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What Guitar Size Should I Buy?

Published: Thu October 14, 2010  News Feed


We are always getting asked LOADS of questions about guitars. What guitar is right? What's the difference between acoustic and electro-acoustic? What size guitar should my child play? What guitar is suitable for my son? Is there a different guitar shape for girls? What accessories do I need to buy if I'm buying a guitar? What's the difference between half size and full size guitar?

We'd like to give a helping hand in deciding which guitar is the right one with Dolphin Music's guitar guide.


You'll find several different categories of guitars on our website. But what are the differences?

Classical Guitar

Classical Guitar

Classical guitars are the most popular choice for beginners. They are called that (or "Spanish guitars") because they were developed to play classical or spanish-style flamenco music, but can be used for any style, really. These guitars have distinctive features such as 6-nylon strings (rather than steel strings) and a smaller acoustic sound hole to amplify vibrations. They are lightweight, small and easier to play, with a mellower sound than traditional acoustic guitars.

They are also available in even smaller sizes (1/2 and 1/4) which are perfect for the little ones, too! They're usually cheaper, so perfect for those who just want a casual instrument to play and are perhaps unsure how seriously they'll dedicate themselves to it. Having said that, the more high-end models can be very expensive and are suited for professional musicians, especially those who indeed play classical music! View Classical Guitars.

Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic guitars are very similar to classical guitars, yet their steel strings make the sound much louder and therefore are of a bulkier build to hold the sound. They come in a variety of slightly different shapes such as dreadnought, grand concert, jumbo etc, and are the most popular type of acoustic guitar, as used on most acoustic songs you've heard, from Beatles and Bob Dylan to Oasis. Currently, Tanglewood is the UK's most popular brand, due to their exceptional value for money and built quality. If you're not sure which brand to choose, Tanglewood is always a safe bet! View more Acoustic Guitars.


Electro-Acoustic guitar

Simply, an electro-acoustic guitar look exactly like an acoustic, and really they are. So what's the added benefit of an electro-acoustic? Electro-Acoustic guitars can be played as any acoustic, but also allow you to plug them into an amplifier, effects pedal and other recording equipment. They're just more versatile - fitted with pickups, a microphone or transducers, it makes them more convenient for live performances, or if you want to play along to a loop FX pedal, like Ed Sheeran and so many other acoustic artists do. Check our Ed Sheeran Gear Guide if you'd like to find out more about his setup. View Electro-Acoustic guitars.

Electric Guitars

Electric Guitar

Electric guitars do not include a sound hole for acoustic amplification, but produce their sound solely from electricity, converting the string vibrations into electrical audio signals. Which means you can't just buy an electric guitar to strum it like an acoustic, because you'll need to also buy at least a cable and a guitar amplifier! View Electric Guitars.

For a more detailed overview, check our article How To Choose The Perfect Beginners Guitar, which also shows how to choose a good guitar fro your particular musical tastes.


It's important to know what size guitar you're buying, especially when you're shopping online and can't try out the guitar for yourself. Guitars a variety of different sizes - we have a guitar size-guide here, along with some guitars to match - so you can see just what suits you!


Even though 3/4-sized guitars are recommended for 8-12 year olds, this doesn't mean they are not suitable fro adults, too! Increasingly, adult players - even experienced ones - have been opting for playing 3/4 size guitars too, due to the conveniente size (especially when travelling) and the more punchy sound. Ed Sheeran uses almost exclusively 3/4-sized guitars.

And no - there's no such a thing as a "guitar shape" for girls...


There's no one-solution fits all when it comes to musical instrument, and it always comes down to personal tastes. But you can follow these suggestions:

  • If Buying Guitar for a Child: follow the guitar sizes as advised before, according to child's age.
  • If You've Never Played Guitar & want to try it out: Buy a classical guitar. Cheap & easy to play.
  • If You Want A Good All-Rounder: Get a traditional acoustic guitar.
  • If You're Thinking About Playing Live: Get an electro-acoustic.
  • If You Want To Play Some Rock'n'Roll: Get an electric guitar

Please Note: If you're looking into completing Grade Exams with the guitar, such as ABRSM or Trinity College London, then you should take a look at the guitar grade requirements published by these examining bodies. The requirements state that the instrument used to take guitar grades must be a classical guitar with nylon strings (this is excluding Rock Guitar, or Rock School grades). If you're ever unsure about any guitar features advertised on our site, please don't hesitate to call up our sales team on 0151 448 2080, who will be more than happy to give you help and advice with whatever you need.


