What is the standard guitar size? [Discussion & Update]

Busy thinking about what is the standard guitar size that you’d want to buy, rather than literally go out there and buy your guitar? We’ve listed down all the information that you need to know about guitar sizes and the purpose behind that along with pros and cons, making that decision easier & wiser for you. 

Is buying yourself a guitar more challenging than learning how to play it? Let’s make it easier. Comprehending the size of a guitar, we shall breakdown the guitar into 3 major parts,

Guitar anatomy:

·         The headstock (highlighted in green)

·         The neck (highlighted in red)

·         The body (highlighted in blue)

Two principle methods to measure the size of a guitar;

-Total length of a guitar

-The scale length of a guitar

Usually, the total length of a guitar could be anywhere from 36” to over 40”. As guitars come in numerous brands, different sizes, and various shapes, the total length is not a good measurement to compare. Full body length is not a “standard” way to measure guitars. Some brands manufacture guitars with long headstock while some others are shorter. And some guitar designs such as travel guitars do not have a headstock satisfying the portability. That doesn’t essentially make them less or more playable. In fact, the headstock doesn’t affect the tone or the feel of the guitar. But do you know what does?

It’s the scale length!

Even a small difference in the scale length could make a massive difference when playing and leaves a huge impact on overall playability. The longer the scale length is the more effort and tension to put to bring the strings to the pitch and a shorter scale length requires less tension, vice-versa. This also creates an effect on the string action. Long scale length helps you to get a lower string action with less buzz, while lower scale guitars need higher action when using light strings or-else the strings will buzz. You may, however, change to heavier gauge strings to achieve the same smooth results as long scale guitars on a shorter scale.

You measure a guitar’s scale length by measuring from the bridge to the guitar’s nut. A better way to measure scale length is to measure from the nut to the 12th fret, then double the distance.

According to general measurements, a full-sized guitar is around 38 inches long (96.5cm) with a scale length of around 25.5 inches (64.8cm), but this indeed varies from brand to brand and based on the guitar shape as well. 25’ or higher (63 cm) scale length is most likely a full-size guitar. Scale length below this range, ex: 20” or below, is considered as a scaled-down guitar such as ¾ guitars. 

Now, let me tell you a fun fact: There is no specific “standard guitar size” for the full-size guitars either.

Check out the four common guitar sizes:

4/4 is the full guitar size while the other three sizes are scaled-down guitars.

General guide on what size guitars for children:

·         1/4 sized or ukulele: up to 5 years old

·         1/2 sized: 5-7 years old

·         3/4 sized: 7-10 years old

·         Full-sized: 10 years and older

As a matter of fact, do not let the numbers mislead you. A ¾ guitar size in reality measures to a ⅞ compared to a full-size guitar, and the scale length is around 23”. 21” scale length in a ½ size guitar, and ¼ guitars usually come in 19” scale length. The particular length options are created to increase the playability for young players in certain age groups and those with shorter hands or small fingers. Smaller guitars make small hands easily reach higher notes without having to strain. The most common acoustic/classic guitar scale length is somewhere around 24.75” or 25.5” and the most common electric guitar (metal) scale length would be around 26.5” or higher.

Having that said, there are plenty of kids or those with small hands who play full guitar sizes like a pro. Yet, choosing the right size guitar is only going to increase the playability and comfort level.

Guitar shape plays a huge role in explaining a guitar size as well.

Few common guitar shapes:

The Smallest: Ukulele 

The smallest guitar you are likely to encounter. They produce a very trebly sound with almost no low end. This is a Hawaiian guitar with four strings. 

The Baby of the Bunch: Guitarlele

Nicknamed”Kiku”, very similar to a Ukulele but slightly bigger and has six strings. Produces a very similar tone to an ordinary guitar. 

The Halfie

As the name hints, half size of the generally accepted standard 4/4 size guitar. Tuning into a concert pitch.

The Tweens choice

¾ size, perfect for young players or petite adults. Both acoustic & electric guitars come in this size. 

Compact adult guitar: The Parlour Guitar

Female favorite but well repeated between everyone in general. Produces a mid range rich sound. 

Big tone & medium frame: The Auditorium Guitar

Slightly big body shape with a deep and a bassier tone.

The Classic shape: Dreadnoughts

Most loved size. Got plenty of low end.

Jumbo – Big Fat Beast

Large warm tone.

Electric: Come in both full size and ¾ , thinner body but a lot heavier compared to acoustics.

Bass:  Available in all sizes.
So, as you may have figured out by now, there are guitars with different types, sizes, shapes, and scale lengths, but there is no such norm or a thing called “standard guitar size”. Basically, the correct size is what goes with the player. Considering the player’s height and size there are plenty of options in the guitar world to choose from. Rather than just the size, what matters the most in a guitar is Playability & Tone.

Further Reading

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