There are a number of reasons for wanting a smaller guitar. These can include travel, having small hands, or for your kids. The reason that I love 3/4 electric guitars is the fact that you can get so much more reach. All of a sudden you can get an entire octave on one string without moving your hand up the neck.
Whatever your reason for seeking a short-scale electric guitar you will need something of decent quality. This will help keep you motivated to practice.
There is a larger variety of acoustic guitars than electric guitars in this size. There are a few reasons for this. One reason is that manufacturers target beginners with 3/4 scale guitars. Most people start off playing acoustic guitars. A second being that solo travelers are better off taking an acoustic with them so they don’t have to lug around an amp. 3/4 guitars are a hot market for such users.
Short-scale electrics are still common enough to be fairly priced. There is also enough diversity to find something that you will fall in love with.
We have reviewed 7 of our favorite 3/4 size electric guitars. Each of these guitars is cool in its own right and most of them don't cost more than $200 so they won’t break the bank.
My favorite is the signature Paul Gilbert Ibanez but this is a category where it is really hard to pick the “best”. Have a look through all of them and see which one suits your taste.
The Mikro series from Ibanez are awesome smaller sized electric guitars and basses. This is the most expensive electric guitar from this series and is therefore the best of them.
The PGMM21 is the signature 3/4 guitar of Paul Gilbert. He actually uses these guitars when he is on tour. They are good enough quality for one of the most popular guitarists in the world to use on stage. This means you can be sure they are of a high enough standard for your average user.
On tour, he often strings these guitars differently. He might just put on 3 strings with strange tunings for example. Obviously, the guitar works fine with a standard set up and will sound just as good.
You might not have the reach that Paul Gilbert does with his massive hands. That shouldn't stop the shorter scale allowing you to reach a lot further than on a standard Ibanez.
This guitar comes loaded with the same pickups as the standard Ibanez Mikro. It does have a better fretboard, a reverse headstock, and a premium finish. It only costs about $50 more so we think it is worth the upgrade.
One qualm with the standard Mikro series electric guitars is that they can come out of tune too often. The reverse headstock on this guitar helps to counteract this problem.
Most, if not all, short-scale guitars do have at least a slight issue with this. It is worth upgrading to branded locking tuners later if you feel comfortable doing so.
There is no doubt that Fender Stratocasters are one of the most popular guitars in the world. A Squier is the closest thing you will get to a real Fender Stratocaster with a short scale design. They are the budget version of Strats that are still designed by Fender.
Squier products are well known for their great quality when compared to their cost. They have decent sound and play much better than many other cheap options for guitars. That high standard is what makes the Mini Strat one of the best 3/4 guitars available.
These are available in a range of different classic Fender colors. You will surely be able to find one that suits your taste.
These guitars emulate a classic Strat tone. That makes them well equipped to play many genres including, but not limited to, classic rock, jazz, and pop.
The single-coil pickups loaded into this guitar are pretty good for low-cost pickups. They are among the best for use on the clean channel of an amplifier for our top picks of 3/4 electric guitars.
You won’t be able to get heavy tones from these guitars like from the Jackon or Ibanez offerings. A little overdrive can sound really good with these Squires though. To get the tone you are after, you can experiment with the tone knobs and pickup switcher. The range of tones you will find will be surprising.
The neck and body feel sturdy and this guitar holds its tune very well for a short scale guitar.
This guitar is one of the best choices for a beginner. It has a versatile nature and classic appearance. It also has an easy to work fretboard.
These guitars share a lot of features with our favorite pick. It would have been rude to include it as one of our top picks too.
These guitars have a 5-way pickup switcher. This means you can turn your humbucking pickups into a single-coil mode. This will help you to get complete control over your tone. There is also a tone control knob. This is a feature that is even missing from our top pick.
These guitars are one of the best 3/4 electric guitars for heavy music. The included pickups have a design that is great for getting a nice distorted tone. They give the Jackson Minion series a real run for their money in terms of their ability to play metal.
