For Honest Music And Audio Gear Reviews

Should I Buy a 3/4 or Full Size Guitar? A Beginner’s Guide to the Key Differences

Should I Buy a 34 or Full Size Guitar

When starting to learn guitar, it’s crucial that you can feel comfortable with your instrument. An ill-fitting guitar that’s too large or small can hamper your learning experience and discourage you from practicing. For children and smaller-framed adults, a full size guitar may be too big, making a 3/4 size guitar a better choice. However, each guitar size has tradeoffs.

While a 3/4 guitar is smaller and easier to handle, a full size guitar produces better sound quality and has more stable tuning. As you decide which is right for you, remember that personal preference, comfort, and ease of playing ultimately matter more than small differences in tone. Read on as I explore the key similarities, differences, specifications, and other considerations when choosing between 3/4 and full size guitars.

Main Differences between 3/4 Guitar and Full Size Guitar

While 3/4 and full size guitars share many similarities, their most pronounced differences are in size, string tension, cost, and sound quality.

Size and Dimensions

The most noticeable difference is in the size and dimensions of 3/4 vs full size guitars. 3/4 guitars are around 3/4 the size of a full size guitar, making them more compact and easier to handle. This smaller size makes them a better fit for younger guitarists.

Full size guitars have standard dimensions with larger bodies, necks, and fretboards. This suits most adult guitarists, but can be challenging for children and smaller-framed adults to play.

String Tension

Due to the smaller scale, 3/4 guitars have lower string tension compared to full sizes. This makes the strings easier to press down and bend. However, it also means 3/4 guitars may go out of tune quicker due to the reduced string tension.

Full size guitars maintain higher string tension resulting in better tuning stability. However, the higher tension makes the strings slightly harder to fret and bend.


Full size guitars come in a vast range of prices, with high-end models easily costing thousands of dollars. 3/4 guitars are more budget-friendly, with decent beginner models available for less than a hundred dollars.

This makes 3/4 guitars ideal for new guitarists who want a cheaper instrument when starting out. However, full size guitars offer more options if you want a professional grade instrument.

Sound Quality

The larger size and better string tension of full size guitars enable them to produce a richer, warmer tone. 3/4 guitars may not have the capacity to replicate the same sound quality due to the smaller body and lower string tension.

However, sound quality depends on many factors, not just guitar size. With the right strings and setup, a 3/4 guitar can still sound great.

Similarities between 3/4 Guitar and Full Size Guitar

Despite some key differences, 3/4 and full size guitars share many similarities that make transitioning between them relatively straightforward.


The components including the body, neck, bridge, tuners, and electronics are largely similar between 3/4 and full size guitars. Aside from the smaller size, the parts of a 3/4 guitar are comparable to a full size.

This makes it easy to transfer skills and techniques between different sized guitars. The main adaptation is getting used to the different scale size.

Shape and Number of Strings

3/4 and full size guitars feature the same iconic curvy shape and standard 6 strings. While less common guitar varieties may have different shapes and string numbers, the traditional form and components are consistent across both 3/4 and full sizes.

Tuning Process

No matter the size, both 3/4 and full size guitars follow the same tuning process. The tuners and method of getting the strings up to the proper pitch is identical. The only difference is the lower string tension on a 3/4 may require more frequent tuning adjustments.

Key Specification Differences Between a Full Size vs 3/4 Size Guitar

Key Specification Differences Between a Full Size vs 34 Size Guitar

Understanding some of the key specifications that differ between full and 3/4 guitars can further help decide which is best suited for your needs.

Suitable Age Range

3/4 guitars are best suited for children ages 8 to 12 years old, or heights ranging from about 4’ to 5’ tall. The smaller size matches their smaller frames.

Full size guitars fit most teens and adults, except very petite adults under 5 feet tall who may find a 3/4 guitar more comfortable.

Comfort for Adults

While designed for kids, adults can also find 3/4 guitars comfortable to play, especially if they have difficulties reaching the lower frets or stretching their fingers across all 6 strings on full size guitars.

The key is finding a guitar that lets you fret notes and form chords without undue hand strain or contortions.

