How to Play Guitar With Small Hands – Ultimate Guide

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Do you feel like the small pair of hands you own are slowing down your guitar playing? Some frets are impossible to reach? Some chords are a pain to play?

I’ve been there. When I started with the guitar over 10 years ago, I was around 14 years old and my hands were tiny, even smaller than now…and btw, my hands are still pretty small.

small hands of a guitar player
My small hands…(I know that some of you have even tinier hands, but I definitely consider my hands to be small)

For example, the main riff of Snow and barre chords were impossible to play and I felt pain when I was playing…So I know what’s it like to be learning guitar with small hands and short fingers.

I tried to seek help back then, but it seemed that most teachers, YouTubers, and bloggers said: ‘’just practice, you will get there’’, ‘’everything is hard when starting out’’… And all this left me feeling and behaving like this:

YouTube video

Yeep…it’s frustrating.

But were these statements made by YouTubers and guitar experts false? Not necessarily. Can you learn to play guitar with small hands? If some folks play with their feet, you can absolutely learn guitar no matter how small your hands are.

What about this: can you make things easier for you and your small hands? Absolutely. 

Even tho some folks with huge hands say that ‘’you will get there, I know plenty of amazing players with small hands’’, it seems that they never mention the names of these amazing small-handed guitar players...

When I was searching for some help to improve my playing, I still managed to find plenty of tips and tricks that can definitely help small-handed guitar players. Nowadays, the main riff of Snow and barre chords feel quite natural to play. And there are 2 reasons for that.

  1. I showed real effort when practicing
  2. I found ways to make playing easier for me and my small hands

And now, I’m about to share all that good stuff with you. From the correct technique to best exercises for small-handed folks to how to lengthen your fingers(yep, you heard that right). I’ll also reveal some great guitars for small hands.

Before we start, I want to say that these are no magic tricks. You have to practice and show real effort when learning the skill of guitar playing, but after that being said, these things I’m about to reveal will make learning and playing easier for you. Let’s get started!

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…).


Does The Hand Size Matter?

Do hand size matter

Most people say that hand size doesn’t matter at all. But that’s 100% not true in my opinion. That’s like saying that size doesn’t matter on basketball, you just have to practice.

Of course, the playing will be easier if you have big hands and better reach over the fretboard. I can’t believe that some folks say the opposite. But of course, with practice, you can learn the guitar even with small hands. I’ve learned so much, and I enjoy playing my favorite songs with the guitar. I’ve done this, despite the fact that I have small hands. 

And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to brag about my guitar skills. I’m not an amazing guitar virtuoso, but I’m at the level where I can comfortably play my favorite songs without unnecessary pain caused by my small hands(physical or mental :D).

So hand size has an impact on your guitar journey, and it can make learning harder, but it’s far from an impossible task. But what about this:

Do You Need Long Fingers to Play Guitar?

Same thing here, long fingers can make things easier because this can improve your reach over the fretboard. But, do you need long fingers to play the guitar? Absolutely not. 

So having long fingers can help, but it’s not a requirement. 

So at this point, this one thing should be crystal clear for you: you can learn to play the guitar with small hands. Before I’ll give you more specific solutions, let’s look at the one thing that is the key when solving the problems your small hands are causing you.

The Correct Technique is The KEY!

Don’t worry, I’m not about the give you a boring lecture about the correct technique, I’m gonna help you with videos and photos.

All this really comes down to your thumb placement. When I started, I completely failed at this. I held my thumb the worst way possible, and this slowed me down for years.

I held my thumb like this all the time:

How to play guitar with small hands - how to hold your thumb, the wrong way

And this thumb placement limits your reach over the fretboard by a mile(not literally). Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok if you sometimes hold your thumb like this, but if your thumb always sits at the upper edge of the fretboard you are definitely making things hard for you.

What to do instead?

Try holding placing your thumb at the back of the neck, facing your middle finger on the other side of the neck, like this:

How to play guitar with small hands - how to hold your thumb, the right way

Now test this!

