6 Best Electric Guitars for Small Hands
If you’re learning to play guitar, it’s important to do so on a guitar that’s the right size for you. Just as some players complain: “My fingers are too fat!”, many players feel at a disadvantage due to having small hands.
The good news is, lots of guitars are made with the small-handed player in mind! Whether you’re shopping for yourself or a child, there are certain things to consider. Below are our top 6 picks for the best guitars for smaller hands with a full buyer’s guide below. To make it easy for you, there are pros and cons for each instrument, along with ratings for build, sound, features and price. Updated March 30th 2020
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- 1 The 6 Best Electric Guitars for Small Hands
- 2 1. Fender Squier ¾ Size Mini Strat
- 3 2. Fender Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Jaguar
- 4 3. Fender Squier Bullet Mustang
- 5 4. Ibanez GRGM21GB-BKN Micro Electric Guitar
- 6 5. Epiphone Les Paul Express Travel-Size
- 7 6. Jackson JS Series Dinky Minion
- 8 What to Look For in a Guitar for Small Hands
- 9 Things to Look For in an Electric Guitar
- 10 Summary
The 6 Best Electric Guitars for Small Hands
1. Fender Squier ¾ Size Mini Strat
Squier by Fender are renowned for their beginner-friendly, good quality instruments. This Mini Strat is a ¾ size guitar, designed for children, with all the versatility you’d expect from a higher-end guitar. There’s a C-shaped neck, made of maple for a bright, ringing sound. The scale-length is 22.65” and the frets are medium-sized. Just like full-size Strats, this guitar has 3 single-coil pickups, with a 5-way pickup switch. The only downside to this Strat is the lack of whammy-bar, but for all its features, this is negligible. It could even be seen as a positive; whammy-bars can be very tempting for little hands to get distracted with.
- It’s reasonably priced and of reliable, decent quality.
- The 22.75” scale length and C-shaped neck make it easy for small hands to handle
- Three single-coil pickups, with 5-way switching make it versatile and controllable.
- There are just two knobs: volume and tone.
- Despite the Strat shape, there’s no whammy bar nor place for one.
- It can come with quite high action, so you might need to get it set up for ultimate playability.
2. Fender Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Jaguar
Though not exactly small, Squier’s Classic Vibe ’70s Jaguar is suited to small hands. The scale-length is 24” – small enough to class as short-scale, and the C-shaped neck is comfortable. The fingerboard is made from Indian Laurel, which is extremely smooth and rich-sounding, whilst the Poplar body gives the guitar a rich resonance. This isn’t the cheapest product, but it’s of professional quality. There’s also excellent controllability, with rhythm/lead switches, tone buttons and master tone and volume knobs.
- Though it’s a full size guitar, the scale length is 24”, making it easy for small fingers to navigate
- There’s a whammy bar!
- Rhythm/lead switches, tone buttons, master tone and master volume knobs make it extremely versatile and controllable.
- Though the scale-length is small, the neck might be a bit wide for very small hands.
- The full-size body might be a bit much for very small players.
- It’s not the cheapest guitar out there
3. Fender Squier Bullet Mustang
Best for the money
Another offering from Squier, the Bullet Mustang is perfect for players – young and old – who like to play indie rock music. It’s a full-size guitar, but with a lightweight feel that prevents fatigue. The neck is C-shaped, making fretting easy and the frets themselves are medium jumbo. The fretboard is rosewood, making it smooth to play and rich in sound. There are also two humbucker pickups on this guitar. It’s beefy, rich and best played LOUD!
- A budget-friendly, reliable and good looking guitar.
- C-neck makes it suited to small hands.
- Smooth, Rosewood fingerboard gives a warm sound and ease of playability.
- There are just two pickups and two knobs: volume and tone.
- It’s more suited to indie music than other styles.
4. Ibanez GRGM21GB-BKN Micro Electric Guitar
The Ibanez BKN Micro is similar to Jackson’s Dinky Minion. With humbucker pickups, low action, a 22” scale-length and a rocky aesthetic, it’s perfect for the young shredder. However, adding to this guitar’s shred-ability is the fact that, despite its length, there are 24 frets! This is great for those who want to hit the highest notes.Like the small Jackon and Strat, there’s no whammy-bar, but did I mention there are 24 frets? This is a compact beast.
- 22” neck makes it easy for small hands to move around.
- Humbucker pickups give a punchy, rocky sound.
- Despite its small size, there are still 24 frets! Great for shredders.
- Low tension neck adds extra ease to fast playing.
- It’s more suited to heavy rock/metal players than other genres.
- Unlike similar models of a bigger size, there’s no whammy bar or place for one.
5. Epiphone Les Paul Express Travel-Size
The Epiphone Express Travel Size Les Paul combines a smooth, rosewood fingerboard with a maple neck. The scale-length is 22”, and a comfortable neck, similar to a C-shape. There are humbucker pickups, to give it a rich, chunky sound that wouldn’t be out of place on a bigger Les Paul. However, this guitar has the added benefit of a smaller body size. It will suit children and travelling adults alike, as the distinctive Les Paul tone isn’t compromised due to the down-scaling. Though there’s only one tone control and one volume control, both are surprisingly responsive and you can get a wide variety of sounds out of this little, pretty baby.
- 22-scale neck makes it easy for small fingers to navigate and reach.
- A smaller-than-usual, Mahogany body combines excellent sound with portability.
- Humbucker pickups offer a beefy, blues-rock sound.
- The Rosewood fingerboard offers a rich sound and smooth playability.
- There are only two controls: master tone and master volume.
- It’s a little more expensive than some other, beginner-friendly options.
