Tip: For Those with Small Hands

May23

This tip is for players with small hands (or those who think they have small hands). We start off with a letter and then my response follows. I hope you get something from this.

My name is C. and I am just beginning to play the guitar. I know some beginner chords but would like to go beyond that. I was wondering if hand size has anything to do with playing the guitar. It seems impossible for me to put my index finger on the first fret, middle finger on the second fret, ring finger on the third fret and little finger on the fourth fret. I am also considering some lessons to help me along.

[Here's my response:]

Hi, C. Thanks for your message. First, I definitely recommend lessons for you at this stage – but not with just any teacher. Look for a classical teacher, because he/she will be better able to show you the proper technique; this is really important when hand size is an issue, because as you are looking at your hands and saying “No way are my hands going to be able to do THAT,” the teacher is looking at the same thing and will point out things you had no idea were important; these things will prove you can play, and that you can get your hands to do what they need to do.

The scale length of the fretboard is an issue. Get a smaller guitar. There are such guitars made for adults, not kids, with small hands. Not every great guitarist had great hands.

Highly recommended: go to groups.google.com – make sure its Groups in there, not regular Google – and enter this search phrase exactly as written here;

“small hands” group:guitar

From the results of that search you’ll learn a lot about playing with small hands. More important, I think, you’ll be encouraged.

Also highly recommended: the book The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar. See Guitar Principles.

Good luck.

Darrin

Thanks again for reading.

Copyright © 2008 Darrin Koltow

This first appeared in the Guitar Noise News – December 15, 2006 newsletter. Reprinted with permission.

About Darrin Koltow

Darrin is the creator of Maximum Musician, a terrific site where you can learn about improvising, harmonizing melodies, playing by ear, good practice habits, motivation, and other topics.

Comments [73]

  1. Jim Lawrie says:

    Darrin, I’m a classical guitarist and guitar teacher. For a male, I have very small hands. I started playing when I was about 20, but didn’t get serious until I was 26 years old. That was back in 1974. A couple of years later, I noticed my left hand was about an inch longer than my right hand. The difference in my hand spread is also quite considerable.
    I mentioned my age (26) because children’s hands are more malleable than adults. But still as an adult I’ve adjusted to the demands required for playing the classical guitar.

    Many beginning students often express anxiety over their basic equipment. I stress upon them that the guitar is not an ergonomically friendly instrument. In fact, it’s a rather perverse thing to do to your hands. But through correct practice and over time, we reach that stage where playing the guitar becomes, if not a perverted thing, then at least a semi-normal thing to do with your hands.

    One final comment: over the years I’ve noticed many female students with small hands often have considerably more stretch than guys with huge hands. I mentioned this observation once in a class. A student who was a nurse responded by telling the class that it’s the presence of estrogen in women that causes that elasticity. During this time I was giving private lessons to an OB-GYN doctor. I asked her if what the nurse said was correct. She said it was true, but if a woman really wanted to improve her stretch she should have a baby!
    I don’t know if “C” is a woman, but if she is, pass this suggestion on to her.

  2. My personal experience with guitars ( I play classical guitar) is that the first rule in choosing
    the guitar is to consider the instrument’s scale length just like when you buy a pair of shoes
    your feet size is the one consideration. Sadly most (not all) mass-produced guitars (both nylon and steel-strings) are made to a “standarized” scale-length size around 25.6″or 650mm.

    A prospective buyer should check various instruments to find the right “fit” before investing in
    an insrument that will turn out not conducive to ease-of-playing due primarily to the wrong scale length for the player.

  3. I tried playing the guitar many moons ago and the pain and the size of the fret board and the height of the strings was just too much, alot of blood and depression.
    But a guitar sale in town and I rushed down to find a smaller necked guitar with strings lower towards the fret board. I bought a Fender Acoustic Sonoran California.
    Sure my fingers have been hurting like mad for the past 4 weeks, but I can play! I can even play an F chord. So happy with this guitar. Lots of fun, playing Hotel California this week, and practicing, picking. It’s very challening, but such a lovely sound, the guitar really rocks and I can take it with me to a freinds. My hands are the size of a 10 year olds, very very small, My thumb will probably never wrap around to grab the E, but who cares, I can do so much more with my Fender, just having a blast! a painful one, but again, who cares.

  4. I have a related story.. but also an unrelated story. I learned the guitar in spite of the fact that I have a broken 4th finger on my left hand that healed improperly. Eventually, it became clear that this old injury was causing problems with playing a lot of common finger patterns from the reportoire. So, I’m relearning the guitar left handed. It is going well, so far. The odd situation with my right handed playing was that I could do wider stretches easier than I could play notes on adjacent frets in some cases. My warning to guitarists: take care of your hands, and go to the doctor if you become injured!

    Also, I have never come across a classical guitarist that plays left-handed. I am naturally left-handed, but my reason for playing the guitar that way is my injury.

    Sean

  5. In regard to having a baby to improving your hand stretch: If you had a baby, you wouldn’t be playing the guitar, unless someone else is taking care of that baby. Human babies are a full and overtime job.

    I’ve played guitars on and off for many years and always avoided the F chord, as I just didn’t have the fingers to reach. Now I’m looking into a smaller guitar

    • I disagree, I was so bored the first 6 months of having a new baby I almost seriously looked into getting an online degree. My kid ate passed out and repeated leaving me with enough time to micro clean the house then go insane with boredom (hate cleaning just scared to kill my kid with germs before he built up any immune system which is common for first kid but he’s only one I have but I’ve heard that) anyway I was gonna actually start playing bagpipes but that’s just too loud. Had I thought about it guitar would have been perfect to practice. I wish I would have thought to do it then. Now he’s 4with mensa worthy iq and I am going to start practicing but I won’t have near as much time to even though he’s in ft prek. Not everyone has the colicky child or planned on staying at home and when u are used to working then have a baby that sleeps half the time then I think it’s perfect time to learn guitar. Especially going thru pregnancy. Finger pain is nothing compared to past 9 months.

  6. trailblazer says:

    as a classical guitar player of countless years…..i tried and tried to get more advanced
    past grade 8 trinity coll….exam….and after trying so many suggestions about the
    difficulty i had with the left hand……came to the conclusion it was not me but the instrument was just too large for me….that is the 650cm scale and for last 10yrs have had two custom made guitars one 580cm….a wee bit too small but very very nice tone…..and a 640…what a difference in fluency……..

    there are available 3/4 size guitars on the market….try them out first….a custom built can be much more expensive ..so start out trying an off the shelf first…before any investment..

    one can only say as some people do….oh yes she or he has small hands….it is
    just not acceptable…and means nothing..ie….take proper measurements…..esp of the pinky…..
    left palm up…..measure the bottom of the little finger from the bottom crease in the centre of the crease where it meets the palm… to the tip of the flesh…..is one good example of just measuring one finger…..and that will really tell you what is small and what is not…..ie my pinky is….5cm

    measure the other fingers likewise……and compare them with some of your friends….and you will get a big shock…..at the difference…..

    everyone having to play the same scale length to be any good doesn’t make sense….

    way to go………..trailblazer

  7. I am a female with very small hands–I’m short to begin with, and proportionate to my body size, still, my hands are small. I tried picking up guitar my senior year of high school playing on my Dad’s full-size acoustic (he has gigantic hands), but I felt that even dislocating my fingers I would not be able to make some chords work. This is part of why I quit.

