Is Guitar Harder For People With Small Hands?

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The heartbreak of falling half an inch too short of hitting the right chord is real. Having smaller hands doesn’t make you a bad fit for playing the guitar, but it does require a bit more effort to perform the same way as everyone else. This debate goes way back and may continue for years, but guitarists with larger hands are actually at a slight advantage. 

Playing guitar is slightly more challenging for people with smaller hands. People with smaller hands may struggle to reach some strings or execute a few chords properly, but they can develop their own playing style. Practicing and having a guitar with small frets are great ways to increase your reach and play around the fretboard more easily.

As someone with a smaller hand, you must modify what you learn about playing guitars. Some techniques won’t work for you, and a few guitar models will give you a hard time. This article will help you understand what struggles you can face as a small-handed guitarist and how to accommodate them. 

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What Makes Playing Guitar Harder For Small Hands?

Those with larger hands may appear at ease when they learn something new on the guitar while you feel you’re lagging behind. In case that’s true, it has more to do with the circumstances you’re playing in than your skill. 

Some aspects that affect how a small-handed guitarist plays are mentioned below:

Guitar Model

Standard guitars are more challenging to play with small hands. That is because they require a broad palm to grasp the neck and long fingers to play the strings properly. The frets are also far apart and can be challenging to switch through on time. They may look like minor differences, but these physically limit what and how you play on these guitars. 

As a smaller person, you should use a lighter guitar that is compact looking. When the fretboard is small and the neck thinner, it’ll become more manageable for your fingers to move around and comfortably play any tune. The C chord and barre chords, which are generally a challenge for many small-handed guitarists, will also be easier to reach.  

Fingers and Flexibility

Since small hands tend to have shorter fingers, it limits how they play the guitar strings. Those with larger hands can use their fingerprints to press down on strings and still feel comfortable. They also don’t develop strains or pains in their joints because of over-extension. At the same time, it’s a different story for shorter hands.

You don’t have the same freedom of movement and reach. Properly pressing down on your strings is essential to get the right sound, but you may be unable to extend your finger that far. You could use your fingertip instead of the fingerprint, so the action isn’t uncomfortable and sounds right. There are other minor adjustments you can make to help out your hands.

5 Tips for Guitarists With Small Hands

Some things work better for a bunch, while others don’t. For playing guitar, you just need to find your rhythm. Starting off right is key to your success later on. So if you’re doubtful or struggling because of your hand size, here are five tips you should know:

1. Stretch Before You Start

To improve your flexibility and save you from cramps, have a good stretching routine before you start. Massage and stretch your hands and wrists to warm them up. 

If you’re having trouble reaching some strings, it can be because of stiff fingers rather than their short length. Sticking to this ritual could improve your skill and avoid potential injuries.

You can warm up with a few arpeggios and play scales while building speed.

2. Use All Your Fingers

For form and technique, go for what works with your hands. Just because some guitarists don’t need to use their fingers a certain way doesn’t mean you’re breaking any rules if you do. 

You can substitute your ring finger with your pinky for chords slightly out of your reach. You can also place your thumb at whatever position of the neck suits you.

3. Choose a Travel Size Guitar

¾ Guitars were a lot less common before, but now you can choose these over the standard guitars. The proportions will suit your shorter hand better. The neck is slimmer, aiding your fingers, and the weight is lighter. 

There isn’t too much compromise on the sound it creates, so you’re getting the same product with a better fit.

4. Get Your Guitar Setup

New guitars usually are not set up correctly. They are usable, but they won’t cater to your specific preference. To get the best playing experience, you can pay a few more dollars to get a professional evaluation. 

They’ll set up your guitar according to your needs, like reducing your guitar’s action, so you don’t have to use unnecessary pressure.

Note: You can use a capo if you have a guitar with high action. Tune half-step down and place the capo on the first fret to get standard tuning.

5. Don’t Stop Practicing

It’s easy to compare your progress to others and become disheartened, but you must keep yourself motivated. Once you make a few changes that suit your hands and style better, you’ll make substantial progress. 

Don’t forget that having fun is a big part of playing the guitar, so don’t take yourself too seriously as you learn and grow!


Q. Can You Play All Chords With Small Fingers?

Yes, you can play all chords on a guitar, even with small fingers. Some people may struggle with the C chord but can develop their own style to play it.

Q. Do Travel Size Guitars Sound the Same as Standard Models?

There is a slight difference in the sounds of travel and standard guitar. Naturally, the size of the guitar itself also impacts the sounds it will produce. But it doesn’t mean it sounds off.

Q. Does the Size of the Fretboard Matter?

If you have smaller hands, you’ll need small frets closer together. The other fret types will be too difficult for you to reach and tire your hands. 

Final Thoughts

The guitar can be a bit tougher for those with smaller hands, but it isn’t a deal breaker in any way. You only need to find what guitar models, techniques, and tips work best for you. If you’ve been under the impression that your small hands are holding you back, that’s not the case at all. Just keep playing and have fun!


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