The Best Short Scale Electric Guitar For Small Hands (it’s not what you think!)

I’m going to get myself in trouble with this, aren’t I? The myth of small handed guitar players has been a controversial issue since before time began. Well, ok, no, but it’s been an issue at least since I can remember in the olden days (the 1990s).

And, of course, small handed guitar players are not a myth, I’m not trying to minimize the issue. As a 6’5″ man I am admittedly not small handed. (Being tall and having big boney hands presents its own guitar playing issues, but let’s not get into that today!)

The point is you might think you have small hands, but that doesn’t mean they’re too small for a standard scale length guitar. And yet, a short (or shorter) scale guitar might be perfect for you anyway.

24″ short scale Squier Sonic Mustang

Why You Should Trust Us

This isn’t one of those fake guitar articles targeted specifically towards short scale guitarists with small hands that you see at the top of the search engines written by a search engine marketing expert who has never even seen a guitar in person. I’m a real person who has played guitar for a long time. Check out the Art Of Shred YouTube channel or any of the unbiased guitar reviews on this site.

Those fake guitar articles look great, but you’ll notice that they recommend guitars specifically because they get a commission. And often the recommendations aren’t based on hands-on knowledge of the guitar. I sometimes get a commission if you click a link but ArtOfShred recommendations are always based on unbiased accuracy instead of what pays the best. It’s unfortunately tough to compete with those guitar article writing people!

Sad to see all of that, so if you want to support the unbiased guitar and gear information we do here please join the free Riff City newsletter to learn about guitar deals, news, and site updates:

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What Is Standard or Short Scale Length Anyway?!

The scale length of a guitar is the distance from the nut to the bridge. Or the bridge to the nut. Or the … well, no, that’s it. 😉

So a 24″ scale length guitar is going to have a slightly more compacted fretboard compared to a 24.75″ scale length (like this Epiphone SG Special) or a 25.5″ scale length (like this Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Telecaster). Most guitars fall into one of the standard scale lengths.

What Guitar Teachers Say About Small Hands and Short Scale Guitars

I’ve spoken to a lot of guitar teachers — male and female — about this over the years and to a person they have all said essentially the same thing: small hands aren’t an obstacle except maybe when you’re a child. So unless you’re an adult with child sized hands the recommendation is: play the guitar that feels best for you.

That might mean a smaller short scale guitar like the Squier Sonic Mustang (or a Fender Mustang, or a copy of a Mustang) or one of the other popular short scale guitars like the Fender Jaguar. (The Mustang and Jaguar have the same 24″ scale length.)

The short scale $199 Squier Sonic Mustang

But honestly if you’re an adult, even a female adult with small hands, you can probably play a regular scale length guitar. My favorite cheap guitar under $200 is the Mitchell MS450 and its scale length is 24.75″. I honestly believe 99 out of 100 “small handed” guitar players would be just fine playing this scale length without issues.

3 Things To Consider Other Than Scale Length

Playing guitar comfortably doesn’t boil down to just scale length. And this is something all of those fake guitar sites don’t seem to understand. If you’re a newer or beginning guitar player you might think you need a short scale guitar when really you just need to find what fits your body and hands best.

Yes, that might still mean a short scale guitar, but it might not!

In no particular order there are three things you need to pay attention to when deciding on a guitar that fits.

Body size

Some guitars, like this Reverend Sensei RA, have bigger bodies. Some, like this Sterling by Music Man St Vincent Signature Goldie, have a smaller body with a full 25.5″ scale length neck.

If you have a small frame a small bodied guitar may work better for you even if it’s not short scale. Most short scale guitars, like the Squier Sonic Mustang, have a slightly smaller body just by virtue of generally being smaller, but many full sized guitars also have smaller bodies.

The Mitchell MS450, for example, is a 24.75″ scale length with a smaller body. I actually think that might be the perfect type of guitar for you if you think your hands are too small to play guitar.

Karol Gajda holding a Mitchell MS450 and giving thumbs up
Me with my Mitchell MS450, 24.75″ scale length and somewhat smaller body


Weight matters no matter your hand or body size. Some people find heavy guitars better due to increased sustain, but that’s mostly negligible. Sure, the wood and weight might make a small difference in sustain and tone, but unless you’re a professional studio or live musician this isn’t something you need to consider.

Just because a guitar is heavy that doesn’t mean it’s a deal breaker. The classic Gibson Les Paul is a heavy guitar. It’s known for its heft. Same with the Fender Telecaster. They’re surprisingly heavy.

My first electric guitar was a Jackson Stealth HX with 3 humbucker pickups (sadly, Jackson no longer makes them). One of the reasons I bought it was because it was light and had a thin fast neck. It felt nice in my hands! I knew nothing about guitars at the time so all I could go by was looks and feel.

Karol's first guitar: Jackson Stealth HX covered in stickers
My first guitar! Jackson Stealth HX

It seems basic, but looks and feel are important, especially if you’re a beginning guitar player.

And although I think the sound of your guitar is the most important thing about it, the look and feel are just a hair behind in importance. Feel more so than looks, of course. (I know, I know, we like beautiful things and that goes for guitars too.)

Neck Shape

Neck shape is another aspect of the guitar that matters whether you have big or small hands. It’s arguably more important than body size or weight because the neck shape is where you get most of the feel of the guitar. And it’s also where you’ll be touching it the most so that makes sense, right?

You’ll find a lot of different terms with neck shapes: C shape, D shape, slim taper, Modern C, vintage shape, and more.

What do all these guitar neck shapes mean? The simplest way to explain it is they describe the roundness of the neck. Some necks feel like baseball bats and some necks feel more like sticks. What’s best for you? Only you know the answer to that.

There is a reason the most popular guitars (Stratocasters, Telecasters) have a variant of the C shaped neck, though. Other popular guitars like Les Pauls and SGs also generally have a comfortable neck.

But just because they’re comfortable for me doesn’t mean they’ll be comfortable for you. I personally like all styles of necks even if a thin fast Jackson style neck is my favorite.

Alright, But HOW Do I Choose Which Scale Length Is Best?!

The best thing you can do here is go to the store to test out a bunch of different guitars to see what body size, weight, and neck shape are comfortable for you.

If you’re not near a store most online retailers have great return policies and no matter your hand or body size you won’t go wrong with a small short scale Mustang or my favorite budget guitar, the MS450.

Whatever guitar you choose, have fun! And let me know if I can help with anything.

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