There are several different guitar types, and there are even more guitar sizes. Understanding guitar sizes is part of understanding the guitar as an instrument. The different guitar sizes are important, as the size of the instrument significantly affects how playable the instrument is for different people. There are several guitar sizes, and they all have their own characteristics.
Guitars are available in 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 7/8, and full size versions. Full size classical guitars are 38” – 40” in total length, acoustic guitars are 40” – 41” in total length, and electric guitars are 38” – 42” in total length. Guitar length is usually determined by its type and manufacturer.
Guitars are made in different sizes to be more accessible for people of different sizes, including children. The size of a guitar determines how it feels to play, how versatile the instrument is, how many frets it has, and even the way it sounds. Let’s explore the different sizes of guitars to better understand the instrument overall.
Guitar Sizes Chart
Before we delve into the wide world of guitar sizes and their various characteristics, it is best to first identify the various guitar sizes and how big they are in comparison to one another.
This will provide us with a broad understanding of the different guitar sizes as we explore their individual attributes. There are more guitar sizes than many people realize, and they are all unique in their own way.
There are some small variations regarding exact size measurements, but these figures are generally accepted as accurate enough to decide which guitar size is best for individual guitarists.
The scale length of the instrument is an important figure here as well, as it describes the playable length of the guitar strings. This indicates how versatile the instrument is, how many frets it can be equipped with, how the instrument can be tuned, and what the instrument will sound like overall.
This chart outlines the different guitar sizes and scale lengths that are used as the standard by most guitar manufacturers internationally.
|1/4 Size Guitar
|1/2 Size Guitar
|21 1/16 inches
|3/4 Size Guitar
|23 – 24 inches
|7/8 Size Guitar
|24 1/5 inches
|Full Size Guitar
|38 – 41 inches
|24 – 26 inches
There are some other smaller guitar-like instruments that many consider being good options for someone looking for a guitar even smaller than a 1/4 size guitar, but these instruments are not technically guitars, so we will not include them in this chart.
Now that we have a good overview of the different standard guitar sizes, let’s explore each on a deeper level to identify some of their characteristics, what they are like to play, and what they sound like, and help you to determine which instrument is best for you.
The 1/4 Size Guitar
The 1/4 size guitar is the smallest type of true guitar. There is no guitar smaller than this, but there are string instruments that function in a similar way that can be made to a small size.
The size of the 1/4 guitar is the smallest a true guitar can be, as for an instrument to be called a guitar, it must meet specific criteria and standards. This is the smallest instrument that meets these standards.
The 1/4 size guitar is the instrument choice for small children. This is the primary focus of this guitar, as it is far too small to be seriously played by anyone over the age of five or six years old.
These guitars are very small and therefore have the least number of frets, the smallest string spacing, the smallest scale length, and the smallest sound. These guitars are not big enough to resonate at a loud volume and are also, therefore, very quiet in comparison to other guitars.
With that said, 1/4 size guitars do not have a very good overall tone. The small size of this instrument means that they generally sound very thin and empty, with no richness or tonal clarity. These instruments are not meant to sound great, they are just meant to be playable for small hands, but they really do not sound very good if that is something that matters to you.
1/4 size guitars can be made as electric or acoustic versions, as all other guitar guitars can, but there are very few electric versions of this guitar. Electric guitars made to this size are very difficult to play, as the tension of the strings becomes very tough for small hands to use.
Therefore, most 1/4 size guitars are acoustic instruments. In fact, most of these small guitars are made to be classical-style nylon string acoustic guitars, making the instrument as easy to play as possible.
Small children who will play a guitar of this size need strings that are easier to play. Nylon strings provide this by being softer than other guitar strings and their ability to stay in tune at low tensions.
The 1/4 size guitar is ideal for children under the age of four years old and is the ideal instrument for the young, soon-to-be musician in your life.
The Pros And Cons Of The ¼ Size Guitar
Now that we have properly identified some of the attributes of the 1/4 size guitar, let’s clearly define the most important pros and cons of this size guitar.
The pros of the 1/4 size guitar include:
- The 1/4 guitar is perfect for small children.
- The 1/4 guitar is usually very affordable.
- The 1/4 guitar is very easy to play.
- The 1/4 guitar is easy to learn.
The cons of the 1/4 size guitar include:
- The 1/4 guitar does not sound very good.
- The 1/4 guitar is not good for anyone older than five or six.
- The 1/4 guitar is not versatile.
- The 1/4 guitar has a very limited note range.
- The 1/4 guitar does not come in a wide variety.
- The 1/4 guitar is usually only a nylon-string acoustic guitar.
The 1/2 Size Guitar
The 1/2 size guitar is the second-smallest of all true guitars and is not significantly larger than the 1/4 size guitar. This instrument is also intended for use by children but is a step up in size, playability, and sound quality from the smaller version of the instrument.
This guitar is very similar to the smaller 1/4 size guitar in almost every regard. There are both electric and acoustic versions of the 1/2 size guitar, but most versions of the instrument are made as nylon-string acoustic instruments.