    I play alto saxophone with no trouble, but, then again, the buttons on a saxophone are very close together. I recall how difficult it was to learn the proper mouth position, how much it hurt like hell at first. I assume guitar is no different with hands.

    Four years later I am considering trying to play again, this time on a smaller guitar. Threads like this have helped me realize maybe I’m not just pathetically bad at guitar. Thank you.

    • sapphoslips says:

      I too have the same problem with tiny hands. Was just about giving up learning the guitar when I found these threads. Now I’m going to try again. I used to work hard but felt really bad about never getting much ahead. Will also go for a slimmer-necked guitar.

  8. Jeff Wilson says:

    I have been playing the guitar for about 3 1/2 years and I am just now getting serious about it. I have very small hands for a male also. I have been playing standard 650 cm scale guitars since I began and I have improved vastly especially in the last year or so. I think the key is determination. Although the fact of my small hands has lingered in the back of my mind since I picked it up, I have forced myself to just play and learn. I do believe that it is harder to play with small hands but I have gained a deep appreciation for it and feel that I am beginning to accomplish some of the things that I never thought that I could. The human body is amazingly resilient and adapts very quickly. I suggest paining through the first couple years with a standard guitar and then switching to a custom or smaller scaled guitar. I played my friends’ baby Taylor the other day and was overjoyed by how easy it seemed. Keep picking and you WILL get better

  9. I’m a beginner guitarist AND a female. Just a thought. There is a company out there called “Daisy Rock Guitars”, the make short scale (full sized), light weight guitars specifically for small hands. They are geared toward women, but there are plenty of guitars in their selection a guy could play. My personal fave is the “Rock Candy” which I think would be fine for a guy (well maybe the star on it is a lil corny for a guy)…Great sound, super light, and my hands fit the neck like a DREAM~

  10. I’ve been play a full size Orpheus Valley (Kremona co.) for a year now and am still having a hard time reaching many chords. I’m going to look at the 3/4 size, same fabulous company. I hope the sound is as, or almost as good. Caroline

  11. Trailblazer, thanks for your input. I’m just know starting to learn barre chords and trying to stretch my index finger across all 6 string…it’s not gonna happen. I measured my pinky as you suggested and it’s the same as yours. So I’m going to start looking at 3/4 size guitars. Any suggestions that’s reasonably priced? Kenny

  12. FOR Sean.S –Hey Sean, and all interested–I hope you find this post. I read above how you had been injured in your left hand. A while ago I saw this great inspiring video all about that–here it is:

    Solutions for Aspiring Musicians with Disabled Hands
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC1__Ohw610&feature=sub

  13. There are now available very good low-cost (under $300.USA dollars) short-scale guitars with solid-top. I own a 7/8 size Strunal Guitar -made in Eastern Europe- with a solid cedar top and a 620mm scale length (vs the stndard size 650mm) with good volume and
    sustain to perform in a living room environment. The neck width is apporx.46.0mm(vs the standard 51.02mm) that will be ideal for players with hand-spread (from pinky to thumb) under 9″.
    A very good deal under $150.USA dollars and in the “cheap” category, based on many try-outs of various smaller guitars advertised as a 3/4 size instrument is the Montana label model CL 141 with a 610mm scale length. It does have a laminated spruce top with a Beechwood back and, believe it or not, a Solid-Beach Sides. For a laminated top guitar it has a spectacular volume. I keep this guitar as my “travel and camping” guitar.

  14. Hi, this post and all the comments have been so helpful, thank you all very much! I bought a guitar starter pack for $199 AUD (I live in Australia) last summer and gave up playing after two weeks because some chords were simply impossible for my small hands. I’ve been thinking about picking it up again lately, and after some googling I found that the best advice is to do with thumb positioning (should place it at the centre behind the neck), I can’t believe how stupid I’ve been so I’m sharing the tip here, remember check your thumbs positions before you decide your hands are too small :D

    I’ve just measured my guitar, purely out of curiosity, the scale length is 44.5cm, and neck width ranges from 4.2cm at the nut and 5.5cm at the sound hole. Based on the measurements given in the previous comments I think my guitar is pretty small-hand-friendly :D It’s a Yamaha F310P for those who are interested, and I’ve tried an F chord on it just then, it’s pretty wonky but absolutely do-able with some more practice.

    I’m definitely giving guitar playing another go, and good luck to all other aspiring guitarists out there too.

  15. Hello!
    I have been playing the guitar off and on since I was 19. I just purchased a new Ibanez s series guitar. I was told this guitar was good for smaller hands. when buying the guitar and playing the guitar I had difficulty using the frets. The action is low but the neck has a characteristic of between a “c and” shape. I was hoping this would be better than my les paul studio but they are very similar. I think I do need to take lessons to improve but I just turned 40 and I feel the best years to learn to play the guitar is passed the prime. I have been playingclassical piano for over 30 years pretty good, however but the guitar is very difficult the same goes with any stringed instrument I played especially the cello. Are ther any hand exercises or techniques for the guitar that would make playing the guitar easier without pain?
    Thanks
    winston

  16. I have abnormally small hands. This isn’t to say that I’ve just got small hands for a female; my little sister, at 11 was lamenting the fact that all of the other kids in her class had bigger hands than she did. Jokingly, I said they were probably bigger than mine. Unfortunately, they actually were.

    With this issue, I thought guitar was way more difficult than people were making it out to be. I kept practicing, however, on a standard size acoustic.

    Within a month of practicing diligently, I was able to play that pesky ‘F’ chord consistently, and now, after several months am working towards barre chords. The hand positions I have to use for some of them are slightly unorthodox, but they work, and they don’t put any unnecessary strain on my wrist.

    I think the most important thing when playing with small hands is not being afraid to try out different ways of playing the more difficult chords. You may be surprised to see that your hand can actually stretch to those hard-to-reach frets if you have your thumb and wrist positioned correctly.

  17. I’ve been playing just short of a year and also have small hands (about 21.5cm/8.5″ span from) thumb to pinky but I can play barre chords comfortably now. Also, after a few months of practice I’ve been able to play various chords like (F#/D – 2X0232)– this is pretty useful for Travis style playing but if you’re strumming, you can usually get away with just a straight four-string/three-fingered D. The one thing I still can’t do is the F (1X3211) with the thumb on the E string on the first fret which is too bad since it is so nice to go from FCF when playing fingerpicking style.