Spare strings and a guitar tuner are absolutely essential. And even though some guitarists do prefer using just their bare fingers to pick or strum the strings when playing, most still prefer using guitar picks, so that's a recommended accessory. View all guitar accessories.


So now you know which guitar size is the right one for you, which guitar fits? Our guitar starter packs come with everything you need to start learning to play, complete with a learn-to-play DVD, picks, strap and an extra set of strings. Dolphin's diverse range caters to players of any age or any size, so take a look at some of our best individual beginner guitars and starter packs and see what catches your eye.

3/4 Classical Acoustic Guitar

Eastcoast 3/4 Size Linden Classical Guitar

3/4 Size (8-12 Years)

The Eastcoast Linden Guitar with its nylon strings and matt finish is perfect for young beginners.

  • Top, Back & Sides: basswood
  • Neck: nato
  • Fingerboard & Bridge: solid maple (black painted) - Machine heads: standard, nickel
  • Finish: matt
  • Colour: natural - 3/4 Model - Scale length: 590 mm.

Available in Natural

Image: Tanglewood DBT DLX FZ Exotic Zebrano Folk Acoustic Guitar - Natural Tanglewood DBT DLX FZ Exotic Zebrano Folk Acoustic

Full Size

This guitar is a perfect introduction to "exotic wood" guitars. Looks stunning, like a much more expensive instrument than it actually is.

  • Folk / Orchestra shape
  • Zebrano top, back & side
  • Mahogany neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Rosewood bridge
Eascoast Dreadnought acoustic

Eastcoast Acoustic Dreadnought Guitar (Natural)

Full Size 

This is a very basic and affordable acoustic guitar, ideal for beginners!

  • Back & sides: catalpa
  • Neck: catalpa, Oval "C" shape
  • Bridge & fingerboard: rosewood
  • Optional pickguard(included): white
  • Body binding: white
  • Machine heads: diecast nickel
 Epiphone Slash Guitar Package

Epiphone Slash AFD Les Paul Package

Full Size

For those who prefer to get started on an electric guitar, this is the best package. It comes with everything you need to start making some good rock'n'roll noise!

  • Includes Les Paul guitar & amp
  • Gigbag: Premium with Slash "Snakepit" logo in white
  • Strap: Yes
  • Cable: YesPicks: Dunlop® Tortex™ Slash signature picks; 3 (white, black and purple)
  • Instruction: Free On-Line from eMedia; Multi-Language
Linden 3/4-sized guitar

Eastcoast 3/4 Linden Classical Guitar

3/4 size (8-12 Years)

This 3/4-sized guitar is ideal for the youngsters but also a great choice for aults who just want a small & portable travel-size guitar.

  • Top, Back & Sides: basswood
  • Neck: nato
  • Fingerboard & Bridge: solid maple (black painted)
  • Machine heads: standard, nickel
  • Finish: highgloss
  • Scale Length: 590 mm 3/4 Model
Image: Ibanez Acoustic Jam Pack Ibanez Acoustic Jam Pack - Natural

Full Size

This is just the thing newbies need to get started learning acoustic guitar -- a dreadnought, gig bag, tuner, strap and picks all in one convenient package.


  • Dreadnought acoustic guitar
  • Clip-on electric tuner
  • Guitar picks
  • Guitar strap
  • Gig bag
  • Accessory pouch

Whatever it is that you're after, from electric to classical, full scale to junior guitars, we have what you need to start playing the guitar, or advance your skills!

You can see the rest of our affordable electric and acoustic guitar starter packs in our Beginner Category.

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