Do you notice what this does? It gives your hand way better reach over to fretboard!  With a wrong thumb placement my reach looked like this:

How to play guitar with small hands - limited reach over the fretboard

With a correct thumb placement, it looks like this:

How to play guitar with small hands - improved reach over the fretboard

This small shift alone can make things much easier for you. For me, this was a game-changer!

Note that if you are used to playing with the thumb placed at the edge of the fretboard, this correct way can feel alien at first(at least for me it did), and this is no magic trick either. So you have to practice this.

So when you need to reach frets far from each other, place your thumb at the back of the neck, and BOOM! The reach of your hand and fingers increases a lot!

Sometimes this alone can do the trick for you, but this is not always the case. Here’s a helpful video that dives more in-depth into this(if you are interested):

YouTube video

Another key trick that can help you out a lot is relaxing your wrist. If your wrist is not relaxed, you can have a really tough time accessing all the frets. This wrist relaxing gives you a lot better reach over the fretboard and it also keeps wrist pain away.

These 2 things can help you a lot. Now it’s time for you to bookmark this site, and go and practice these 2 things with your guitar a little bit. If you still feel that you need more help after that, come back here and learn more tricks to help you out.

Let’s now look at the common problems that small-handed guitar players face, and I’ll do my best to offer solutions to these problems.

What Problems Guitar Players With Small Hands Face?

Small hands give you all kinds of trouble, and at first, it’s good to know what is the exact thing causing your problems.

Troubleshooting for Guitar Players With Small Hands

If you want to make things easier, you have to first identify what is holding you back. I know, I know, small hands, but to be more specific, is it short fingers, short and thick fingers, or do you have tiny palm but normal-sized fingers.

You need to know exactly what is the bottleneck if you really want to make things easier for you. You are as strong as your weakest link is.

How to Do The Troubleshooting?

If you want to troubleshoot the specific problems that your small hands are causing you, you need to grab the guitar and pay attention to what is holding you back.

Do this:

  1. move your hand around the fretboard 
  2. play frets on different spots
  3. if you know how to play some songs or chords, do so and pay attention to the parts that are causing you trouble
  4. use all of your fingers
  5. play barre chords

I bet that at least some of these gave you a hard time, or maybe all of these. If that’s the case, no worries, I’m about to give relief to you.

The Most Common Problems For Guitar Players With Small Hands (And How To Fix These)

You Are Not Reaching The Frets

Even after learning the correct thumb placement and relaxing the wrist, you can still feel that you can’t access all the frets. First of all, don’t worry, you will get there, keep practicing the correct technique. But I have a couple more tips for you that can help you out.

Use Fingertips
photo reveals what part of fingers you should use to press guitar strings

When you are playing the guitar, you have to make sure that you are using your fingertips when pressing the strings. What this does:

  • This helps your wrist to relax and ensure that you are not hitting other strings.
  • It also helps you to approach strings from the right angle
  • When using fingertips, you don’t need to use so much strenght when you press the strings

If you are not using your fingertips when playing, your wrist is probably not relaxed, playing feels awkward and you are hitting wrong strings and causing unwanted noise when playing.

So, by using your fingertips your playing will be easier and it also sounds better.

Stretch
photo reveals that Stretching Small Hands can Make Guitar Playing Easier

One of the best ways to increase your reach over to the fretboard is to stretch your fingers. This makes your muscles and tendons inside your hand looser and more relaxed, and this ensures a better reach. Also, your fingers and hand move a lot faster and there’s less pain when playing after some stretching. 

It’s like in sports, athletes warm-up and stretch before doing any heavy lifting. This ensures the best performance possible, and the same applies to guitar playing.

Check ”Complete Before Playing Stretch Routine” in the Exercises That Improve The Flexibility of Your Hands- section.

Some Chords Feel Impossible to Play

There are usually 2 main reasons for this. 

First, you are learning new chords, and they feel hard to play because of that.

Learning New Chords

When you start to learn some new stuff that involves the use of your muscles, things are not very smooth at the start. You are probably familiar with this, when you started guitar playing or some sport you noticed that things are not going as you planned. And there are not really any tricks or hacks that help you bypass this learning phase, at least any that I know of.

