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cbittner
UG Newbie
Join date: Jul 2005
111 IQ
#1
I am getting the callouses on my finger tips so that helps, but I still cannot seem to get my fingers in a consistently good position to play chords well, for example C gives me grief. I can't seem to get my wrist bent enough, my fingers seem too fat, and all of the other complaints beginners have. My question is this, my hands, from base of the plam to the tip of my index finger is 7", and my guitar is a full sized dreadnaught, Rogue model: RA-100D. How do I know if my problems are completely begginers pain, or if I picked the wrong sized guitar. I have been trying to get my chords downpat for 4 weeks but still fell like I did on day one.

Chuck
SilentDeftone
UG God
Join date: Jul 2003
1,732 IQ
#2
Mine is only 7" as well?

Make sure your thumb is not hanging over near the low E string. It should be roughly in the center of the back of the neck. It'll give your fingers more mobility.

-SD
Logz
UGs UGing UGer
Join date: Mar 2004
3,634 IQ
#3
its a good idea to build up strength in your thumb too, and make it flexable.

It'll help with being able to move your hand.
Been away, am back
cbittner
UG Newbie
Join date: Jul 2005
111 IQ
#4
I guess at 42 my wrists aren't as flexible and I need to be more patient. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't killing myself by using a too large guitar, I think I'll plan on taking some lessons soon to get some guidance.
Logz
UGs UGing UGer
Join date: Mar 2004
3,634 IQ
#5
try squeezing on a tennis ball in your spare time.
Been away, am back
SilentDeftone
UG God
Join date: Jul 2003
1,732 IQ
#6
Here's a picture of what a good hand position would be. Note the thumb position and nice curve of the fingers. His hands aren't abnormally large or skinny either. That is not my hand.

Also try putting your guitar over your left leg, if comfortable. With large acoustics the body can get in the way of your right arm, which hampers your picking. With electrics or smaller acoustics, you should be able to put the body between your legs comfortably, with the curve of the guitar resting over your left thigh.

-SD
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Last edited by SilentDeftone at Jul 17, 2005,
cbittner
UG Newbie
Join date: Jul 2005
111 IQ
#7
Ironic, coincidence, who knows, but tonight I was able to jump between chords much smoother. I think in my subconcious I was wondering if I was using the right tool, in this case, the right sized tool so SilentdefTones comment about the size of their hands being 7" and the photo showed me I was with the guitar I have and my wrist and finger position was ok. So tonight I pressed harder, I moved between different chords more instead of trying to keep nailing the same one, like C major, and my wrist was more relaxed and I started to hit all the chords better...well...at least the ones I know so far.

Great comments. I have a basic question to add. Just out of curiosity, since electric guitars pick up differently, do you have to press the strings as hard as you do on acoustic guitars?
ridcullylives
UG's McCartney Defender
Join date: Sep 2004
490 IQ
#9
...my hands are 7 1/2 ", and I have really big hands...so don't complain.
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seljer
UG Resident
Join date: Apr 2005
1,381 IQ
#10
I've got pretty small hands. It took me about 2 months since I started playing I could play an open C chord
SilentDeftone
UG God
Join date: Jul 2003
1,732 IQ
#11
Originally posted by cbittner
Ironic, coincidence, who knows, but tonight I was able to jump between chords much smoother. I think in my subconcious I was wondering if I was using the right tool, in this case, the right sized tool so SilentdefTones comment about the size of their hands being 7" and the photo showed me I was with the guitar I have and my wrist and finger position was ok.
Great!

Just out of curiosity, since electric guitars pick up differently, do you have to press the strings as hard as you do on acoustic guitars?
That depends on the action - how high the strings are off the fretboard - and also the string gauge (how big it is). I've played electrics that were harder to play than some acoustics, and vice versa.

-SD
the1
...
Join date: Jan 2005
2,209 IQ
#12
If the guitar is too big, get a shorter scale one.


