| March 10, 2023 |

What Size Guitar Should I Get?

Everything you need to know

Ergonomics—a broad term used in many industries to describe how a tool or device pairs up with the human body to promote ease of use, comfort, and safety. Guitars come in a variety of shapes and sizes with consideration by the designers for style, functionality, ergonomics, and marketing viability. Many designs are a balancing act of those factors, offering the player a range of strengths and compromises. Thoughtful consideration of these factors will serve you well.

Depending on what you prioritize personally, the size of your guitar matters. Because the instrument’s size may affect both playability and sound, budding guitarists of all proportions and hand sizes will need to consider ergonomics when shopping for a new guitar. 

For this article, we’ll mainly focus on what a player should consider when finding an instrument that fits their body. With perseverance, anyone can ‌adjust to most guitar designs, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy or pleasurable. An ideal guitar size will vary from person to person but also will depend on aspects of the guitar that you might not think about (i.e., neck profile, center of gravity, etc.). We’ll guide you on how to find the correct guitar size for your needs.

Guitar Body Size

A variety of guitar sizes exist across both acoustic and electric models. The body makes up most of the guitar’s weight, but hardware contributes significantly to the overall sum, too.

From a playability perspective, people with shorter arms may have trouble reaching over a guitar with a larger lower bout. Having smaller hands can mean that a shorter-scale neck is in order and, perhaps, a thinner neck profile. You must decide for yourself based on what feels right. Your age and growth rate should be a consideration, too. If you expect to grow a lot in the near term, a full-sized guitar may be the wisest choice, but affordable alternatives exist. Gibson Brands offers a range of models that cater to a wide range of human factors.

The size of your guitar’s body matters because it affects tone (and volume if it’s an acoustic guitar). With jumbo-sized guitars having louder projection because of the increased resonance of a large soundboard, they are ideal for unplugged songwriting sessions. The design of the bracing also influences the volume factor.

That said, there are still full-sized guitars that can meet the needs of players with shorter arms. We would recommend an electric guitar like a Les Paul as electric bodies are ‌smaller than acoustic bodies. But there are also smaller acoustic options like the L-00, which have a parlor shape and a smaller body. Both have extremely versatile tones while offering a smaller body.

Guitar Weight

Guitar weight is also an important factor for each player to consider. The apparent size of a guitar can be a bit deceiving, as a larger body shape doesn’t ‌mean a higher weight. It depends on several variables, but the main contributing factors are the construction methods and the materials involved.

Guitar construction can vary wildly from model to model. Even within the same model, some guitars will have different weights. Here is a rundown of some construction techniques to look out for and how they will affect the weight and tone of a guitar:

  • Solid Body Construction: Our craftory workers carve the guitar out of a solid piece of wood. We only use this construction method for electric guitars, and it provides excellently balanced tone throughout the range and reduces potential feedback. Solid wood means heavier weight.
  • Weight Relief: Weight relief is a technique Gibson luthiers began using in the 80s. This involves drilling out holes in a solidbody guitar. This eases the weight load on players so that they can play sessions and live shows with less fatigue.
  • Gibson Ultra-Modern Weight Relief: This revised weight relief method was introduced in 2018. Ultra-Modern Weight Relief is like traditional weight relief only in concept. This method shaves off a more significant amount of weight. Gibson luthiers developed Ultra-Modern Weight Relief with carefully calculated offsetting of the chambers around the perimeters of the guitar’s body to lighten the load further without inhibiting resonant characteristics.
  • Semi-Hollow Body Construction: Semi-Hollow Body construction method is used specifically for the ES guitar models, where two acoustic wings flank the solid block of wood in the center of the guitar. This differs from the weight relief and Ultra-Modern Weight relief because the body doesn’t originate from a single piece of wood. Rather, the core has two sound chambers, which add an acoustic element to the tone. This means they can ‌be around the same weight as a weight-relieved guitar.
  • Acoustic Construction: Acoustic construction is fairly consistent now, as with the inception of the first acoustic guitars. Thin slabs of wood are curved to form the sides, with flat slabs comprising the top and bottom. An internal bracing system creates structural integrity and increases resonance. Due to the almost completely hollow construction of the body, acoustic guitars can often be lighter than electric guitars (despite their larger size).

Neck Profile

Another important factor for guitar players is the neck profile. What you choose and enjoy will highly depend on the size of your hands. Finger stretches and the strength one gains over time from practice can definitely help you optimize your reach and ability to play, but having an ideal neck profile will also be an enormous help in making difficult chord shapes more accessible.

Gibson guitar necks come in the following neck profiles:

  • Round
  • SlimTaper
  • Vintage 50s
  • 60s SlimTaper
  • Rounded C
  • Chunky C Shape
  • Custom Cantrell Profile
  • And more!

Scale Length

Scale length is another important factor to consider, as it can significantly impact the feel of a guitar. Scale length is the distance from a guitar’s nut to the bridge and will directly impact the length of the neck. Gibson’s luthiers have settled on 24.75” as the scale length for most of our guitars and 30.5”-34.0” for our electric basses. Other brands like Epiphone and Kramer offer different scale lengths, so checking this measurement is important if you’re unfamiliar with a particular guitar model. 

Buying a guitar for a child

Whether it’s a time of gift giving or simply an effort to support a budding player with smaller hands, the first quality instrument you get is a huge factor influencing whether a kid will stick with it long enough to enjoy substantial progress. Those first months are crucial, and a difficult-to-play instrument can be a showstopper. Buy nice or buy twice, as the old saying goes. Sometimes kids with low-quality instruments are not fully aware of what is holding them back: ridiculously high action, strings with manufacturing flaws, tuners that slip, etc. 

Epiphone has a solution for these issues. The Power Players Collection offers trimmed-down versions of the world-famous Les Paul and SG that were created for the specific needs of younger players. But make no mistake—these are not toys.

They are a 3/4+ version inspired by the legendary Gibson Les Paul and SG shapes. They have a 22.73” scale length and slightly smaller mahogany bodies making them light, easy to play, and an excellent choice for younger players. The Power Players Les Paul or SG  is also a great travel guitar choice for more experienced players. It sounds better and stays in tune longer than other “student model” guitars because of its high-quality components and excellent build quality. The bolt-on mahogany neck has a sculpted heel for improved upper fret access, and it is powered by a pair of authentic Epiphone humbuckers for rich, full Les Paul tone. The Power Players Les Paul comes equipped with a gig bag, strap, picks, and a guitar cable.