Tip: For Those with Small Hands

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.


Thanks again for reading.

Copyright © 2008 Darrin Koltow

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