How to pick the best type of guitar, based on your body type
The best type of guitar depends upon the size of your body
The best type of guitar depends upon something you already know a lot about: Your body size. If you're petite, chances are you'll want a petite guitar to match it. Same goes if you're a lumberjack.
If you knew a little bit about the measurements of guitars, picking a guitar for your body size is a snap. Let's get into these measurements, and then lets get you set up with the best type of guitar for your body size.
How big are your hands? [width of the neck at the nut]
If your hands are huge, chances are that you will need a guitar with a larger neck width. Vice versa if your hands are petite. The width of the guitar at the nut is the measurement you need to pay attention to.
First things first: Where is the nut on the guitar? The nut is the thick white bar that the strings look carved into, like in the photo below:
Here's some exact measurements of the width of the neck at the nut that might be good for you according to hand size:
Oversized-hands: Choose a neck width at the nut of 1-3/4 inches, or 44 millimeters or higher.
Average-sized hands: Choose a neck width at the nut of 1-11/16 inches, or 43 millimeters.
Petite-sized hands: Choose a neck width at the nut of 1-5/8 inches, or 41 millimeters or lower.
How long are your arms?
You can choose a guitar size to accommodate the length of your arms too. You can do this by paying attention to scale length.
What is scale length? If you measured the distance from the inside of the nut to the 12th fret and doubled that number, that's the scale length of a guitar.
Oversized arm length: Try out guitars with a scale length of 25 inches or higher.
Average arm length: Try out guitars that have a scale length between 24.5 inches and 25 inches.
Petite arm length: Try out guitars that have a scale length of 24.5 inches or lower.
How much girth do you have?
Choosing a style of body of guitar based on how much girth you have can be done easily.
There are three basic styles of guitar body: Solid body (electric, like Fender Strats), Hollow body (acoustic & acoustic electric, like Gibson Hummingbirds), and semi-hollow body (electric, mostly like Gibson ES-335's). Each of these has a differing amount of width from the front of the guitar body to the back.
Fender Strats offer a super thin body width:
Gibson Hummingbirds are full on acoustic guitars that offer a large amount of body width:
Gibson ES-335's offer a middle of the road width of body:
Girth is best taken into consideration last, after you've looked at how big your hands are and how long your arms are. Here are some suggestions:
- If you have lots of girth and very long arms, or very little girth and very short arms, then I'd say most guitars out there are going to feel comfortable for you.
- If you have lots of girth and shorter arms, then you'll have trouble wrapping your arms around a hefty hollow body guitar. Try semi-hollow and solid body (electric) guitars. If you're dying to try acoustic guitar, try out a 3/4's sized or a parlor sized acoustic guitar.
- If you have very little girth and very long arms, try bigger guitars. You might do great with hollow body guitars.