Words of wisdom use them well.....
Artifice
UG Newbie
Join date: Jul 2005
48 IQ
#13
I also have very small hands. The mistake I've noticed a lot of beginners make is to clamp their elbow hard in at their side. If you are doing that it will bring your hand in at the back of the neck at a very uncomfortable angle. That will cause cramping in your wrist and down the back of your hand. Try keeping the elbow loose and away from the body. Hope this helps )
cbittner
UG Newbie
Join date: Jul 2005
111 IQ
#15
I read about beginners tensing up so I make sure my arms are relaxed when I've bene playing. Actually, after hearing eveyone talk about their hands being small and using various guitars I've been doing better. Not playing any songs yet, but getting better at hitting chords. I still think I will take some lessons to learn a few things like how to move your fingers around the strings well and not make screwy sounds. Everyone says practice is the key, so I make sure I practice at the very least 15 mins a day, usually an hour, and yeah...I think that is the biggest trick of all....as long as I'm not teaching myself bad habits. Man, I sure wish I had started when I was younger, this is a lot of fun. Then again, I could have waited longer so at least I've begun. I appreciate everyones advice. I think this site has real value.
BlackLotusFox
Electric Ninja
Join date: Jun 2005
158 IQ
#16
practice practice practice man, it took me forever to play an open C you'll get it!
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outlawgal
Registered User
Join date: May 2006
124 IQ
#17
Guess it's time to revisit a "dead" thread. Not only do I have small hands but I have the shortest pinkies on the planet for an adult. Most folks, if they turn their palm toward them and look will find their pinkie ends at about the top joint in their ring finger--mine end just above the KNUCKLE. AND the distance between the knuckle of my pinkie to the top joint of same is only a little over 1/2 inch. Don't know if my thumb's also "out of kilter" but it ends almost an inch below the knuckle of my index finger. Weird hands....

I gave up guitar once before back in the 70's because I had so much trouble with my "little widdie hands" (as my best friend, a truly awesome player, called them once). I'm now a week into a second try to learn to play some 30+ years later, and am doing ok on most of the major chords except "F" which is appropriately named. Then I took a gander at the 3rd lesson and screeched to a halt...

I've hit things like Bb min and Cmin and my hands just will NOT go there. Bbmin I can do if I almost wrap my arm around the neck, but this isn't gonna work. And then I took a peak at the 7ths where F7 just ain't gonna happen unless my pinkie grows an inch from squeezing a tennis ball....

Then my hubby says "it's ok, once you learn some "power chords" you'll be fine"...barre chords are appropriately named...I was ready for a drink (and I've been sober 11 years!) after I tried a couple of them.

Some of us really DO have hands that won't span. Am I doomed to playing "House of the Rising Sun" forever or is there some alternative way to play these chords without becoming a contortionist?

(Before someone asks, I'm playing an electric (a Washburn Pro Strat-copy) this time because the neck is narrower than the acoustic I tried in the 70's)
Fyre Deity
...........
Join date: Apr 2006
928 IQ
#18
OMG, this thread has been dead for like a year man...
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outlawgal
Registered User
Join date: May 2006
124 IQ
#19
Yep it has but my guitar playing's been dead since 1971
Be nice to the newbie girl--she knows a lot of awesome musicians (just ain't one herself--YET)
fa'q
Retarded User
Join date: Dec 2005
91 IQ
#20
I used to complain about my small hands, but after i saw this guy , iam thankful for having my hands even if its small.....

one should not feel threatened by opinions contrary to his own
Logz
UGs UGing UGer
Join date: Mar 2004
3,634 IQ
#21
EDIT: ^^^ wow

Quote by outlawgal

Some of us really DO have hands that won't span. Am I doomed to playing "House of the Rising Sun" forever or is there some alternative way to play these chords without becoming a contortionist?


I was talking to my mate about this today. Me and him were writing a recording some songs, and i started playing a riff which required me to have a large hand span in order to reach the frets.
Well, when i first started learning this song, i found it incredibly difficult, because of the gap. Well, ive been practicing it for about a year now, and i find it very easy to play.

My mate on the other hand, couldnt even reach between the frets and resorted to moving his hand. We have the same hand size.


