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Best Acoustic Guitars for Small Hands

Best Acoustic Guitars for Small Hands

Acoustic guitars can be tricky to start learning, but they are especially difficult for those with small hands. Buying just any random acoustic guitar can result in a difficult or impossible time learning to play.

As a private lesson teacher of over 10 years, I know exactly how frustrating it can be for kids or adults with small hands to learn to play on a normal sized guitar or guitar neck. I always recommend the students to buy a model that caters to their needs while still providing high quality.

That’s why I did some research and built this list of the best acoustic guitars for small hands. These are guitars I recommend to my students, and I recommend to you. Which one you should get depends on the features you’re looking for and the price.

You can decide to go look for one on your own, and you may be just fine. But if you or your child overstretches their hands a lot while playing it can cause some following problems:

  • Carpal tunnel
  • Weak finger muscles
  • Slow guitar learning
  • Pain in wrist, elbow, and shoulder
  • Frustration resulting in quitting the instrument

These reasons are why I decided to help by making this list. Read on for more details.

#1 Martin LX1 Little Martin

Martin makes this guitar smaller for better fitting the smaller hands of some folks, but they still pack it full of high-quality features. At only a little higher than average price, you get a 3/4-sized guitar neck with great materials and Martin design.

Read on for more details, but a quick look at the specifications follows:

  • Mahogany back and sides
  • Sitka Spruce top
  • Indian Rosewood fretboard
  • 3/4-sized body
  • Stratabond Neck
  • Six Strings
  • 23 in. scale
  • 69 in. neck width

The big thing you’re looking at is the dimensions of the neck. With a smaller width and 1.60 in. at the nut, you can expect this to be much easier to handle.

The other features still give it a great sound and style. Mahogany back and sides give the guitar a richer, more mellow sound with more middle and lower pitch resonance.

A Sitka Spruce top is one step up from the normal spruce top which already gives a clear, and classic acoustic guitar sound. With Stratabond neck material, you can expect the neck to be tough enough to last a long time without bowing from the strength of the strings.

Indian Rosewood makes up the fretboard giving the acoustic guitar a classy style. The guitar’s body dimension is a little slimmer than most acoustic guitars and the 23 in. scale length sacrifices some playing ability on quick playing. However, the great materials counteract this weakness to produce a good sound.

What we liked:

  • Affordable price for the Martin design quality
  • Big sound for a 3/4 guitar
  • Fits small hands perfectly
  • Great style and design
  • Light for easy travel or carry

What we disliked:

  • Connecting joints may pull apart over time
  • More vulnerable to changes in air moisture

You can check out the sound of the Martin LX1 yourself in this video.

#2 Yamaha APXT2

The Yamaha APXT2 is a good balance of affordability and quality for the 3/4-sized guitar. The smaller size is helpful for people with small hands, but they still offer some decent features in the design of the guitar.

Read on more for detail on the features, but a quick look at the specifications follows:

  • Spruce top
  • Meranti back and sides
  • System68 pickup electronics
  • Built-in tuner
  • 6 strings
  • 1 11/16 in. neck width
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • 3/4-sized body
  • 22 3/16 in. scale length
  • Cutaway design

The neck size matches that of the Little Martin, but the smaller scale length of 22 3/16” is more helpful for small arms as well. The main drawback of a smaller scale size is that you have few noes to play for solo playing and the frets end up being a little closer together which makes your fingers have to press closer together when playing chords.

A spruce top is standard and offers clear and bright sound. The meranti wood back and sides are still a step above baseline models, but it is far inferior to other woods like mahogany. It still provides a strong sound, but meranti lacks the depth of resonance especially in the low sounds.

Perhaps the most interesting feature (especially considering the lower price) is the addition of the System68 electronic pickup system. That makes this guitar an acoustic/electric model. In my experience, the System68 system isn’t anything special when it comes to sound customization, but it does do a great job at keeping the guitar’s sound when run through an amp.

If you wanted something a little bit with this guitar, you can always pick one of the many options available. Style choices include: black, natural, tobacco sunburst, dark red burst, figured natural, light amber burst. You can always upgrade any of these styles to an exotic wood top for a richer sound and a little more money.