6. Jackson JS Series Dinky Minion
Jackson’s Dinky Minion is perfect for young rockers/metal heads. Its striking, bright appearance (you can get it in neon green!) will turn heads for sure and it’s also easy to play. The scale-length is 22.5, with a maple neck to achieve a bright, ringing tone. The fingerboard is made of Amaranth, which encourages speedy fingers and the action on this guitar also comes low as standard. Again, there’s no whammy-bar, but you much is possible on this little guitar. The humbuckers give it a beefy, in-your-face sound that matches its appearance. It’s a beaut’.
- Budget-friendly and cool-looking.
- Humbuckers give it a chunky, rock sound.
- 22.5” scale length and low action make it easy to play.
- It’s geared towards heavy metal players, with less versatility than the Strat.
- There are just two knobs: volume and tone, and two sets of humbuckers.
What to Look For in a Guitar for Small Hands
There are a few things to look out for when you’re catering for small hands. The main 4 are fret size, scale length, neck shape and body size.
When fret size is mentioned, what it’s referring to is the height of the fret itself – the metal part. Larger frets can be easier to play, as you don’t have to press as hard to fret the strings. This can be well-suited to small hands. A run down of the four most common fret sizes is below:
Jumbo frets are the biggest of the frets. These are .110” wide and .055” tall. The width and height both make it easy to play sustained notes, and bend the strings, without pushing down too hard. They’re popular, but don’t suit everyone. Some players prefer to touch the fretboard more as they play.
Medium jumbo frets are a little smaller. At .105” wide and .036” tall, they will suit the player who wants the best of both worlds: a tactile playing experience combined with an easy-to-achieve sustain.
Vintage jumbo frets are taller than medium jumbos, but not as wide. They measure .102” wide and .042” tall. They’re almost as easy to bend as jumbo frets, but you feel the fretboard a little more.
Narrow talls are the smallest frets. They’re very popular on full-size guitars but might not do small-handed players any particular favours. They’re .090” wide and .055” tall, matching jumbo frets in height!
One of the most important things to consider when shopping for the smaller-handed guitar player is scale length. This is the distance between the nut and the saddle. Generally, anything above 25” is considered a long scale-length, whilst anything lower is considered to be a short-scale guitar. Many of the guitars you’ll find in our guide below, go lower than 24”.
Another factor in a guitar’s playability is the neck shape. There are 3 popular shapes:
The C-Shape neck is usually the preference of those with smaller hands. It’s also the most common neck you find today. These necks are shallow, rounded and easy to hold.
V-Shape necks are a bit more old-school. They’re generally more suited to players with larger hands, who like their thumb hanging over the fretboard. Based on the fact you’re reading this article, I’m assuming that isn’t you.
U-Shape necks are also better suited to players with large hands. They’re like C necks, but thicker. Players who prefer their thumbs to be on the back of the neck (not hanging around the side) tend to be more comfortable with U-Shape necks.
As well as fret-size, scale length and the shape and comfortability of the neck, the body size is also a factor. Of course, small hands don’t necessarily mean a small frame, but if they are co-existing, it’s worth going for a smaller guitar. ¾ size guitars have smaller bodies as well as a smaller scale-length than full-size guitars. There are also ‘travel guitars’ that offer small bodies. Again, these are usually combined with the smaller scale-length appropriate for small hands.
Things to Look For in an Electric Guitar
As well as looking for these, small-hand-specific requirements, it’s important to bear in mind some things that you’d consider before buying any guitar.
Different woods produce different sounds. There are also high-quality woods, and those of lower quality.
Common woods you can expect to find for a guitar’s body are maple, mahogany, alder, poplar and basswood. Maple offers a bright sound, whilst mahogany will produce richer tones. Alder produces a strong, full sound. Poplar and basswood are the budget-friendly options. They’re okay but neither do much to add character or resonance to the guitar’s sound.
You’ll usually find rosewood, ebony or maple fingerboards. Rosewood and ebony both offer smooth playability with a rich sound. Maple offers a brighter tone, which suits players of indie or cutting pop music.
How Many Knobs?
Are you looking for something simple, or would you like the ultimate controllability? Many full-size guitars have two tone knobs, a volume knob and a pickup selector. Smaller guitars often just have one or two knobs. If you want more, it’s worth looking out for that.
Something that makes a real difference to a guitar’s playability is its action. This is the distance between the strings and the fretboard. A low action makes it easier to push the strings down. Some players prefer the feel of higher action, but it makes playing undoubtedly harder. This is something that’s adjustable, so don’t panic if your guitar doesn’t come with your desired action from the get-go.
Something else that has a huge impact on your guitar’s sound is the built-in pickups. There are two main kinds: single-coils and humbuckers. Single coil pickups offer a bright, twangy, treble-based sound, common in rock and pop. Humbuckers have a beefier, chunky sound that’s preferred by heavy metal and blues-rock players.
As you can see, there are a number of things to look out for when guitar shopping for someone with small hands. The most important things to remember are: look for a C-shaped neck, jumbo or medium-jumbo frets, potentially a small body size and high quality woods like maple or mahogany.
If you’re looking for something versatile and small in size, the Fender Squier ¾ Size Mini Strat is the best all-rounder here. Metal-heads can rejoice at the Dinky Minion by Jackson and also Ibanez’s GRGM21GB-BKN Micro.
The most professional product here was the Fender Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Jaguar. It might not suit those with a smaller body, but it is light, with a small-scale that suits smaller hands and it also has excellent controllability.
Other options were the Epiphone Les Paul Express Travel-Size, which plays blues-rock beautifully, or the Fender Squier Bullet Mustang, which offers excellent value for money.
Whichever guitar you decide to go for, rest assured that with a small-scale, comfortable neck and petite body, you’re making it as easy as possible for small fingers, and those they belong to, to learn how to rock.