Man playing small size guitar
AdviceGuitar

Should you Give up on the Guitar if you have Small Hands?

Angus Young, ACDC’s lead guitarist, would certainly send you on a highway to hell if you dared ask him. With many riffs that have now made history, he is the living proof that size does NOT matter. Jellynote has interviewed Jennifer Hughes, a writer and a guitar performer who speaks from her experience.

“If you have small hands, the best is to choose the guitar you feel comfortable holding, strumming, picking and fretting. If a guitar requires extra effort to hold or fret properly, you’ll feel fatigued fast, or worse, demotivated. It can make you feel like you’re not cut out to be a musician. What will make you feel better about playing the guitar is an instrument that’s just the right size for your hands, something that would make it easier for you to practice good posture and hit notes at the right frets.”

“If you’ve got small hands and/or short arms and struggle with playing the guitar you have now, it’s not you, it’s the guitar. I advise to switch to something that would be a better fit.”

Jennifer Hugues, guitar performer

Here are the top 5 tips on finding your happily ever after with your soulmate guitar.

Pick a 3/4 size acoustic travel guitar

When choosing an acoustic guitar, get a model that has smaller dimensions than a full-size guitar. Check out travel guitars, concert and parlour guitars, thin line guitars and 3/4 size guitars.

Guitar size comparison
Jellynote doesn’t claim any rights to this image. All credits belong to parlor.guitars

A smaller guitar is easier to hold, strum, and fret.

The best guitar for small hands is something that would fit those hands like a good shoe. If you have size 5 feet and you’re wearing size 8 boots, you can still walk in them but it would feel awkward and unwieldy.

Jumbo-sized guitars and even standard full-sized dreadnoughts can feel gigantic for players with a short torso and arms. Playing them can seriously aggravate your physical form, putting you at risk of back and shoulder pain as well as joint pain in your elbows and hands.

Go for a light weight electric guitar with a hollow body

Electric guitars have a smaller body size so it’s easier to reach your arm around it for picking and strumming. What you need to consider here is the weight, including the weight of the neck. Hollow-body guitars are a good option for small players because they’re lighter than solid-body electrics. You can also find 3/4 size, short-scale electric guitars with a hollow body that are much lighter than the classic ones.

hollow-body electric guitar
Choose a 3/4 size hollow-body electric guitar to free your arms from the excessive weight.

Add in a few helpful ergonomic features

A slim-profile neck and a narrow nut width are other features that make playing a guitar with small hands much easier.

A shorter scale length, which translates to a shorter neck makes it also much easier to fret notes at the frets closest to the headstock.

Cutaways on guitar bodies also help in making them more playable. A cutaway body allows you to access the upper frets with ease, especially if your fingers find those frets hard to reach.

Guitar Cutaway
A cutaway on a guitar creates more space for fingers to reach the upper frets.

Don’t commit until you try it out

Guitars come in different sizes just like people do, so you just need to find the right fit. If possible, go to a music store and try playing as many guitars as you can to see which guitar for small hands feels the most comfortable and easy to play for you.

Select guitar for small hands
Go to a music store and try playing various guitars to find your perfect fit!

Exercise your hands to build strength

What to do if you struggle playing a song even if you’ve chosen the perfect guitar? Try these exercises to ease your tensed hands.

  • Stretch your fingers before you start
  • Position your thumb directly under the fretboard. This will give you a better grip of the guitar and enable you to put pressure on the strings more easily.
  • Use light gauge strings that are easier to hold down.
  • Pick songs without barre chords. These require the use of one finger, leaving you with just three left to move around the fretboard. They are trickier chords to play and may better left until you have built up more strength in your fingers.
  • Make use of a capo more. If you do want to play songs with barre chords, then a capo is a perfect solution. This will cover the issue of having one finger occupied while you play the chords and leave all your fingers free to play. (For other tricks on playing barre chords, read our article Tips and Exercises to Perfect those Barre Chords.)

We hope these tips help out and wish you good luck in your search. Let us know in the comments below which guitar you ended up with 😉

Jennifer Hughes is a staff writer at Know Your Instrument – a blog dedicated to providing the latest reviews of new instruments. Jennifer plays a number of musical instruments including the piano, guitar and ukulele and has been doing so for years. When not playing or writing, Jennifer enjoys cooking and testing out new recipes – sometimes successfully and sometimes not. She also enjoys walking her dog Max.

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About author
Jennifer writes regularly about guitars and ukuleles and has been playing musical instruments since she was a child. When not playing or writing about guitars and other instruments, Jennifer enjoys visiting the seaside and going to theme parks.
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