What we liked:

  • Size is great for smaller people, smaller hands, or a travel guitar
  • Addition of electronic systems and tuner is nice
  • Decent sound for small size
  • Lower action on strings makes it easier to play for newbies
  • Very affordable

What we disliked:

  • String tuners aren’t great; the strings lose pitch fairly easily
  • Neck shape was a little uncomfortable

#3 Oscar Schmidt OG1FYS

Oscar Schmidt designed the 3/4-sized OG1FYS acoustic guitar to bring some high-quality materials while still being an affordable guitar. The smaller size works well for young students or people with small hands.

Read on for more details, but a quick look at the specifications follows:

  • 3/4-size body
  • Catalpa back and sides
  • Spruce top
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Mahogany neck
  • 6 strings
  • Neck width 1.5 in.
  • Scale length 24 in.

Digging into the features we can see this affordable acoustic guitar comes with some nice design features. The shorter scale length of 24 in. makes it easier to play up and down the fretboard and doesn’t stretch your arm out too far.

For a 3/4 guitar, the neck width at the nut is small at 1.5 in. Most full-sized guitars are around 1.75 in. in neck width. This makes the OG1FYS easier to hold, but you may have some problems playing some of the trickier chords.

A spruce top offers a clear, bright sound which is why it’s a standard choice for many guitar tops. Catalpa isn’t a common wood for guitar building because (similar to ash) it requires for work in the construction process. It does result in a cheaper guitar while still giving some decent resonance although not as good as mahogany.

This acoustic guitar comes with no electronic hardware which results in more space for the vibrations to amplify the sound naturally. The guitar looks great and comes in several different colors with both a natural rosewood and engineered rosewood fretboard. The colors include natural, pink, transparent blue, transparent red, black, and flame yellow sunburst.

What we liked:

  • Very affordable
  • Extra-narrow neck and 3/4-sized guitar is great for small hands
  • Stays in tune
  • Great look and style
  • Solid and durable construction

What we disliked:

  • Sound is strong but a little too bright and tinny

#4 Taylor 414 CE

The Taylor 414 CE is one of the best guitars on this list. The Venetian style cut-away and Grand Auditorium size make this easier for those with small hands to use. Its main drawback is the high price, but if you want an awesome guitar that’s a little easier for small hands to play then this may be the guitar for you.

Read on for more details, but a quick look at the guitar’s specifications follows:

  • 5 in. scale length
  • 75 in. neck width
  • Sitka spruce top
  • Ovangkol back and sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • 6 strings
  • Ebony fretboard
  • Chrome-plated tuners
  • Expression System 2 electronics
  • Grand Auditorium shape
  • Venetian cutaway

If you only look at the dimensions, it may seem like this isn’t a great guitar for small hands. The scale length is 25.5 in. and the neck width is 1.75 in. which is standard for a full-size acoustic guitar.

But it’s not just about the size, it’s also about the neck shape and the design of the guitar. The Grand Auditorium design and Venetian cutaway make it easier for fingers to handle. It feels like the neck is smaller when, in reality, it’s just the optimal shape of the neck.

The materials that make up the guitar are top-notch as well. A Sitka spruce top gives a clear, brilliant sound that projects (more than normal spruce) and the Ovangkol back and sides also draw out a rich, deep sound. The mahogany neck material is also a solid wood that resists weather and pressure problems that tend to warp necks over time.

The ebony fretboard looks great, but it also adds stability to the neck. With chrome-plated tuners, this guitar stays in tune even after you leave it alone for a few days.

On top of all these features which result in a great sound, Taylor also adds the Expression System 2 electronics for pickup and projection of sound. Most of the time, you lose something of the acoustic sound when plugging into an amp, but not with this system. It retains the purity of sound people enjoy from acoustic guitars.

What we liked:

  • Amazing sound even when using the electronic systems
  • Comfortable neck and easy to hold
  • Great construction keeps the guitar in great shape for a long time
  • Attractive stylings
  • Stays in tune for a long time
  • High-quality woods

What we disliked:

  • High price
  • Neck width is wider than most for people with small hands

#5 Yamaha FG JR1

Yamaha has a strong reputation for building affordable guitars that still have a good sound. The 3/4-size of this guitar helps with the small hand problem, and the low price makes it a great choice for younger players or those just getting into the guitar.