You just have to practice. But one thing that can help a little, is to learn to play slowly at first, and make sure that everything is playing correctly. And then you can gradually increase the speed when it starts to feel comfortable.

By doing this, certain movements and chord shapes start to be familiar to your brain, and playing them comes naturally out of your muscle memory. You maybe don’t have to even think about it anymore, you just play.

Technique

The other main reason why playing some chords can feel hard is that your technique is not correct, and if you have small hands on top of that, that maximizes the difficulty.

Here the correct thumb placement and relaxed wrist help you out. See the section: ’’The correct technique is the KEY!’’ above.

And remember that, you don’t have to always hold your thumb at the back of the neck facing your middle finger. Positioning your thumb in that way can give the best reach for you when playing some chords and licks.

You Don’t Have The Strenght Needed to Press the Frets

If you have small and quite weak hands, this can be a problem too. One fix to this is to keep practicing and playing, and your finger strength should improve over time.

But I have one exercise that helped me and especially my super small and weak pinky out. After finishing this, you can feel the burn in your hand and fingers. No pain no gain. Check this ”Warm-Up” – work-out in the Exercises That Improve The Flexibility of Your Hands-section.

This exercise definitely gave me a nice strength and speed boost when I started. Do this a couple of times every day, and your strength improves fast.

You Hit Other Strings When Playing

This can be an issue when you are starting out because you are not used to playing the guitar yet. Or maybe you have short and thick fingers and you accidentally hit the wrong strings when playing.

Again, the correct thumb placement and relaxed wrist help you out a lot:

How to play guitar with small hands - tehcnique 1 recap

See the section: ’’The correct technique is the KEY!’’ above(really, this is super important if you are having trouble with hitting the wrong strings). So try to implement that stuff…

But I got more golden nuggets for you…are you ready?

  1. Use the tips of your fingers when pressing the frets, this is really important if you got thick fingers. Use of the tips ensures that you are not hitting or muting strings with your fingers.
  2. Ensure that you are using the correct fingerings for the specific chords. Most chord charts give you suggestions about which fingers to use to press the specific frets. Pay attention to these and playing will be easier.
  3. Lower the action of your guitar if possible. Action the distance from strings to the fretboard. If the action is really high(distance is long), the guitar is usually a lot harder to play and you will have issues with hitting the right and wrong strings. More about lowering the action int the section: ‘’How to Make Playing Easier By Making Adjustment Into Your Guitar’’.

These tips should help you out, but remember that practicing the right technique requires effort. So again, I’m sorry if I sound like a broken record…these are no magic tricks. You need to put in the work.  And when time goes on, these fixes I mentioned feel natural to you, and you are really comfortable with your guitar.

But one thing is for sure, if you don’t implement these tricks I just revealed, playing will be harder for you. But gladly, these tricks are far from impossible to implement, so you can absolutely do it!

Let’s now look at the one more problem that small-handed people can face.

You Can’t Reach The Frets Closer to The Nut of The Guitar

What I mean with this, is that you can’t reach the nut of your guitar because you have really small/short hands. This can happen if you are a kid or a small person.

If this is the case, there are really only 2 things that you can do that I’m aware of.

First, use a classical guitar playing position. So hold your guitar like this:

classical guitar playing position can help guitarist with small hands

This forces your fret hand to be closer to the neck and nut of the guitar, and you will have better reach over the fretboard.

Secondly, you can consider buying a guitar with a shorter neck. If the guitar is just too big for you, this might be the only option in some cases. You can buy a smaller sized guitar, maybe 3/4 scale, or even something smaller. In some cases, a shorter scale(string length) guitar might be enough, the standard scale length is 25.5, you could visit the music store and look for 24.5 or 24 scale length guitars and try them out.

That’s it! Here were the problems that small-handed guitar players face and solutions to them. If you think that I missed some problems that you are facing, leave them in the comments down below and we can solve them together!

Let’s move on, and look at some of the best exercises for small-handed people who want to rock!

Best Guitar Exercises for Small Hands

Best Guitar Exercises for Small Hands

There are plenty of exercises that help you to be a lot more comfortable with the guitar. And of course, we now have laser focus on the exercises that helps small-handed people.

