Small body acoustic guitars are proving incredibly popular with guitarists both new and established thanks to a convenient body size that still retains a rich, natural sound. The best 3/4 acoustic guitars do pretty much everything a regular-sized acoustic can do, but are easier to move around for guitarists that travel, as well as providing a more accessible platform for younger and newer players to get to grips with.
With many big names like Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift utilising 3/4 acoustic guitars during their live shows, you’re in great company when you choose to invest in one of these little guitars.
We've selected options for all budgets and from a range of brands. We also have some handy buying advice further down the page.
Best 3/4 acoustic guitars: Guitar World’s choice
The Baby Taylor from Taylor guitars is the best all-around choice for us, whether you’re new to the instrument or looking to add to an already established collection. With a solid body construction and a beautifully smooth playing neck, this 3/4 acoustic guitar will stand its ground against any of its full-size brethren.
If you want something a little more traditional, then you can’t go wrong with the Martin LX1E ‘Little Martin’. With the same build quality as the full-size Martin acoustic guitars, its lightweight feel and crisp sound will serve a variety of players and playing styles.
Best 3/4 acoustic guitars: Product guide
Taylor Guitars have a reputation as one of the premier acoustic guitar manufacturers in the world, so it’s no surprise to find a Taylor sitting at the top of our list. In our experience, the affectionately named ‘Baby Taylor’ delivers a surprisingly large sound considering its small dimensions.
The Taylor BT1 gives you a beautifully comfortable playing experience, with low string action and a small neck heel allowing you great access to the upper registers. Whether you’re playing fingerstyle or using a guitar pick, it reacts brilliantly to the dynamics of your playing.
Make no mistake this is a proper Taylor guitar, so the sound is just as full of richness and depth as any of the full-size Taylor models. A tight low end with clear mids and crispness in the highs is matched with great projection, making for one of the best 3/4 sized acoustic guitars money can buy.
Initially made famous by Ed Sheeran, the Martin LX1E ‘Little Martin’ is one of the most popular 3/4 acoustic guitars ever made. Having made acoustics for over 180 years, with Martin Guitars comes a time-tested adherence to quality, so you know you’re getting a guitar of the highest order when you purchase.
Although the LX1E has a short scale length, the fretboard width is roughly the same as a full-size acoustic, meaning it will feel familiar to those who own or have owned bigger guitars. That width doesn’t take away from the sleek feel of the neck, however, and it will still feel cosy enough for new and younger players.
The Martin LX1E is louder than a lot of other 3/4 acoustic guitars, with a clear and defined tone. It’s when you plug it in that this guitar really shines though, easily matching the sound quality of guitars larger in both price and size.
Read the full Martin LX1E review
The JR1 is one of Yamaha’s best selling 3/4 acoustic guitars thanks to its great specifications and easy playability. Coming with a bunch of accessories it’s a perfect acoustic guitar for beginners as you get everything you need in one box (including a gigbag!).
The short-scale gives the neck of this guitar inherently fast playability, being easy enough for beginners to handle without potentially putting off more seasoned players. The rosewood fingerboard feels super smooth and it's a joy to fret chords and play riffs on.
The JR1 is based upon Yamaha’s full-size FG range guitars, so you get a laminated spruce top with a Mahogany back and sides that deliver a fantastic tone. It’s a bright sound that has plenty of projection thanks to the dreadnought shaped body.
The Cort Earth Mini really punches above its weight considering the specification and price point. It has an incredibly solid build quality with features you’d normally find on pricier models such as Martin and Taylor Guitars.
The neck on this guitar will have players coming back time and time again. If you’re used to a full-size acoustic guitar, it doesn’t feel as small as you might expect. A soft ‘V’ shape to the neck is accommodating to both new and more experienced players, making complex chords a breeze to play.
With its smaller soundhole, sound waves are released more slowly allowing the Cort Earth Mini to create a very full sound with bags of sustain in spite of its slight stature. It has a tight and focused low end, with plenty of sparkle in the upper registers.
Read the full Cort Earth Mini OP review
Yamaha has a fantastic reputation in the beginner’s market, having given us the now-classic CS range of nylon-strung acoustic guitars. Since then they’ve been a constant in schools and other educational institutions, with many guitarists cutting their teeth on a Yamaha acoustic.
The fretboard of the APXT2 feels slightly wider than that which you’d typically find on a 3/4 acoustic guitar, meaning it will suit players used to a full-sized instrument. It’s still easy to play for beginners though thanks to its slim neck profile that encourages fast playing.
The body shape is nice and slim too, with a cutaway that gives you easy access to the upper frets of the guitar. It sounds less ‘boomy’ than some full-size acoustics thanks to its size and delivers crisp and clear tones. It's got a great acoustic guitar pickup installed, so when plugged in it really takes on a life of its own, sounding nigh on indistinguishable from a full-size acoustic guitar.
The Taylor GS Mini has become something of a modern classic, finding favor with experienced guitarists whilst still being beginner-friendly. There’s no doubt it’s played a large part in the soaring popularity of smaller sized guitars.