You can get a version with New Zealand pine fretboard and shark tooth inlays. This version is an even more suited metal companion.
The maple fretboard on the GRGM21M will give a lighter tone than a pine fretboard.
These guitars come in 5 different colors. The headstock paint does not match the body like in our top pick. But, the standard black headstock still looks great and may even have more appeal to some people.
These guitars do not have the best tuning stability. That is our only real gripe with them. If you can’t tune by ear, we recommend buying a tuner so you can retune this guitar often. This is a skill a new guitar player should practice a lot anyway.
It’s all in the name. This guitar is the master of jazz for 3/4 guitars. They call this guitar the Jazzmaster because of its body shape but its tones are good for playing jazz too.
The Mini Jazzmaster has some fantastic clean tones, especially for a humbucker type guitar. The pickups are great to play with some reverb or delay on your amp. They are also surprisingly good with a little overdrive.
The maple neck and fretboard accommodate the clean vibes you get from the pickups too. This combination produces a sparkling bright sound.
This guitar, and the Mini Squire, are definitely our favorites for using with a clean channel amp.
These guitars are available in many different finishes. The range of colors is a pastel palette as are most classically styled Fender guitars.
This guitar looks like something out of the ’60s and is a great choice if you are into any older jazz, pop, or blues artists.
This guitar does have trouble staying in tune with its stock strings so you will need to change them. It may also need a lot of extra setup so be prepared for this if you choose this guitar.
Just look at this guitar! If that doesn’t scream '80s metal then I don’t know what does. The neon colors are so bright they are hard to look at for a long period so they definitely stand out. You can also get it in satin black or a blue/black burst if you would prefer to be a little more understated.
The main appeal of this guitar is its looks but that can also be a drawback.
The Rhoades shape of this guitar looks cool, but in all honesty, it can be cumbersome. There is no groove to rest your leg in while sitting down. This means guitars in this shape slide around and move off your body easier than a standard shape guitar. If you are just learning how to play guitar or are buying for your child most of the time spent playing will be in a chair.
It is of course fine to use this guitar with a strap standing or sitting. It may be worth purchasing a decent strap if you are in love with this shape.
The Jackson branded pickups have great compatibility with distortion. However, You will not get the best clean tones out of these guitars. Once again this doesn’t make this guitar the best choice for learners. This is because it will be a little harder to hear the articulations of your playing.
Jackson has targeted these guitars more towards traveling musicians. That being said, it is not impossible to use this as a first guitar. You might just need a little extra commitment.
Jackson Minion guitars are often marketed as 2/3 scale guitars. Yet, they have a similar scale length to other 3/4 guitars so don't be turned off if you see 2/3 scaling. It's the same thing.
We may have put you off a little by talking about how the Rhoades shaped JS1X can be a little bit of a pain. If you love the bright colors, pitch-black hardware, and designed for metal pickups of that guitar there is another option. The Dinky.
The Dinky shape from Jackson is a little more beginner-friendly. It is also one of their most popular body shapes. It is smooth and lightweight and available in a number of different finishes.
These guitars have a string through design which makes it easier for a newbie to restring the guitar.
The saddle can be a little complex so we suggest you get someone to help you if you want to adjust the playing height.
The sharkfin inlays on the fretboard are a cool little feature. It sets the Jackson Minion guitars apart from the competition. Most other 3/4 scale guitars come with standard dots for their inlays. Dots do the job fine, but it’s nice to see a premium feature like fancy inlays on a budget guitar like this one.
Don’t let the fact that we put these guitars as our favorites for metal put you off looking into them. If you’re not into heavy music these guitars are also great for rock and pop music. Just note that the clean tones are not as clear as on the Fender guitars.
Let’s face it, every guitar so far in this list is on the budget end of the spectrum when you think about guitar cost. However, If you want to save money this guitar is the best one you will get for under $70.
