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I was at the guitar shop today, and fell in love with one of their acoustic guitars (Steelstring, Parlour, with Cutaway). For some reason, I like small guitars.

However, I found out that it only has a 7/8 scale (61.5 cm = 24.2 inches). Since I'm planning to use this as my main practice guitar, how much should I worry that this might be detrimental to my playing?

(Note: I'm not a concert guitarist or something like that, but I still want to be able to grab any full-size guitar and play it without having to recalibrate too much.)

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5 Answers 5

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The answer to this is probably going to depend on the individual. I'm inclined to say it shouldn't be a problem except that you say it will be your main practice guitar.

I'm not sure what other guitars you'll be playing and for what purpose, but in my experience, it's best to practice on the guitar you will be playing in other (non-practice) situations. So if you're going to get together with your friends and play or perform, use the same guitar for both, or at least a guitar with similar geometry.

On the other hand, it generally shouldn't be a huge problem. Your fingers are used to dealing with variations in the spacing between frets. Think about what a longer scale guitar is like if you stick a capo on the third or fifth fret. There could be issues with string tension, however, unless you accommodate by putting lighter gauge strings on the full size guitar.

I think you'll get better results sticking with one particular guitar or scale length and reserving something like the Parlour guitar for travel or other situations where its smaller size is an additional advantage over a full-size guitar - unless you plan to use the parlour guitar for everything and treat full-sized guitars as novelties.

FWIW, I believe the two most common scale lengths are 24 3/4" and 25 1/2". So a "full-size" guitar you go to grab might have either of those scale lengths, although I believe 25 1/2 is more common.

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If it's a high-quality guitar, and it's the one you're going to be performing with, who cares about its size? If it feels right to you and makes you a better performer, perhaps the rest of us are all in the wrong!

Don't however, think that people with small hands can't play big guitars. I have taught many young and adult students with tiny hands to play comfortably on full-size guitars of all types. Much of it boils down to posture and technique.

That said, there is nothing wrong with liking or playing a smaller guitar. Music, after all, is about creating sound, not fitting some socially-acceptable model.

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1  
+1 for the last comment (creating vs socially-acceptable model) –  jclozano Jan 4 '12 at 16:43

I built guitars and basses in the 80's and 90's and have been playing for well over 30 years.

I've tended towards shorter scale guitars (Gibson) and actually think nothing is wrong with playing even 7/8 and possibly 3/4. If you enjoy the guitar, it is easier to play and it sounds good by all means go for it.

Too often someone says, "Don't do that." Jeff Healy, the blind guitarist, had an early teacher tell him he had to play the guitar normally and not on his his lap.

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I sought advice on this site last year, before buying a short-scale bass guitar: What are the disadvantages of buying a short-scale bass guitar

I've found the short-scale bass a wonderful instrument to practice, learn and perform on. One of my concerns was that if I was handed a full-scale bass, my skills wouldn't transfer.

I've found that it's fine. I probably wouldn't attempt anything at the more challenging end of my repertoire on a full-length bass (I have small hands anyway) but most things are fine. It's actually great to practice without having to stretch too far; then when I move to a larger instrument it's just a matter of stretching a big further.

All of this will apply to a 7/8 scale guitar.

I think it's worth practising with a variety of guitars; I have a steel-strung acoustic, a nylon-strung classical, and an electric, and each has a different scale length and neck width. It means that you'll be able to adapt if you find yourself at a party and someone hands you a guitar.

On the other hand, there's something to be said for playing the more difficult pieces on an instrument you know intimately.

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Get a guitar that fits, has good action and intonation, then play it. Use it at recital and gig with it.

Anyone who plays a regular guitar and a bass transitions scale lengths. Anyone who plays a Gibson and a Fender transitions scale lengths.

Professionals play short scales frequently. Check out Sting's Christmas special on the net. That little guitar makes me lust. He has no problem making the transition.

I love short scale. My favorite guitar is a 50 year old 3/4 scale Epiphone Centurion.I have vintage short scale basses, ES/Archtops and acoustic. Friends with much better skills than I love them and have no trouble making the transition. If you have smaller hands and work good technique on a short scale you can develop strength and agility that works on a long scale before you give up due to frustration or pain.

Most short scale acoustics will not have the bass and volume of a bigger guitar. They suffer from the perception they are kids guitars and may be equipped with poor quality nuts, bridges, tuners and strings. A parts upgrade and setup transforms many of them. The problem is the parts and labor may double the price of the guitar. String sets sold for full sized guitars may not balance in volume or tension on a short scale.

I know this a late response, but I found this chain today.

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