Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Looking for opinions for a beginner guitarist

I have a friend who is just starting into learning guitar. She has small hands that don’t have much stretch. In addition, her outermost joint on her fingers is double jointed which seems to hamper her fretting ability. Long and short, she has more obstacles than most. We all know that it takes most everyone a while to get over the hump on learning guitar. She has hung in there for a month playing on a family guitar (which is not great, but not terrible in the lower frets). I did put a capo on for bit to see how a shorter scale and lower action would impact her playing and as expected, it helped. She looks to play strumming type stuff and fingerstyle. She isn’t looking to be a flatpicker.

She is starting to think about buying another guitar. I am considering suggesting something that I have not done before for an adult. I have played a few smaller scale guitars that I loved. The Taylor GS Mini is a super fun guitar and I have played some great little yamahas over the years as well. I can (and do) argue with myself whether or not this a good path to consider. I wanted to throw it out there for some other folks who may have run into this with students in the past (@BanjoBen ?, @DrGuitar1 ?). Stick with a smaller bodied “normal” scale or consider smaller instruments? Flip a coin?

Depending on the style of music she’s in to, I might even consider a nylon string guitar. They’re super easy to fret and are really easy on the fingers when it comes to finger picking.

If that doesn’t fit her desired style, that Taylor mini is a nice option.


Thanks Mark. Good thoughts. She is looking towards ultimately leading small acoustic groups (worship, Christmas carols, etc.). It seems most nylons are pretty wide at the nut, but I guess there is a whole world of reduced scale nylons for kids learning. I’ll take a look at that. I was thinking a baritone uke would be good fallback, but it is pretty limited compared to a guitar.

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I think the Takamine “Taka-mini” has a smaller nut width/scale length.

I started when I was a short 12-year-old on a Martin LX1; that may also be worth checking out.


My little brother has one of these from @BanjoBen and it’s really a great little guitar. Super easy to fret, well set up, and a nice tone to it for such a small size.

Might be worth checking out.


@Mike_R, Sierra Hull gives a demo for a smaller size PRS SE Parlor which I bumped into when I looked at the video posted by Archie.

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Hi @Mike_R I know your asking about guitars but might she consider a Ukulele I believe there are five sizes ranging from soprano to bass. Many folk are quite dismissive of the instrument but in the right hands it produces wonderful tones, ideal for strumming and fingerstyle and a lot easier to learn to play than a guitar.


@Michael_Mark @Luke_L and @JohnM : thanks for the suggestions! I had seen the tak, but not the recording king. I have played the martin LX. I liked it ok, but the one I played was pretty thin on tone. That RK looks promising! I didn’t know the PRS Parlor existed. Great option!!! Thanks all!

I’m surprised no one has tried to talk me out of a shorter scale instrument… sounds like there is general support.

@Archie I agree 100% that a uke is a good option. I especially like baritones. They are an easy transition for folks who play guitar (and vice versa) as the tuning is the same. We will probably discuss that before she buys something. She is in a group guitar lesson, so that would be one disadvantage… she’d be missing a few strings.

Thanks all… great feedback. Keep it coming!

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There is no disadvantage in only having 4 strings. You can still play all chords. Finding others to play with as you can see from this video the ukulele is way more popular than a guitar.

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There actually is quite a bit lacking due to the absence of the two lowest strings– the baritone uke can be beautiful when used in the right setting, but there is no comparison when it comes to versatility, drive, and expression.

In a ukulele orchestra maybe… :wink: :upside_down_face:


Your absolutely right @Michael_Mark there is no comparison when it comes to versatility, drive, and expression. The ukulele is just a toy. Right ?

Of course when you ask your friends to join you on a ZOOM call anything can happen.

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To each their own… :slightly_smiling_face:


Yes your right again each to our own. Problem is Michael you make such bold statements without knowing all the facts. Not everyone plays bluegrass and gospel

So here are a few more videos some famous folk you may even recognise.

Don’t brush them off Michael you might just learn something. In fact you might even enjoy some of these videos is only you would take the time to listen.

