The author is a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
Small-Body Mini Acoustic Guitars
Mini acoustic guitars are great for situations where a full-sized acoustic instrument simply takes up too much space. But they aren't only practical. The best small-body mini acoustics are loved by guitarists the world over for their cool vibe, surprising sound, and solid craftsmanship.
With some of the top brands in the world putting out entries in the mini acoustic guitar category, little guitars aren't just for kids anymore.
Of course they do make excellent beginner instruments too, particularly for people with smaller hands and bodies. Starting out on a quality small-scale guitar instead of a piece of cardboard with strings from a big-box store means a newbie has a better shot at success.
There are a few groups of people who will love these little guitars:
- Kids: Small-body guitars are often easier to play for people with small bodies. If a child has trouble handling a full-size guitar, a mini guitar is a smart choice.
- Adults with small hands: Some adults struggle with full-size guitars as well. If you are a person with small hands who is having trouble fretting chords on a larger guitar you might try a mini guitar.
- Travelers: Mini guitars make great travel guitars. They are small enough to pack up and take in trips, but not so tiny that they sacrifice a lot of sound.
- Serious guitarists: Why would a professional or serious amatuer guitarist mess around with a mini guitar? Because they are cool! I have to admit being impressed whenever I play these things, even though I have a bunch of full-sized instruments at home.
Whether you're a beginner looking for your first guitar, a wayfarer looking for a travel guitar for the road, or just a veteran guitarist who likes cool toys, chances are you're going to find something you like about mini guitars.
I've picked out a few quality mini acoustics that I think represent the best options out there. They're made by respected brand names you likely know, and it's no coincidence that the big boys find it worth their while to build small guitars along with their better-known premium models.
Taylor GS Mini
My top pick goes to the Taylor GS Mini. Like the rest of the guitars here, the GS Mini feels tiny if you are an adult player. But I am pleasantly surprised by the sound quality and feel of the neck. It's pretty clear the only "mini" thing about this guitar is the size, because when it comes to sound and value this thing is huge.
It has a Solid Sitka Spruce top, layered Sapele back and sides, Sapele neck and Ebony fingerboard.
The GS Mini is based on the grand symphony body design rather than the dreadnought shape, and it has a bigger body than most minis. Compared to other small-scale guitars it has a fuller sound with more low end, better projection and a richer tone.
Like me, many other players have found that the GS Mini is the best-sounding mini acoustic guitar out there. But it is a little more expensive than other guitars listed below. I think it is a great choice for seasoned players who appreciate great tone and can justify dropping the cash.
Check Out the Taylor GS Mini!
Martin Little Martin LX1
Along with Taylor, Martin is at the top of the heap when it comes to American-made acoustic guitars. And, like Taylor, they have a high-quality but affordable entry into the mini guitar market.
In this case we're looking at the Little Martin, a small-bodied guitar with a solid Sitka Spruce top, Mahogany pattern HPL back and sides, rust Stratabond neck, and a Richlite bridge and fingerboard.
Tonewood alternatives like Stratabond and Richlite are in line with Martin's recent effort to find great-sounding materials to replace some less-sustainable woods.
Like the Taylor GS Mini, the Little Martin gets positive reviews for its sound and quality. However, it is quite a bit less expensive, and therefore may be a better choice for kids or as a travel guitar.
Thanks to their X Series of instruments Martin isn't just a guitar company that makes legendary, high-end acoustic guitars, although they are still really good at that too. They are also a legitimate choice when it comes to acoustic guitar brands for beginners.
Yamaha FG JR2
Yamaha is really impressive when it comes to quality acoustic guitars at affordable prices. Their FG series is one of the top choices for beginners, and they bring that reputation to their lineup of mini acoustics.
The FG JR2 features a Spruce top, Mahogany finish UTF (Ultra Thin Finish) back and sides, Nato neck and Rosewood bridge and fingerboard.
The FG JR2 may not be on-par with the Taylors and Martins, but it's really not a fair fight. Still, the FG JR2 features excellent sound and craftsmanship.
