Guitar players with small hands often find the design of regular guitars to be awkward to play. Therefore, manufacturers offer short-scale guitars for more comfortable playing.
There are different aspects, such as neck thickness, shape, and radius.
However, these are all things that we can get over. A couple of weeks of playing on a certain neck shape or thickness and you will get used to it. On the other side, things aren’t that simple with scale lengths, as the span from your point to little finger won’t get bigger. Okay, it will for a bit, but definitely not enough.
Therefore, a short-scale guitar seems like an obvious choice. Things are pretty simple. The shorter the scale is, the shorter the distance between frets is. In practice, this means frets are much easier to reach.
A good thing to know is that there are all kinds of guitar designs on the market, with various scale lengths, so you can easily pick your perfect one. Still, keep in mind that there are two types of short-scale guitars you can find. On one side, there are so-called 3/4-scale guitars, which are 3/4-size of regular guitars. Logically, as the whole guitar is smaller, the scale is shorter as well. On the other side, regular-size guitars come with different scale lengths and many of them are shorter than average. This can be a great choice if you don’t have that small hands, as regular-size guitars are far superior compared to 3/4-scale guitars in terms of tone.
A 3/4-size guitar usually measures around 22-23 inches, while a regular-size guitar usually features a 25.5-inch long scale. Of course, there are many instruments that are somewhere between and that may be the best choice for you. In that case, you won’t have to compromise that much in terms of tone quality.
Our Pick of the Best Short Scale Guitars!
1. Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor
If you’re not on a tight budget, it’s always best to stick to renowned companies and Taylor is one of the biggest names in the business. Taylor BT2 is a 3/4-size guitar. A 22.75” scale is something that ensures comfortable playing but keep in mind that the neck is also quite slim, so you will definitely like playing on it. The sound is amazing and, unlike most small-size guitars, Baby Taylor doesn’t lack tonal range that much. Speaking of the tone, a good thing to know is that the guitar features a mahogany top, which provides a little bit darker sound compared to most acoustic guitars. Hardware and electronics are also great on this guitar.
The price tag may be considered as the biggest drawback. Yes, it is a Taylor guitar, but still a 3/4-size guitar, which is primarily designed for youngsters. You can get a pretty decent full-size guitar for the sum.
2. Martin LXM Little Martin
Whether you have small hands or just need a small-size guitar that is perfect for travels, the Martin LXM Little Martin is definitely something you should check. Martin and Taylor are rival companies, so it’s no wonder that Little Martin has a lot in common with Baby Taylor. These are both 3/4-scale guitars, with a small body and travel-friendly design. Still, there is a couple of differences.
First of all, the scale is slightly longer (23 inches), while the wood choice is more common in this case. You can count on a spruce top, which in practice means a little bit brighter sound compared to Baby Taylor.
The overall quality is very high, as well as the price. Still, there is a couple of more drawbacks, other than a high price tag. One of the issues is a top split, which has been reported several times. Heavy gauges are the probable reason.
3. Fender MA-1
As one of the biggest guitar manufacturers in the world, Fender has a wide range of products in the offer, which includes 3/4-scale guitars as well. The Fender MA-1 offers decent overall quality, particularly in terms of sturdiness and durability. One of the key features is X-bracing, which prevents potential problems that heavy gauges can cause. That is an obvious advantage, compared to the two aforementioned models. Also, the price is far more affordable.
On the other side, the tone is rather decent than great, but that seems logical, considering the price tag. You can count one a well-balanced tonal range, decent in all frequency registers. It wouldn’t be fair to ask for more, considering the affordable price.
4. Yamaha JR1 FG
Yamaha JR1 FG is one of the most popular small-size guitars for a reason. The Japanese manufacturer is well-known for the great quality of its products in all price ranges, including affordable guitars like this one. The hardware features amazing quality, including super-stable tuners. In terms of base design characteristics, this is a typical dreadnought guitar, with spruce top and meranti back and sides. Of course, you can count on a rosewood fingerboard, as well as on one of the shortest scales around, which measures just 21.25 inches.
The Yamaha JR1 FG is a well-built guitar, but it also sounds very good. The tone quality is more than decent. This is what you get when you combine a good tone with the great build quality, one of the best guitars in the price range, an amazing value for the money.
5. Taylor Academy 12E
Having small hands doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stick to 3/4-size guitars. The Taylor Academy 12E is a perfect example. This is a full-size guitar, with a beautiful concert-style body that delivers an impressive tone. The guitar looks great and sounds great, but it is also very comfortable to play.
You will like to hear the fact that the scale is 24.75-inches long. It is longer compared to 3/4-size guitars, but also slightly shorter compared to most full-size models, which usually measure 25.5 inches when it comes to scale length, which is a quite notable difference. The guitar also features a pretty slim neck, while the nice armrest is another thing that makes this guitar very playable.
The Taylor Academy 12E also features Taylor ES-B electronics, which work great. All in all, a great guitar in all aspects.
6. Yamaha FS800
Pretty much everything that comes from Yamaha sounds great, from concert pianos to supercar engines. The Yamaha FS800 is no exception. This beautiful piece of instrument sounds amazing and although it isn’t necessarily a short-scale guitar, it is something you should definitely try at least.
With a 25-inch scale, this instrument is just a little bit smaller compared to average full-size guitars. It is bigger than other guitars on the list but tone-wise, it is excellent. With a combination of typical concert-style body and solid spruce top, you can count on a wide range of great tones. Also, we should mention the X-bracing top design, so you may use all kinds of gauges without any worries. Once again, Yamaha offers an impressive value for the money.
As you can see, the offer of short-scale guitars is pretty generous in today’s market. Keep in mind that these are just our suggestions and that there are many more products in the offer around. In any case, you shouldn’t have bigger troubles to find the one that feels most comfortable to you.
Still, keep in mind other characteristics. The most comfortable guitar may not be able to deliver satisfying tone quality, so try as many guitars you can. Different types of woods may have a critical impact on your final decision, as well as many other parts of the guitar, such as hardware, electronics, etc.