Read on for more details, but a quick look at the specifications follows:

  • 25 in. scale length
  • 69 in. neck width
  • 3/4-sized body
  • Spruce Top
  • Indonesian back and sides
  • Nato neck
  • Javanese rosewood fretboard
  • 6 strings

The size is really built for young players, but adults with small hands should have no problem with this guitar. The 21.25 in. scale length is much shorter than other guitars making it easy to reach down the neck. As a downside to this, you don’t have as many notes to play if you want to get into a solo or lead playing.

With a neck width of 1.69 in. at the nut, it’s thinner than full-sized guitars which is great for reaching small hands around the neck.

Spruce is a great top wood because it provides a clear, bright sound. Indonesian wood is fine, but it’s definitely the place where Yamaha saves some money. The wood lacks the resonance and depth of sound you get from a higher-quality wood like mahogany.

As a neck wood, nato is durable enough to do the job. Javanese rosewood is just a different looking rosewood for the fretboard. It does its job of looking great and supporting the stability of the neck.

Yamaha offers the FG JR1 in a natural and tobacco sunburst styles. You can also always upgrade to the JR2 for a little more money. That comes with a step up in the materials and sound.

What we liked:

  • Very affordable
  • Small neck and scale length is great for small hands
  • Spruce top works well
  • Strong construction

What we disliked:

  • Small sound
  • Lower quality back and sides
  • Look is only mediocre

#6 Taylor Academy Series 12 Grand Concert

Taylor is back with a guitar that has some great, high-quality features with a smaller, Grand Concert design that works well for people with smaller hands. The medium-priced acoustic guitar may be great for skilled players with smaller hands that want a guitar that’s just a bit easier to handle.

Read on for more details, but a quick look at the specifications follows:

  • 88 in. scale length
  • 69 in. neck width
  • Grand Concert body design
  • Sitka spruce top
  • Layered Sapele back and sides
  • Hard rock maple neck
  • West African Ebony fretboard
  • 6 strings

Compared with the Taylor 414 CE we see a lot of similar design features that are made more affordable where possible. For small hands, this guitar still works well with is smaller than average neck width and scale length. The Grand Concert body design also helps make it easier to manage for smaller-handed people.

Sitka spruce is a step up from solid spruce as a top wood. It provides a clear, strong sound. The layered Sapele back and side wood is good for resonance although it isn’t as rich or expensive as mahogany.

A hard rock maple neck provides comfort, great style, and durability in the neck which is the most often warped part of the guitar. As a fretboard, Taylor uses West African Ebony which is another tough and great looking wood. Both of these contribute to the durable design and classic look.

What we liked:

  • Easy to handle and play with low string action
  • Smaller neck is good for small hands
  • Good quality wood and construction
  • Strong, full-sized acoustic sound
  • Taylor has a strong reputation for good guitar making
  • Classic look

What we disliked:

  • Little bit higher priced than other options
  • Larger than a 3/4-sized guitar

The Academy Series 12 starts at 3:20.

#7 Martin LXK2 Little Martin

Don’t let the name “Little Martin” fool you. This medium-priced acoustic guitar is smaller, but Martin still does their best to offer some good features. This guitar may be best for young students who take the guitar seriously but struggle with small hands reaching all of the strings comfortably.

Read on for more details, but a quick look at the specifications follows:

  • 23 in. scale length
  • 69 in. neck width
  • Modified low oval neck shape
  • Travel size body
  • High-pressure laminate koa top, back, and sides
  • Birch laminate neck
  • FSC Richlite fretboard
  • 6 strings

The travel size body may not be as small as a 3/4 guitar, but it’s still small enough to help make it easier to play with small hands. On top of that, the 23 in. scale length and 1.69 in. neck width (which is smaller than the standard 1.75 in.) make it an easy playing choice for people with smaller hands.

The modified oval shape of the neck also adds to the easy playability. With the slim, natural shape, your hand can grip the neck easier and get better access to the strings.

Koa is a wood that generally has a strong sound that’s more balanced across the high, middle, and low ranges. If you compare it to mahogany, it isn’t as strong in the lower range of sound, but that’s really a matter of preference. Listen to the video below and decide for yourself.

The neck is made of birch which is strong, but not an ideal wood for the neck. It tends to warp a bit too much when exposed to humidity changes in my experience. If you’re careful to use a humidifier in your case, you should be fine though.

