Buyers Guide – small, classy acoustic guitars

This is the third post in my revisited series on buying acoustic guitars. It was written in response to a lady based in the UK so the recommendations for shops are UK based but in the US you can obviously try Guitar Centre as well as lots of boutique shops:

“I have very small hands and note that Andy often refers to his small hands in the DVDs. Can he recommend a suitable acoustic guitar for small handed people who find it difficult to stretch. I have up to £2000 to spend as I want a good one!!”

Andy replies:

With £2000 (that’s about $2,800) to spend you could pretty much get any brand you like. Even possibly an English custom hand made model where you could choose all the sizes you want. Generally there are two things to bear in mind – body size and neck size. Three body sizes to consider are the 000 size (smallish) the dreadnought size, (standard looking acoustic) and jumbo (big). Broadly speaking the larger the body the deeper (or bigger the sound) although choice of woods for the top (where the soundhole is) and the back and sides also is a big variable here. The choice is down to what sounds good to you but if you finger pick try a cedar (reddish colour) top which will give a slightly softer sound with more mid. Many strumming choose a spruce (light coloured) top which can give a punchier, harder sound. The wood for the back and sides has a bearing too. Many exotic woods can be used but the classic options are rosewood, mahogany and ebony. The other thing is fingerboard width and neck size. Neck size is personal preference. Although I have smaller hands I prefer a fatter neck but if you have small hands and fingers you might prefer a narrower fingerboard width. Just check that it’s not too small to comfortably play chords with.

Take your time choosing and play as many models as you can before making a decision. I don’t know where you’re based but I’d go to a place like Denmark Street in London where they have loads of guitars shops to try instruments in. Take your time and don’t make a snap decision. As far as brands are concerned these are my thoughts.

Taylor – all models very easy to play. Try their T5 too which is a hybrid acoustic electric which is especially easy to play particularly if your mainly going to be playing through a PA system.

A friend of mine went to Brook guitars in Devon and was very satisfied. They or any decent custom maker should talk you through body and wood options vs. sound differences. It will take a while to build but if you choose right will last a lifetime.

Another alternative is Avalon guitars in Newtonards near Belfast. These guys are all worship leaders so should understand your needs. Give them a call as although they do lots of off the peg models at dealers they may make something for you (or at least advise you on the phone) for that kind of money. They also used to sell seconds directly from the factory at pretty large discounts so that worth checking because I couldn’t tell the difference between a first and a second.

Martin 000 series. This is the standard ‘small’ guitar so worth looking at as a bench mark.

Mcpherson guitars – based in Nashville. Paul Baloche, Graham Kendrick and Delirious play these instruments. I’ve just got one (see the photo on the right) and they are very, very nice. The soundhole is offset which helps tone and projection and as there are only a handful in the UK at present so this would be a really unique instrument for you. Mcpherson are a boutique maker so they can talk you through options, woods etc.

When I first wrote this post back in 2007, the dollar was very weak against the pound so it was great value to buy in the US and ship back to the UK. Whilst guitars are still a bit cheaper in the US, the savings aren’t quite what they used to be.


Learning to play your new acoustic guitar well:

The Intermediate Acoustic Worship Guitar Course

The Worship Guitar Collection