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(@lemieux66)
New Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

I just started teaching myself guitar last month and things were going ok until I tried a C chord. No matter how many times I try it, I cannot play it successfully using the 3 2 1 fingering my book tells me to use. It's hurting my wrist and I'm muting strings. My husband thinks my fingers are too short to play guitar well-is this a possibility?!

Thanks,

Carrie
During the commercials, Jack Bauer calls the CSI detectives and solves their crimes.


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(@bennett)
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 297
 

I might as well get in before the others, but I'm sure they'll say the same thing: Practice! :D

Honestly though, we all think we're not designed for guitar, but somehow our hands adapt. I never thought I'd be able to jam my fingers into the small spaces of some frets but lo and behold now they can.

So keep with it. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. 8)

From little things big things grow - Paul Kelly


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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4933
 

I doubt it. It's probably related to position.

Make sure you're not angling the guitar (most beginners do that, so they can see where their fingers are going). Keep the peghead end higher than the guitar's body, and keep your fretting elbow a bit away from your side.

Your fretting forearm should end up in a pretty straight line from the elbow right through to the back of your hand.

Your fretting hand thumb should be behind the neck, and the first joint of your fingers should come pretty much straight down at the strings - that will help eliminate deadened strings. Also, don't cradle the neck in the palm of your fretting hand - the neck should be suspended between the fingers and thumb.

I've taught a lot of small children, and I've only had one student whose hands were too small to finger a chord.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@cyranodb)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 178
 

I have pretty short fat sausage fingers. In time, the more you practice, the better you get at playing the chords. You might want to start just placing one finger at a time, sounding each string, make sure you're not muting any strings that are supposed to play and then strum the chord. in time you'll be able to play and open C chord like everyone else.

"I use heavy strings, tune low, play hard and floor it. Floor it, that's a technical term." - SRV


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(@elecktrablue)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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When first beginning, EVERYONE with smallish hands thinks the EXACT same thing (myself included)! I can't even remember all the posts on this forum alone about the subject. You just have to increase your reach by playing and playing and playing. And by doing finger stretches. As you continue to play, you'll begin to realize that you're reaching farther and farther. Keep your thumb in the middle of the back of the neck (don't let it peep out over the top) to give you even more reach (aside from the thumb just being in the proper place!). Another thing that we players with small hands have to do (and this is also where the thumb in the middle of the back of the neck comes in again...), is to be sure that, while making reaches for the low E string, for example, we don't deaden the high E string with the palms of our hands. Practice, practice, practice!

:D

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"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"


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(@tim_madsen)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 728
 

I had the same problem when I first started. I thought my hands where just to small. Then I took some advice I got here and moved my thumb to the middle of the neck. Playing a C was no longer a problem. Strange I only place it there when I play the C and mini-barr F chords. The rest of the time it's hanging over the top of the neck.

Tim Madsen
Nobody cares how much you know,
until they know how much you care.

"What you keep to yourself you lose, what you give away you keep forever." -Axel Munthe


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(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

You probably remember Janis Ian? She is tiny, I don't believe she is even 5 feet tall. You cannot tell by this picture, but she has very small hands.

There is an old article by Janis on GuitarNoise I believe. She said her tiny hands forced her to play in her own style which actually led to being a big advantage to her in the long run.

Getting reach is more a matter of technique than the size of your hands, or length of your fingers. Keep your thumb behind the neck as much as possible. There should be a gap between your palm and the neck. Curl your fingers over. It is also good to keep the headstock up high around ear level. You will probably find it much easier to reach with proper technique. Just stay at it and reach will come. Your hand will loosen up and develop stretch. So, don't give up, lots of people have problems with reach at first. You'll get it. :D

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@amnesia)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 58
 

You can get 3/4 guitars which are a little smaller than regular, fret boards also smaller.

However, find a good position - and you will be able to reach. Blusey/Jazzy chords may seem difficult at first, but everyone with smaller hands trying to learn an instrument will find this to be the case.

My Dad has small hands, and he has a callouse (its pretty gross) on his lil pinky that runs along the inside... thats because he was unable to do large reaches, until he found that resting the edge started to sound.. now he has a callouse and he can play all sorts!!

Just keep practicing :)

//--Amnesia--

Gutiars: Sheraton II | Yamaha APX-7A | Taylor 510CE-LTD
Equipment: Hiwatt 40 Amp | Switch Pedal | Zoom 200 FX Pedal
Piano: Roland 236


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(@alangreen)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5366
 

3/4 size isn't the answer. After one month of self-teaching, a full C chord is going to be very hard work.