This enables the guitar to be tuned with lower string tension, and the nylon strings are soft enough for children’s hands to play without causing too much discomfort.
These guitars are ideal for young beginners and provide the perfect stepping stone for progress onto a larger instrument as the young guitarist grows.
The 1/2 size guitar is among the most difficult guitar sizes to find. Most guitar stores will hold the 1/4 size and the 3/4 size in stock, but the 1/2 size version of the instrument is an in-between size that is not as widely used.
This guitar size is good for players who are between four and seven years old. Anyone older than seven should be using a larger guitar size.
This instrument is very playable and is designed to be as easy to use as possible for children. The 1/2 size guitar can sound very nice if it is well made and built from good-quality materials.
Many guitar and music teachers consider this to be the perfect guitar size for even very young children, as they will not grow out of it as quickly as they will the 1/4 size guitar, which means that it will last the child longer, and kids that are slightly too big for the 1/2 size can still find use in it, even though the guitar is a little too small.
The Pros And Cons Of The ½ Size Guitar
The 1/2 size guitar is a good in-between size instrument for kids that are too small for a 3/4 size and too small big for a 1/4 size guitar.
This instrument is entirely unique among guitars, and it is important to understand some of its pros and cons before purchasing it.
Let’s identify the pros and cons of the 1/2 size guitar.
The pros of the 1/2 size guitar include:
- The 1/2 size guitar is very easy to play.
- The 1/2 size guitar is ideal for young children.
- The 1/2 size guitar sounds better than the 1/4 size guitar.
- The 1/2 size guitar is a good beginner instrument.
- The 1/2 size guitar is very comfortable in the hands.
The cons of the 1/2 size guitar include:
- The 1/2 size guitar can be difficult to find.
- The 1/2 size guitar can sound bad if it is not well-made.
- The 1/2 size guitar is usually outgrown very quickly.
- The 1/2 size guitar can be hard to play for older kids.
The 3/4 Size Guitar
Apart from the standard full size guitar, the 3/4 size guitar is the most common, popular, and widely used of all guitar sizes and types. This guitar size is very easily available everywhere guitars are sold, and this instrument is very close to sounding as good as regular guitars.
The 3/4 size guitar is still meant for kids, but smaller adults can use this instrument to great success as well. This guitar size is easily available in both electric and acoustic versions, and this is the first size in the range of guitars that makes sense to be made in steel-string acoustic versions as well.
These guitars are only 2” smaller than some full size guitars, which means they can be made with a good scale length, providing the correct tension for steel strings, making these guitars easily playable regardless of the guitar type they are made into.
Electric, acoustic, and classical versions of 3/4 size guitars are all very playable, and they usually sound quite good as well, especially if they are made with good materials and with a high standard of quality.
Some professional guitarists even like to use 3/4 size guitars for particularly difficult musical lines, as the smaller size of the instrument makes reaching notes that are far apart and challenging to play much easier to reach. This allows guitarists to use complex chord shapes and scale voicings that would be otherwise too difficult or altogether impossible to play.
This guitar size is very commonly available and is a favorite among beginner guitarists. Almost every large guitar brand produces some version of a 3/4 size guitar, but there are also brands that only built this guitar size, specifically to keep the cost of the instrument as low as possible.
3/4 size guitars are more affordable than gull size guitars; there are plenty of bags and cases available for them, they are great to play, they can sound very good, and they are very versatile as well.
These guitars are ideal for any guitar player over the age of seven and are ideal for kids under the age of twelve years, but as we have already learned, these guitars are widely used by adults and professional guitar players as well.
The Pros And Cons Of The ¾ Size Guitar
The 3/4 size guitar is among the most useful of all guitar sizes but does come with some cons as well. Most guitar players are familiar with this guitar size and have used it at some point.
Let’s identify the pros and cons of the 3/4 size guitar.
The pros of the 3/4 size guitar include:
- The 3/4 size guitar is more affordable than full size guitars.
- The 3/4 size guitar is highly versatile.
- The 3/4 size guitar is available in all guitar types, including electric, acoustic, and classical versions.
- The 3/4 size guitar is very easy to play.
- The 3/4 size guitar makes playing difficult stretches and chords much easier.
- The 3/4 size guitar is widely and easily available.
- The 3/4 size guitar is ideal for children and for smaller adults.
- The 3/4 size guitar is useful for professional players as well.
- The 3/4 size guitar has a wide note range.
The cons of the 3/4 size guitar include:
- The 3/4 size guitar is less versatile than a full size guitar.
- The 3/4 size guitar has a smaller note range than a full size guitar.
- The 3/4 size guitar can sound bad if not made well.
- The 3/4 size guitars are not always made to a high level of quality.
The 7/8 Size Guitar
This guitar size is much lesser known than all of the others. Not all guitar players realize that this size option is available, and not every guitar player has used one. However, the 7/8 size guitar has its place in the range of guitar sizes and has been proven to be useful by the guitarists who need them.
This guitar size is somewhere in between the 3/4 guitar and the full size guitar. It is the closest size to full size, and it bears almost all of the same features and functionality as a full size guitar.