I think this instrument is a smart choice for kids starting out with their first guitar, and for parent who don't want to spend a lot to make it happen.
Remember that this is a more budget-friendly guitar than those listed above, and Yamaha is a great brand for beginners.
Not a beginner but still thinking this guitar might be right for you? That's okay too. For those who want a mini acoustic for the fun factor, there's no need to break the bank.
Hear the Yamaha JR2
Taylor Baby Taylor
Taylor has one more entry in the mini guitar market, this one a little more affordable than the GS Mini. Taylor guitars are among the very best acoustic instruments in the world. High-end Taylors cost many thousands of dollars, and you’ll see them in the hands of professional musicians of every genre. But the Baby Taylor proves you don't have to drain your bank account to grab a great Taylor guitar.
The Taylor Baby is a dreadnought-style acoustic with a 3/4 size body. It has a Sitka Spruce top, layered Sapele back and side, Sapele neck and Ebony fingerboard.
The Sapele for the back and sides is sandwiched around a layer of poplar, which according to Taylor makes the guitar more resistant to climate change, and therefore more resilient if you plan to travel a lot.
This is a guitar that has reached almost legendary status for its sound and value, and veteran guitar players who have one in their collection routinely give the Baby Taylor high marks. It's a great option for serious beginners, or accomplished players looking for a cool mini for travel or camping.
The Baby Taylor also comes in a version with a mahogany top instead of Spruce.
You might also want to check out the Taylor Big Baby, which has a slightly smaller body and is regarded as one of the best acoustic guitars for intermediate players.
Like the Yamaha FG JR2, the Fender MA-1 is a 3/4-sized guitar that comes in at a very affordable price. And, like Yamaha, Fender does an amazing job of bringing us a quality mini guitar with great sound and decent craftsmanship.
The MA-1 features a laminate Agathis top, laminate Sapele back and sides and Nato neck.
This Fender doesn't compete with the Martin and Taylors, but it is worth consideration alongside the Yamaha. Myself, I'd put it at the bottom of the list of guitars in this review, but it's also the most budget-friendly guitar here.
For veteran players looking for a mini acoustic to carry into sketchy situations, such as camping trips, canoeing outings or off to a college dorm room, the Fender MA-1 could be your guitar. It's also a great option for kids picking up the instrument for the first time.
More on the Fender MA-1
Which Mini Acoustic Guitar?
As always, remember that the advice in this article is based on my own experience and opinion, and I suggest checking out the guitar company websites for the latest info on their products.
Below I'll outline my final thoughts on the matter, but as always I encourage you to do your own research and make the best decision for you.
- If you're a veteran guitarist and you plan on keeping your mini acoustic under safe conditions, such as in your home or other locations where you know nothing terrible will happen to it, the GS Mini may be your best choice. It's the best-sounding guitar in this review, but it's also the most expensive.
- If you're looking for a mini that sounds good but comes in at a reasonable price, one you can easily replace if it gets lost, stolen or sunk to the bottom of a lake, I'd choose between the Baby Taylor and Little Martin.
- If all you want out of a mini guitar is some fun, without spending much at all, you have the Yamaha and the Fender to choose from.
- Any of these guitars would be perfect for kids, but of course in that case price will also be a consideration. For a smaller child starting out on guitar, I'd go with the Yamaha.
Whatever you decide, for travel or just for jamming around the house, mini acoustic guitars are fun to have around, and these are made by some of the top guitar brands in the world. Good luck and have fun with your new guitar!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Guitar Gopher (author) on January 29, 2019:
@don - Glad to hear it! I am alway impressed by Yamaha's entry-level acoustics.
don todd on January 28, 2019:
we ended up with the Yamaha for our son ans we love it!!
Guitar Gopher (author) on November 30, 2014:
Thanks LGP! Taylor does make beautiful instruments.
stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on November 29, 2014:
Nice Hub, I go with the Taylor it has a great sound. I ended up with a baby Taylor it goes where I travel. Love your articles.