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.
I recently learned that there are a lot of Gibson and Epiphone guitars that were built from 1965-70 which have a narrow nut width of 1 9/16″. I bought a Ephiphone Grenada from Thunder Road Guitars in Seattle, and it is my dream guitar. I hope to buy more as I find them as they are super playable and really cool sounding. It’s weird that it took all these years to figure this out; I’ve been asking folks in guitar shops and on forums for years.
Get More Out of Your Guitar Lessons and More Out of Your Guitar
“The Guitar Lesson Companion” method book series takes teachers and their students seriously, and it’s fun to use because it makes it easy to learn the skills you need to play the music you love. These books offer a clear, flexible, and progressive structure with plenty of good sounding exercises, so students and teachers reach their goals faster than ever before.
What’s Your Goal?
Whether you have a guitar teacher who is always asking you what you want to learn each lesson, you prefer learning on your own using a book and videos with occasional lessons, or you’d like to take weekly lessons with me in Seattle or via Skype/FaceTime, pick up your copy of “The Guitar Lesson Companion” method book series today and enjoy the process of learning the skills you need to play your best.
“The Guitar Lesson Companion” is used by teachers and students in over 10 countries, including faculty at Berklee College of Music.
Susan Palmer teaches jazz, blues, and rock guitar styles in Seattle and via webcam. Since 2006, she has been the guitar instructor at Seattle University. Palmer created and taught, “The Rock Project” at Cornish College of the Arts from 2010-15, and she was music instructor at Seattle Girls School for the 2016-17 school year. Palmer is the author of, The Guitar Lesson Companion Method Book Series which is used by teachers and students in over 10 countries, including faculty at Berklee College of Music. Her extensive collection of lesson videos and jam tracks are available for free on YouTube. Palmer’s current and former students perform regularly throughout the country, including these Seattle venues: The Comet, The High Dive, Skylark, Neumos, The Hard Rock Cafe, Chop Suey, The Tractor Tavern, The Rendezvous, The Sorrento Hotel, The Crocodile, The Mix, Cafe Racer, The Edgewater Hotel, The Sunset, and other private events.
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|√ COMPREHENSIVE studies for guitarists of all ages, especially serious college level jazz, blues, and rock guitarists|
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|√ WORKSHEETS help students gain a thorough understanding of notes, theory, chords, and improvisation|
|√ SPIRAL BINDING keeps this book open on your music stand|
|√ FREE ONLINE LESSON LIBRARY covers the topics in the books Volume One and Volume Two|
|√ FLEXIBLE FORMAT for students taking group or private guitar lessons|
Which Book is Right for You?
The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume One is a music reading primer, a chord and scale jam guide, and a basic theory workbook. It’s jam-packed with comprehensive exercises that were designed to take an absolute beginner step by step into the intermediate stages of playing. This book will challenge the average student for 2-3 years with weekly lessons.
The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume Two is an advanced theory workbook, a chord tone and mode improvisation guide, and a stylistic chord resource. It is a continuation of the first volume, designed with the serious intermediate and advanced level music student in mind. This book will challenge the average student for 2-3 years with weekly lessons.
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