Its all about practice. Its gonna take longer to be able to span your hand than it is to learn a new technique, but if you keep at it, however awkward it feels, then eventually you'll get used to it and it'll become second nature
Been away, am back
outlawgal
Registered User
Join date: May 2006
124 IQ
#22
Quote by Logz
EDIT: ^^^ wow


I was talking to my mate about this today. Me and him were writing a recording some songs, and i started playing a riff which required me to have a large hand span in order to reach the frets.
Well, when i first started learning this song, i found it incredibly difficult, because of the gap. Well, ive been practicing it for about a year now, and i find it very easy to play.

My mate on the other hand, couldnt even reach between the frets and resorted to moving his hand. We have the same hand size.


Its all about practice. Its gonna take longer to be able to span your hand than it is to learn a new technique, but if you keep at it, however awkward it feels, then eventually you'll get used to it and it'll become second nature


It's past awkward -- I'm afraid I'm gonna get busted for obscenity
After seeing the Rick Renstrom pics however, I got no gripe...
practice practice practice....
pantera32
Registered User
Join date: May 2006
10 IQ
#23
ur just experiencing beginners frustrations. i remember having similar problems when i first started playing. eventually, if you keep up with your practicing, it all just clicks into place.
outlawgal
Registered User
Join date: May 2006
124 IQ
#24
Quote by pantera32
ur just experiencing beginners frustrations. i remember having similar problems when i first started playing. eventually, if you keep up with your practicing, it all just clicks into place.


Thanx for the words of encouragement. I probably wouldn't feel so frustrated if 99% of my friends weren't really good players. My best friend whom I've known since Jr High is an awesome lead player and actually expects me to play something for him when I go up there Thursday. ... While he's been very encouraging in my efforts I keep having this recurring dream that when he hears me stumbling through "House of the Rising Sun" and "Brown Eyed Girl" he's gonna fall on the ground laughing...

He's 6'5"--if he hits the ground I'm not sure he could get back up and my hands are too sore to help him
ban rap
Ug Boot
Join date: Feb 2006
10 IQ
#25
First another inspirational story and then some practical advice.

Django Reinhardt was only 18 when a fire in his home burnt his left hand and left him without any mobility in two of his fingers for the rest of his life. He spent 18 months in hospital recovering from his other burns and then went on to become one of the most respected jazz musicians ever. He was not only technically very skilled, but he was a true musical innovator. His stuff is still difficult for many guitarists today, more than 50 years after his death.

Some things you can do to help yourself play:

* Get a guitar with a small neck. Not all guitars are created equal. Try a Baby Taylor for acoustic guitars and search for electrics that have small necks. Off the top of my head I can only think of expensive ones. I have a custom guitar and I actually had a neck shaped to my specifications so my hands would fit on the damn thing without straining. You can even buy necks on their own and fit them to existing electric guitars.

* Don't play with the guitar turned towards you. A lot of beginners do this so they can see what they're doing with their left hands, but it makes your wrist bend uncomfortably and restricts your reach.

* Learn how to play partial chords. This is especially true for the electric guitar. Many great electric guitar players never strum chords; they play a bit of this chord and a bit of that chord and it sounds better. It's tricky to learn, but in the end it's better for us small-handed people.

* Wrap your thumb over the top of the neck to do barre chords. Obviously, this won't work if you have a guitar with a wide neck.

Check out how Hendrix played stuff. He was one of the best rhythm guitarists yet.

