8 Tips To Play Guitar With Small Hands

Written by: MT Team

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Nothing can be compared to playing your guitar and enjoying the awesome sounds it produces.

However, one common difficulty most beginner guitar players have is reaching certain finger placements. This is even more so if you’re trying to play guitar with small hands.

But does that mean you can’t become a great guitarist all because you have small hands? Does that mean you should give up?

Of course not! Since you are here to learn how to play guitar better with small hands, we’ve prepared a few useful tips.

How to Play Guitar With Small Hands?

Tip #1 – Opt for an Electric Guitar

If you have small hands, one of the best things you can do is opt for an electric guitar. This is because the body of electric guitars is small enough to allow your right arm to easily reach around the guitar to play it.

Read Next: 15 Best Guitars for Beginners In 2022 (Acoustic & Electric)

The necks of electric guitars are thinner than their acoustic counterparts. You will even find that there’s less tension on their strings which makes them much easier to press down while playing. There are also electric guitars that come with a shorter scale neck. While the standard scale is 25.5 inches long, most of the short scale necks are 24.75 inches long.

Electric guitars are not only available in different neck scales but also in different thicknesses and shapes. This means that you can have a thin neck on a standard scale guitar or a fat and chunky neck on a short scale guitar.

It is therefore important to examine the size of your hands and consider the guitar options available while making your selection.

Tip #2 – Go for a Guitar That Suits Your Anatomy (Acoustic)

If you don’t want to purchase an electric guitar then there are still options available for those who want to play an acoustic guitar as well.

Just as it isn’t a reasonable idea to buy yourself a size nine shoe when the actual size of your foot is a seven, the same goes for buying a large size guitar when you have small hands or a small body.

One of the most common sizes and type of acoustic guitars are the dreadnought guitars. Most people end up with these big-sized guitars since they produce a nice rich sound however they are not the friendliest to guitarists with small arms and hands.

Get yourself an acoustic guitar that has a narrow neck width and a small body such as the ones on parlor guitars. Acoustic guitars with a small body and narrow neck are easier to play and handle, making them ideal for people with small hands.

guitar sizes
Guitar size differences

Tip #3 – Find an Expert to Setup Your Guitar

When you purchase your guitar, it is often not adjusted for optimal playing. Although some players often feel that it is not reasonable to spend money on setting up the guitar, setting it up, particularly after making your purchase is actually a great idea.

You may want to set it up for low action and put on some light strings to make it easy to play. Finding an expert to set up your guitar to meet your needs is a good way to achieve what you’re looking for.

As you keep playing your guitar, be sure to also periodically do some light preventative maintenance on it so that it’s still in great shape the next time you take it to an expert. Check out these 8 tips to care for your guitar.

Tip #4 – Switch to Using a Capo

One way to reduce the length of your guitar temporarily in order to make it easy for your fingers to reach the necessary frets is by using a capo.

The capo is a small clamp that allows you to fasten the strings of an open guitar to different frets thereby reducing your guitar scale. Using a capo will simply change the pitch of your guitar. You can even use it to change the key of a song, but for this course, you would be using it to make your current guitar easier to play.

Placing the capo on your 2nd or 4th fret will not only reduce your guitar scale but will also lower your string action. This will make it easier for you to press down your guitar strings as well as reach and play your chords.

Read Next: G7th Capo Review – Is It The Best Guitar Capo of All Time?

Tip #5 – Practice Regularly

To ensure that your hand is accustomed to playing your guitar, it is important that you practice your guitar regularly. Just as the popular saying goes “practice makes perfect”, you need to keep practicing daily to get better at playing the guitar.

This saying applies to all guitarists irrespective of their hand sizes. As exercises build up the muscles in your hands, regular practice on your guitar will develop the strength and movements of your fingers, allowing you to play the guitar as you’ve always wished to.

Tip #6 – Use Light Gauge Strings

Light gauge strings are ultimately easier for all guitarists to play compared to their heavy gauge counterparts. Because the strings are thinner, they require less strength and effort to press down and are easier to form chords with.

They’re also a lot more fun to solo with, allowing you to bend to higher notes and more easily do things like hammer-ons, pull-offs, etc.

It should however be noted that due to the thinness of light gauge strings they are more prone to breakage. You also won’t get as loud or as rich of a sound when compared to heavy gauge strings.

Tip #7 – Use Partial Chords or Chord Variations

You don’t always need to play every note of a chord to make it sound good. Heck, in some cases the chord will sound better if you don’t play every note.

But for guitarists with small hands this tip is vital. Let’s say there’s a guitar chord that you can’t play because you simply can’t reach the note. Well, lucky for you there are likely tons of ways to play that chord.

Personally, whenever I’m learning a song and there’s a chord that’s too hard to play or I just want to experiment with a variation I love using Ultimate Guitar’s chord variations. You can see these by simply clicking through the arrows located at the bottom of each chord.

As you can see from the screenshot above, UG currently shows 24 different ways to play C#4/E. This is a great trick if you come across a chord that’s just too hard to play.

Go through these variations and find something that works better for you.

Tip #8 – Stretch Before Playing

Whether you have small hands or not, you should probably stretch before playing guitar for any length of time (especially if you’re a beginner).

That being said, for people with small hands this is especially important as it can help loosen up your muscles and therefore increase your range. Stretching can also help you avoid potential injuries that can happen if your muscles are tight.

Final Words

I hope you have found these tips on ways to play the guitar with small hands useful.

With these tips for folks with small hands, your guitar playing experience should be much more enjoyable.

Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you cannot play as well as those with big hands. Just read and follow the tips discussed above, and you’ll be well on your way.

About MT Team
Posts on all things related to instrument education, gear reviews, and so much more. Written by the MusicianTuts editorial team.

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