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  1. #1

    Help Wanted: Good Guitars for Women (and folks with small hands)

    I'm about 5'5" and I've had a hard time finding smaller guitars that fit me. I thought I'd share that I recently found a 3/4 Jay Turser that's actually pretty cool. I'm looking for other guitars that also have narrow necks (nut width less than 42mm). Please check out my blog post about it and let me know if you know of other guitars out there.



    Thanks so much.
    Last edited by Susan Palmer; 04-11-2014 at 01:33 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    You could look at the new Guild Newark St. models.Like the M75. Many of the older Guilds have smaller necks.Gibson also had a 3/4 sized arch top. Good luck

  3. #3
    Thanks, the Guild you mentioned (if I've got the right one) has a neck width at the nut of 42mm. That seems to be the standard size, and I'm looking for guitars that have more narrow necks. There is a Gibson ES-140 I found because of your suggestion that has a width of 39mm, which is promising, but I wish the body size were standard. I'm working with Emerald City Guitars in Seattle to try to locate something.

  4. #4
    And those Gibsons run about $7,800, so I've got to keep looking.

  5. #5
    Luna. If you can cope with the New Age stuff on their website....just watch out for QC on older, 2nd hand models.

    Inspired instruments for body, mind, and spirit

    I have a Luna Athena. My daughter had it....and doesn't any more. And there's bad finishing on the fingerboard edge, pup surround that doesn't quite fit; but a very good basic sound. Have rehearsed with it and had no issues...just not sure that I could be seen out there with the colour of it (It's called Desert Gold or somesuch, but it's more like Banana Instant Whip dessert!!)

    The more modern ones seem better, from the little that I have seen.

  6. #6
    Thanks, I just looked at them. The neck is just shy of 42mm and I am looking for a guitar neck around 37 or 38, which is what the Jay Turser neck measures. For me, it's all about that neck width.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Ibanez are generally known for skinny, narrow necks. The ag75 has a smallish body as well. A pretty good option for those who may need a smaller instrument.

    K

  8. #8
    Thanks for your thought, I have not found any narrow necked Ibanez guitars. The AG75 is actually 43mm, and I'm looking for 37 or 38mm width at the nut. Do they make another model I am not seeing?

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Yes that's a pretty standard neck geometry. But in practice, the actual, real string spacing is much narrower than other brands.

    K

  10. #10
    Yep, that's the standard. I've found that Ibanez guitars are some of the hardest to play because of that. Thanks for your feedback.

  11. #11
    as i understand it, you won't find many guitar necks made that narrow- on purpose anyway. 1 11/16ths is sort of the standard, and a few dip below that, but only a smidge. some late 60s-70s gisbons were 1 9/16ths, but that probably isn't much of a solution.

    if you're feeling lucky, you may consider the not yet extant epiphone casino coupe. it's a smaller 339 sized version of the casino. standard casinos have 1 10/16th nuts, so maybe this one will, too. don't think the specs are out, yet. some of the standard casinos have smaller nuts, too, but i forget which specific models/eras/countries of origin do.

    aside from the female/child specific and starter type guitars, you could also poke around for imports and guitars made for sale in other markets. i know some of the older made in japan epiphones have smaller than normal nuts.

    another idea would be to contact warmoth or some other similar place (names escape me) and ask if they'll make you a skinny neck, which you could pop into the bolt on body of your choice. or possibly assemble an entire guitar to your liking.

  12. #12
    Those are awesome ideas, thank you.

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    Some random questions that popped into my head...

    What about the string spacing at the bridge? String alignment over pickups? Would just getting a new nut cut with narrower string spacing help?

    What do classical guitarists do? There are lots of women who play classical -- 2" nut, 660mm (26") scale length. I try to use classical fretting hand technique when I don't have to thumb-fret notes.

    I have the opposite problem -- sausage fingers

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    Some random questions that popped into my head...