  18. my hands are very small, and i am unable to play chords properly. i could not get a C chord right, as my fingers would not even stretch that far.
    i do not want to get a new, smaller guitar as i only got this one as a present last week.
    i am 15 and not about to have a baby either! any suggestions?

  19. I acidentally stumbled upon this thread but thought I might as well write a few words. I see a lot of you guys started off as I did. The size of the hands really arent that much of an issue really. When I first started playing I couldn’t play a D chord either. I have normal sized hands for a male though but STILL I can relate to those who cant play a C chord. After 4 years of playing the instrument ( the first two was a REAL pain) I can successfully play whatever chord I want to. I’ts just practise, practise, practise! Trust me :)

  20. I most certainly agree with Tobias; it reminded me of the old joke about a tourist in New York City asking a local, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?”

    My own bugaboo was the barre F major chord (first fret). I had no problem applying enough pressure with my index to obtain a clean barre. Rather, it was that because I have thicker/larger finger pads than average, my middle finger (pad) was touching the B string.

    (As a side note, it doesn’t help that guitar methods and teachers have beginners start to learn at the lowest part of the neck (in terms of pitch) where the strings are closer to one another and also require considerable finger strength to apply necessary — and sufficient! — pressure. Perhaps this is deliberate in forcing the fledgling student to build finger strength and fret strings in as “perpendicular” a way as possible. But I digress.)

    So, like Tobias — and the reply from the New York City resident — I practised for more time than I care to admit. I would succeed in obtaining a clean tone from all the strings about 10% of the time, almost by chance and in a decidedly non-reproducible way.

    After *much* time fighting with the orthodox way to finger this chord, I “cheated” by angling my middle finger so that my distal joint was slightly directed towards the body of the guitar, thereby reducing the area of its “footprint” and finally eliminating the involuntary muting of the B string.

    Bingo, that did it *for me* and I can now cleanly play this once-dreaded chord every time without even looking at my fretting hand. For what it’s worth, past the fifth fret, I revert to the standard, perpendicular position. Whatever works…

    DISCLAIMER: I am most certainly *not* advocating that fellow guitar players go this way. It’s just that it worked *for me* as some kind of crutch owing to the shape of my fingertips. Perhaps with even more years of practise (and possibly hand surgery!) I would eventually have succeeded. I just lost patience in trying to practise “by the book” and didn’t want a physical anomaly to lead me to abandon the guitar altogether.

    Sorry if this posting is, strictly speaking, off-topic.

  21. Hello everybody,
    I have been playing guitar for 3 years now and I was very concerned about my small hands at first. My hands are really small, I work in a lab and I’m the only one who wears XS latex gloves. Anyway, after a couple months a practice, barred chords were not a problem anymore even with my small hands (both of my guitar have a 24.8″ scale). So practice! Your hands will stretch :)

  22. Hello everyone: Continuing with this fascinating subject- When we speak of guitars size in relation to our hand-fingers ability to reach horizontally to the 6th string we have to consider which acoustic guitar we are talking about. The nylon-string (aka classical) guitar standard nut size is 2.01″ wide. The steel-string acoustic guitar standard nut size is much smaller accross. Players with small hands that play chords without difficulty in a steel-string guitar will find the wider fretboard of the classical guitar a bit more challenging to do chords such as the full “G” chord that requires the use of the 1st and 6th strings. Maybe this is one reason that people that are primarily “chord” players tend to prefer the steel-string acoustic guitar. People that prefer to play the melody line in a musical piece tend to
    like the wider separation between the strings found in the (classical)-nylon-string- guitar
    where there is less of a chance of accidentally playing or touching an adjacent string not part of the musical passage.

    As far as fret separation (vertical spread for the fingers) in both types of acoustic the shorter the scale length the closer the fret to each other. Some chords like the “B” family that requires a little bit more finger dexterity can be challenging to players with short fingers.

    This is why scale-length and nut width is important in slecting a guitar. Vanessa’s experience (see comment above ) does indicate that a smaller scale guitar (24.8″ = 630mm scale length) is beneficial to players with small hands.

  23. From limitation comes innovation!

    It’s no bad thing having small hands. In fact it can result in a more individual style and forces the smaller-handed player to be more creative in the chord voicings and improvisations they choose. Smaller fingers can also be an advantage when playing higher up the neck where the frets are closer together and many bigger-fingered players can’t fit their digits into certain shapes. There are some songs that I have trouble playing for this reason.

    Django Reinhardt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Django_Reinhardt#The_injury) injured his hand so badly that he played all of his solos using just his first and second fingers. If he could manage a successful career as a guitarist with such a limitation then there is no reason small hands should hinder anyone.

    Good technique is very important for anyone learning the guitar and a good teacher can help you get that right.

    On the point about women being more flexible than men – this is certainly true and something I have noticed myself. I used to do a martial art that required a lot of high kicks and the female students always managed those techniques with greater ease than the males in the class.

    Flexibility does increase further during pregnancy but I wouldn’t recommend having a baby to improve your reach on the fretboard because, as Ann says, you won’t have time to play the guitar once the baby arrives!

  24. Nick Williams says:

    I just got a guitar after reading the advice on this page from a random google search. My hands are very small for a man, but I’ve found after just a few hours practice that you can make all the chords, so long as you don’t get frustrated at first and give up. Its simply a case of fiddling about and gritting your teeth if necessary! My guitar is a full size Fender Squier acoustic I picked up off E-bay. I regret that the hands size issue put me off playing for a long time after a bad experience as a kid, but we didn’t have internet back then so I would have carried on if I found good words of advice like I read on here. Practice and determination is the key I think.

  25. No shorter or small-fingered person would think of adapting to gloves and mittens built for larger hands — so why all the angst over playing a 3/4 size guitar? Just play the instrument that works for you. To me, it’s supposed to be fun and allow me to express myself through music. I can’t afford a custom made instrument, so I’ve made the decision to just play a 3/4 guitar and let it rock.

  26. The matter of learning chords when your hand size limits you positioning is often a reason for “giving-up” the guitar. I have personal knowledge from my Ukulele group that three ex-guitar players gave up on a guitar due to the problems there were encountering doing some chords. Reviewing their past experience with the guitar all of them have purchased standard size CG with a full size (650mm) scale length. Their hand spread from pinky to tip of the thumb was less than 9 inches. They could have benefitted from a shorter scale instrument. One very satisfactory solution to their problems was to pick up the Baritone Ukulele which only have four strings and is tuned exactly like the first four strings (E-B-G-D) of the guitar. I invited them to meet with our Ukulele group and they became active members.They now can play every chord that a guitar player plays with the advantage that many of those chords only need two fingers since there is no 5th or 6th string. One of them is now confident enough that he is going back to the guitar but with a slight short scale like 620 to 630mm. This is one success experince that many of us can benefit-from.
    The Baritone Uke is the largest -size-wise of the four recognized Ukulele family. My Baritone is very easy to play with a nut width of 40mm ( 1-1/2″) and a scale length of 510mm(20.”)
    The total length of my Baritone is 70.5mm (31″) about the same overall size of a 1/2 size guitar.The advantage is that with fours strings the separtion between strings is wider and the fingers have more “room” to use without the chance of touching an adjacent string.
    I could play melodies and chords without any difficulty and the only negative factor is that my lowest possible playable note is the D below the Treble clef. When I run into a note below this “D” I just play an appropiate chord for that passage. I am also experimenting with my 1/2 size CG to use as a “six-string” Baritone Ukulele to give more Bass to my playing. For those who are having difficulty with the guitar size maybe the Baritone Ukulele can be a means to meet your current guitar music playing needs. I have a beautiful all mahogany solid wood Baritone that I purchased for under $275. If you decide to try this do yourself a favor and buy at least a solid-top instrument. Unlike guitars the solid-top Baritone Ukuleles can be purchase starting at about $160.

