9 Best 3/4 Size Guitars: Full Review and Buying Guide
Are you on the hunt for the perfect 3/4 size guitar? Maybe you’re a beginner looking for a more comfortable and manageable option, or perhaps you’re a seasoned player in search of a travel-friendly instrument.
Whatever your reason may be, finding the right 3/4 size guitar can make a world of difference in your playing experience. But with so many options on the market, how do you know which one to choose?
In this guide, we’ll explore the best 3/4 size guitars available today and help you make an informed decision.
From acoustic to electric, beginner to pro, we’ve got you covered. So, whether you’re a child, a small-framed adult, or just looking for a more compact option, keep reading to discover the best 3/4 size guitars out there.
The Best 3/4 Size Guitars
- Taylor GS Mini – Our Top Pick
- Yamaha JR1 – Best for Beginners
- Martin LX1RE Little Martin – Best Under $500
- Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2 – Best Value
- Yamaha APXT2 – Best Under $200
- Ibanez PF2MH – Budget Pick
- Fender FA-15 – Best for Kids
- Cordoba Cadete – Best Nylon String
- Squier Mini Strat – Best Electric Guitar
Taylor GS Mini – The Best 3/4 Size Guitar
Taylor guitars have a huge reputation. In the world of acoustic guitar, they’re a true powerhouse. The GS Mini lives up to the hype. Let’s look at some highlights of this high-performance 3/4 acoustic.
A soundboard of Hawaiian Koa with layered Koa on the back and sides is key to the overall sound.
Koa offers tight midrange with prominence in the high end. Because of the scaled-down shape, a 3/4 guitar won’t have much in the way of low frequencies. But even with this in mind, the GS Mini is a brighter sounding guitar than most because of the tonewoods.
If you want crystalline sparkle in the higher frequencies, the GS Mini is for you.
The GS Mini is a grand symphony-shaped guitar. It’s reminiscent of a parlor shape, making it suitable for strummers or flat pickers.
It’s a well-built guitar made in Taylor’s Mexican plant. Out-of-the-box, the setup is pro with low action and no fret buzz. While it doesn’t have the prestige of an American Taylor, it performs to a very high standard.
Connectivity to a PA or amp comes via the ES-B electronics. The ES-B is a nice-sounding system and comes with a handy digital chromatic tuner on the body. There’s also a low battery indicator, which is a welcome addition for peace of mind.
For gigging, Taylor’s Expression System 2 offers more natural sound reproduction. The ES-B is a more beginner’s setup and tends to feedback at high levels.
Nonetheless, the GS Mini performs well at small live shows and shines with a bright and sparkling tone. For the intermediate, to professional singer-songwriter, the tone wouldn’t sound out of place on record.
Considering the tone of the koa, the craftsmanship, and smooth playability, it’s a top pick.
- Reputable Taylor brand name
- Built-in digital chromatic tuner
- All koa delivers a bright sparkling tone
- Mini grand symphony shape comfortable to play
- ES-B electronics feedback at high levels
Yamaha JR1 – Best 3/4 Size Guitar for Beginners
The Yamaha JR1 is an entry-level 3/4 guitar ideal for a beginner.
First, you’ve got the entry-level price point. Priced a touch over $150, it’s affordable. You don’t want to spend big bucks on a guitar to find it’s not the instrument for you.
But on the other hand, while tempting to buy the cheapest guitar you can find, it won’t perform. Cheap guitars are often high action and uncomfortable to play.
So, the JR1 hits the sweet spot. It’s comfortable to play, and it stays in tune. These are two important criteria to make learning enjoyable. And you won’t have to break the bank.
A JR1 is a perfect first instrument for any younger player because of its size. But it’s not a toy, this is a legit instrument. So much so, a beginner of any age will enjoy the playability.
Furthermore, if you’re an intermediate, the low price makes it appealing for other uses. If you like to travel, you don’t have to stress about transporting an expensive guitar. Or, if you want a guitar for around the campfire when camping, knocks and dents are less painful given the price.
Modeled on Yamaha’s FG series, it offers a folky tone. With a spruce top, it has pleasantly surprising sound quality and projects with a loudness unassuming of a 3/4 guitar.
