Can You Play Guitar With Small Hands?

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Learning how to play an instrument often comes with various challenges and difficulties.

Learning to play the guitar is arguably one of the most challenging tasks because of the need for unnaturally stretching your hands and the pain felt in your fingers from trying to press the strings.

Because of those challenges, you might be wondering, “Can you play guitar with small hands?”

animated guitar and amp beside colored hands on blue music themed background

People with small hands are more than capable of playing guitar. Hand size is one of the least important factors of playing guitar. It is essential for those with small hands to choose a guitar that fits their hands properly, try lighter strings, and train their fingers with stretching exercises.

If you are worried about how you will be able to play guitar with small hands, we will prove that playing guitar with small hands is not only possible but just as easy as if one has larger hands.

All you need is to understand a few simple ways to make playing the guitar comfortable for you and ultimately take your playing to the next level.

Can You Play Guitar With Small Hands?

Out of all the potential limitations that hold people back from playing the guitar, hand size – and small hands, in particular – is undoubtedly the most prominent one.

And in all honesty, it is about time that this thought – or myth, as it should be called – is laid to rest. Sure, there are many natural limitations to playing guitar, but none cannot be overcome by practice and other necessary adjustments.

The truth is that learning to play the guitar is a challenging task. The various chords and scale patterns demand your hands to move, stretch, and position themselves in ways that feel completely unnatural (at first).

Without proper training and instruction, you could encounter these feelings and feel like you are not cut out to play the guitar.

Read More: How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar?

Well, we would argue that that statement couldn’t be more incorrect, especially regarding hand size. Whether your hands are small or large, you are guaranteed to encounter a few issues while learning to play.

While it might feel challenging to stretch and adequately reach chords with small hands, people with large hands often find trouble squeezing their fingers together into those compact chord shapes. 

So, can you learn to play the guitar if you have small hands? Absolutely! Let it be settled in your mind right now that having smaller hands does not have to be a setback or a limitation in learning to play the guitar.

The important thing is to be aware of the adjustments you can make to make the experience as easy as possible. 

Five Tips For Playing Guitar With Small Hands

Alright, so perhaps by now, you are feeling encouraged, but you still feel like having small hands makes it difficult for you to play the guitar.

Do not worry! We will help put your mind at ease by showing you five practical ways to assist your journey of mastering the guitar despite having smaller hands. 

Find The Right Guitar For You

Firstly, finding the right guitar for you is vital. The number one reason people feel like their hands are too small to play the guitar is directly linked to the type of guitar they are playing. This is the section in which we will need to go into the most detail.

Arguably the most frustrating thing to see as a music teacher is a beginner guitarist walking through the door with a guitar that has a neck wider than a skateboard.

This is common in classical guitars, which are often recommended to beginners because the nylon strings on classical guitars are more forgiving on your fingers. 

The problem with this is that classical guitars have much wider necks than other guitars, making wrapping your hand around the guitar nearly impossible for someone with smaller hands, whether a child or an adult.

Do not just settle for the guitar that came with the best deal; you need to find what will work best for your hands.

When finding the right guitar for you, it is imperative that you get a guitar that has a thin neck. This will make wrapping your hand around the guitar and reaching those trickier chords easier for you.

Typically, though not always the case, electric guitars have thinner necks than many acoustics, so you might want to consider experimenting with one.

The next thing to look out for in a guitar is the scale length of the fretboard. The scale length describes the distance of the strings from the nut to the bridge.

In simple terms, the shorter the scale length, the smaller the gaps between the frets will be, making stretching or reaching notes a lot easier. Combine that with a thin neck profile, and you will be playing guitar almost effortlessly. 

Lastly, as a final measure to consider regarding guitars, there are smaller guitar sizes that you could try. Both acoustic and electric guitars come in smaller variants, undoubtedly making playing with small hands easier.

However, going this route will make your options for guitars severely limited. We recommend trying the other options before opting for a smaller guitar.

Experiment With Lighter Strings

Another challenge with smaller hands is often feeling like it is harder to press down the strings adequately.

This is likely because of the string gauge on the guitar you are using. Try using a lighter set of strings. They will be far easier to press down and hurt your fingers a little less.

Read More: Light vs Medium Guitar Strings – Differences Explained

Training Your Fingers

Now that we have the right guitar and strings taken care of, there are many exercises that you can do to make playing with small hands easier.

Ultimately, whether your hands are small or large, you need to train your fingers and hands to stretch and contort in ways that are necessary to play the relevant chords or scales. 

There are a variety of exercises that you can do to improve the overall strength, flexibility, and dexterity, regardless of the size of your hands.  

Use A Capo

Using a capo is a simple yet effective way to lower your guitar’s action (the height of the strings), making it easier for you to press the strings down while you are still building strength.

Additionally, moving your capo higher up the fretboard allows you to play chords in smaller frets, which requires less stretching.

Gradually move the capo back to increase the amount of stretching needed, and you will be able to play all over the guitar in no time.

If you need a capo, check out our super detailed guide on the best guitar capos.

Practice

Lastly, and arguably most importantly, make sure to practice as much as possible. While this almost goes without saying, it takes time to get used to a new skill like playing the guitar.

Your hands require a lot of repetition to build muscle memory and dexterity to make the overall task feel natural. Be patient and practice consistency, and you will see progress daily.

Conclusion

All in all, never let something like having small hands make you think that you cannot play the guitar.

In the same way that having large hands has its benefits, small hands have their own benefits, too. With the proper guitar and effective practice, you can be a master guitar player in spite of the size of your hands. 

As always, Happy Playing,

-D

About Damien

Damien is a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist from South Africa. He has performed at many events both public and corporate with top musicians in the industry. He has also been teaching guitar professionally for 8 years.