One of the most common challenges that youngsters and adults are sharing is playing the guitar with small hands. It can be very frustrating not to be able to reach proper finger placements, but that doesn’t mean you should give up.
We can all agree that almost all of the great guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Satriani, Steve Vai, etc. share a common trait: large hands. We can’t deny the fact that the large hands rule the guitar world.
So, small hands are most definitely a problem if you want to play the guitar. Luckily, there’s always a solution for every problem. There is no need for giving up on your dreams or switching to another instrument.
First of all, you need a little motivation. Angus Young, for example, plays some insane guitar and he has small hands. Randy Rhoads shredded some of the best solos in the history, yet he had small hands. The conclusion is: small handed people can be excellent guitarists.
Of course, with small hands, you are playing the game on hard mode.
Here are some tips that will help you master your instrument even with small hands.
Use your pinky
When you try to replicate the left-hand patterns of your favorite guitarists, you will find it a bit hard to do with small hands to reach the standard index finger to ring finger patterns. It is physically impossible.
The traditional guitar lessons teach you to use your pinky as an afterburner for reaching the notes that are outside of the standard four-fret pattern. This is in most cases true, but if you have small hands, your pinky plays a far more important role.
You should consider using your pinky to play notes that are usually played with a ring finger. This doesn’t have to work always, and in some cases, some minimal hand movement is required, but it can make a significant difference between playing certain parts over giving up.
Of all tips, this is probably the most difficult one. This due to the fact that your pinky is in most cases your weakest finger. It takes months of practice before you can do with your pinky the half of what you can do with your ring finger.
However, the effort does pay off. If you practice enough, after some time your legato will become much smoother and you will be able to play much faster.
Utilizing your pinky is not going to be an easy task, and nothing will sound right in the beginning, but if you practice enough, even the trickiest patterns will become easy to play.
Now, most of the guitar players will talk trash about capos and it can be quite frustrating sometimes. For no apparent reason, guitarists consider capos to be cheating.
In my opinion, that statement is completely untrue. For guitar players with small hands, capos are a godsend. They are especially helpful if you want to play songs in which you need to use barred chords.
Basically, if you are not able to hold barred open c chord today, you won’t be able to hold it tomorrow. If you can’t stretch your fingers that far, you can’t – end of story. So, if you are physically limited and you can’t improve your technique, there is nothing wrong with using a helpful gadget that will enable you to play your favorite song.
If a capo can help you play the song then, by all means, use a capo. Don’t let the others discourage you. People listening to you playing won’t care if you use a capo anyway.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with short-scale guitars. These are great for children and adults with small hands. Of course, there are some downsides. For example, it is way more challenging to play on the higher fretboard on these guitars.
The distance between the frets is one of the things you need to take into consideration. Most of the small handed guitar players prefer Gibson over Fender because it has slightly smaller frets.
Of course, this is a thing of personal preference. The best thing to do is to go to your favorite guitar shop and try out different guitars. The best guitar for you is the one that feels comfortable and natural in your hands.
Regular sized guitars are not impossible to play with small hands. Angus Young used Gibson SG which is a regular sized guitar. Randy Rhodes also used regular sized guitars.
Don’t just assume that you are disqualified from playing a standard instrument because you have small hands. If you find the short-scale guitar that suits you, use it, but don’t be afraid of the regular sized ones. Find what feels most comfortable and you will be just fine.
A higher portion of the guitar’s fretboard sounds awesome. The tonal range of this part of the guitar really allows you to cut through the mix. Most of the legendary soloing moments are done there. So if it works for Joe Perry and Jimmy Page, it will probably work for you.
If you have smaller hands, this is where you are at an advantage. Guitarists with bigger hands find playing here a bit difficult and they feel cramped when they go beyond the 12th fret, while the small handed guitar players feel right at home.
You should get familiar with the patterns beyond 12th fret and ignore the lessons that suggest that you start single-note practice somewhere around 3rd or 5th fret. You should still practice in the lower region, of course, but there is absolutely no reason to avoid playing in the high region of the fretboard.
If it is hard for you to play something on the lower frets, just take it up 12 frets. It will lose some of the low-end edge, but the notes will be completely the same. It will not work every time, but the benefits outweigh the downsides.
Practice every day
This one is pretty obvious. Practicing every day is what helps you get better at your instrument. This is generally a good advice for every guitar player but it is an absolute necessity for the small handed guitarists.
Smaller hands have less power than the big ones and if you develop a daily practice routine you will enhance your muscles and with time be able to do more with less effort.
I’m Alex Frank who has worked sound technology industry for 10 years now. Today, I am an affiliate blogger who likes to educate my audience more about sound technology. Visit Music Instruments Center to find all information about music that you need.