So for the beginner, young or old, the compact 3/4 is a great companion to help you learn to form chords. While some hardware like bridge pins aren’t the best quality, it’s perfect for making the first steps to becoming a guitar virtuoso.
- Resonant spruce soundboard
- Modeled on Yamaha FG folk guitars
- Ideal starter guitar for younger family members
- Cheap plastic bridge pins
Martin LX1RE Little Martin – Best 3/4 Size Guitar Under $500
A Martin acoustic and an under $500 price isn’t common. So, the Martin LX1RE, sometimes known as the Little Martin, is popular for this alone. It’s an affordable way to own a Martin.
But why are Martin guitars so sought after?
Well, there are many reasons. Martin are an innovative brand. Having pioneered the dreadnought shape back in 1916, you’ll own a guitar made by a company steeped in history and tradition.
Then if you’re a green-conscious player, Martin focuses on sustainable methods of sourcing wood.
But perhaps most of all, Martin makes fantastic guitars, the LX1RE is yet another great guitar in the Martin catalog.
Built-in Mexico, the LX1RE has the Martin seal of craftsmanship. The Mortise and Tenon neck joint highlights that luthiers at the Mexico factory are capable.
Regarding materials, the solid Sitka spruce top is well-treated and delivers resonance. Made of high-pressure laminates, the back and sides are a lower quality of tonewood. But, at this price, you’ll struggle to find an all-solid guitar.
Warm and rounded, the LX1RE offers a tone even pros can enjoy. A prime example is Ed Sheeran, one pro known to favor the LX1RE.
Some hardware isn’t premium quality, for example, loose tuners are a common complaint. But the Little Martin is a top guitar. The LX1RE is the perfect way to get a Martin in your collection when on a budget.
With an immune to humidity richlite fingerboard and stable build quality, it’ll be in your collection for some time.
- Fishman Sonitone electronics
- Warm and rounded Martin sound
- Iconic brand name for an affordable price
- Richlite fingerboard for durability in changing temperatures
- Loose tuning pegs
Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2 – Best Value 3/4 Size Guitar
The Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2 is Taylor's ultra-portable travel mate belies its size with a sweet, full voice and great tone.
Read our full Taylor Baby BT2 Review
Not the first Taylor on the list, the BT2 is the best value for money. BT is short for Baby Taylor, and with its dreadnought body and excellent tone, the BT2 is a great call for anyone wanting a 3/4 guitar.
The Taylor’s GS Mini has a bright tone because of the koa wood. With its mahogany top, the BT2 offers an alternative option. A mahogany soundboard gives the BT2 more bump in the midrange, causing a punchier and bluesier tone.
So, if you’re sold on a Taylor, but play bluesy styles of music, the BT2 is a great option.
A light varnish finish feels soft on the hand and arm when playing. The quality of wood looks classy throughout even the layered Sapele back and sides. Complete with an ebony fretboard and mahogany neck, there’s the nucleus of a top performer.
One issue I find with the BT2 is the two screws on the 16th fret. These screws, to secure the neck, take away from what otherwise is a beautiful-looking guitar.
There’s no denying that the BT2 is great for beginners. Comfortable to play and affordable, it ticks all the boxes.
But, intermediate and professional players will take a lot from the BT2. For recording, it offers a different coloration. Alternative tunings and slide playing benefit from the midrange boost of the BT2. While it won’t be a pro’s best guitar, it’s another option in the arsenal.
- Taylor wood quality
- The ebony fretboard is hard-wearing
- Light varnish finish feels smooth and looks great
- Mahogany top boosts midrange for bluesy punchy tone
- Two screws on the fretboard at the 16th fret
Yamaha APXT2 – Best 3/4 Size Guitar Under $200
The APXT2 is a scaled-down version of the APX500. With its APX thin-line body shape, it offers a visual difference from the norm.
An APX thin-line shape allows for improved playability. Shallow-bodied, it’s manageable to hold, and the cutaway allows access to high frets. So, if you’re hoping to learn lead guitar, the APXT2 helps your progression.
The downside of the shallow body depth is the low volume. The smaller body size means there’s less air streaming through the soundhole, resulting in a quieter tone.
Furthermore, the cutaway also reduces the surface area for resonance.
