How To Find The Best Guitar For Small Hands


No man wants to admit that he has small hands.

But some people (including some very manly men) have picked up a guitar and realized that their hand size made it difficult to play.

If this has happened to you, you may have wondered:

“Are my hands too small to play the guitar?”

Well, I used to wonder this as well, but I have good news:

There is no such thing as hands that are too small for the guitar!

So, how can you overcome small hands and find the best guitar to suit your needs?

Today, I’m going to show you some tips that really helped me, as well as 5 of the best guitars for small hands that are currently on the market.

Let’s get you playing again!

I Admit It: My Hands Are Rather Small

Greg K

“I am a small-handed man.”

Like I said, this is not a thing that men really want to admit.

But, I confess: I am a small-handed man.

When I first started to learn the guitar, I realized that my fingers were constantly in pain.

And not just the pain of gaining callouses on my fingertips (that’s normal).

I had pain all through my fingers and in my wrist, as well.

I felt like I was constantly stretching my hand beyond its normal function. And since I was learning guitar at the age of 41, my joints let me know that they were not okay with the situation.

It didn’t take me long to decide that I needed to find a solution to this problem.

Small Hands Don’t Have To Get In The Way Of Playing Guitar

Thankfully, after doing some research, I realized that there was a way around the problem of small hands.

In fact, guitars come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are naturally smaller because of the type of guitar; others are built smaller for the specific purpose of fitting people who are smaller.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking:

You don’t want to buy a guitar for kids, or a pink guitar, or one that says Taylor Swift in pretty lettering on it.

I understand, trust me.

What Do Small-Handed People Need In A Guitar?

There are plenty of options for men with small hands who just need a somewhat smaller guitar!

So, what do you need to be looking for?

  • Smaller Neck Width And Depth

Basically, the problem that people with small hands find on the guitar is that they can’t get their fingers all the way around the neck of the guitar in order to fret the strings properly.

You may notice that the notes are coming out weak, or you experience pain in your fingers and hand after playing.

The solution to this is finding a guitar with a neck that is somewhat smaller in width and depth.

While smaller-built guitars will typically include the feature of a small neck width, there are many normal-sized guitars that also have a shallow neck.

Basically, you’ll be looking for a flat C shape on the back of the neck. A neck radius that is somewhere between 9” and 15” is a good starting point for small hands.

  • Smaller Fret Size

Something else you’ll have to look at is the distance between the frets. Obviously, it’s easier to play certain chords and lead riffs when the frets are closer together.

However, there is a possible downside to small frets. Remember: the frets get smaller as they go up the neck. So, if the lower frets are already small, you’ll have to squeeze into some pretty tight spaces in the higher frets.

Ultimately, it will depend on what kind of guitar playing you really want to do. If you’re planning on doing a lot of high lead guitar, it would be better to stick with normal-sized frets.

Acoustic vs. Electric: Do Small Hands Have A Choice?

It may seem obvious to many that electric guitars are generally smaller and easier to handle than acoustic guitars.

Their necks generally have a smaller width, and their bodies are normally much thinner than an acoustic guitar.

However, does that mean that people with small hands can’t play acoustic guitars?

Not necessarily.

Although acoustic guitars are generally larger than electric guitars, there are many types of acoustics that are actually built for people with smaller hands.

And I’m not just talking about guitars for kids.

In fact, you could buy what’s known as a 3/4 acoustic guitar. While the actual size in inches may vary between manufacturers, a 3/4 guitar is smaller than a full-sized guitar, and many adults with small hands use them.

So really, whether or not you buy an electric or acoustic guitar will depend on the style of music and tone that you prefer.

My 4 Top Tips For Guitarists With Small Hands

Here are some quick tips that along with right guitar should help you out.

I managed to figure these out over the years, and I learned a few from other guitarists as well.

  • Practice Using Your Pinky Finger

The pinky finger is often the most underutilized asset that a guitar player with small hands has.

Likely, you’ve found that when you’re instructed to use your ring finger in a certain chord or lead riff, you have to make a monumental effort to stretch until you can fret the right note. This will eventually lead to pain, and also slows you down quite a bit.

The solution? Make better use of your pinky finger!

This is not as easy as it may sound: the pinky finger, although it gives you better reach, is normally the weakest finger on your hand.

It will need some training in order to get into shape, but in the end you can use your pinky to replace the ring finger in many difficult chords and lead riffs.

The more you practice with it, the more useful it will be.

  • Make Sure Your Wrist Is Where It Belongs

Sometimes, those of us with small hands tend to bend our wrist more than we should, trying to allow more space for our fingers to move.

I did this when I first started playing guitar, and it wasn’t long before I had terrible pain in my wrist after playing.

I learned that you have to be careful how you place your wrist, and that your posture in general can actually improve the range of motion in your fingers.

How do you get that perfect guitar posture?

First, make sure that your elbow is crooked, as if you were holding a baby.

Next, keep your wrist just slightly bent inwards. Never bend your wrist beyond what feels comfortable for you.