FWIW, I didn’t limit the comparison to bluegrass and gospel, I didn’t call the ukulele a toy, and I didn’t brush anyone off. I enjoy the ukulele and the guitar and play both, but my point is that you simply lose depth when you remove two strings from a guitar. Looking at the three traits I mentioned (versatility, drive and expression), the guitar is simply much better suited for all these categories. That’s not to say that the uke doesn’t have its own advantages (portability and novelty, for instance).

The guitar is overall the more versatile instrument– that’s not to say that the ukulele isn’t versatile.
But just try getting this kind of drive from a uke:

Or this kind of presence, depth, and range:

One of the videos you posted was a ukulele version of “Man of Constant Sorrow”. It sounds great in its own right, but if you want very present rhythm to back up singing (not to mention amazing potential for solos), it’s quite hard to beat the guitar.

Those guys are getting that amount of depth and drive from just a pair of guitars and voices! That’s not happening with two ukes.

And the ukulele just isn’t designed for songs like this:

I said versatility, drive, and expression, NOT “best for bluegrass because bluegrass is the only good genre because it’s the one I listen to”, which is an easy way to take my statement.

There is no BEST instrument. I’m just suggesting that Mike’s friend will most likely have an easier time backing up group singing, etc. with a guitar rather than a ukulele. The guitar has more volume, etc.

Mike said his friend wasn’t planning to do flatpicking, but fingerstyle (and strumming).

Needless to say, the guitar is simply an amazing fingerstyle instrument:

I mean no disrespect to the ukulele. I’m just noting that the guitar will be better suited for Mike’s friend’s situation.

@Michael_Mark you missed the whole point of me suggesting the ukulele you were also dismissive of me and the ukulele. You only see the things you want to see and you never accept you might be wrong. Go back an read @Mike_R post.

I am done with this conversation

Here’s your post suggesting the uke:

Your point in suggesting the uke is that it might be good for her given its smaller size, and it is an amazing instrument, not to be overlooked. Mike agreed:

I agreed:

My post simply affirmed that I like the ukulele and don’t dismiss it as an option, but believe that Mike’s friend will get better use out of a guitar.

I wasn’t. I watched the videos you posted and made note of the guitar’s strengths when compared to the ukulele. Disagreeing is not dismissing. Can you please quote the exact phrase(s) that I posted that cause you to believe that I didn’t give fair consideration to your points (which I agree with, by the way)?

I fully accept that I might be wrong, and I never said that the guitar is objectively better:

I read the entirety of all your posts, and responded to them with my thoughts to improve the conversation. I don’t even think we disagree on this topic. If we do, please quote the exact phrase that I posted that you disagree with. I think the uke is a great instrument, and I think that Mike’s friend would enjoy a uke or a guitar, but that she will have an easier time projecting, etc. with a guitar.

Can you please tell me which part of Mike’s post(s) that I failed to take into consideration?

I never set out to create an argument, and I don’t believe that any of my statements were argumentative or derogatory. If they were, please quote the exact statement that is problematic.


I came back in from bowling and it seems I had set off a lively conversation :open_mouth: For my next thread, I am thinking about bringing up federal executive orders for mandated vaccines.

Just kidding on that next thread topic…

In all seriousness, thanks for the feedback. I do think a ukulele is an excellent option, but I do also agree that it would be less versatile than a guitar.


You disappointed us… :wink:

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I like the idea of one of the new mini dreadnoughts being advertised by so many manufacturers.
Recording King Mini-Dreadnought
Yamaha JR1 3/4-size Dreadnought
Martin DJr-10
Martin 000 version of the Jr acoustics
Martin LX1

Generally these guitars are shorter scale when compared to a standard acoustic guitar (lower tension on the strings and easier to fret with smaller hands). When properly set up with a good set of strings, the press down tension is not much more than what you might find on a nylon string classical guitar. Of course there are many nylon string crossover guitars with narrower string spacing, but I have yet to find one that has a decent voice (projection, clarity). The nicest thing about getting one of the new mini-dreadnoughts is that the player may find themselves enjoying a full sized guitar down the road after their finger dexterity and strength develops.


Larrivee makes a couple of really nice parlor guitars. I have one of the P-03 models. It’s a great sounding guitar. New ones are pretty expensive. I’ve bought a couple used for good deals.