Common Questions, Fundamentals

What To Do If Your Guitar Is Too Big? [ANSWERED]

Written By :Andrew Siemon

Most guitars are built in a very similar way but there is some variability that can make one instrument harder or easier to play than the other. One such example would be the size of the body or even the frets. My ESP Eclipse, for instance, has jumbo frets and it makes it much, much easier to play than other guitars.

The body is no different. A large ES-335-type guitar might be too much for the beginner guitarist to get used to, although the task wouldn’t be insurmountable. That said, I think that there are some guitar types that are easier for a guitarist to get used to as their first guitar. But what if you already have one that’s too big?

If your guitar is legitimately too big for your body, it may be a better idea to trade it in for a guitar with a much smaller body. For instance, a Fender Telecaster has a fairly small body and it’s very lightweight, making it easy for a guitarist of any size to play it.

I think it’s worth mentioning though that anybody can play almost any kind of guitar. Even if your guitar seems like it’s too big for you, it could just be a matter of getting used to it, although, it also depends on your age too. A 5-year-old child probably isn’t big enough to handle a Gibson ES-335. That said, most electric guitars are a good size for beginner guitarists. There are some other factors that are worth thinking about too.

How To Get Around A Guitar That May Be Too Big For You

As I said, if you’re not a fully grown person, it may take some time to grow into the guitar that you own.

For a smaller-sized person, it would be a wise move to get a guitar that’s not so big, that way you can actually handle the instrument a little better. As I said in my guide on the weight of the Eclipse, it’s a super lightweight instrument that’s great for all players.

However, most electric guitars are a reasonable size for almost any human. If It isn’t though, there are a few things you can do.

1) Buy A New Guitar or Trade It In For A Smaller One

335 Tele - What To Do If My Guitar Is Too Big
The ES-335 shape is on the left and the Fender Telecaster on the right

If someone bought you a big electric guitar like an ES-335 from Gibson (you should be grateful if they did by the way), or maybe the neck is too fat for your hands, it may just be a better idea to take it back to the shop or wherever you got it to trade it for a new one.

There’s no question that some guitars just are easier to play than others, especially if you’re a smaller person.

As I mentioned above, a Fender Squier Telecaster like this one is an awesome guitar for almost any type of player, including a fully-grown, professional guitarist, or a little kid who’s looking to get started.

The Fender Telecaster body is quite small and unobtrusive. If you decide to stick it out though and keep your big guitar, there are some other things you can do to make it easier to play.

2) Use A Lighter String Gauge

9-42 Elixir - What To Do If Your Guitar Is Too Big
These are nice 9-42s from Elixir and they’re easy to play

In the past, I was privy to using thicker strings because I followed the commonly stated adage that thicker strings had a better tone and also allowed you to have a lower action.

After watching a few videos from Rick Beato on this very topic (including this one), I decided to go back to thinner strings and I haven’t looked back since then.

There’s just no denying that thinner strings are much easier to play. So if you are struggling to play your guitar because it feels too big, clunky, and awkward, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to make it slightly easier on yourself by just dropping down the string gauge a bit.

For example, I have medium-gauge strings on my Fender Acoustic right now and I hate them with a passion. It just makes the guitar too hard to play, and not only that, but the average acoustic guitar has a fairly large body, a high-action, and a thicker neck so it’s already hard enough.

For most guitarists, 9-42 gauge strings like these are light enough. Any higher than that, and they start to get harder to play, but any lower than that, and they’re almost too slinky.

But you can try out a few brands to see what I’m talking about (Elixirs are great which I’ve argued before).

3) Use A Stool And Not A Chair

Stool - What To Do If Your Guitar Is Too Big
A great stool for playing the guitar. It also has a spot for you to rest one of your feet if you want to elevate it

One way to make playing guitar easier is to ensure that you’re actually using the proper type of chair – or I guess I should say stool.

Having the proper seating arrangement is honestly quite important, and it’s even something that I’ve skimped on for many years.

I recently bought an AKR Racing Chair (which is a gaming chair), and while it’s certainly better than the cheap office chair I had before, it’s still not the best because of the armrests which make it nearly impossible to play guitar on.