Have fun.
outlawgal
Registered User
Join date: May 2006
124 IQ
#26
Well I'm now 3 1/2 months in and I STILL can't make some of the B-family chords, but chords I couldn't do a month ago are now coming to me. I've also now got two guitars, one electric (Washburn Pro) and an acoustic (Washburn D100). The neck of the D100 seems to be a bit narrower than other acoustics I tried and it's got great sound. I've had no problem transitioning back and forth between the two guitars and things are ALMOST starting to sound like actual songs now
13Flxxrocker
Registered User
Join date: May 2006
187 IQ
#27
my hands are about six inches and i can play every single major chord and about a hundred other ones. its not hand size, its practice.
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outlawgal
Registered User
Join date: May 2006
124 IQ
#28
Well, now I'm about 4 1/2 months in and I DO practice... Still sound like crap. I'm one of those people who seems to find great DEALS on guitars but can't play them...
Superpartydude5
Pilot/ChaCha Guide
Join date: Aug 2006
125 IQ
#29
Ever heard of Tony Iommi? Well, he lost the tips of some of his fingers on his fretting hand, but made prosthetic tips and ended up being the guitarist for a little band know as BLACK SABBATH! which, coincidentally, changed the world of rock music for all time, not bad. Anyway the point is, finger WILL stretch with time, do some stretching exercises, and most importantly, dont give up! good luck.
LJames
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2006
10 IQ
#30
I specifically googled this issue of hand size for playing the guitar do to my own troubles. While watching consumate players and struggling to learn to play myself, it seemed that my finger length must be the culprit.

It is nice to hear others struggle with the same question and issue, and hopefully discover that it is more about practice and persistance than physical stature of the hand.

It does bring solice with the assurances that the instrument can be mastered with or without long fingers and large hands.

LJames
PhantomGuitarst
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2006
21 IQ
#31
Mine used to be small when i started playing....but now they're 9 and 1/2 inches from palm to tip....maybe they just develop...just keep tryin i guess and good luck *thumbz up*
silvadolla
Tab Contributor
Join date: Oct 2005
929 IQ
#32
Quote by blck.sbth.bttr.
no, not nearly as hard. unless ur playing a nylon acoustic.


are you serious? i find it much harder to fret steel string acoustics
leelee
Greedy
Join date: Sep 2006
166 IQ
#33
Wanted to contribute because I read this thread when I was buying my current guitar...

I've got small hands, left one measures 7-1/8" from base of palm to middle finger, 6-3/4" from base of palm to index finger. My old guitar was an Epi LP Special II with a "normal" profile neck. My new guitar is an Agile with thin profile neck, which I guess is similar in nature to the 60's LP fast necks, or the Ibanez Wizard neck. So far the thin profile neck feels great but I am not certain how much of the difference I am feeling is due to the thinner neck profile - the rest of the guitar is just such an improvement. I know it hasn't hurt anything though...

My playing doesn't involve many chords but I find that I am improving on my ability to hit the chords and stretching my pinky to reach those far-out frets.

Good luck to all others who has small hands.
Ibanez RG2570E, Epiphone VJH-PP, Celestion V30 Lopo Line 1x12, EHX Metal Muff, Yamaha Magicstomp MKII, Tascam CD-GT1 MKII
outlawgal
Registered User
Join date: May 2006
124 IQ
#34
Quote by leelee
Wanted to contribute because I read this thread when I was buying my current guitar...

I've got small hands, left one measures 7-1/8" from base of palm to middle finger, 6-3/4" from base of palm to index finger. My old guitar was an Epi LP Special II with a "normal" profile neck. My new guitar is an Agile with thin profile neck, which I guess is similar in nature to the 60's LP fast necks, or the Ibanez Wizard neck. So far the thin profile neck feels great but I am not certain how much of the difference I am feeling is due to the thinner neck profile - the rest of the guitar is just such an improvement. I know it hasn't hurt anything though...

My playing doesn't involve many chords but I find that I am improving on my ability to hit the chords and stretching my pinky to reach those far-out frets.

Good luck to all others who has small hands.


Thought I'd jump back in on this one since I've just hit my one year anniversary of playing guitar. Mind you, I have no major aspirations of ever being a lead player, but I've stuck with it and now can play through about 15-20 songs. Probably more since I do know a lot of chords. After a year I'm just now getting where I have enough strength in my hands to play some of the barre chords which were giving me fits six months ago. I still have a problem transitioning from barre chords to open chords, but it's getting better. I don't know if I'm "on schedule" for a newbie -- I don't have the luxury of spending a lot of time practicing every day but I do try to at least pick the guitar up and run through a couple songs each day.