  27. I’m a small female jazz musician (so, think bar chords) that misses playing the guitar. I quit fairly early on in my progress of such, however, because of my small hands (and lack of access to an appropriately-sized “axe”). Additionally, I’m now lacking a bit in hand strength due to a neuromuscular condition. As for my hand size, my (fairly well-stretched) left pinky is 3 cm.

    Any ideas/leads would be great!

  28. Joseph de Victoria says:

    Luthier-made guitars are the only ones I know of that are made to exactly “fit” the player’s specific physical needs. Very few of us have the financial ability or the need as a beginner to affort such an expense. Machine-made instruments are available in various sizes but the problems arises when you find that not all (as an example) 3/4 size advertised guitars have the same scale-length. The same goes for all other smaller than the standard full size guitar with a scale length of approx.650mm (25.6″)
    In my opinion the very best approach is to try out as many guitars that are available to you and starting with those at your top price range AND below that limit. You will be surprise to find that many less-expensive guitars sound just as good or better and are an easire and more confortable play than the highly promoted ones. The one criteria that you should try to keep in mind is that solid-top guitars,all other things being equal, will always sound better and tend to improve with the age of the wood. One disadvantage is that solid wood can be affected by severe temperature changes. Laminated-top guitars have an advantage on this issue. Laminated tops can also take more “hard-handling” than a solid wood instrument. A classical (nylon strings) guitar is much easier on the fingers than the steel strings acoustic guitars. The strings of the classical have more separation between each other (the standard classical net is appox. 50.8mm wide (2.”) while the steel string neck is seldom wider than 44.5mm wide ( 1.75″). In my opinion arpeggios and melody lines are easier to play when you have a larger separation between the strings. Players that only play chords tend to like the proximity of the strings in the steel string instrument. It comes down to a personal choice. Many players think that the nylon string guitar is only used to
    play classical music. That is not accurate. More than a few jazz musicican including the great Earl Klugh (check his web page) play the nylon string guitar in his jazz sessions. +

    Don’t be limited in your guitar playing due to the size of your hands/fingers. There are instruments that will fit your needs if you spend some time trying out fo find the right one for your. Good Luck and enjoy your guitar playing.

  29. i have very small hands when i stated playing at 16 i used a very cheap 3/4 size for practice and learning songs then i got a 7/8 guitar to play in the band. most dont know 7/8 guitars exist but they do and unless you stand one next to full size you cant tell on the stage. at 24 (im 27 now) i started with a full size.

    also ive been reading the comments and some mention there fingers streaching i thought what a loat of b.s. then i compared my hands and my left is about 12 inch longer and i never noticed before lol “face palm”

  30. re: my comment above should have said 1/2 inch not 12 ”
    double face palm”

  31. With all due respect- to those who keep saying “I have very small hands for a man…. just keep playing and it will work eventually!” That is not even in the same ballpark as being a female with x-small hands. This isn’t always a matter of “trying harder” or “practice more!” Sometimes there are actual skeletal limitations- and injury (and a whole lot of frustration) can result from people thinking they should just suck it up and try harder.

    My recommendation- head to your local guitar store! Even if you decide to buy online, there is nothing that can substitute for trying out guitars in person. You need to hold and feel the guitar sometimes to find the one the just fits right. And suddenly, instead of pain and frustration- you can finally get somewhere!

    It’c completely worth finding that fit!

  32. Hi all small handed people. I am 5’1 weigh 112 and have small hands. Although I did have a rought go at it in the begining. After I practiced for several weeks everyday for about 45 minutes a day. I could stretch my fingers for the G, C, and D chords. I didn’t think I could in the begining cause it hurt so bad but I did it. I have a baby taylor and a full size washburn. I can play both but feel more comfortable with my Taylor. I remain to have trouble switching between chords, but practice makes prefect, right?

  33. Hi! Regarding small hands.
    I am 66 years old and now retired, living with my family in the Philippines. I’m quite small : 5ft-5 inches / 165 cm, and consequently l have small hands. Also, at my age, they are not as flexible as I would wish. One of the challenges I set myself in retirement is to learn to play the classical guitar.
    So first I bought a reasonable Chinese full size acoustic and practised on it for months. But no matter how I tried, there was no way I could span the required frtets. So I bought a Spanish Admira 630 classical by mail order. That was much better but still a struggle. And after several more months I have found the solution. Down-tune all the strings on the the 360 by three semi-tones and fit a capo at the third fret which brings the strings back up to pitch. Now I can span the frets I need and the guitar still sounds beautiful.
    I use the tablature in Jason Waldron’s excellent book ‘Fingerpicking Classics Vol.1”. I know it’s a bit like painting by numbers, but it works for me.
    Happy picking. Keith H.

  34. Sorry. My comment should have read Admira 630, NOT 360. The Admira 630 is a lovely 7/8 size classical guitar, and I enjoy playing it.
    Keith H.

  35. It’s ok man, i’m 16, 5’9″ and i’ve started around 2 and a half months ago, and I have small hands/fingers too. My middle finger alone is only 5 inches long, my index 4.5, my ring finger only 4.7 and my pinky maybe 3. They’re aren’t particularly fat, in fact, they’re bony as hell. I’m self taught and I can still reach the low E, just with difficulty from my pinky, and they aren’t as flexible nor stretched as far as they could be, yet they sit comfortably across the first 4 frets. I fractured my capitate (it’s a bone part of my hand/wrist area) and didn’t even know it until a week ago. Thankfully it was clean, and will heal quite nicely, and I can still play, and I just practise and practise man. I find it hard to do barre chords with my pinky, but after some strengthening exercises (which i’m commencing along with other such practises), I’ve seen a noticable difference in it being slightly easier each time when I attempt to do them.
    My point being, if you have small hands/fingers, don’t let that deter you as if you practise enough and do the appropriate exercises, you’ll eventually get where you want to be. Where I want to be is a long way away, in the shred zone, but i’ll get there one day, maybe in a few years. Just keep practising, and remember style and technique is the majority, as well as building exercises.