I’m going to use videos to teach you these exercises. This is in my opinion the best way to teach these things properly.

We are focusing on the 2 different aspects of your physicality:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Strenght

Both these play a huge role when learning the guitar, especially if you have small hands.

Let’s get started with flexibility.

(Disclaimer: These exercises helped me out a lot, but I can’t guarantee that these help everybody. Be careful, if you feel pain, stop it, you are doing something wrong. You are doing everything at your own risk.)

Exercises That Improve The Flexibility of Your Hands

Warm-Up

This is by far the best warm-up routine that I know of, I have done this for years, and oh boy it warms you up like nothing else…Check it out!

YouTube video

Especially the 20 second legato exercise works as a strength exercise too, but if you are doing it as a warm-up, don’t do it so fast that you start to sweat and your face turns red because this could limit your playing after the warm-up. More about strength improvements later…

Now we are warmed-up, let’s increase our flexibility with some stretches!

Make Your Fingers Longer Stretch

Yeah, I know. I didn’t believe that this was possible either when I first heard about it. But when I did this stretching routine, I noticed the difference. My fret hand fingers were actually a tad longer than before. Of course, the difference was not huge, but still, my fingers were longer than before. So this exercise gives you better reach and increases the speed of your fingers.

Check the stretch sequence out: 

YouTube video

Whoah! Hopefully, you did the before and after comparison. This worked great for me, my fingers were actually longer than before. Of course, you have to do this every now and then to get maxim benefit. If you do this only once, it helps you for a short period of time only.

Complete Before Playing Stretch Routine

This sequence gives you a couple more warm-up tips that get the blood flowing in your hand, but the main things in this video are the stretches. These stretches increase your flexibility and reach over the fretboard….a lot. But do these stretches carefully and slowly.

Check the stretches out:

YouTube video

Now make a habit out of these warm-ups and stretches. Don’t even go to the strength exercises today. Learn to remember these first, and I’ll bet that playing will feel easier for you. Bookmark this page and return to learn more tomorrow. And of course, remember to play the guitar too, that’s the main thing!

Exercises That Improve The Strenght of Your Hands

First, if you want to use the most of your finger and hand strength, remember to warm up and stretch before you really start to practice.

Now we have that reminder out of the way, let’s do some strength exercises that make playing easier for you.

Fixed Finger Spider Walk Exercise

This is one of the best strength training for every guitar player, but especially for small-handed people. It is simple, but it works.

  • It forces you to use the right technique.
  • It improves your reach over the fretboard.
  • It gives you more flexibility.
  • It strengthens your fingers.
  • It improves your coordination.

It does it all. If you want to pick only one exercise from this post, it should be this. Let’s check it out. (You don’t have to watch the whole video if you don’t want, the main thing is the fixed finger spider walk)

YouTube video

If you do this every day for a couple of weeks, you should notice a huge difference in your playing.

Stretch Runs

This also improves flexibility, but most of all it strengthens your fingers, especially when you have to reach a little bit. Check it out: 

YouTube video

These were the main strength exercises. I would also add here the 20 second legato exercise that was in the warm-up sections. But when you want to improve your strength, do it faster this time. That way it improves your speed and strength more than the warm-up version of it.

Also, if you think that these strength exercises are not enough, watch that last video to the end, there is one good exercise more for you.

That’s it! All these exercises make playing easier for you. If you do all these exercises once a day for the next 30 days, you will be a way better guitarist than now. And by the way, you should do these every day if you want to be more comfortable with the guitar fast.

Don’t be that guy who watches all sorts of videos about how to be better at guitar playing, but makes up excuses why those tips don’t work for him and probably comments something like ‘’you have pretty long fingers, I don’t’’, ‘’yeah you have time for these but I don’t’’ or ‘’you have played for 20 years’’.

Start implementing, and you will get there. It’s really hard to not succeed if you don’t give up.

Next, we will look at how you can make playing easier for you and your small hands by making adjustments to your guitar.

