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Manual Dexterity and the Joys of Being a Gal

Active Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 15
Topic starter  

I'm a newbie, both to this community and to guitar. One thing that has been nagging at my brain for the past few years, and moreso since I've been reading the posts in this forum community, is this idea that I always thought females would be better suited to guitar than men. This is an idea I've had since I was very young, and maybe I'm wrong. I always thought that because women tend to have smaller fingertips that the whole process of holding down strings and not having interference with your fretting hand would be much, much easier.

I remember watching my first guitar teacher play, absolutely amazed that his fat fingers could actually maneuver well enough so that his guitar didn't just play a series of buzzing noises.

I guess there is no way to actually get an answer to whether it is easier to play a guitar when you have short reach but thinner fingers, or a long reach and fat fingers, but what trials and tribulations have you all had in this regard?

(Disclaimer: I don't mean to say that all women have small hands and slender fingers, nor that all men have large hands and wide fingers, but it seems to be a trend. :P )

Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 4166

welcome to GN

male or female, short or long, thin or fat, you have what you have and practice and determination will dictate success.
it's not like you can pick which you want eh?
so it doesn't really matter. imo.
the important thing to consider in this reguard is getting a guitar that fits you.

when i started i had to learn right handed because there wasn't money for a left handed guitar, most of my friends had classical guitars and i was used to trying to form chords on a wide flat fretboard.
needless to say when i was given a steel 12 string i was a bit taken back, but i removed 6 of the strings and it worked out the best i could manage.
after a while your hands will adapt to just about any size/shape neck within reason, it just takes time.


Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1689


I'm a woman with average size hands but fairly long fingers. I've played piano since kindergarten and was the fastest typist in my class. You'd think I'd have an advantage when it comes to learning guitar.


I'm having to work hard to build finger strength and reach, flexibility in my fretting wrist, and I have to try various contortions when learning barre chords so no string falls in the joint crease of my index finger. Fretting even two strings with one fingertip is difficult because my fingertips are small. I'm slower than I should be on chord changes. It just seems to be a whole different ballgame.

I marvel at the dexterity and speed at which some men with thick fingers can play guitar. Doesn't seem to be a hindrance to them.


When my mind is free, you know a melody can move me
And when I'm feelin' blue, the guitar's comin' through to soothe me ~

Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1274

Welcome to the board. I got the good of this stick I believe. I have long thin fingers. I have great hand strenght due to my years of karate and my recent weightlifting, so my joints are strong, and my fingers are fast and tips are rock hard. However the rest of my hand is kind of small, so I have trouble with my friends 5 string bass.

Vacate is the word...Vengance has no place on me or her...Cannot find a comfort in this world.

Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 4389

Welcome to GuitarNoise, Futile! We look forward to seeing you around the forums! :D

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-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´ -:¦:- Elecktrablue -:¦:-

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

Active Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 15
Topic starter  

Barre chords are a really good point, but I get the feeling they are pretty difficult for everyone.

Also, thank you for all of the welcomes! I should be around for awhile, so I look forward to running into everyone.

Honorable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 728

I have small hands and had a real hard time until I learned to move my thumb to the middle of the neck. It makes a huge difference. Welcome :D

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

Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 395

Hi There, I can see what your saying and I guess that smaller finger tips would make it easier and maybe a little faster than a fat finger. where a fat finger you may have to practice a little more to not make buzzing sounds. But let me tell you, when i first started, i was buzzing all over the place. And sometimes i still do from time to time. It really depends on where you place your thumb on the back of the neck, how you bend your fingers etc, everything i had no clue too but learned with practice and reading and teachers and also PLAYING with others.

If you have long slender fingers then i think you may procede through this area rather quickly. where it may take a person with a fat finger a little longer. I could go on and on, but just remember, hold your guitar right, place your thumb right and arch your fingers right. all these take a little ptractice to get it down. It takes some people longer than others.

Oh and welcome to the site! :P

Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4478

I think everyone has there own physical limitations and just have to work them through each may have their own potential pros and cons in certain aspects of playing but regardless of the size of your hands millions of people play guitar with any number of physical attributes and they all seem to make it work.

It all comes down to practice.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!