    • john atkins says:

      listen mate, for you to say you have short fingers is simply wrong. Your middle finger length of 5 inches puts you in the the league of Page and even Hendrix.

  36. Sul, while I love and appreciate your enthusiasm and concur to a large degree, some still must endure some physical limitations (e.g., to ME, your hands seem HUGE! lol). My middle finger is 2.75 inches long (but with a curve in it that makes it functionally a bit closer to 2.5 inches in length). I work hard on strengthening and stretching and other OT exercises to gain and maintain strength and agility. However, even WITH the strength and agility I had as a teen, some chord voicings are simply not physically feasible (and that’s on a 3/4 size guitar), so I have to find ways to adapt. On the piano that merely translates to cluster chords; on the guitar, however, I’m struggling still, so part of my adaptation regards the make/scale of the guitar, as I have found I’ve had to omit certain voicings (sadly, ones I love the sound of).

  37. Been playing a classical specs:650 mm/52mm at nut. Neck radius at nut significant as index finger wrapped around fret at first nut too short to meet thumb! Not to mention that my palm is pressed againast the neck to accomplish this circumference, therefore even correct position/strenght and practice for 1 1/2 years leaves me to feel that this beautiful guitar is too big!! I will keep it as many pieces will not be playable. My hands are stretched out as much as they are going to get. Over 50 so not much is going to change with more practice. Thumb pinky spread is 8″, *index finger is soo short at 2 & 1/2″, pinky 2&1/4″. We are beyond committment and practice here and run the risk of injury not to mention if one can make the chord fret spread transition and timming is comprimised due to incorrect fit! So I just got a 590mm/46mm at the nut 1/2 size – Cordoba La Playa which comes in steel string and nylon. I have the 45R which is fantastic but too large for the music I wish to play. Have looked for quite sometime on the internet at the specs of various guitars and can’t seem to find anything which has specs sim. to these and is classical nylon although this guitar is a cut-away and so battery amplification. Funny though that no one from instructor to store took a look at my hands or was concerned about measurements. Even so just about able to hit the E on the 6th and with time hope to be able to do that in limited positions. One last note, read something about guitar fit; your fingers should atleast cover 3-4 frets with pinky at top bout… son’t know but tried it and I can do 3 1/2 frets with the La Playa. Some things are just not doable and this is a physical limitation that prospective buyers need to be aware of.

    Just my experience… only Jobim

  38. A possible suggestion for a CG with a smaller neck width for you is the Giannini GWNE-18
    This is a Brazilian-made solid Sitka Spruce guitar with a 48mm (1 & 7/8″) width at Nut.
    The last time I check the price was under 275. US dollars. The scale lenght is still a full 650mm.
    For a shorter scale length at 620mm and a 48mm nut the best one available in the market in my opinion is made by Strunal. Their solid top 7/8 size sells for just over 200.US dollars.
    I think this guitar is a very good value as well as having very good sound and projection.

  39. Hi jrldev:

    Thank you for the pertinent info. I will look into both recommendations then get back with you. I think the scale is an issue, more due to a short index finger than span from thumb to pinky. Price is not really an issue so long as it is under $550.00. In a few weeks my post for the La Playa should be available.

    Cordo

  40. Hallo Cordo:
    The Cordoba models of “La Playa” have the 6 strings steel – string guitar and the 4 nylon string Ukulele. If you are into classical (nylon strings) guitar I would not recommend the steel string model. The Ukulele is the Tenor size Uke that can be tuned just like the first four strings of the guitar E-B-G-D but is usually tuned G-C-E-A like placing a capo on the 5th fret of a standard guitar. As a “travel” instrument for four strings you probably will find a better sound and overall instrument in then Baritone Ukulele since is larger – overall length about 30.8″ as well as having a little bit more separation between the four strings.
    The Cordoba line the “Cadet” model will be more like a 3/4 size guitar with almost the same specifications as the Strunal (Czech Republic) guitar I mentioned in my prior post, and is still a nylon string classical guitar not like the 6 string La Playa.
    I am familiar with these instruments since I have seen them and heard them when I play with our guitar ensemble in my area. I also play mandolin and Ukulele.
    Choosing the right size guitar is imperative for good ploaying. As often heard from CG teachers: Choosing a guitar is like choosing a new pair of shoes – Not One Size Fits All.

  41. Hallo Jrldev:

    The La Playa with the steel strings is designated SS model where the Nylon 6 string La Playa has no designation. The sku#’s are different. Standard strings are D’Addario J46. Tension not sure of. I’ll probably swap out the G string right out of the box for a Savarez G. Didn’t like the D’Addario’s on my 45R and have success with Savarez Cristal Corum, Savilla and now Savarez Alliance HT Classic Long Play. Given this experience if the J46 with Savarez G doesn’t do it, I’ll go to the Alliance abv. men. and then evaluate the La Playa. I don’t know when Cordoba came out with the Nylon version of the La Playa but it is on their web site along with the 2 which you mention.

    Very much appreciative,

    Cordo

  42. I did find the Classical La Playa, it is listed as a 1/2 size guitar with a scale length of 582.3mm and a nut width of 46.99 mm. Their Cordobal Cadet I mentioned is classified as a 3/4 size with a scale length of approx 619mm and a width of approx.48mm. A little bit larger overall. In my experience with CG the 1/2 sizes-regardless of maker- being produced with a smaller sound body tend to have less projection volume but they do make a nice traveling guitar.
    Regarding strings I have found good results with the English-made RotoSound brand.They make their classical strings in their normal tension as a Tie On Set or a Ball End set. For retailers I have found excellent service with “Just Strings” and they have the most choices of makers for classical guitars of any retailer in the web.

  43. Hallo Jrldev:

    Great info, never heard of those strings and will give them a try along with the specified retailer. Your absolutely right about the sound that eminates from a small size. I really don’t seem to have many choices given that Bossa is the genre. I tried the Cordobas a number of times; 3/4 & 7/8 also looked at detailed specs. They are the most lovely sounding well made guitars for the price! This is why I am keeping my 45R, just can’t part with it. I had not heard of the names which you suggested, and the later is a possibility should the new one not work out. Physically it fits so it is just going to come down to sound given the fact that it is so modestly priced for what you get.

    Love Cordoba Guitars…

    Have a good rest of the day!

    Cordo!

  44. Jrldev & the forum:

    Who are we playing for? This is the question?? So long as the sound is pleasing and audible to me, projection is not an issue. Primarily playing is for my pleasure. Can your guitar soothe the savage beast? This guitar gets the dog to approach it and lye down within a foot of the sound hole. Who better to decern quality sound ? Another criteria to consider.