Change to fingering it across 4 strings only, and if that's still difficult then change it to 3 strings. Like so many things to do with the guitar, it will get easier with experience and practice but don't rush it.

And welcome to Guitarnoise.

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


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(@amnesia)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 58
 

Alan - I was not saying that 3/4 is the answer :)
But it's a brilliant Alternative.... Eric Clapton uses them 8-) (well... I say uses them, he plays everything :( )

//--Amnesia--

Gutiars: Sheraton II | Yamaha APX-7A | Taylor 510CE-LTD
Equipment: Hiwatt 40 Amp | Switch Pedal | Zoom 200 FX Pedal
Piano: Roland 236


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(@lemieux66)
New Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

Thank you so much everyone for all of the great suggestions. What I really appreciate is the encouragement-this is a very frustrating process, especially when I don't have anyone around who knows anything about guitars.

I hope I'm not bieng a real pain, but I do have a couple of more questions based on some of the replies I've received:

Alan-what do you mean by "fingering it across 4 strings"? I don't think I'm understanding all of the concepts associated with guitar yet.

Amnesia (and Alan)-are 3/4 guitars a "bad" thing? I thought I heard about guitars with smaller fretboards somewhere, so I went to a music store and asked and the kid looked at me like I was making it up! I was so embarrassed that I still haven't gotten the nerve to talk to anyone at a guitar store since...and believe me, I need help (I have a guitar strap staring at me right now, and I have yet to understand how it goes on the guitar)!

Last one-last night I started trying out the positioning suggestions that some of you wrote...and now I can't hang onto the guitar and I'm screwing up all the notes...this will get better as I practice, right?

Again, thank you so much for helping me. This is a great website, and I'm learning so much just by reading through all of the different topics.

Carrie
During the commercials, Jack Bauer calls the CSI detectives and solves their crimes.


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(@clideguitar)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 376
 

I just started teaching myself guitar last month and things were going ok until I tried a C chord. No matter how many times I try it, I cannot play it successfully using the 3 2 1 fingering my book tells me to use. It's hurting my wrist and I'm muting strings. My husband thinks my fingers are too short to play guitar well-is this a possibility?!
Thanks,

I had the problem and I tried to blame my small hands, but, like everyone else said, it away with practice! In the beginning, try CAPO'ing on the second fret and play from there.

Bob Jessie


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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4933
 

Lemieux - hockey fan, are ya? Roenick used to live in my neighborhood when he played for the Black Hawks. Anyway...

By fingering across four strings, Alan means playing the C xx2010 at first.

I often teach young beginners four-string voicings to start with - it gets them playing right away, and we work our way up to full voicings. The Summer issue of PlayGuitar! magazine will have a lesson of mine on taking those steps.

3/4 size guitars aren't a bad thing. Most of my students under about age 9 use them. They're a bit harder to find than full size, though.

They also make 1/2 size guitars... which are a little different, and very hard to find. Because of the extremely short scale length, the strings sounds 'slappy' in standard tuning, and it's best to tune them up a minor third or so (to G-C-F-Bb-D-G). This year I have only one student with a 1/2 size guitar, and last week she decided to trade up to a 3/4 size electric.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@kent_eh)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1885
 

I thought I heard about guitars with smaller fretboards somewhere, so I went to a music store and asked and the kid looked at me like I was making it up! I was so embarrassed that I still haven't gotten the nerve to talk to anyone at a guitar store since...
He's the one who doesn't know what he's talking about , not you.
Look here
They're not as common as "standrd" size, but they're probably as common as left-handed guitars.

If your local music store carries any of these same brand names, ask them about a specific model from the link above.

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


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(@cyranodb)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 178
 

When I think that i can't play because of my small hands I think of Django Reinhardt. Django was a jazz musician in the '30s of french gypsy origin. Without getting in to a long winded thing, Django was injured in his late 20s in a fire and only had full mobility of two fingers of his left hand; the remaining fingers were too injured in that fire. And he was a famous and well respected jazz musician. I have full mobility of all my fingers. what I need to do is practice and learn what my weaknesses are and how to over-come them. I'm never going to be Mark Knopfler, Eddie Van Halen or Stevie Ray Vaughan, but i will keep improving and hopefully, with practice, reach my goal to play in local bars. I play because i like to play. :D

"I use heavy strings, tune low, play hard and floor it. Floor it, that's a technical term." - SRV


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