But, this is a practice guitar and isn’t cut out for live performance. That said, if you want more volume, the onboard preamp and System 68 pickup connect to an amplifier. A built-in tuner is on hand for tuning at speed.
Priced under $200, it’s a cost-effective way to get your hands on an easy-to-play guitar. Spruce top, meranti back, and sides with a mahogany neck, the APXT2 delivers a fundamental acoustic tone.
Available in natural or black, the APXT2 looks unique but also offers beginners a marvelous instrument to learn on.
- Built-in tuner
- Cutaway for high fret access
- Thin body dimensions for playability
- Quiet projection
Ibanez PF2MH – Best Cheap 3/4 Size Guitar
At a budget price of around $130, you’ll have to expect some imperfections. Nonetheless, the Ibanez PF2MH is more than a simple budget pick.
The initial standout is its looks. It doesn’t appear like a budget guitar. With a natural finish, the strong open-pore textures of wood are prominent for a pleasing appearance.
Sapele has similar qualities to mahogany. An all-mahogany guitar has earthy and woody tonal nuances. So you can expect a similar tone from the PF2MH with its makeup of a Sapele top, back, and sides.
Obvious signs of cost-cutting are in the hardware. The nut and saddle are both made of plastic. When changing the strings, you’ll find the nut comes loose.
But, for the short term, the PF2MH is a noble companion to learn on. While the nut and saddle aren’t the best, it keeps its tune. This is down to the Ibanez Advantage bridge pins.
An updated version of old-fashioned bridge pins, they’re easier to push and pull. The bulb-shaped ending improves grip and ensures you don’t push strings too far into the bridge. Strings stay in position, and with an improved quality nut, it’d be even better.
For a beginner to learn on, or an intermediate wanting a day-to-day guitar, the Ibanez PF2MH is a bargain. The warmth of the Sapele wood and the balance of the dreadnought body produce a pleasant tone.
- Open-pore appearance looks more expensive
- Ibanez Advantage bridge pins for secure string replacement.
- Sapele top, back, and sides for a similar earthy tone to a mahogany guitar.
- Cheap plastic nut and saddle.
Fender FA-15 – Best 3/4 Size Guitar for Kids
Receiving the gift of a guitar at a young age is a special moment. Most players remember their first guitar regardless of age. The Fender FA-15 is a superb choice for kids, so let’s explore why.
The Fender FA-15 is a perfect size. Experts often say 3/4 size guitars are suitable for kids aged 8 to 12. But if a 5 to 8-year-old can grasp a 3/4, it’s preferable to get them accustomed to this size. Anything below is a quick fix when growing, so a 3/4 guitar won’t need replacing down the line.
An all-laminate body has heightened durability. Chances are kids will bang and drop their guitars when learning. The Fender FA-15 stands the test of time even under testing conditions.
A C-Shaped neck allows the palm to move with comfort. C-shaped necks are a common specification on a guitar, so getting a beginner used to this feeling will help in the long term.
The Fender name on the headstock holds some importance. As an iconic brand, they know their way around making guitars. So, the FA-15 has playability unlike novelty guitars with cartoon characters painted on the soundboard.
Available in a variety of colors, there’s a finish to suit the individual. The Fender FA-15 is a trendy-looking guitar bound to make any kid enjoy learning. Worst-case scenario and it’s not for them, the cheap price doesn’t hit your wallet hard.
- Under $200 price point
- Available in 4 different colors
- C-shaped neck profile comfortable
- Laminated body is high durability for limited scratches and dents
- The all laminate body is low in resonance.
Cordoba Cadete – Best Nylon String 3/4 Size Guitar
If you want a nylon string 3/4 guitar, the Cordoba Cadete is a brilliant choice.
As a nylon string, the Cadete offers a tonal variation to a steel string. The softer and mellower tone is well-suited for many genres, like classical and folk.
Nylon strings are also smoother on the fingertips. If you’re yet to create calluses on your fingertips, the Cadete is a guitar to introduce you to play without pain.
Besides the practicalities, the Cordoba has plenty of character. A solid western red cedar top contributes to a warm tone. The 7-fan bracing is a nod to tradition.