    I don’t expect to be playing professionally. Should projection be at all necessary, this sweet guitar has a little larger than pocket size amp., yes amp running off of (2) 9volt batteries one in the guitar, the other in the amp. The amp. can be set for drive or open which is the appropriate setting for CG. La Playa can more than adequately handle an intimate setting with or without the amp (open setting). Jrldev: Please let me know if you have an opportunity to play this guitar. May I suggest calling your retailer first since most places don’t have either model in the store. Mine was purchased online, as I had no other choice. If there are any concerns, I can assure you that CordobaGuitars is very responsive to the customer!

    Price concerns… What do you get? A solid top Guitar – travel bag – batteries – amplifier – cord – J46 strings – delivery – $261.00. Can you beat it!

  45. Hello Cordo: Yes, you are correct in saying that a guitar for us (people like you and I) is played for our own enjoyment. I am not a professional nor close to it. The only problem I have sound-wise is that I am partially deaf (I’ll be 80 next month) and like to hear the sound of the instrument without a power amplifier.I have not played this guitar nor at the moment know any fellow cg guitar players that have played one. My comments about 1/2 size guitars are limited to the 1/2 CG I have the opportunity to play in the past in relation to the larger size like 3/4 or 7/8 size instruments.instruments I have played or owned. At the present time I have four guitars including the Giannini I mention in an earlier post that I purchase when I started to facilitate my playing with a handicap anular finger in my fretting hand. Since that time I have moved up to the 650mm and 50.2mm nut guitars.
    I also own a Cordoba guitar Iberia Series – very good guitar and only $200. at present time
    My other guitars are an Orpheus Valley (Kremona),and a Manuel Rodriguez. All of these are also solid top instruments and the Orpheus Valley is solid wood all over- (My most expenisive guitar). The good thing about Cordoba guitars is that is a well-regarded name and will have a decent exchange value if you ever wish to trade it for another guitar.
    I am sure you will enjoy it.

  46. Hi Jlrdev:
    A purist at heart! Additionally, as you know larger bouts give the player enhanced physical vibratons and resonance contributing to ones appreciation. Compromised hearing yes, but sharper in a way! I agree with your perspective and insights. My index finger on left hand was severed close to the bone at the knuckle nearest the palm. Scar tissue impedes flexion but I press through it. Short and wounded, it’s been almost 1 year since this injury. Never barred a chord prior to the injury but worked through it. Will never no what it feels like to barre with a healthy index finger. Well aged and aware that there is a big difference between being dedicated and banging your head against the wall therefore: smalled guitar. The collectiion that you speak of sounds lovely as I am familiar with the Cordoba and MR. There is no concern of resale for me. Plans are to pass them onto children. I was thinking about taking “the traveler” to Europe for a trip when visiting family then leaving it with one of the kids who expressses and interest and appreciation, them come back to the states and buy another and do it again! I sincerely doubt that I would sell any of my guitars. The peace of mind and quiet they bring is priceless. The 45R got me through trying times.

    For the forum P.S. – Can’t say enough about strings. I’m not a CG professional, but we all need to try different strings while being patient with ourselves. The wrong strings can lead one to think that the guitar is not up to snuff. Many of us have spent days of playing to get the new strings to settle in only to find out that the new ones just don’t cut it. You get discouraged, think it’s you, maybe humidity variations got to it etc. The sound went from rich & full to warm & dull. My guitar place strings for me. Once I feel my level of play is where I want it, I will complicate the equation and restring. Change one varible at a time then see what a difference if at all, it makes. Come to find out that although many stores employ folks that change strings, most do not have the experience to restring your CG tie-end correctly but will do it the best they can. Always ask for the mgr. and have a Classical Guitarist with experience do this.

    Jrldev – To you a premature best wishes for a Happy, Healthy & Meaningful Birthday

    Cordo!

  47. I have learned to do my own re-stringing and minor adjustment – like the action – to my guitars since I began the interes in the classical guitar 7 years ago. I am learning to play on my own – over 25 cg instructional books witrh CD’s as I knew how to sight-read music before I ever pick up a guitar- I played the violin as a child- Some of my fellow group guitar players were music-guitar teachers at the local college but I have never had “formal” instruction. I have found the best way to learn (other than private lessons) is to join a local classical guitar ensemble group.Ffortunate for me there are such groups in my area. If you get such a chance you should join them.

  48. Ye of small appendages, do not despair.

    Me: 6ft, 215lbs, hands seemingly the size suitable for a 10-year old. Worse, I was born with both of my little fingers turned in at the third and last knuckle, such that my pinkie-reach comes up about 3/4- inch shorter than it would were it not crooked. (Oddly, my daughter was born the same way – no mailman daddy, her!)

    But I have been playing for over 43 years.

    Not a pro, I am just a basement guy who has always played for pleasure and sanity. I am not a classical guitarist; mostly ’60′s/ ’70′s rock with a splash of (old) country and folk and Neil Young. My Les Paul is 36 years old (I bought it new when I was 17). I have a cheap Mex Strat, an Ibanez AF75 hollowbody electric, an ’85 Guild D-25, and a Yamaha 12-string who’s model number escapes me at the moment, but my wife bought it for me… probably 15 years ago, if not more.

    Over the years I’ve learned to rearrange chord progressions and scales when needed to fit my hands’ abilities. I just think of it as my “style”. And there have been many times when I have had to learn/practice a certain song on a thin-neck – an unplugged Les Paul, say – before moving on to it’s appropriate (as I can make it) box. The Beatles’/George Harrison’s “Here Comes The Sun” sounds really good on a 12-string. But I had to work my way up to that wide double-stringed Yamaha.

    I just wanna say, don’t get discouraged because of your dinky grippers. Phhhht! Pick one/two of your faves that you can play, songs that really put a smile on your face when you do, and play them when ever you feel yourself getting frustrated with something harder. Indeed, play your absolute favorite/best song to finish out each practice session. For me, that brings me back every time.

    And you WILL get there. I mean, if old-dude crooked-pinky me can get Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy”, you are going get to Charo’s “Malagueña”.

    Keep pickn.

  49. I like to come back to this board every so often and I find it one -if not the only one – of the most pleasant and enjoyable to read. It appears to me that those who make comments express their
    opinions void of any air of being the last word in any matters reloating to guitar players and/or the instrument itself.
    I am making this observation after visiting some other sites and sadly some of them convey the impression that if you are not a professional level player or play a guitar that cost more than three figures you are out of your “league” . I like to thank the editors and monitors of this site at “Guitar Noise” for allowing some of us non-professional guitar “aficionados” and players of lower cost instruments to have a forum to share our questions and views.