Harley Benton guitars are ThomannMusic.com’s own brand of guitars. They are incredibly cheap. They do, unfortunately, have an up and down reputation though.
You will be able to find hundreds of sparkling reviews for this and other Harley Benton guitars. To balance that there are also some negative ones.
Some common complaints are sharp frets and poorly set up guitars. These are easily remedied by an experienced guitar player. However, It could be a real pain for somebody with less know-how. That is not to say that if you buy one of these guitars you will definitely have these problems. It is just luck of the draw.
The hardware, neck, body wood, and pickups are of awesome quality considering the total cost of the guitar. They are comparable to the Squire Stratocaster that costs more than twice as much as this guitar. Close to, but not quite as good.
These guitars are a good option for kids because of their low cost. If your child loses interest it's less money out of your pocket.
You must be aware that the sharp frets can be a mood killer while practicing if they aren’t filed down. For a child, you can probably do this yourself with a normal file as it won’t be the end of the world if you overdo it.
In spite of its potential flaws, it kills any other competition that costs close to its price. The dodgy strange brands you find on Amazon don't even compare.
We aren’t telling you to stay away from these guitars because they’re not good. In fact, they rock pretty hard! It is simply the cost of these that make them a less suitable choice for a short scale guitar.
These cost more than twice as much as our second most expensive pick. They also don’t offer more bang for the buck than other guitars in our top picks.
They do have some pretty cool features though. The pickup included is actually really good for overdriven rock music.
If you do have a big budget to spend and you or your daughter (or son) love the look of these guitars than they are a great buy. It is just hard to justify that extra expense over the other 3/4 guitars we have listed.
The main obvious benefit in the smaller size. This makes it easier for people with small hands such as children. I have also met plenty of adults that have hands that would suit a smaller guitar.
The smaller size has a less obvious benefit for new guitar players. As the neck is shorter the strings don’t need to be as tight to create the right note. This means they are a little easier on the fingertips. Learning to play the guitar can hurt your fingers. At least until you form calluses. For some people, this can take a long time. The shorter scale helps to prevent this problem.
The short-scale is also nice for experienced players. It makes it easier to play solos or extravagant chord voicings. This is because they can reach further across the fretboard. Take Paul Gilbert for example. He is one of the best guitarists in the world but still uses his signature 3/4 guitar on tour to play some crazy stuff.
3/4 scale guitars come out of tune more frequently than standard guitars. This is due to the shorter scale length causing less tension on the strings. It also doesn’t help that its easier to bend notes on this type of guitar.
To make this issue worse ¾ guitars don’t come with particularly brilliant tuners. The reason for this is a simple matter of cost. Most 3/4 guitars are budget-friendly they, therefore, don’t have expensive hardware of any kind.
The lack of expensive hardware is also a problem when comparing to standard guitars. If you spend even a little extra on a full-scale electric guitar you can get a lot better features. That benefit is less prevalent among 3/4 electric guitars.
They simply aren't 3/4 the size of their standard counterparts. Their length is often around 3”-5” shorter than an equivalent full-size model. This is not even close the cutting the size down by a quarter.
When measured they aren’t 3/4 the size but if you see one on someone’s hands or next to a full-size guitar they do look roughly 3/4 the size.
I think manufacturers agreed on this general scale ratio to give some blanket context to the size of guitars. Rather than having each model saying for example “This is a 9/10 scale version of the Les Paul.” or “This guitar is a 7/15 scale Strat copy” and so on. Not that it stopped Jackson from saying their Minion series is 2/3 scale.
To get a real feel for a 3/4 guitar go and pick on up in a music shop. They will all be roughly the same size. If you’ve held one before you can estimate for the rest of them.
Hi, I'm Chris, the owner, creator, and head writer for InciteMusic.com
I have been a touring cover musician and a teacher for the last 10 years and take helping people to achieve their musical goals very seriously.
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