How to Make Playing Easier By Making Adjustment Into Your Guitar

Small, easy, and cheap adjustments on your guitar can make a difference. I have 2 things to recommend for you.

First…

Adjust The Action

String height, aka. ‘’Action’’ is the distance between the strings and fretboard. And the effects of the action for small-handed guitarist are usually quite simple: 

  • If the action is high, playing will be harder. 
  • If the action is low, playing is easier

Let’s now go through how you can adjust the action, and what to keep in mind when doing so.

First, don’t make the action too low, because that could cause fret buzz. And because of fret buzz, it’s recommended to go through every string and fret of your guitar after adjusting the action to make sure that there is no buzzing.

Let’s first look at how to adjust the action in most Stratocaster style guitars, usually, you’ll need a 0.050-inch hex wrench to adjust the saddles:

YouTube video

Quite a simple process as you saw.

If your guitar has a Tune-o-Matic bridge, adjusting the action is a little bit different. Check this video to find out how you can do that: 

YouTube video

Also, sometimes you can lower the action by adjusting the truss rod. This is not the primary way, especially with electric guitars, but sometimes it’s still a good option. Check out this video to find out how to adjust the truss rod:

YouTube video

With acoustic guitars, adjusting the truss rod is an easy way to adjust the action (not the primary way tho), but some cheaper steel strings and most classical guitars don’t have a truss rod. In this case, the action adjustments are a little bit trickier. But not impossible.

If adjusting the truss rod is not enough for your acoustic, there are 2 more places to adjust: Nut and Saddle. These are not very easy to adjust, and if you are a beginner, it’s probably wise to let a professional handle these things.

But if you are a DIY guy or gal, this video shows you how to adjust the nut and saddle of an acoustic guitar(do all these adjustments at your own risk): 

YouTube video

As you saw, not so easy, but not impossible either. Hopefully, you managed to adjust the action of your axe if that was needed. If not or if you have questions, leave a comment down below or visit your local music store.

Next, we will look at how strings affect the ease of play.

Change The Strings

The general rule of thumb is this: lighter strings are easier to play. When playing with light strings, pressing strings requires less strength, and you can play with lower action, and that improves the playability.

But lighter strings sometimes loose to the heavier strings tonally.  You’ll get less sustain with lighter strings, and some riffs might not sound as thick as you would like. So keep that in mind. The difference is not huge and if you are a beginner, I wouldn’t worry about this too much.

Let’s look at what kind of stings are my favorites for small hands.

For some time, I’m been a big fan of D’Addario strings, and I prefer using them on my electric and acoustic guitars. Another great brand that makes solid strings is Ernie ball.  Ernie ball strings are usually slightly cheaper, but D’Addario’s won’t break the bank either. Here are my recommendations:

Best Extra-Super Lights(0.08) – D’Addario EHR330 Half Round Electric Guitar Strings

These strings are extra-super light, are really gentle to play, and are beginner-friendly. The downside is to slightly cut sustain, and the fact that these break more easily. But in normal use, these should offer you beginner-friendly playing and solid longevity.

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*Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂


Best Super Lights (0.09) – D’Addario EPN120 Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings

These are my go-to option for electric guitar. Especially the gauge(0.09) is spot-on for me, even though I have been playing for years. Tonally you get more out of these strings than from most other 0.09’s. 

The small downside is the fact that these strings are not the most durable. But gladly guitar strings are not that expensive, and these strings still won’t lose much for other strings on this price range durability-wise either.

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Best Budget – Ernie Ball, Super Slinky Electric Guitar Strings 9-42

If you are on a tight budget or you just don’t want to use D’Addarios for some reason, these Super Slinkys would be my recommendation. These loose slightly to D’Addario 0.09’s in tone and durability, but offer comfortable playability and solid tones, especially for beginners.

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These were my favorite strings to try out if you are struggling with small hands. But of course, test different strings and find out what works best for you. This also wraps up the make playing easier by adjusting your guitar section. Next, we will look at what are the best guitars for small hands!