  50. left or right fret hand you need to be really aware of what your arm is doing.a lot of fretting problems stem from poor arm position.poor arm position causes tension in the muscles leading to stilted playing.a good exercise when learning new chords is to make the chord then see what your arm is doing and adjust your arm and or body to where you feel the most relaxed.i see a lot of beginners who just kinda let their arm hang there in the same position all the time.you have to be really proactive with your body. figure all that weight is transferred to your fingers and its hard to be agile and make smooth changes with all that dead weight constantly pulling your fingers off the fret board.you want to position your arm and body in such a way that you get proper leverage thus minimalizing the pressure needed to hold a chord.you want your fingers as close to the frets as possible.go through the motions.practice making the chord without strumming at all until you feel comfortable.also, you cant over look the obvious which is how are you holding your guitar? too far away and your shoulder strains more to support the weight.too close and you get jammed up and tight.i guess the point im trying to make is you should find the position you are most comfortable and relaxed in before you even strum your guitar.with time and practice muscle memory will develop and you’ll find your hand/arm/body automatically shifting to that position.lighter strings can also be used at first until you build some finger and forearm strength.being aware of the aforementioned subtleties makes a world of difference.if all else fails learn how to make the chord another way.doing that also expands your vocabulary so that down the road you wont have to run all over the neck to make a chord that can be made where you are simply by repositioning your fingers.dont forget about the power of the single open string either.dont think you have to do things a certain way just because people say so.find where your strengths and weaknesses are then compensate accordingly.above all relax and have fun.if you are all tense trying to be textbook your play will suffer.if any of that makes sense? haha.take care everyone.

    PS-for all the beginners; along with body/arm/hand position start working on your ear whenever you can.practice tuning your guitar by ear from the get go with your tuner as a supplement.even as a beginner turn your music on and try playing along.it is crucial to develop your ear in order to be able to recognize different keys later on if you plan on getting serious.

  51. I started playing guitar at 40, I’m short with small hands and in fact would have started years ago if a friend hadn’t told me “you won’t be able to play guitar with those hands”. I started with classical, which I love, and did quite well for 5 years, not having much trouble. I had a break (was disheartened)..
    Another 7 years on, on a steel-strung I am completely uncomfortable, they are so big, in shops they have said “No, you’re adult, you should play a full-size”. The worst problem is trying to do bar chords. Try as I might, there is always one string which I physically can’t put enough pressure on to bar. I try purely the left hand, splinting it with all my other fingers, and changing where I place the finger (there’s not a lot of room for movement, my index finger only just spans the width of the fretboard.) but still I can’t produce a clear strum. I see guys who only need to use the first and second bone of their finger, for me it takes the whole length of the finger. I can’t possibly wrap my thumb around to catch the 6th either.

    I can’t use a splitting maul either. :P

    I now play ukulele, but I might investigate these 7/8 or even 3/4 guitars if I find some money. :)

  52. Darn, when I said “I try purely the left hand” what I meant was the simple bar with no other notes added in.*

  53. Hello Sally, I aslo play the Ukulele – the Baritone size since it is tuned like the guitar first four strings E-B-G-D and I won’t have to learn the smaller size Ukes fingering for chords.
    One guitar that you may consider in the 3/4 oveall size with a scale length of 610 mm (24 “), and a neck with of 48mm (1.7/8″) without breaking your bank account is the Montana model CL 141 guitar selling for about $100. They have a laminated top and solid sides which produces a good sound. If you can find one in the market place (they are scarce) consider it a good value and worth keeping also as a traveling guitar.

  54. One suggestion for small hands; Luthier Manuel Rodriguez III can accomodate your needs with precision and quality. I’ve personally ordered direct from La Mancha Toledo, Spain a MR Cab-10. Senor Rodriguez gives you a quality guitar with an electric neck! This guy is the grandson of Rodriguez Guitars Espana and has been in the family business since childhood. He is very fair on the price, the guitar takes 4 weeks or so to manufacture still by Spaniards who have a history of guitar making in their soul. It comes with nylon strings and a classical/Spanish headstock. The shipping is about $230.00 and there is no profit made here. Everyone who knows their classical guitars comments on the quality and craftmanship that leaves this shop; the bracing is solid and you have to know what you are looking for to appreciate it! Get in touch with Manuel Jr. through his website http://www.guitars-m-r-sons.com. If you love the sound of an authentic Spanish Guitar then you owe it to the craftsmen of Spain and yourself to continue supporting the art of Spanish Guitar!

    You won’t be dissapointed! Cordo

  55. Good suggestion cordo but the one problem that many of us face is MoneySome of us don’t have the budget to allow for a luthier-made guitar and unless we are in the profession as a musician we can’t even consider it as a business expense. i once sat on a lecture given by no other than David Russell to new students of CG and he clearly indicated that we should get the best instrument that we can afford but don’t assume that by purchasing a very expensive instrument wil make you a better student. A luthier-made guitar in the hands of a beginner student will inspire the student to practice and be more motivated but his skills will not develope any quicker assuming the same practice time is given, when using a machine-made instrument that is playable . I add to that : Mr. Russell skills will make my
    $200. guitar sound much better than were I to play his luthier-made instrument.

  56. Hi to all in the forum: The luthier made guitars may not be as expensive as one would think! The competition is incredible world wide. The guitar I spoke of is under $500.00. Personally I never thought that it would be a possibility for me. There is an intangeable that is so warm, it connects to your soul. You can feel the love and passion that goes into these guitars. The House of Rodriguez Guitarres while crafting guitarres in the $30-40,000 range, must compete with the lower end $300.00 price point and they do it with many options. However, if you care about the intangeables the beauty and history of Spanish Guitar, then borrow the extra $200.00 and get a living piece of history. I wanted a Spanish Guitar MADE IN SPAIN as a kid & finally got 2 after hitting 50. I never owned my own guitar until recently. I support Spanish Guitar and all that goes along with it! If you have an opportunity, read up on the history of the guitar and you will see just how Spain contributed along with innovations to this day. Credit must be given, it is due here!

  57. Hello cordo. I always enjoy your comments. My mother’s family came from Zaragoza – Northern Spain – and my maternal grandfather Gabriel was a master carpenter and according to my grandmother Europa, he was always talking about the artistry of the
    guitar makers in Spain. As you have properly indicated a Made in Spain guitar is one wish I want to fulfill by purchasing one of those beautifully crafted instruments before the ends of my days but the present economic situation here in USA holds me back knowing that there are other priorities to consider. I would not mind at all spending close to $500. for such instrument considering that I will have to pay VAT as well as the cost of bringing it into USA. Now that the holiday season is aproaching that could be one of my top considerations but I will need more details.

  58. Dear JRLDEV:
    Bravo! Manuel Jr. will be involved, yes even at the 500.00 level. You may be aware that the big trade show NAMM is comming up in Jan. 2012. in California, so I can only imagine how consumed he is in preparation. He manufactures his guitars to be distributed all over the world and although he is busy, you will personally be taken care of. The shipping which included the VAT was as mentioned. If you know anyone who wishes to order at the same time, the additional shipping is academic. May I suggest you do searches on Luthier Manuel Rodriguez III for insight into the man. You’ll find online interview videos. He is a man of his word with whom I have personally spoke with and email regularly. Can you imagine in this day and age an international business owner who is personally involved in seeing your purchase through? Check out the videos then let me know what you think. I would rather support an artform which is integral to a countrys survival and identity than buy a machined copy if you will where there is no craftmanship, simply automation for profit. For Spain it is a way of life!

