Over the years I have been asked a lot about guitar playing with small hands. Recently I had the question “Can I get a 4/4 (Full Size) guitar with a narrower fingerboard?”
This is a difficult question. The quick answer is yes, but a lot depends on what kind of guitar you want to get. Then there is the budget to consider.
Firstly I am assuming that "narrower" refers to the size of the fingerboard from floor to ceiling at any point from the nut to the highest fret while held in a playing position posture (as opposed to the distance of its thickness between your thumb at the back of the neck and your finger tips on the strings).
Have a look at this "nut width" distance in the image below. This shows the perspective of "Wide" or "Narrow" dimension we are talking about here.
• Classical guitars (like the one shown above) tend to be the widest necks. Usually this is 51mm, or 2 inches. This is typically measured right at the nut on the headstock side of the guitar neck where the fingerboard begins.
• Steel strung acoustics tend to have more variations toward narrower measurements.
• Electric guitars tend to have the narrowest possibilities. The narrowest can go down to about 41mm or 1 5/8 inches
In fact most people discuss this as the nut width because at the end of the day whatever the size of neck/fingerboard width it can usually accommodate noticeable variations in the spacing of the string slots.
It is important to realise that most necks are tapered. (…well I’ve never seen one that isn’t) They get wider as you move toward the body of the guitar.
That means this positioning of the nut at the end of the fretboard is the narrowest place on the neck.
So really it is also the nut's spacing of the string slots that becomes a final important piece of the puzzle.
You can in fact have a repair-person (or maker who may be willing to do it) "cut" or "carve" a nut that is to your own specification to accommodate small hands.
I have seen this done in local music stores and repair shops. Many artists have their own favourite spacing. Altering a guitar to accommodate small hands can be a lot less expensive than having an instrument made to order.
If you can afford it a good Luthier can make you a guitar to fit your needs.
Otherwise here are a few good pages to get and idea of what's out there with out reading and sifting through thousands of words in blogs and forums.
I have no affiliations or agreements with any of these outside sites. I just think the information presented on them is useful to this particular discussion about guitar dimensions.
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