Best Guitars for Small Hands

Person with small hands plays guitar

If you have small hands, is upgrading to the easier-to-play guitar worth it? Maybe. But before you go and buy a guitar, please go through the sections above, because by implementing those you can potentially save a lot of money. And buying a different guitar right away if struggling with small hands is not my recommendation.

But, after doing all the tricks and hacks, if you still feel that playing is too hard for you, there could be 2 reasons for that

  1. You don’t practice hard enough.
  2. Your guitar is hard to play. 

I assume that you practice hard enough because you have gone through this post all to way to this point. Ponts to you! You are willing to show real effort. 

So, the problem could be your guitar. I have sometimes tried guitars that just feel awful to play. And if your guitar is poorly made or it’s just not a good fit for you, buying a new guitar might help…

Now we’ll go through 3 main guitar types, and look at what kind of qualities you should look for when buying a guitar for your small hands. I will also give you some guitar recommendations. Let’s get started with the electric guitar.

Best Electric Guitars for Small Hands

Electric guitars are in my opinion the easiest to play guitars. Necks are pretty slim, actions are low, the body of the guitar is not huge, and string tension is usually not too bad either. 

But some electric guitars are harder to play than others. Now we will look at how you can choose a great electric axe for your small hands. And of course, the neck and different aspects of it are our main focus now.

Scale Lenght

photo reveals what is guitars scale length

Guitar’s scale length is the distance from the nut to the middle of the Fret 12, multiplied by 2. Sometimes this is also measured from the nut to the bridge.

Usually overlooked, but really important factor.

Scale length affects the tension of the strings. With a shorter scale, strings are easier to press down, so you don’t have to struggle with hard to press strings. If you have a standard or longer scaled guitar, the tension can be too much for you, especially when starting out.

But while you can’t make your hands or fingers much longer, you can gain more finger strength, and you will if you keep playing. This is why the scale length is not the most important factor when choosing a guitar for you. 

I have to mention that even though I have played guitar for over 10 years and have gained the finger strength needed to play all sorts of guitars, I still prefer shorter scale axes, they are just more comfortable to play.

So I would advise you to keep in mind that shorter, below 25,5 scale length guitars are usually easier for people with small hands. But you can absolutely learn to play with regular scale-length guitar too.

Action

photo displays low vs high action on guitar

Low action is almost always the best option for small hands. But, this is not a matter of which guitar you choose, the action really depends on your guitars setup. You can always make it higher or lower. 

So don’t worry about the action too much when choosing a guitar, you can always make adjustments, although with some guitars those adjustments are easier to make than with others.

Neck Shape

This graph reveals most common guitar neck shapes
This graph reveals all the common neck shapes

The most common neck shapes are the C and D. The C-shaped neck is usually a solid option for players with small hands. C-necks feel comfortable to play, are round, and work well for most playing styles.

Even better is the variation of the C-shape is the Modern C-shaped neck. It’s a flatter version of the C-shape. Modern C neck works really well, especially if you have short fingers. 

Then the Wizard! It’s neck shape foundfrom some Ibanez models, and is one of the thinnest neck out there

Slim D, and Thin U- shaped necks are ok options too, these are usually slightly bigger in size, but easier for your thumb placement.

To find out more about neck shapes, check these guides I wrote: Best Guitar Neck Shapes for Small Hands – Full Guide & Guitar Neck Shape Guide – Shapes Explained.

There is really no such thing that ‘’the best neck shape for small hands’’ that works for everybody. These things depend so much on your hands and preferecnes. Do you have short fingers, small palm,s or short and thick fingers….the list goes on. You have to try different shapes out to find out your favorite!

Nut Width

photo reveals what guitars nut width means

Nut width reveals how wide the neck is when measured from the nut. This also affects the overall width of the neck. The most common nut widths with electric guitars are from 1.65inches(42mm) to 1,69inches(43mm). And if you feel like most necks are too wide for you, I would aim to nut width of around 1.65inches or less. 

You can grab a ruler and see how the differences between different widths look like.

My Favorite Electric Guitar For Small Hands

Fender Mustang P90

Fender’s Mustang 90 gets 3 crucial things right for players with small hands:

1.
 Its nut width is 1.65”(42mm). This narrow neck is great for a combination of short fingers and small palms. Using the correct technique, accessing all the frets is made easy for you.