However, the overall smaller size of this instrument makes it easier for some guitar players to use, and it makes certain techniques, playing styles, and methods easier to execute.
The strings are tighter on this guitar due to its smaller size and shorter scale length, which makes it great for drop tunings, and it is a guitar that is ideally suited for guitarists with slightly smaller hands.
With that said, this guitar is very versatile and has almost the same note range as a regular guitar, but the smaller size means that it possesses fewer frets, and it, therefore, has a narrower range as well.
There are acoustic, classical, and electric guitar versions of the 7/8 size, but it is very difficult to come by, and very few guitar retailers carry them in stock.
This guitar is very niche compared to the other sizes and is only sought after by a very small number of guitar players. There is no real reason that anyone who wants a 7/8 size guitar cannot play a full size guitar, as the sizes are only different by an inch in some cases, and they feel almost the same to play.
However, the slightly smaller size of the 7/8 does make some things easier to execute well, and it can be more comfortable for some guitar players.
Everyone who can play the guitar larger than a 3/4 size guitar can play this instrument, and it can sound great if it is made well. Every version of the 7/8 guitar sounds almost the same as its full size counterpart and is an ideal instrument for most genres, except those who require extended-range guitars.
If you find a 7/8 guitar, give it a try for yourself. You may find it to be far more comfortable than a full size guitar, depending on your size.
The Pros And Cons Of The 7/8 Size Guitar
The 7/8 size guitar is unique among all guitar sizes. There are significant pros and cons that come with this instrument size that every guitarist who considers using one must remember.
The pros of the 7/8 size guitar include:
- The 7/8 size guitar is very comfortable to play.
- The 7/8 size guitar makes big stretches and difficult chords easier.
- The 7/8 size guitar sounds as good as full sized guitars.
- The 7/8 size guitar is very good for drop tunings.
- The 7/8 size guitar is a very stable instrument.
- The 7/8 size guitar is almost as versatile as a full size guitar.
The cons of 7/8 size guitars include:
- The 7/8 size guitar is very difficult to find.
- The 7/8 size guitar is not comfortable for all guitarists.
- The 7/8 size guitar has fewer frets than full size guitars.
- The 7/8 size guitar can be very expensive.
The Full Size Guitar
the end of the list of guitar sizes brings us to the regular, standard, full size guitar. The terms ‘regular’ and ‘standard’ are often used when describing these guitars, but the reality is that there is more variation among full size guitars than any other guitar size. Full size guitars vary in their exact measurements, and each guitar manufacturer has its own definition of full size.
The full size guitar is the most versatile and varied of them all. This instrument is among the most versatile of all string instruments and is available in different lengths, types, and even with different numbers of strings.
Every guitar manufacturer produces full size guitars that vary in overall length, as the length of the instrument drastically impacts the way it feels to play, how it can be tuned, how stable it is, and the sound it produces.
Full sized guitars are available in every type, including electric, acoustic and classical, but each type of full size guitar has its own standard length. Classical guitars are shorter than other full size guitars, acoustic guitars come in various sizes, and full size electric guitars vary in dimension simply because they are made in a very wide range of shapes.
These guitars are the standard in the world of guitar types and typically range from 38 inches to just over 41 inches depending on their intended use, the type of guitar it is, and the manufacturer of the instrument.
The full size guitar is the most versatile and sounds the best of all guitar sizes. Every guitar player is familiar with this guitar size, as it is suitable for any player who is older than the age of twelve, as is the standard in the music industry.
Always take your time when exploring full size guitars, as there are thousands of different models to examine. Always be sure that you find the right guitar for you when you are looking for a full sized version.
The Pros And Cons Of The Full Size Guitar
The last section here is to identify the important pros and cons of the full size guitar. Note that there are far more pros and cons that will be on this list, simply because there are so many different full sized guitars, but this list is typical for all full size guitars.
The important pros of full size guitars include:
- Full size guitars are very easy to find.
- Full size guitars are very versatile.
- Full size guitars sound great when made well.
- Full size guitars have a very wide note range.
- Full size guitars can be very stable.
- Full size guitars are many in many variations.
- Full size guitars are excellent for every musical genre.
- Full size guitars are very comfortable to play.
- Full size guitars are suitable for every guitarist who is big enough to hold them.
The cons of full size guitars include:
- Full size guitars can be very expensive.
- Full size guitars can be too large for some people.
- Full size guitars can be overwhelming due to variations and versatility.
- Full size guitars can be difficult to play if not well maintained.
- Full size guitars are too big for kids to learn on.
- Full size guitars require far more maintenance than other guitar sizes.
There are five main guitar sizes, each suited for a different age group and for different sized guitar players. Every guitarist will eventually build up to playing a full size guitar, and many guitarists begin their journey on the instrument with a smaller guitar, making all guitar sizes as important as each other.
Finding the right guitar size for you can be a challenge, but it is important. A guitar that is the correct size for you will be far more comfortable to play than any other, which will help you to progress as a musician far more quickly than otherwise.