Student of Guitar

A Thorough Guide to 38 Inch Guitars (2022 Edition)

Table of Contents

If you’re curious about 38-inch guitars, you’ve come to the right post!

Understanding Acoustic Guitar Sizes

We’re all aware that acoustic guitars are pretty common today.

Additionally, we’re looking at a standardized and very straightforward instrument.

However, things aren’t always as simple as they seem and even the slightest nuances can make a world of difference.

There are certain standard acoustic guitar and classical guitar sizes.

The problem is that there’s no rule set in stone when it comes to the full size.

But let’s first explain what the size actually means.

There are two main sizes that we can precisely measure and these are:

  • Scale length
  • The entire length of the instrument

Scale length refers to the usable part of the string, the size that vibrates when you pluck the open string.

So the scale length is the distance between the nut and where the strings touch the bridge.

However, this isn’t the most precise way to define it as each string can touch the bridge at a different length.

Instead, luthiers usually refer to it as the length from the nut to the 12th fret multiplied by 2.

Full-size acoustic guitars usually have scale lengths of 24 to 25.5 inches.

We can say the same about electric guitars as well.

The entire length of the instrument is measured from the top of the headstock to the very end of its body.

But mentioning guitar size can also be about its body dimensions and shapes.

And that’s a whole different story.

Overall, standard full-size acoustic guitars are usually anywhere between 36 to 42 inches long.

We also have smaller sizes labeled as ¼, ½, and ¾.

Technically, these are just random labels rather than realistic measures.

A 3/4-size guitar will usually be slightly shorter than a full-sized one, about 7/8 of the size.

What Are 38-Inch Guitars?

There is one issue with this designated category that retailers refer to as “38-inch guitars.”

Believe it or not, there’s nothing special about guitars that are 38-inches long.

It’s not something that’s regarded as a very specific trait at all.

We’re just looking at the length which falls within the regular length category.

That’s about it.

However, there’s one thing that you need to bear in mind.

If someone markets an instrument as a “38-inch guitar,” you’re almost certainly looking at a “no-name brand” guitar.

So if you see an online ad or an online listing that’s mentioning guitar dimensions and not a model name, you’re looking at a beginner guitar.

In almost all cases, it’s a low-quality instrument that’s incredibly cheap.

Sure, these guitars might be okay for absolute beginners.

But I highly doubt you can do much more with them.

However, this doesn’t mean that all guitars that are 38 inches long are bad.

Sure, beginner acoustic guitars that are in full size usually fall into the lower end of the size range.

It’s just when a guitar is marketed as one that you’re looking at a huge red flag.

What Are 38-Inch Guitars Good for?

Since you’re here, I assume that you’re either a beginner or just someone who found a cheap guitar listing online.

If you’re asking about guitars that are 38-inches long, it’s a really broad category.

So it’s pretty difficult to say anything good or bad about them.

That’s just like asking “what is a hollow-body electric guitar good for?”

A lot of things, I guess.

Some can be great and some can be awful.

But if we’re talking about something marketed or promoted as a “38-inch guitar”?

Then I’d simply answer “not much.”

It’s just a cheap entry-level guitar that’s barely even a regular instrument.

We could look at it as almost a toy instrument rather than the real thing.

This, however, doesn’t mean that you should overlook it.

If you need something as an absolute beginner, these can be a fairly decent choice.

Don’t expect much from it and try not to overpay them.

On Amazon, you can find these with an additional player pack which is for under the $100 mark. 

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Additionally, guitars that are 38 inches long could be a good choice for adult beginners.

Or, it could also be a good choice for anyone who would feel more comfortable with just a slightly smaller guitar.

You’d be able to learn basic chords and scales on it and strum along to your favorite songs.

But once you get past this level, I’d highly advise you to get a better guitar.

Don’t Let Misleading Marketing Deceive You

Whether you’re a beginner or not, it’s not uncommon to get fooled by misleading marketing practices these days.

The whole “38-inch guitar” thing that I discussed here is just one of the examples.

I know that you came here with a different question and you’ll probably leave with more questions than answers.

The issue isn’t about different guitar sizes but rather just retailers often (but not always) trying to sell you subpar products.

So how do you know that a cheap or a mid-priced instrument which you saw online is a misleading listing?

Aside from the size in the listing title, you’ll see a few other things.

These listings often include some basic traits, like the guitar having six strings.

They’ll also mention that the guitar is made out of real wood rather than mentioning the actual tonewood.

The overall listing will be too vague to get any sensible conclusion from it.

In short, I’d almost always avoid guitars that are listed with their size in the title unless you’re an absolute beginner.  

38 Inch Guitars: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you think through 38 inch guitars and whether this sort of guitar is for you!

And if you want to read more about guitar recommendations on this blog, then check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!

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