    What about the string spacing at the bridge? String alignment over pickups? Would just getting a new nut cut with narrower string spacing help?

    What do classical guitarists do? There are lots of women who play classical -- 2" nut, 660mm (26") scale length. I try to use classical fretting hand technique when I don't have to thumb-fret notes.

    I have the opposite problem -- sausage fingers
    That's why I recommended the Ibanez hollowbody line.

    K

  15. #15
    Thanks for your response, those are some good questions.

    1) I don't think the string spacing at the bridge of the guitar is an issue, the large neck width becomes a problem with the fretting hand. So, the guitar (like the Jay Turser) can have a narrow width at the nut and a more standard width at the bridge.

    2) I'm sure someone could figure out how to build a pickup that would accommodate a smaller string spacing if that were also the case on the guitar. The Jay Turser guitar (see video I posted in initial discussion) seems to have "normal" pickups. The neck gets wider on the higher frets.

    3) Apparently, Ibanez guitars have a tighter string spacing while also having wide necks. I have not found them to be easier to play, because I just can't get my hand comfortably around the necks.

    4) Classical guitarists play different music than I play. I am more of a jazz, blues, rock kind of woman. My students and female friends have a harder time playing barre chords, etc. on classical and other wide neck guitars. I can't play a lot of Ted Greene's voicings on normal guitars (let alone classical guitars!) but I can on the Jay Turser guitar and I think it's due to the short scale and the narrow neck.

    I hope to find better quality 3/4 guitars with narrow necks that are in my price range. Thanks so much for your thoughts.
    Last edited by Susan Palmer; 04-11-2014 at 01:36 PM.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Palmer View Post
    2) I'm sure someone could figure out how to build a pickup that would accommodate a smaller string spacing if that were also the case on the guitar. The Jay Turser guitar (see video I posted in initial discussion) seems to have "normal" pickups. The neck gets wider on the higher frets.
    though i don't think it would be a problem, blade, active, bartolini type or whatever lace pickups are come to mind. used a bartolini tuck andress pup before, it was nice. also love the tv jones supertron a lot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Palmer View Post
    I hope to find better quality 3/4 guitars with narrow necks that are in my price range.
    not sure this is really a thing- a "high quality" 3/4 guitar. how about travel guitars? those are pretty small, and maybe you could have neck you like built and swapped into one of those. or these steinberger things. or perhaps even some of those funny looking "ergonomic" guitars...

    edit: maybe something here could be to your liking? http://www.smallguitars.com/
    Last edited by feet; 04-11-2014 at 01:02 PM.

  17. #17
    Thanks for your input on the pickup. I know that it's doable, and I'd like someone to take the challenge.

    I'm pretty serious about finding (or asking someone to build) a high quality 3/4 size guitar. I make my living teaching and playing, and having an awesome (or a few awesome) guitars that were playable would make my world complete.

    I really appreciate all the responses, and I'm sure some other women do too. Thanks.

  18. #18
    Join Date
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    Another thing I have found is that solid body guitars are usually not a good fit for us short folks, particulary fender-style instruments. They tend to place the nut out quite far from our body, in part due to increased scale length.

    I wonder which would put the nut farther out from your body - a 3/4 solid body or something like a 15.75" Ibanez archtop? Something to consider.

  19. #19
    Yes, thank you. You are right, scale length is definitely a consideration, but I'm looking for a guitar with a narrow nut.

    Notice how your hand feels playing a C chord in open position on a wide neck classical guitar, and then try the same thing on an electric. That awesome feeling of, "Oh my gosh, I can play this so easily and my hand is totally relaxed while I do it!" is what I experience on the Jay Turser. I'm trying to duplicate that on a guitar made of better wood with better electronics… the whole deal. I want a nice guitar that fits me, and I know other women want it too.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Palmer View Post
    Yes, thank you. You are right, scale length is definitely a consideration, but I'm looking for a guitar with a narrow nut.