When your arm and wrist are in the right position, it will help your overall range on the fretboard, and you’ll avoid unnecessary pain.

  • Get To The Higher Frets

If you’re having trouble fretting chords on the first and second frets, try using a capo. This will move everything up, getting you to those higher (and narrower) frets.

Basically, if you don’t have a guitar with narrowed frets, the higher frets will be your best friends. Try to stick to them as much as possible, finding the sounds that fit your fingers’ range the best. The capo won’t be the solution for every song, but it will help in many cases.

Just like singers try to find songs that fit their vocal range, guitarists with small hands can find songs that are easier to play for their hands. This could also mean leads and riffs that are played higher on the fretboard.

  • Include Finger-Stretching Exercises In Your Routine

This is probably the most boring out of my tips, but also the most useful. If you don’t regularly stretch your fingers, they will never adapt.

Using the riffs or chords that you find difficult, practice stretching your fingers out.

While you want to be balanced and not cause yourself unnecessary pain, this will help get your fingers to a point where they can play those difficult chords and riffs more naturally.

The 5 Best Guitars For Small Hands

Ready to find the right guitar for your small hands? Here’s a list of the top 5 guitars currently on the market that were practically made for you.

  • Yamaha APXT2EW

This 3/4 size guitar is a fantastic option for those with small hands. With a fretboard radius of 15”, it is extremely easy for even the smallest of hands to get around.

Also, it is the only acoustic-electric on our list, meaning that you can have the best of both worlds with this little guitar. It is made of solid tonal wood, and features a cutout at the higher frets which will be extremely helpful for hitting the highest notes on your guitar.

Pros:

  • Comes from a reliable name
  • Perfect neck size for small hands
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Very reasonably priced
  • Excellent quality pickups
  • Solid wood body and neck

Cons:

  • The edges of the fretboard are somewhat sharp
  • Tuners will likely need replacing
  • Epiphone SG-Special Electric Guitar

If you’re looking for a slick electric guitar to rip up, this Epiphone is your answer. It is built from solid mahogany, and has a great sound.

This Ephiphone has a great fretboard radius of 12”, which is slightly larger than the Yamaha, but still very manageable for small hands. It’s also extremely affordable for the quality, coming in at under $200.

Pros:

  • Built from solid wood
  • Comes in Cherry Red or Black
  • Really good action and sustain
  • Great design for true rock stars
  • Excellent size for smaller hands
  • Extremely affordable

Cons:

  • May show wear somewhat faster than a more expensive model
  • Martin LXM “Little Martin”

The Little Martin is a great quality guitar from a classic brand that has never brought anything but excellence. And this 3/4 acoustic is no different.

Although the body is laminate instead of solid wood, the tone is still very nice. This also makes the Little Martin stand up to all kinds of conditions, making it the perfect guitar for on-the-road.

This guitar is the most expensive on our list today, coming in at just over $400, but the price is shown in the quality.

Pros:

  • Excellent tone
  • Ambidextrous
  • Fretboard size is excellent for small hands
  • Durable build for travel and use outside of home

Cons:

  • Somewhat lacking in volume
  • Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 50's Stratocaster

The Squier might still be held back by its ugly reputation as beginner’s junk, but this guitar is truly breaking out the mold.

This solid maple guitar is truly a thing of beauty, and anyone who is a fan of the Fender Strat style is definitely going to love this piece. It even comes with the classic sunburst finish, along with other colors.

Its fretboard has a 9.5” radius, which is slightly larger than some of the options we’ve seen but is still a very reasonable size.

Pros:

  • Very rich tone
  • 9.5”radius fretboard
  • Excellent finish quality
  • Classic look with modern add-ons

Cons:

  • You may need to replace the tuners and/or pickups
  • Fender MA-1 3/4-Size Steel String Acoustic Guitar

For a 3/4 size guitar, this Fender can truly stand up to its big brothers in terms of tone and performance. The satin finish is perfect for this type of guitar, and the fretboard is the perfect size for small hands.

Pros:

  • Reliable guitar from a well-known brand
  • Perfect size for small hands
  • Excellent tone and volume for a 3/4 guitar
  • Holds tune very well
  • Very affordable price

Cons:

  • More suited to beginners

So, What Is The Best Guitar For Small Hands?

We’ve gone through some of the best guitars, all of which have rather reasonable prices for the quality that they provide.

But which one is best for you?

This will depend greatly on whether or not you want to play acoustic or electric.

For an acoustic, I personally recommend the Little Martin.

This guitar comes from a very well-known brand of guitars, and features truly excellent quality. The price tag may be a bit higher than the Fender and Yamaha acoustics we looked at, but it is definitely worth it for the quality. And, being a 3/4 guitar, it’s the perfect size for your small hands!

As for an electric, I recommend the Fender Stratocaster Squier.

I know these guitars have had a bad rep in the past, but it’s amazing to see how much they’ve improved over the years. The fretboard is also very well suited to small hands, and it produces a very nice sound.

In the end, small hands don’t have to stop you from playing the guitar well.

All you need is an instrument that is truly suited to your needs.

Thanks for reading.

Greg