  59. Dear cordo, Thanks for the information. i will follow up on that.
    I do own and play a Manuel Rodriguez guitar. Their student model C-1 with a solid top.
    I consider it my second best CG behind my Orpheus Valley Rondo model with is a solid all wood guitar. In my now 8 years learning and playing CG I have gone thru at least 20+ guitars which I have either bought new or traded for and the only two best full size guitars I have are those I just listed. I also own a Giannini solid-top made in Brazil with a shorter nut width but a full scale length. Then I also play the Montana short sclale guitar mentioned above and I just acquired on a trade of a Cordoba full size guitar that I did not like at all and old (but in beautiful condition and playability ) 600mm scale length and a 48mm nut width “Palmer” guitar with a solid spruce top. This guitar was made in Korea but it has a very good sound and sustain. I can also use it as a Requinto guitar if I change it with the use of Requinto strings. As you can tell I love the CG instrunments to play and collect.

  60. Unfortunately I’m nowhere close to being able to afford an MR guitar. Maybe one day. However, in my local trusty guitar shop (I’m in England) I came across an Aria AK20 3/4 size, paid $108 which I am happy with as it is perfect for me to enjoy at home or out and about. My 15-year-old son who normally plays his full-size steel-strung acoustic also seems to like sitting and messing about with it, for him it’s small enough so he can just sit back any old how in an armchair and mess about. A lucky find, it seems. Even has pretty good intonation.

  61. Hello Sally: Congratulations in your find. I am sure you will enjoy the playability from a guitar that is the right “fit” for fou. Aria guitars have a good reputation with the local CG teachers. Speaking of good finds as used CG, I just found a hand-made CG made by Prudencio Saez (Valencia, Spain), iat the Used section of the giant Gutar Center which I decided to buy for $150.00 . This will make it my only luthie-made guitar to date. At times it pays to look around for what could be a good buy in the CG world.

    dprsling p

  62. I have just found this very informative website, and wonder if any of you knowledgeable people can help me. I have (I think) very odd hands – from wrist to middle finger tip is 8″; middle finger length is 3.25″; width of middle finger near tip is 7/8″”, at base is 1″; width of hand is 4″; index and ring fingers both 3″; pinky 2.5″. Spread is 9.5″. They are more like shovels! My problem is that I just cannot get my hands to form chords using the traditional left hand position. I don’t think I shall ever be able to bend my wrist enough to form the chords. However, on TV recently I saw a guitarist with Siouxie and the Banshees who played his guitar with his left hand going over the top of the fretboard! Anyone got any info on this method, please?

  63. I think I can answer my own question – the guitarist was Robert Smith and he was miming on TOTP, and was just taking the P!

    • Hi Dennis

      Don’t think you have odd hands at all – mine are smaller than your measurements and I know guitarists with larger ones as well.

      What I would point out to you is that if you need to “bend your wrist enough to form the chords” then you’re probably not holding the guitar in a good position to start with. Without seeing you play in person it’s hard to say one way or the other, but ideally your fretting hands wrist should stay reasonably straight. Usually bending the wrist to form chords means that you’re holding the neck too low or tipping the body of the guitar upward too much in order to watch your fingers on the fretboard. If you angle the headsock more upward and hold your guitar so your fretting hand is about chest high (regardless of whether you’re sitting or standing) then you might find it easier to keep your wrist straight and to form the chords.

      Hope this helps.

      Peace

  64. Thanks, David, I’ll try adjusting my position as you suggest and see how it goes. Perhaps I ought to have a few lessons!
    Best regards

  65. Dave McElhinny says:

    Interesting topic, I also have very small hands. I’ve also been playing for 39 years. What I’ve noticed over the years is that most people hold the guitar with the neck too low. Just like David says above, a simple raising up of the headstock goes a long way. As to scale, I first learned on a Gibson guitar scale length. (24.75″-610mm) Pretty standard I think for electrics and acoustics. Fender scale length is (25.5-648mm). The shorter the scale length the higher the tension of the string at concert level. Here is the wiki article on string length.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scale_(string_instruments)

    A little involved, but informative. I think that the availability of mass produced guitars and their price is very important for a beginner. It’s getting harder and harder to find a bad guitar these days. Also, consider having the guitar set up by a luthier or guitar tech for optimization of your guitars action. Most guitars are not set up very well when new. Even name brands! This can help a lot with ease of playing. They will set bridge height and true the neck with the proper relief, check the nut and intonation and possibly find any trouble spots with the guitar.

    Finally, practice does make perfect, it took me about nine months to play a barre F chord cleanly and to be able to do it consistantly, but I preservered and one day it came to me. I also recommend doing some stretching exercises also.

    It just takes time for your hand muscles to get used to doing new things, it WILL happen eventually.

    Just keep at it and good things will come!

  66. Thank you so much for the help. You’ve already encouraged me. This was a topic that kept disturbing me, and the reason i stayed away from my guitar for a long time.

  67. Great thread!
    I have been playing classical guitar on and off (mostly on :P) for about 3 years now. I’m a girl and have ridiculously short fingers, though my hand size itself is quite average. Let me tell you; learning the simplest of chords proved to be quite a challenge, but when I got my first guitar, I was a woman possessed. For months I played every day ALL day, with only short breaks. The pain was awful, but it got better quickly.
    Anyway, I’m not the type to give up, but in the end, barre chords proved to be impossible, no matter how hard I practiced. Even if I didn’t have to reach all strings, my hand doesn’t have the strength to support the pressure needed, because I can’t get my thumb in the right position to support. At least not on a classical. It’s slightly easier on electronic guitars. Sadly, I don’t exactly have the means to buy a new instrument, so any other tips would be wellcome.
    Right now I’m trying to get creative with the chord repertoire within my reach, but it’s getting somewhat hard… Would a capo help? Are they even useful for playing only one or two chords at a time? Is it possible to move it around quickly enough to play a song like that without blotching it and getting awkward?

  68. Sorry to say but small hands are just an excuse. I have small hands, 2.5″ middle finger and have no problem with any cord on any guitar. Even 12 string guitars.

    Sorry but its just a lack of ability. Not small hands, that are the problem.

    So keep practising anyone, can do it.

  69. I have small hands for a male, but they aren’t tiny. However, they did seem a concern on the wider necked classical guitar, which is my preference. My solution may not work for everyone, but it really changed things for me. I now realize I don’t have to be able to play everything to enjoy the guitar. There is a style of playing called “open string fingerstyle method” that allows you to play beautiful chords using only a couple of fingers on the fretting hand. The instructors whose methods I am using are Daniel Ho and Mark Hanson. You will amazed at how great you can sound with this approach. . Both of those teachers have books out with cd’s. Good luck.

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