2. A 24” scale length reduces string tension, so playing this guitar doesn’t require much finger strength. You don’t need to drain all your effort to press the strings and this makes overall playability is smoother.

3. The slim, C-shaped neck works the best for most players with small hands(I like it a lot).

You can read my full review of Fender Mustang P90 here.

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If you want more small hands friendly guitars to choose from, check this article: 5 Best Electric Guitars for Small Hands in 2022


Best Acoustic Guitars for Small Hands

Here the nut width and action are again the main factors. Let’s look at some base-lines.

Nut Width

Regular sized acoustic guitars usually have the nut width between 1,65(42mm)-1.75inches(44,5mm). I would advise you to look for the nut width below 1.7 inches(43mm), although there are some great options for small hands with wider neck available too.

And as always testing different sized necks helps you to make the best choice possible. You can also grab a ruler and see how the differences between different widths look like. 

Action

Again, the action depends more from the setup. You can adjust the action of every acoustic guitar. But…

With some acoustic guitars adjusting the action isn’t always the easiest thing because especially the lower priced acoustic axes don’t even have truss rod. In these cases you always have to adjust the saddle, but most times, this has to be done with sandpaper. 

You can do this yourself, but be careful because you can make the action lower, but you can not make it higher without replacing the saddle. If you are a beginner, it’s maybe a good idea to let professionals handle the action adjustments in these cases. But again, doing this by yourself is not an impossible task.

Body Size

Especially if you are smaller guy or gal, you should pay attention to body size of an acoustic guitar, because if the guitar is really big, it can slow you down. So it might be a great idea to not buy the biggest dreadnought models out there.

My Favorite Acoustic Guitars for Small Hands

I’m gong to soon publish a full buying guide and round-up review of 5 Best Acoustic Guitars for Small Hands, so stay tuned for that!

Best Overall – Yamaha APX600

This axe gives you a nut width of 1.69 inches (43 mm). So it’s narrow, and the overall neck profile is thin and it really reminds me of an electric guitar neck. Easy to play. If you place your thumb in the right place, you can reach frets quite easily.

So, the neck is slim, but the body is too. This makes overall playability better. 

Action-wise this axe is only OK out of the box. Aand, this guitar doesn’t have a truss rod. This is a small flaw with acoustic guitars this affordable. Of course, you can lower action, but be careful if you are going to sandpaper the saddle yourself. Because when you lower it, you can’t make it back higher without replacing the saddle. 

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Really Slim Neck – Ibanez PF Series PF15ECE – Electric Acoustic

Good acoustic guitars with only 42mm(1,65inch) nut width are not that easy to find. But I have found Ibanez PF Series PF15ECE.

Of course, the first plus is the narrow and thin neck. It’s about as narrow as it gets with a good regular sized acoustic guitar. 

The action is usually ok right from the start, as always this depends on your playstyle. Personally, I might make it just a little bit lower.  Again, this guitar doesn’t have a truss rod, so I recommend that you let a professional handle the lowering of the action if that’s needed in your case. It can be done yourself, but please be careful that you don’t lower it too much because if you do, you need to replace the saddle.

If you first play the electric guitar and then play this, the difference on the neck is not huge. This one has really comfortable and easy playability.

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Best Classical Guitars for Small Hands

I’ll give it to you right away…classical guitars are not the easiest to play for people with small hands. Why? Because classical guitars have by far the fattest necks of any guitar types, and the action is usually pretty high too… 

But if a classical guitar is your dream instrument, don’t get discouraged. You can learn how to play it, even with small hands. And nylon strings are also lot easier to your fingers.

I bought my first Classical (Yamaha C40) in 2011, and even though I have small hands, I have been jamming with it almost every day since. So you can absolutely learn to play classical guitar. No question about it.

My Favorite Classical Guitar for Small Hands

I crafted this guide with my writer Tommy Tompkins to help you find the best classical guitar for your small hands: 5 Best Classical Guitar for Small Hands in 2022 – Buyer’s Guide . It gives you more info and classical guitar options to choose from.

