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How To Play The Guitar With Small Hands

  • Post published:November 26, 2020

The guitar is one of several stringed instruments. It is usually handled with both hands. The sound is generated by plucking or strumming the strings using the fingers of one hand while the fingers of the other hand fret simultaneously along the neck of the guitar.

However, there is a common problem experienced by new and experienced musicians alike. The challenge of playing the guitar with small hands.

People with smaller hands will naturally struggle to achieve appropriate finger placement. Therefore, having a pair of smaller hands will definitely require more work input. This should not be a deterrent because it is completely achievable. A few tips have been put together to help get you up to speed.

Choose a guitar with a comfortable neck

The feel of every guitar will always be different to you, including those of the same make and model. This is largely due to the fact that the materials used in producing the guitars come from different areas. For those with smaller hands, guitars with a narrow neck will definitely make playing a lot easier for your hands.

A more natural feeling will also be achieved. Short-scale models, which are also known as ¾ models, are recommended. These models are a lot more compact than the regular guitars and can easily be manipulated with smaller hands. Greater control is achieved which is necessary to build confidence.

Get used to playing in higher frets

For beginners, it is advised to play around on the higher end of the fretboard. This is usually a lot of fun and helps increase comfort and familiarity with the guitar. Guitarists are able to cut through tonal ranges particularly when playing in a group.

Many musicians with large hands find it difficult playing on the higher fret because there is always the tendency of feeling cramped. This obviously indicates an advantage for musicians with smaller hands. Players with smaller hands are more comfortable playing on the higher frets.

Barre chords shouldn’t bother you

Beginners will mostly find playing barre chords extremely difficult. Players with small hands will find it even more difficult to master. Playing a barre chord requires you to hold down all six guitar strings using your index finger. The index finger functions as an anchor for the placement of all the other fingers.

Learning this technique can be a very tough challenge for players with small hands. The low bass string should be held down using the thumb in order to form a barre chord. Players with small hands will find playing barre chords a lot easier using this technique. Endeavor to pay attention to the position where the thumb is placed. The thumb should be kept directly under the fretboard pending when you are ready for barring.

Use your little finger

Most finger charts available online and in practice books are best suited for players with larger hands. There are no suggestions in these charts to use your little finger when fingering; a lot of people will advise that the standard ring finger is used in holding down your strings.

Learning to use your pinky is not an easy feat at all, but it will become a vital part of you. In most guitar lessons, the pinky is portrayed as final support to hold down everything. Players with small hands should rather use the pinky in places recommended for the ring finger by the charts. This will most likely be awkward initially but it guarantees the accomplishment of more challenging hand movements.

Use a capo

A clamp that uses different frets on the guitar in order to transform the pitch of the open strings is called a capo. Capos enable you to change keys without having to master new chords. They ensure reduced action on the strings thereby making them a lot easier to manipulate.

Capos come in very handy for players with small hands. This may sound odd as other guitarists usually don’t see much good in them. For players with small hands, especially when playing songs that have so many barred open chords, capos are very helpful.

Using a capo does not make you any less a guitar player compared with a player with larger hands. The capo does not alter the sound quality produced by the guitar. The capo is a rather necessary tool especially for the players with small hands that find it difficult to stretch their hands.

Short scale guitars

Short scale guitars are typically for children and smaller adults. This makes them more appealing for players with small hands. There are a few disadvantages in using short scale guitars. The sound projection is not quite what you want.

There is also the strain of playing off the higher end of the fretboard. It is generally more comfortable for players with small hands to play on a short scale guitar.

The right sized guitar

Getting the right sized guitar for your body is a very important consideration when shopping for a new guitar. It is however mostly overlooked or ignored. Large bodied guitars tend to be too big for players who have smaller hands. To be a good guitar player, you must be comfortable playing it.

Daily practice

In order to learn and master your guitar, you have to practice every day. As the old cliché goes ‘practice makes perfect’. There is no better way to get more comfortable with your guitar than practice. Practice will enable you to improve muscle mobility. Over time this will ensure that your hands will move more effortlessly.

Set up your guitar

Getting a professional to set up your guitar correctly is a very good step to take before you start playing your guitar. A properly set up guitar will definitely give better responses and sound quality. Setting up the guitar properly makes it more comfortable and easier to play.

Exercise your fingers

Exercising the fingers and hands are good fitness tips for guitar players. Stretching out and building strength in the fingers will ensure a wider reach across the fingerboard and also an overall fluency in movement.


Having small hands should not be a deterrent to playing the guitar. By mastering the necessary skills and adhering to certain tips and guidelines players with small hands can also enjoy a great guitar experience.