Guitar recommendations, give me yours!
December 2, 2011 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Electric guitar for small hands, help me choose one?

Husband and Son have asked for Rocksmith and an electric guitar for the Xbox 360. Rocksmith was easy...but I don't know anything about guitars. A couple of people have said that the Ibanez GRX20 has a smaller neck, and would be easier for Boy to play, but I can't find anywhere that lists the width of guitar necks, nor do I know if Ibanez is a good starter brand.

Hive mind, can you help me pick a relatively inexpensive electric guitar that can be played easily by a 9yr old, a woman with small hands, and a regular guy?
posted by dejah420 to Shopping (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Fender Squiers are one of the standard starter guitars.
posted by swift at 10:03 AM on December 2, 2011

There's probably a million possible recommendations but I grew up (starting as, indeed, a small 9 year old boy) playing my dad's cheap Fender knock-off and cycled through a variety of Fender models over the years. Their necks are comfortable enough for small hands and the quality is pretty consistent.

On preview, agree with swift on the Squier for a cheap guitar. If you have a local Guitar Center, they usually have the whole range from Squiers to Mexican Strats (cheaper than USA strats), Telecasters, the new(ish) Starcaster models - which are quite cheap starter guitars, also - etc. They'll also have a million others to try out if you like.

I don't necessarily recommend buying from them, but it's not a bad idea to put the guitar in your hands and try them out, check their fit in person.
posted by empyrean at 10:06 AM on December 2, 2011

What you're looking for is a short scale neck. The standard neck is around 25", give or take half an inch. Smaller scale guitars are around and a lot of companies make them now, but you'll have to ask for them specifically. What you're looking for is around 24". AFAIK it's rare to find them smaller than that.

Ibanez is fine, and kind of a standard for young metal shredder kids. It would be a really good idea to go and hold the guitar in your hands and see how it feels first. Even if you don't necessarily know how to evaluate whether it's a good or bad guitar, it will still help.
posted by vanar sena at 10:12 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fender Jaguars and Mustangs are 24" scale and are popular with the indie crowd.
posted by doctord at 10:21 AM on December 2, 2011

Rickenbacker or any Rick clone. The short scale neck necks mentioned above mean nothing when it comes to radius, width at nut and thickness of the actual neck. Rickenbacker necks are made for tiny people.
posted by spicynuts at 10:25 AM on December 2, 2011

Oh and since you're all starting out, I would avoid Floyd Rose-style floating bridges and go for a fixed bridge guitar. Floating bridges can be hard to tune and also to keep in tune, especially on cheaper guitars. It's also harder to change the strings.
posted by vanar sena at 10:32 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Squier makes a Jaguar clone, the Jagmaster, that also seems to be a more-than-decent starter guitar, judging by the reviews.

If its name were not unacceptable to nine-year-old boys and many women, I would recommend this, which has a genuinely slim neck and not just the closest thing you can get to one.
posted by Adventurer at 10:35 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Check out Daisy Rock Guitars.
posted by tommasz at 10:57 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

If you can find a Fender Bullet, that would be a great option. Its got a Tele style neck on a Strat style body and sounds and plays great. I don't generally like instruments with a thin neck, but this one is a big exception.
posted by blaneyphoto at 11:14 AM on December 2, 2011

The magic search term which also works in stores is "small scale" or 3/4 scale.

For my son (who is almost 5), he's playing on a tiny scale electric I built from a Stewart McDonald kit 20 years ago. They don't appear to be making that kit anymore. Pity, it's a nice instrument. This is him at 2 with the guitar and this is him more recently with it.
posted by plinth at 11:16 AM on December 2, 2011

I would recommend you check out with a good wiki and forums for discussing these guitars. The scales of 24" and 22.5" are typical. These are 1.5" and 3" (respectively) shorter than Fender Stratocasters, Telecaster, and Jazzmasters.

Rondo Music sells inexpensive packages of short scale guitars, as well as standard sizes. Feedback is that their guitars are good for basic inexpensive guitars.

Squier (the low-end Fender brand), Epiphone (low-end Gibson), Daisy Rock (as noted) and Ibanez are some of the brands which make short scale guitars, some of quite good quality.

A regular Fender Stratocaster has a 25.5" scale length. 24" is comfortable for my smaller hands, while my petite adult daughter with very small hands prefers the 22.5" size.

Have fun!
posted by blob at 1:02 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Get some lighter guage strings while you're at it - .9's

It will make it easier on the hands for a beginner. And even some of the pros use lighter strings, so there's not any serious downsides.
posted by victory_laser at 4:18 PM on December 2, 2011

Hey, 2 thumbs up for Ibanez. My kid has been playing this miKro for about 3 years now and we both love it.

For being a smaller/student size guitar, they didn't skimp on the hardware or electronics. It plays and sounds like a much more expensive guitar. I love the Fender squires and mustangs too, but I think the pickups on Ibanez are more, in the Heavy Metal sense.

Don't forget you'll need an amp or something too. We got this Fender
and it's pretty awesome because it has so many built-in effects.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by snsranch at 5:54 PM on December 2, 2011

For small hands, I'd recommend a Fender Mustang or a Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Thinline.
posted by limeonaire at 5:55 PM on December 2, 2011

In my experience a 9 year old will be ok with a regular guitar - not that a 3/4 size wouldn't work, but a good but inexpensive fender, ibanez, or similar will not only be easier to play and more inspirational than a poorly made 3/4 size, but you also won't need to upgrade just because of the size in 2 years.

The difference between 24.75" and 25.5" scale is not too significant, but the best way to find out is to go to a guitar store. As has been mentioned already, Daisy rock make smaller scale guitars that are still decent, danelectro guitars are sometimes shorter scale, fender jaguars and mustangs are shorter scale. Check out wiki for more general info.
posted by ianhattwick at 1:44 AM on December 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks gang, lots of good input.
posted by dejah420 at 9:58 AM on December 3, 2011

If they're just learning, you don't need to get a giant amp--a little 1-watt practice amp is just fine, and way more manageable for a 9-year-old. I like Smokey Mini Amps. If you get anything bigger than a 15 watt before your players get good, you'll be driven to distraction. Also, min amps are really cheap.

Guitar Center is a great place to check out different models, but the staff can be really obnoxious, especially if you're a woman. Here is a good tip: find the employee with the biggest beard. Just the hairiest, beariest, werewolfiest guy in there. He will be cool. I don't know why this is, but I have observed it at like six different Guitar Centers, and I've heard about it from other musicians. Shop with the beard.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 2:19 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

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