The neck of this guitar is super-comfortable, retaining the string spacing of a larger guitar but pairing it with the 3/4 scale to brilliant effect. It’s a proper Ebony fretboard, so you’re getting the same quality wood that appears on full-sized Taylor guitars.
Soundwise it’s articulate and bright in tone, as you’d expect from a Taylor, with great natural resonance. The combination of rosewood back and sides with a spruce top gives you a silky high end that never feels too sharp.
Read the full Taylor GS Mini Mahogany review
The Fender Sonoran Mini is one of the most popular small body acoustics the big F offers and you know when you buy a guitar with the Fender name on the headstock, you’re getting a guarantee of quality, durability, and brilliant sound.
The Sonoran Mini has a classic ‘C’ shape neck profile as you’d find on many Fender guitars, complete with classic Strat-style headstock. The neck feels great whether you’re playing chords or riffing, with the Walnut fretboard offering a smooth playing experience.
The body is slightly pear-shaped, helping it deliver a big unplugged sound that will satisfy veteran players without compromising on the playing comfort required by beginners. It has mahogany back and sides and a spruce top to give you plenty of warmth of tone, with crisp and clear clarity.
Cordoba is a relatively new guitar brand but quickly gaining a great reputation for solidly built and beautiful sounding guitars. The Cordoba Cadete is a beginner classical guitar with soft nylon strings that are great for newer players.
With a mahogany neck, this guitar feels really solid, and the flat radius of the fretboard makes it great for students of classical, being very well suited to fingerstyle playing. The neck is more than comfortable enough for new players, whilst still retaining enough heft that it won’t put off the more experienced guitarists looking for a living room or travel guitar.
To come in with a solid top at this price point is really impressive, and it ensures the Cordoba Cadete sounds seriously good. The sound is easily comparable with guitars that are both larger in size and higher in price tag, making this guitar a great investment for new and veteran players alike.
Another newcomer to the world of acoustic guitar, Luna Guitars came about as a result of female musicians’ struggle with large and heavy instruments. Whilst these guitars are uniquely tailored to female bodies and hands, many men have been picking them up too thanks to their distinctive looks and great playability.
A 19-fret mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard provides a fantastically comfortable playing experience that’s perfect for smaller hands. The moon inlay fret markers serve the dual purpose of guiding your playing, whilst adding some serious aesthetic allure.
An all-basswood body delivers a bright and warm tone that never sounds tinny despite its small size. The various finishes available are sure to entice beginner guitar players too, with sparkly finishes and a crescent moon rosette that really stand out from the crowd.
The Yamaha CS40 II has been a staple in music rooms the world over for decades now. So many guitarists got their start on one of these and it’s spawned countless imitations over the years.
A rosewood fingerboard provides a great platform for beginners to make their first forays into chords and scales, with the shorter scale proving supremely comfortable. The lack of fretboard markers may hamper players initially, but offers a great fretboard lesson for the long term.
The spruce top provides plenty of brightness to the CS40 II’s overall sound and once you put a decent set of strings on it really sizzles sound-wise. It’s very tonally balanced and will suit a variety of styles, not just classical.
Best 3/4 acoustic guitars: Buying advice
Why would you want a 3/4 acoustic guitar?
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The 3/4 acoustic guitar was originally created for students with more diminutive dimensions, enabling them to play chords and scales more easily when first picking up the instrument. Yet in recent times more and more guitarists have been moving to these smaller-scale instruments, preferring the easy playability and portability when compared to a full-size acoustic guitar.
What's different about a 3/4 guitar?
Apart from the obvious size difference, there is little else differentiating a 3/4 acoustic guitar from its full-sized counterpart. No matter the size, the two most important components of an acoustic guitar are its top wood and neck profile. To put this in simple terms, the top wood affects how the acoustic guitar sounds, whilst the neck profile affects how the guitar plays.
What else should I know about the best 3/4 acoustic guitars?
The top wood is arguably the most important aspect of how a 3/4 acoustic guitar generates its sound, with different wood types imparting their own tonal personality. Sitka spruce is one of the most commonly found top woods, thanks to its bright and crisp tonality. A more dense wood, such as Mahogany will have more bass response, giving you a warmer overall sound when you play.
The neck profile is crucial to you feeling comfortable on your choice of 3/4 acoustic guitar and is arguably one of the most important aspects when choosing to buy any type of guitar. Neck profiles are usually denoted by letters C, D, V, and U, referring to the shape of the back of the neck. C and D profiles tend to be easier for smaller or inexperienced hands to get to grips with, whereas V and U shapes have a much chunkier feel in the hand.
If at all possible, playing a few of these guitars before you decide to buy will stand you in great stead, but with such high-quality names on the list as Taylor, Martin, Fender, and Yamaha, you’re pretty much guaranteed a great experience no matter which 3/4 acoustic guitar you go for.
Find out more about how we make our recommendations and how we test each of the products in our buyer's guides.
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