It’s true that many people with smaller hands have a hard time finding good guitars. I’d probably own 10 guitars if I could find guitars that fit me. I’m about 5’5″ and my hands are proportional, but I’ve had some injuries that were at least partially caused by playing guitars that were too big for me. I’ve been playing and teaching guitar full time for over 15 years, and I know that most guitarists who have smaller bodies and hands would benefit by playing a guitar (or guitars!) that actually fit them.
Some companies have tried to address this issue, but the guitars they built totally missed the mark. The problem is that the “women’s” guitars I have seen may have smaller bodies, but the necks are the same size as other guitars. The neck is the crucial element because women have smaller hands and you use your hands to play, so many women need guitars with a nut width of less than 42mm.
I understand that to build a guitar with a narrower neck width, you may have to also build pickups that match the location of the strings. I bet someone could figure out how to do that.
Last week, I was on a teaching break at The Guitar Store and I noticed a smaller stratocaster style guitar hanging up near my studio. It looked pretty cool, so I picked it up and started playing it. It was the strangest thing — It actually fit me! It’s a Jay Turser 3/4 size guitar and while it was probably designed for kids, it has ended up working really well for me. The Guitar Store sells them for a very reasonable price, and with a set up from Eric Daw at Emerald City Guitars (where he filed a couple of frets down and replaced the tuners), it’s become a sweet little guitar.
I’ve been playing it for about a week now and I can’t go back to my other guitar, a beautiful Washburn WM-100, which has been my main guitar since about 2001. The width at the nut is about 37 or 38mm, and I’m able to play chord voicings I’ve never been able to play. I’m so tired the phrase, “game changer” but that’s really what this guitar is for me.
I hope to find other 3/4 size guitars with narrow necks because I want to have options. In the mean time, check out the Jay Turser and let me know if you hear of other smaller guitars I should check out. Follow this link to the Jazz Guitar Forum where I have asked the folks there for their recommendations. (Here’s the link to the Lunchbox Junior Amp.)
1) It’s amazing how many folks on the forums immediately question my reasons for wanting to find guitars with neck widths of 37-38mm, even going so far as to suggest that I, “re-think the reason you ‘think’ you want a small neck.” As someone who identifies with being a woman, I am unfortunately used to dealing with men who want to think for me. It’s a bit disappointing.
2) Most people suggest guitars that may have smaller bodies or shorter scale lengths, but do not have the neck width that I am looking for.
In December, I found a really cool 1964 Fender Duo Sonic down at The Guitar Store and it has changed my life. It has a short scale, smaller body, and the most important spec: a narrow neck. This guitar was an easy transition to from the Jay Turser 3/4 guitars, and it’s got this really cool wood tone. Here’s something I recorded when I brought it home:
I recently bought an acoustic guitar that has a narrow neck, and I really like it, although I wish I could find one that is a little better quality. (Guitar manufacturers, can you hear us?) I’ll continue to update here and keep you all posted if other narrow neck guitars are introduced to me. Here’s a post on other Small Scale Gear that I dig.