    Notice how your hand feels playing a C chord in open position on a wide neck classical guitar, and then try the same thing on an electric. That awesome feeling of, "Oh my gosh, I can play this so easily and my hand is totally relaxed while I do it!" is what I experience on the Jay Turser. I'm trying to duplicate that on a guitar made of better wood with better electronics… the whole deal. I want a nice guitar that fits me, and I know other women want it too.
    You could get a 41 mm nut width Warmoth neck on Fender of your choice with a shallow profile and have a luthier cut you a special nut with narrower string spacing and use the rest of the neck for bending.

    Warmoth Custom Guitar Parts - Nut Width

    Also Guitar Gallery at Sweetwater allows you sort them by nut width (Mustangs and Kramer The 84 for instance):

    Guitar Gallery | Sweetwater.com or Electric | Guitar Gallery | Sweetwater.com

  21. #21
    Thanks, do you think they could make me a neck with a nut width of 37-38mm?

  22. #22
    Hey Susan, if you're at all interested in an acoustic steel string, I bought my wife, who is smaller than you, (and a concert violinist), a 3/4 Alvarez Yairi. Very nice guitar, much less $ than a Taylor Baby, but still with a solid spuce top and fine sound. I had to tweak the bridge and nut a bit, that's all. Off hand I can't remember the model. (Maybe Alvarez Yairi Baby?) Looks like a dreadnaught that was left in the dryer way too long

  23. #23
    Thanks, but the nut width on that is 1 3/4", and I'm looking for a guitar with a nut width of 37-38mm. It sounds like a cool guitar and I like the idea of a guitar going in the dryer for too long.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound View Post
    Hey Susan, if you're at all interested in an acoustic steel string, I bought my wife, who is smaller than you, (and a concert violinist), a 3/4 Alvarez Yairi. Very nice guitar, much less $ than a Taylor Baby, but still with a solid spuce top and fine sound. I had to tweak the bridge and nut a bit, that's all. Off hand I can't remember the model. (Maybe Alvarez Yairi Baby?) Looks like a dreadnaught that was left in the dryer way too long
    PS - Kazuo Yairi - obituary - Telegraph

  25. #25
    Join Date
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    Many Gibson Byrdlands have small necks.
    Non-vintage, used Byrdlands are SIGNIFICANTLY discounted from their new actual selling prices. They sell for between US$3,000 and US$4,000.
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  26. #26
    Wow, thanks for passing that along.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Palmer View Post
    Thanks, but the nut width on that is 1 3/4", and I'm looking for a guitar with a nut width of 37-38mm. It sounds like a cool guitar and I like the idea of a guitar going in the dryer for too long.
    If we're talking about the same guitar, I think you're wrong. It has a very narrow nut, too narrow for me. I'll check this Sunday when I get home.

  28. #28
    We're probably not talking about the same guitar because the only 3/4 size I can find right is this one, which has the 1 3/4" nut width according to the article: Alvarez AP70 Review / Reviews / Gear / Acoustic Guitar

    Let me know the model number of the guitar when you get a chance. Thanks so much.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound View Post
    If we're talking about the same guitar, I think you're wrong. It has a very narrow nut, too narrow for me. I'll check this Sunday when I get home.
    OK I looked it up - it's not a Yairi. It's an Alvarez Masterworks MSD1. Solid woods, 1-5/8 nut, which is about 41mm I think. Still a LITTLE bigger than you want. Very little. It feels tiny and cramped to me, and I'm 5-7 (but I have big hands

  30. #30
    Thanks for correcting that. I know that 41 or 42 or 43 don't seem that far away from 37, but I can say that for me it has made all the difference and that's what I'm looking for. I'll keep in mind that Alvarez for other folks, and I may just have to settle with upgrading the Jay Turser I've got which fits me so well.

    I really appreciate all the info and ideas. Please keep it coming. I'm heading offline to teach and play now. Thanks.

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