In regards to neck width, I started out on an electric guitar because the neck wasn't as wide, but realized that I was limiting myself by doing this and added my Washburn acoustic to the mix. While it was harder for me to learn on it, now when I pick up my strat it seems SO much easier!

Main problem I have now is that I pretty much have nobody to play with so I've still got some tempo and strumming issues. BUT, I think I've gotten past the "small hand, short pinky" issue.
complain jane
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2007
10 IQ
#35
Since I was a kid, I've always asked for drums every Christmas.

And I got a guitar instead.

All my life I've have guitars and half-heartedly tried to learn.

Now I'm approaching 40 and I walked into a Guitar Center the other day to kill some time. I picked up an Ibanez acoustic/electric "Exotic Wood" EWC series (which is smaller than usual) and I fell in love. I took it home and I have played it every day since.

I dug out old lesson books, looked up lessons online and opened up a DVD lesson thing I bought a while back... I absolutely LOVE this guitar. It's still hard to learn a lot of the chords but at least now I can actually DO them, the buzzing will go away with practice- before this they weren't even possible.

I have tiny hands, I'm a female and have unusually small hands even for a female. This guitar is IT for me. It's a laminate mahogany guitar with a cutaway shape and a built-in EQ and tuner and it sounds awesome for the couple hundred bucks I paid for it. I play it on its' own, or through Garage Band on my Mac (which is fun as hell). The tone is rich and warm and beautiful and it's just the right size for me and sounds awesome.

I've had guitars all my life and practiced/played more in the week I've owned this guitar than I have in the 30 years I've owned guitars before, because I never found one that was this small size but still sounded so beautiful (and was affordable). And I can play it!!!!

Anyway I thought I'd throw my 2 cents into the thread. I'm just so excited....
SnoDog
Registered User
Join date: May 2007
243 IQ
#36
I think it's just how you practice trying new finger stretches and positions to see what works best for your hands. Like try a few different ways to angle your wrists to see what will put the least amount of reach for your fingers and stuff. My hands are really small too, and even smaller than yours, I just measured the base of my palm to the tip of my index, and its only 6 inches! lol But I play my Chords with ease, because I just practiced to see what works best for me. I do have really skinny fingers, so that may help a bit.
pugz77
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2007
10 IQ
#38
I thought my hand being small were a prob, guess its all about practice.
complain jane
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2007
10 IQ
#39
First of all I have to say the popup ad when I try to move my mouse anywhere on this page is annoying enough to not come back to this site. Seriously. I can't stand that.

But what I wanted to say, was that I just measured my hand... 6" from base of palm to tip of middle finger.

I'm trying to play a Strat and having a hard time... just signed up for blues guitar lessons at GuitarTricks.com and right off the bat I can't physically reach what the instructor is reaching in the video. My hand simply does not spread out that far, period.

I was at the store last night looking at small scale electric guitars hoping I'd find something that I love playing as much as the Ibanez acoustic I mentioned. The small scale guitars make me want to cry. So plain, feel like toys. Squier Mini, Ibanez Mikro, Brownsville had another.

I really like the Schecters and I see they have a C-1 Plus with a 24.75" neck while my Strat is 25" or whatever. I'm thinking about holding onto the Strat for now, buying a Schecter off eBay to save a few bucks, and buying a $99 small scale Squier Mini. Play with all 3 for a few weeks trying to get through my blues lessons, and see how I feel in a month. I'm hoping I don't have to settle for a "child's guitar".

What I don't get is this though- I compared my Ibanez to my Strat side by side and there is no difference in the fret spacing even though they feel worlds apart. I don't get it. I don't understand why one feels so different than the other- the Strat neck is thin too.
RCShadow
44 Years Young
Join date: Oct 2006
416 IQ
#40
I had many of the same problems when I started a year ago. My first three months were a painful expierience with the blisters and all. Hang in there and your hands will reward you if you are patient and more importantly...persistant.

I am glad to see another person my age here, I am 42 as well. I posted a pic of my blisters in this thread...

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=539072

Good luck to you!

Chris