Best Guitar Neck Shapes for Small Hands – Full Guide

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Playing guitar with small hands can be frustrating. I remember how much pain it was to learn the main riff from Snow with my tiny mitts. But gladly there are a couple of things that can relieve your pain…

  1. The correct technique (click here to read the full guide on How to Play Guitar With Small Hands)
  2. Practice (you can learn to play with any guitar if you put in the work)
  3. Easy to play guitar (not must, but can help. Here’s a full guide about buying a electric guitar for small hands & full small hand friendly acoustic guitar buying guide)

And in this guide, we’ll look closer at how to choose the right neck shape for your small hands.

Let’s get started!

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…).

small hands of a guitar player
My small hands. I have played guitar for 13 years and tested a ton of different necks.

4 Best Guitar Neck Shapes for Small Hands

The Most Versatile – Modern C

image displays Modern C neck shape looks

Round like the original C shape, but slimmer. Really smooth playing and doesn’t hold you back. Shoulders are almost non-existent and you have easy access to the fretboard. My favorite shape for small hands. 

Pros

  • Really popular, you can easily find a guitar with this shape
  • Round and slim
  • Great access to the fretboard
  • One of the most versatile neck shapes, great for riffs, chords, and soloing

Cons

  • If you don’t like a super round shape, not the best option

Guitars With Modern C Neck Shape:

*Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂

Find more great guitars with Modern C-neck shape here.


Thinnest – Wizard

image displays how Ibanez wizard neck shape looks

Wizard is one of the thinnest neck shapes available. 

Wizard neck is especially great for fast playing. It pretty much doesn’t have shoulders at all, and moving up and down the fretboard is smooth. You have really good access to every corner of the fretboard, and shredding and fast playing is smooth overall. It’s not as round as Modern C and C, but it has some of that familiar round feel on it.

Pros

  • Really thin
  • Great for fast playing
  • Great access to every corner of the fretboard

Cons

  • Can only be found from certain Ibanez guitars
  • Can be too thin for some players

Guitars With Wizard Neck Shape:


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Round and A Bit Thicker – C

image displays Classic C neck shape looks

Old and really round shape that just fits the hand of a human being. You get a firm grip, but the roundness enables your hand to move freely around the neck. This is “the standard” shape that is usually not really hard to handle for anyone.

Pros

  • Firm grip
  • Versatile neck shape
  • The round shape makes hitting frets easy
  • Really popular, you can easily find a guitar with this shape

Cons

  • Deep C variation of this neck is not good for small hands
  • Can be too thick for some players
  • Not a good option if you dislike really round neck shape

Guitars With C Neck Shape:


Fast and Supports Correct Technique – Thin and Ultra Thin U

image displays Thin U neck shape looks
Thin U.

Thinner version of U shape. Great for correct thumb placement because of its flat back. Most ESP guitars use either a Thin U or Ultra/Extra Thin U neck shape. With this shape, moving up and down the neck is smooth and you also have a really firm grip because the correct thumb placement is easy. Usually slimmer than C shape, but less round.

Pros

  • Makes correct thumb placement (at the back of the neck) easy/supports correct technique overall
  • Great access to the fretboard
  • Really firm grip/feel
  • Good shape for fast playing and metal

Cons

  • Can feel a bit chunky for some players
  • If you prefer a really round shape, this might not be a good option
  • Some manufacturers don’t use these shapes at all

Guitars With Thin U or Ultra/Extra Thin U Neck Shape:

Find more great guitars with U–neck shape here.


3 Guitar Neck Shapes That Are Not Good for Small Hands

Check this article if you want to learn more about neck shapes in general.

Vintage U

image displays Vintage U neck shape looks

Old school neck shape with large shoulders, round back, and thick feel. Usually way too thick for small hands. But there’s no denying that this neck delivers old school vibe and firm grip.


D (1950’s D)

image displays 1950s D neck shape looks

The chunkiest neck to me, it just fills my hand the most. More round than the U shape, but has an overall meatier feel. The back of the neck is comfortable for your thumb placement though.


Hard V

image displays Hard V neck shape looks

The “edgiest” neck shape with sharp corners. Thickness measured from the center line is usually way too much for small hands. Great for players who like to throw their thumb into the mix when jamming.


FAQ – Pay Attention to These Too

Does Neck Shape of The Guitar Matter for Small Hands?

It does. Neck shape has a huge impact on how the neck feels overall and shape also affects how chunky the feel of the neck is. Plus, some shapes are thinner than others when measured from the center line. But there are other aspects that affect the playability too, let’s look at those next.

Best Fretboard Radius for Small Hands

image explains what Guitar fretboard radius means
Here you can see how the fretboard radius is measured.

The fretboard radius determines how much curve the fretboard has. Larger the radius, the less curve the fretboard has. It’s not the most important factor, but I want to mention a couple of things you can keep in your mind when choosing a guitar…

There is no magical fretboard radius that will work best for every small-handed player. But I would aim for a 9.5” and up radius and stay away from under a 9.5” radius(some vintage-styled Teles have a 7.25” radius).