One of the unique features of this guitar is the Richlite fingerboard. In short, it’s a highly compressed paper that is meant to simulate the look, strength, and durability of ebony without the high price. Based on what people using it have said, it comes really close although they claim the sound isn’t quite the same.

What we liked:

  • Smaller size is great for small hands
  • Construction is strong
  • Easy to play and great string action
  • Sounds great with fingerstyle playing

What we disliked:

  • Tuners may not hold pitch well
  • Miss the lower range strength
  • Smaller sound

The Verdict

I hope you enjoyed looking at our list of the 7 best acoustic guitars for small hands. Overstretching your hand when playing can result in painful and chronic conditions.

Don’t give up though! All you may need is one of these guitars. The smaller neck and body sizes or the right neck shape can make all the difference.

My top choice for most people who complain about playing with small hands is the Little Martin LXK1. The LXK2 costs a little bit more, but I believe the upgrades you get aren’t quite worth the increase. It’s shape, size, price, and quality are best for beginners and intermediate players alike.

If you’re a bit more skilled, than you may want to opt for the Taylor 414 CE. It cost quite a bit more than the average acoustic guitar, but the features and sounds are excellent. You may not want to invest that much in a guitar at this point, but if you do, you won’t regret it.

Bonus: Quick tips for playing with small hands

Even when you pick a smaller guitar, you may still find that it’s hard to play. Here some quick tips that I’ve offered to students from ages 6-60 I’ve offered over the years:

  • Make sure you hold your guitar a little higher, right around the stomach area
  • Your arm should form a right angle to the neck of the guitar
  • Use grip hand exercisers
  • Be sure the fingers press on the strings with the tips of your fingers, not the pads
  • Don’t bend at the wrist so much, make your arm one smooth arc
  • Angle the neck up slightly, up about 10-20 degrees from horizontal

Every time you go to play, run through an arm and hand position checklist that includes these tips. Over time, it becomes a habit. You’ll look back and be shocked at the difference it can make.

What features to look for when buying an acoustic guitar for small hands

If you’re still having trouble deciding which of these may be right for you, there are two important features you need to consider:

  • Body size
  • Neck size

BODY SIZE

The easiest way to guarantee that the guitar you buy works for people with small hands is to go buy a smaller guitar. I often recommend a 3/4-sized guitar. These guitars are smaller all around and fit well.

The downside of these guitars is that they have a smaller sound and don’t have as much Lead playing (solo playing) range. Without as much body to resonate the guitar is going to sound brighter and more muted. With a smaller neck length, there are fewer notes to play if you get into solo playing.

Still, 3/4-sized guitars are my go-to recommendation for young students with small hands.

NECK SIZE

The other option is to look into the neck size of a full-sized guitar. When you look at the dimensions for neck sizes, you want to pay particular attention to the width.

The main pain that comes from overstretched small hands comes from the hand reaching over all six strings to form tricky chords. In the beginning, your fingers haven’t developed the strength to play chords well, let alone to push down strings you can barely reach.

The standard neck width is 1.75 in. If this feels too big, you can always look for the less common 1.61 in. size. It’s not seen as often, but they do exist.

On top of that, you may want to look at the neck shape. Some designs make the neck bulkier and harder to wrap your hand around. There are also designs that are slimmer but give an (almost) sharp dip where your hand goes which isn’t good if you’re pressing your hand against it to reach all the strings.

I recommend that you look at the descriptions and reviews of the neck shapes. It’s really down to the guitar maker and what they decide to make. Looking at these or trying them at a local store (you can always try them out at the store and then buy online if you find a deal) is the best way to see if the neck size is right for you.

Choosing a smaller neck on a full-size guitar doesn’t sacrifice sound projection or solo playing ability, but they just won’t ever be quite as comfortable as a 3/4-sized could be. However, you are likely to find as you get better than the stretching feeling isn’t as big a problem as you originally thought.

I recommend full-sized guitars with smaller necks for adults learning to play guitar with small hands.

Big Takeaway

Either option can work for those with small hands, and I have both represented on the list above. It ultimately depends on what the player needs and what they’re willing to sacrifice: sound or comfort.

A good compromise may be to start on a 3/4 but then graduate to a full-sized but smaller neck acoustic after you get better. Think about what you want; then go shop!

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