Since the early 19th century, this form of bracing has been producing earthy tones with a strong low end. Despite the smaller size, it maintains warmth and is a great-sounding guitar.
For under $400, the Cordoba Cadete screams bargain. A genuine bone nut and saddle show that cost-cutting is minimal. The reason behind the low price is this is a Chinese-built guitar. But this isn’t a throw-away guitar.
The action is low and the fret buzz is minimal. Cordoba makes excellent nylon guitars, and the Cadete is another to add to the list.
- The warmth of the cedar top
- Ease of playability of nylon strings
- Traditional bracing system for bold low end and earthy overtones
- Higher-end models have American or Spanish-built prestige.
Squier Mini Strat – Best 3/4 Size Electric Guitar
If you want a kid to learn the guitar, you may have to make it as appealing as possible. For a little rocker, the Squier Mini Strat is a guitar to go electric.
For some budding guitarists, the loudness of connecting to an amp has more appeal. The downside is you’ll have to factor in extra costs for an amplifier and leads.
Since its introduction in 1954, the Stratocaster shape has revolutionized playability. The Squier Mini Strat replicates similar ease of use but in a scaled-down package.
Same comfy Strat body, iconic 60s headstock, and three single-coil pickups. Moreover, the manageable c-profile neck will help any beginner get to grips with the basics.
The Squier Mini Strat is a good starting point for any beginner. Not only does it assist the learning curve, but learning on this guitar is helpful in the future.
Transitioning to a full-size electric guitar as the player gets older is smooth.
Available in black, shell pink, and Dakota red, there are different color options to suit every individual.
With free online lessons from Fender, the Squier Mini Strat is an entry-level guitar for budding rock stars.
- Classic Stratocaster shape
- C-profile neck for easy playability
- Three single-coils to replicate Strat sound
- An affordable instrument to become accustomed to electric guitars
- You’ll need to buy extra equipment for the full experience
How Big is a 3/4 Size Guitar?
The size of a 3/4 can vary a few inches. In general, they are 36″ in length, and 13″ wide at the widest point. Compared to a full-size guitar which is around 40″ by 15″. The scale length is lower in the 20″ to 24″ inch range whereas a full-size guitar is any measurement above 24″.
Pros and Cons of a 3/4 Size Guitar
A 3/4 guitar has positives and negatives. Depending on the individual guitarist, these may or may not be an issue. Let’s look at some of the main pros and cons.
3/4 Size Guitar Pros:
- Easier to Play – 3/4 guitars excel in playability. The scaled-down dimensions result in a more manageable guitar. A shorter scale length means you’re not stretching to reach the tuners. Smaller bodies are easier to maneuver and are more lightweight to wear with a strap.
- Portability – Transporting a full-size guitar is a pain. 3/4 guitars are a portable alternative with many benefits. These include less troublesome to board on a plane, fitting in small trunk space, and more comfy carrying for extended times.
- Inexpensive – You’ll find 3/4 guitars are much more affordable. You can pick up iconic brands for cheap if you opt for a 3/4 guitar. This is simply because they aren’t premium instruments and there are fewer materials needed to manufacture them.
3/4 Size Guitar Cons:
- Sound – The 3/4 guitars on this list sound great. But they all suffer from similar pitfalls in tone, in particular, the lack of low end. Because of the smaller body dimensions, a 3/4 won’t have the same weight in the low end as a full-size-bodied guitar. Smaller air space in the body also means there’s less volume from the soundhole.
- Lack of Options – When in the market for a full-size guitar, there’s a wide variety of choices. There are fewer options with 3/4 guitars and few premium choices, some brands don’t even manufacture 3/4 guitars.
- Lower Build Quality – There are so many poor-quality 3/4 guitars because they’re often thought of as entry-level instruments. Unbranded guitars are difficult to play and are more novelties than instruments.
How to Tell if a 3/4 Size Guitar is Best for You?
If you’re buying for a child a 3/4 guitar is the best option. But many adults enjoy the qualities of a 3/4 guitar. For anyone with a slighter build, the size is more manageable. The smaller size is also good for portability, around the house, or a different tone for live and studio applications.
How to Choose the Best 3/4 Size Guitar – Buyer’s Guide
Materials & Build Quality
Build quality varies depending on the price point. In many ways, it is a case of you paying for what you get. That said, there are ways to check for build quality.