If the radius is 7.25”, frets of low E and A strings are farther from each other than with a 12” radius. My personal radius sweet spot is 12”.

Best Nut Width for Small Hands

photo reveals what guitars nut width means

Nut width is the width of the neck measured from the nut. It determines how narrow or wide the neck is. In general, the narrower, the better it is for small hands.

  • The typical nut width of a electric guitar is from 1.65” (42mm) to 1.688” (42.8). Some vintage Gibsons can have a really meaty 1.69” (43mm) nut.
  • Typical nut width of acoustic guitar is from 1.68″ (42.67mm) to 1.7″ (43.2mm)

When searching for a guitar for small hands, I would aim closer to the 1.65” (42mm) nut width with electrics and to 1.68″ (42.67mm) with acoustic guitars. But some wider necks can feel comfortable for small hands too. I recommend testing different widths out.

Here are a couple of guitars that have narrow necks:

ModelNut Width
Fender Mustang 901.65” (42mm)
Squier Affinity Telecaster1.6’’ (40mm).
Squier Mini Stratocaster1.6” (40,6m)
Fender Special Edition Custom Telecaster FMT HH1.62” (41.3 mm)
Ibanez PF15ECE (acoustic)1.65″ (42 mm)
Yamaha FG-TA Transacoustic (acoustic)1.69” (43 mm)

Best Scale Length for Small Hands

photo reveals what is guitars scale length
Scale lengths can be measured in 2 ways.

25.5” is the standard scale length. It’s used on most Stratocaster and Telecaster models. Then there’s the 24” scale length. It’s used on Les Pauls and in most Mustang and Jaguar guitars. What’s the difference?

  • 24” guitar usually has a shorter neck.
  • With 24” guitar, strings have less string tension, and because of that are easier to press down

This lower string tension can help players with small hands. It should be noted that some Les Pauls with 24” scale length have chunky necks and are usually not that great options for small hands. But Fender Mustang 90 (24” scale lengths) is a really great guitar for small.

Best Body Shape for Small Hands

Stratocaster

Modern Stratocaster

Mustang

Jaguar

Different variations of Stratocaster shape, plus Mustang and Jaguar shape are my favorites for small hands. Telecasters work well too but have usually a bit thicker body (this can vary).

But what about Les Pauls/Single-cuts and SG’s?

They are not a no-no. But both have usually chunkier necks and Les Paul/Single Cut models have worse upper fret access. This means that it’s harder to hit frets below the 13th fret from the Low E, A, and D strings. 

Should You Buy Smaller Sized Guitar if You Have Small Hands?

For example, ¾ and ⅞ sized guitars can work well and surely offer you a smaller size. But in general, I would prefer learning with regular-sized guitar. You will be a lot more versatile and better player if you do that. But if you think that regular-sized guitars are just waay too big for you, then I don’t really see any reason to say no to smaller-sized instruments. But usually, smaller-sized guitars offer a bit lower quality because of their affordable price.

Note that some guitars, Jackson Dinky’s for example, have ⅞ sized body, but the scale length and the size of the neck are regular.


Conclusion on Best Guitar Neck Shapes for Small Hands

I love geeking out with neck shapes and to me, they have a huge impact on playability. And it’s true that all neck shapes are not created equal for small hands. I have found the ones featured on this post to be most comfortable for my small hands.

Hopefully this article helped you out, if you have any questions just leave a comment.

I wish you all the best and keep rocking!

Teemu


Here’s Our Favorite Gear Right Now!

Our Favorite Guitars:

Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂

Electric guitars:

For beginners and tight-budget guitarists, Ibanez GRX70QA was the winner after hours of testing. If you are a metalhead, Jackson JS22 Dinky is our favorite.

If you have more room on your budget, Yamaha Pacifica 112V gives you a great bang for your buck, and Fender Player Telecaster HH will serve intermediate Players well.

Our favorite Electric guitar of 2021 was the PRS SE Custom 24-08. It gives so much versatility, comfort, and good tones that it’s impossible to ignore.

Acoustic guitars:

For beginners, Yamaha FG800 is our go-to guitar. It offers more than any other guitar in the same price range.

For intermediate and beginners with bigger wallets, Gretsch G5024E Rancher offers so clear and detailed tones, plus easy playability that I had to include it here.

Seagull S6 Original is the best acoustic around the $500 mark. It has the construction, sound, and feel that many more expensive guitars don’t achieve.

Our Favorite Amps:

For beginners, Fender Mustang LT25 offers the most. It’s versatile, sounds good, and is simple to use.

For most home players, Boss Katana 50MKii is the amp that serves you in any situation. From country to metal.

If you are searching for a tube amp for home use, Blackstar HT-5R MKii is my go-to option because it sounds so good, and you can adjust the wattage(power).

When it comes to acoustic guitar amps, Fender Acoustasonic 40 will serve most people really well. But our favorite is Fishman Loudbox Mini BT. It offers a professional level tone and volume with a price most people can afford.