One of the first steps to buying a guitar, or buying someone else a guitar, is figuring out what size you need to get. Nothing is worse than buying a guitar for someone and finding out that it’s too big or small!The majority of guitars will only come in full size, but most beginners guitars will come with options for sizes. This is especially prevalent in nylon string classical guitars. The four main sizes you see in beginner guitars are 1/4 size, 1/2 size, 3/4 size and full size (4/4). Keep in mind, what is the right size for you may not be right for someone else.
Quarter size guitars are best used by the youngest players, there isn’t really a lower limit but I would imagine not many will be playing under the age of 4!This size, for a nylon stringed guitar, is generally around 30” from one end of the body to the top of the neck. Often this size works well up to around the age of 6 or 7, but of course some children will grow more than others so some may find that this size lasts up until 8. Others may need to move to a bigger size much quicker.Not all manufacturers will offer a ¼ size guitar, though some good options are the models by Rocket and 3rd Avenue.
Half size guitars are more suited for taller 5 year olds upwards til about the age of 8 or 9. This size of guitar is often around 34” in length, it can be helpful to think of the arm span before jumping into buying guitar, as general age guides can be very vague and don’t cater to the individual, so it’s helpful to take some measurements!½ size guitars are fairly common with companies that offer beginner guitars.
Three Quarter Size
Three quarter size guitars are great for 8 to 12 year olds and are often around 36” in length. Though I have known some adults who are shorter or who have a smaller arm span that have used ¾ size guitars. While there aren’t as many available in the higher price ranges, if you are someone who is quite small then a ¾ size can last for life!Aside from full size, ¾ size guitars are the most common size. So you can get lower budget guitars by 3rd Avenue and Rocket, as well as more expensive models, such as those by Admira and Yamaha.
Full size guitars are generally said to be suitable for around 12 upwards. I started on a full size instrument at 12 and I’ve taught people who have done the same, but some would suggest 13+. As previously mentioned some people may not grow as quick or will naturally b e shorter, meaning that sometimes a full size guitar might still be too big at age 12.With full size guitars there are very few restrictions in terms of brands and models, almost every guitar company will base their smaller models off a full size model. So you can shop around most brands, such as 3rd Avenue in the lower price ranges, Valencia in the sub-£100 price range and, Admira and Yamaha if you’re looking to spend more than £100. But of course with full size guitars you can spend anywhere from £30 to £3000+ if looking at the broader range of guitars!Generally it’s always preferable to sit down with a guitar and see how it feels before buying, then you can check if everything feels comfortable and isn’t out of reach. As this isn’t always possible, I hope that this rough size guide will have been of some use!