Cordoba C9 Crossover
image displays cordoba crossover c9 cedar

What makes the C9 so great, is the crossover neck.
It’s closer to the neck of a steel-string acoustic…or even electric!

Nut width is only 48mm(1’88”). So the neck is narrower and also thinner than in most classical guitars.  So this guitar is practically classical with a steel-string acoustics neck (Crossover C Shape helps with this). The shortcut to classical guitar mastery with small hands.

This, and great tones and quality are why Cordoba C9 Crossover is the best classical guitar for small hands in my opinion.


What to Do Next?

You have come this far…and I’m sure that there really is nothing that can stop you from learning the guitar...Not even small hands.

As always, physical limitations can make learning new skills harder….but not impossible. The same thing applies to guitar playing. 

These exercises, tips, and tricks will surely make learning easier and faster for you. And sometimes buying an easier-to-play guitar helps too. 

So, small hands cause you trouble, but these troubles should not stop you.

I just laid the best tips and tricks that I have found during my 13+ years guitar journey. These should help you to get over those problems your small hands cause. And if you really want to learn to play guitar, you will take action. Use those tips I gave you. Improve your reach, strength, and coordination. Pound the pavement.

I have enjoyed playing the guitar for over a decade. If I have done that, you can absolutely do the same. So, play your favorite songs every day. Use the help I gave you. And have fun! 

If you need a little help with kickstarting your guitar journey check this guide I made: How to Play Guitar? Get Started Fast and Free!

Conclusion

I hope that this guide helped you to progress and gave you a motivation boost. One thing is for sure. You are not alone. Thousands of people struggle and have been struggling with their small hands when learning the guitar. Including me. But you can do it!

If you have any questions, just ask. Leave a comment down below or contact me. Also, feel free to share this post so that it can help other players with small hands too.

I wish you all the best and keep playing, having fun, and rocking with the guitar, despite your small hands!

Teemu Suomala


Here’s Our Favorite Gear Right Now!

Our Favorite Guitars:

Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂

Electric guitars:

For beginners and tight-budget guitarists, Ibanez GRX70QA was the winner after hours of testing. If you are a metalhead, Jackson JS22 Dinky is our favorite.

If you have more room on your budget, Yamaha Pacifica 112V gives you a great bang for your buck, and Fender Player Telecaster HH will serve intermediate Players well.

Our favorite Electric guitar of 2021 was the PRS SE Custom 24-08. It gives so much versatility, comfort, and good tones that it’s impossible to ignore.

Acoustic guitars:

For beginners, Yamaha FG800 is our go-to guitar. It offers more than any other guitar in the same price range.

For intermediate and beginners with bigger wallets, Gretsch G5024E Rancher offers so clear and detailed tones, plus easy playability that I had to include it here.

Seagull S6 Original is the best acoustic around the $500 mark. It has the construction, sound, and feel that many more expensive guitars don’t achieve.

Our Favorite Amps:

For beginners, Fender Mustang LT25 offers the most. It’s versatile, sounds good, and is simple to use.

For most home players, Boss Katana 50MKii is the amp that serves you in any situation. From country to metal.

If you are searching for a tube amp for home use, Blackstar HT-5R MKii is my go-to option because it sounds so good, and you can adjust the wattage(power).

When it comes to acoustic guitar amps, Fender Acoustasonic 40 will serve most people really well. But our favorite is Fishman Loudbox Mini BT. It offers a professional level tone and volume with a price most people can afford.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. John

    My hand is 6.5in wide (if I stretch the tip of the pinky to the tip of the thumb (to the point it would never play anything so worthless) it is 7in, and my longest finger is 6.5in from the wrist. I simply can’t do so much that tall people with long fingers take for granted.

    1. Teemu Suomala

      Hi John! You have even smaller hands than I do, but I believe 100% that you can get pretty great at guitar playing! What do you think is the biggest problem for you, reaching the frets overall, shaping chords, fast playing, or what? If I may ask :). Thank you for visiting my website and commenting, great to have you here!

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