With acoustic guitars, an all-solid wood body is a premium choice. But premium 3/4 guitars are rare and an expensive option. If an all solid wood guitar is out of budget, look for an acoustic with a solid top. This is a safe compromise.
With so many poor 3/4 guitars, it pays to stick to a well-known brand. You’ll find famous brands manufacture guitars for playing rather than for novelty. The guitars on this list all have a build quality matching or above the corresponding price range.
In general, a 3/4 guitar scale length is between 20″ to 24″. There are a few factors to consider when looking at the scale length.
A shorter scale length is easier for a guitarist of a smaller build to play. Smaller lengths allow for shorter arms to reach along the neck and loser strings require less finger pressure.
But a longer scale length causes more string tension, so the higher tension means a tighter sound. A longer scale also means bigger fret spacing, so there’s more room to place fingers within the constraints.
Number of Frets
Another important factor to consider is how many frets are on a guitar. 3/4 guitars have 18 frets or fewer. For a beginner, a low fret number isn’t a problem, as your journey will begin playing open chords which need no high fret access.
If you consider yourself an intermediate or professional, more frets will give you the option to play higher up the neck. Look for more frets if you plan to play lead parts or complex barre chords.
3/4 guitars have a smaller body size than full-size guitars. But 3/4 guitars still come in different shapes and sizes.
The most common shapes of a 3/4 guitar are variations of the dreadnought and the parlor. A parlor is like a classical body shape.
Parlor body shapes are smaller, so are easier to hold and carry. For beginners, a parlor is a good starting point for this reason.
Dreadnoughts are heftier, while they won’t have the projection or bass of a full size, a 3/4 dreadnought has more volume and weight.
Many of the factors mentioned in the buyer’s guide affect playability. These include scale length, body shape, the number of frets, and build quality.
Another thing to consider is the action. Simply put, this is the distance between the string and fretboard. A high action makes the guitar difficult to play. Cheap guitars with a poor setup suffer from this.
If you find the strings are too high. A professional technician can lower the action, making it easier to play.
Also, consider string gauge. Lower gauge strings are often easier to play. So if you’re a beginner, consider changing strings if you’re finding it difficult.
Sometimes, a guitar doesn’t feel right. Playability is all about preference. If this is the case, buying from reputable sites like Sweetwater is the best way to protect you as you can send the guitar back with minimal fuss.
Genre of Music
Used in several genres, an acoustic guitar is a must in a guitarist’s collection.
A nylon string guitar is a mainstay in classical and flamenco genres. But they also appear in folk and other contemporary styles.
Dreadnought guitars are versatile for finger techniques and strumming. For country, pop, indie, and many more, these are a safe choice.
The smaller bodies of parlor guitars result in a focus in the midrange. The prominence in these frequencies makes them great for blues and slide techniques.
But boundaries are there to push and 3/4 guitars will sound at home in many genres.
While 3/4 guitars are cheaper than larger guitars, they still vary in price.
If you’re a beginner, you don’t need to break the bank. Once your skills progress, you’ll upgrade down the line, anyway. Likewise, if you’re buying for a younger player, they’ll eventually outgrow a 3/4 guitar. So for a short-term guitar, you don’t need to overspend.
When buying a 3/4 guitar for traveling, prepare yourself for the guitar to incur bumps and dents. Don’t spend big bucks on a guitar that you’ll throw in overhead storage. It’ll avoid disappointment when you face the inevitable scratches.
You’ll struggle to find a premium US-built guitar costing thousands of bucks. You’ll have to look at full-size guitars for prime quality because 3/4 guitars cater to youngsters and beginners.
But if you’re an intermediate or pro, pay a little more and around $500 for improved sound quality and playability.
There we have it, the best 3/4 guitars!
Whether it be for learning the basics or you prefer the playability of a 3/4 guitar, there’s one for everyone regardless of skill level.
For sheer sound quality and playability, the Taylor GS Mini is a leading option. But all the guitars on this list are great and offer value for money.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of 3/4 guitars and which one is right for you or your kid.
So, all that’s left, take your pick and enjoy your new guitar!