Ideally, you want a stool that doesn’t have armrests but it also has a backrest and a place to put one of your feet, depending on whether you’re left or right-handed.

Alternatively, you could have a regular wooden stool or a footstool which is something we’ll talk about now.

4) Use A Foot Stool

Foot Stool - What To Do If Your Guitar Is Too Big
Rest your foot on this if you want to elevate the guitar even higher so you can reach the higher frets more easily.

The thing about all of these items is that they’re things you should be using anyway. A great stool with a foot and backrest and a footstool to elevate your knee is going to make playing the guitar a whole lot easier, especially if you’re using a guitar that’s big and cumbersome.

In other words, if you’re struggling to play the guitar that you have because it’s so big and you can’t get your hands on it, or maybe it’s sliding off your knee, etc, then grab a few of the items I mentioned above and you’ll find they make your practice sessions go a whole lot smoother.

These are great if you want to elevate the guitar body just a tiny bit so you can get much deeper into playing the instrument, particularly on the 12th frets and up from there.

What Size Of Guitar Should A 14-Year-Old Use?

Tiny Guitar for Kids -  What To Do If Your Guitar Is Too Big

Like I said earlier, certain guitars are easier to play than others. The very first guitar I owned was a Yamaha Pacifica, and that guitar was honestly pretty great.

I’d probably get another one someday just for the sake of nostalgia. If you’re just a small guy like I was, a guitar like the Pacifica is a great choice because the body is small.

Pacifica -   What To Do If Your Guitar Is Too Big
A modern Yamaha Pacifica with a tremolo system.

This is also one of the reasons why I don’t recommend beginners start with acoustic guitars. They’re just far too cumbersome and difficult to play on account of the slightly thicker string tension and the larger bodies, particularly if you’re not a fully grown adult, although they’re not impossible to learn on (more on acoustic and electric differences in my guide).

Simply put, the best size guitar for a 14-year-old would be a guitar with a Stratocaster, Telecaster, or Les Paul-shaped body because they’re significantly smaller than the body of a semi-hollow like the ES-335 or the average acoustic guitar.

Is It Easier To Play A Smaller Guitar?

It is easier to play a smaller guitar, especially if you’re not a fully-grown adult. The reason for this is that it can be difficult for beginners to see what they’re doing if they can barely reach around the body of the instrument. That said, most guitars aren’t so big that a beginner wouldn’t be able to use one. It’s just that some guitars are easier to play than others.

How Do You Play A Big Guitar?

To play a big guitar, there are a few things you can do to make it easier including:

1) Sit on a stool without armrests that way the guitar body has room to move
2) Use a footstool to elevate the guitar body so you can access the higher frets
3) Use a lighter string gauge to make fretting easier

Another thing that you can do to make playing a big guitar easier is to ensure that you’ve set it up properly using my guide as a frame of reference.

The fact of the matter is that if there is too much relief in the neck and the action is too high, the guitar is going to be much harder to play and it won’t be as much fun as a result.

Important Things to Note About The Size Of Guitars

1) Most Guitars Can Be Played By Anyone – But Some Are Easier Than Others

I’ve mentioned this twice now in this article but I’ll mention it again: nearly all guitars can be played by anyone but some are easier to play than others, especially if you’re not a fully grown adult. Probably one of the most underrated guitars is the nylon string electrics like the ESP LTD TL-6N.

This is a nylon string acoustic/electric that’s built like an ESP Eclipse. This means it has the benefits of nearly every kind of guitar. It can be played acoustically, you can plug it in, the action can be set much lower than the average acoustic guitar, and there is a cut-away on it so you can get at the higher frets.

I think the TL-6N is perfect for the beginner but if you just want a traditional electric guitar, get the Fender Squier Telecaster that I mentioned at the start of the article.

Andrew Siemon is the principal creator for, a website entirely devoted to all things guitar. From repairs, music theory, chords, and improvisation, to recording at home. I've been doing this for 20 years and I've got another 50 in me.

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