Sound Quality

As mentioned earlier, full size guitars produce better sound quality and tone due to their construction. However, a 3/4 guitar set up properly can still sound good, especially for beginners. Sound quality depends on other factors too.

String Tension and Tuning Stability

Full size guitars maintain higher string tension leading to better tuning stability and intonation. 3/4 guitars have lower tension, so must be tuned more often. However, the lighter tension also makes the 3/4 guitars easier to play.

Other Noteworthy Features of 3/4 Guitar

Beyond just the size differences, 3/4 guitars have some other helpful features that make them great starter instruments.

Body, Neck, and Parts

As covered earlier, 3/4 guitars share many similarities with full sizes when it comes to the body, neck, and other components. This consistency makes it easier to find a well-constructed 3/4 guitar from a reputable manufacturer.

Tuning Mechanism and Accessories

The tuning machines and hardware should operate smoothly on a 3/4 guitar. It’s also wise to invest in useful accessories like a capo, extra strings, tuner, gig bag, and instructional resources. These will enhance your learning experience.


While being budget-friendly instruments, 3/4 guitars made by leading brands like Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez are reliable and comparable to their full size models. Avoid the very cheapest models that may be prone to problems.

Factors Affecting the Sound of Full Size Guitars

If sound quality is your top priority, full size guitars deliver better performance. Here are some factors that affect how a full size guitar sounds.

Guitar Strings

The gauge, winding method, and material of the guitar strings impact the guitar’s tone and sound. Higher quality strings can noticeably improve sound compared to cheap strings.

Scale Length

Longer scale lengths enhance sustain and allow tighter string tension, resulting in better tone. Full size dreadnought guitars often have scale lengths around 25.5″.


The types of wood used for the guitar body’s top, back, and sides significantly influence the sound. Different tonewoods like spruce, mahogany and rosewood each produce distinctive sounds.

Reliability of Full Size Guitars

While offering the best sound, full size guitars vary more widely in reliability. Here are some tips for getting a reliable full size model:

Dependence on the Manufacturer

Sticking with well-known guitar brands like Fender, Taylor, Martin, and Gibson improves your chances of getting a durable, problem-free instrument. Lesser-known brands can be hit or miss.

Affordable Models

Very cheap full size guitars may not withstand heavy usage over years, but if treated well, should not have major problems either. At minimum, quality control from reputable brands prevents defective components.

Overall, while pricier full size guitars are more durable, decent mass-market models can still deliver years of enjoyment if maintained properly. Proper storage, changing strings, and setup adjustments go a long way.

Alternative Guitar Sizes

Aside from 3/4 and full size, some other guitar sizes are available too. Two other options are:

Half-size Guitar

As the name suggests, half-size guitars are about 1/2 the size of a full size model. They are best suited to very young children under age 8 and those under 4′ tall. Half-sizes work initially but may be outgrown quickly.

1/4 Guitar

Even smaller than a half-size, 1/4 guitars are ideal for ages 5-8 years old, depending on height. While very portable, 1/4 guitars restrict playing ability and are outgrown fastest.

Parlor Guitar

While not specifically a “smaller” guitar, parlor guitars have reduced dimensions compared to larger dreadnought and jumbo full sizes. The smaller parlor body produces excellent mid-range tones.


Deciding between a 3/4 vs full size guitar involves balancing playability against sound quality. Keep these tips in mind when choosing:

  • Consider your age, height, and hand size – Pick the guitar size that lets you play chords and fret notes comfortably.
  • Prioritize comfort and ease of playing – Don’t sacrifice enjoyment by getting a guitar that’s painful to play for long periods.
  • Understand how size affects sound – Full sizes sound better, but 3/4 guitars can still produce good tones.
  • Get the highest quality instrument you can afford – Well-constructed guitars stay in tune better and sound superior.

While full size guitars offer the most versatility and room to grow, don’t overlook 3/4 guitars, especially when starting out. With the right fit and setup, they can be excellent, enjoyable beginner instruments. Let your budget, playing needs, and preferences guide you to choosing the best guitar size for you.

Should I Buy a 3/4 or Full Size Guitar? A Beginner’s Guide to the Key Differences

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top