginners to look at the guitar size chart and make a thorough assessment before buying their favorite musical machine.
You can also enhance your child’s musical journey through BYJU’S FutureSchool’s School of Music. We offer guitar and piano lessons that help children discover their passion for music. Our research-based curriculum provides a customized learning experience with 1:1 attention, fun projects, and live performance that boosts your child’s confidence, creativity, and technical skills.
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