Playing Guitar with Small Hands and Chubby Fingers

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What is the most common thing that beginners complain about? ‘Their Hands and fingers!’ More or less everyone has the same complaint that they are playing guitar with small hands or chubby fingers.

I’ve been teaching guitar for the last 15 years and the most frequent statements are like this: “I think my hands are too small to play guitar.”  Or “My fingers are too chubby. I can’t play the chords”. Even I complained when I first started learning! But  I’m telling you its all fine playing guitar with small hands.

There is nothing to worry about. It is completely fine whether you have small hands or chubby fingers. There are many guitarists out there who play the chords amazingly not having the ‘PERFECT SIZED HANDS OR FINGERS’. For example, if you have ever noticed Serena Ryder’s guitar playing you’ll see how those tiny hands can rock and roll.

So it is absolutely clear that whatever shape or size you got, your hands are completely perfect to hold those guitar strings. It’s just that you need to follow some steps and do a lot of practice. Throughout this article, I would be providing you with some advice. Hope you don’t worry about your stubby fingers at all!

But before starting off with the steps to follow, I would like to share the few reasons why it seems difficult to play with small hands for the beginners:

  • The guitar may not be held in the correct position. If the neck is too downwards the hand position will be off.
  • When the fingers aren’t curled up properly, only the fingertips contact with the strings.
  • It needs a little bit of practice to build up muscles in the fretting hand that allows stretching properly.

Get Your Guitar Size Right

First thing’s first. You need to get the perfect sized guitar for yourself. If your guitar is not appropriate according to your anatomy you won’t be able to hold it properly. When buying a guitar keep in mind that while holding the guitar, it should maintain the perfect height. The guitar neck shape must be according to your hand size. Some guitarists suggest using classical guitars as they have wider/thicker necks. The more the strings will be apart from each other the less your fingers will rub against the wrong strings.

But it might be a bit difficult for the small hand or chubby finger owners to play a fat neck guitar. So test your favorite one before buying it.

In case you need a suggestion about what guitar might be good for you at the beginning, try Epiphone PR-4E. It seemed perfect for the newbies.

Hold Your Guitar Correctly

Most of the beginners start off by holding the guitar incorrectly. When your guitar isn’t positioned right it will cause you great trouble in terms of producing the proper music.

If you are right-handed, rest your guitar comfortably on your right lap at first. The back of your guitar should be on your stomach, and the neck should be tilted slightly upwards relative to the body of the guitar.

Also, keep in mind that the guitar should not be parallel to your chest. Hold it in an angling position so that the left side can be slightly moved with the fretting hand and the right side moved backward with your plucking hand.

So, the more correct postures you maintain the more comfortable you’ll be while playing guitar regardless of your smaller hand.

Finger Contact with the Guitar Fretboard

The next thing you need to focus on is the strings. I know a lot of people complaining about their ‘fat fingers’ just because they use their finger pads, not the fingertips. When you use your finger pads instead of the tip you will create a muffling sound unintentionally. So to avoid this you need to follow some steps.

First of all, take your thumb of the fretting hand back of the guitar neck and rest it in the middle. The top part of your palm must be facing the fretboard of the guitar. Then slightly curl your fingers at the knuckles and place them above the strings. But it is fine if you are not instructed to do so.

Usually, beginners play comfortably when fretting just a single string. But when they need to hold chords it becomes a lot difficult for them. They mix up tunes as the adjacent strings also ring up under improperly positioned hands. Once your fingers start stretching, you’ll automatically build up a habit of tuning up in the right way.

Use a Capo

For the beginners out there, I would suggest using a capo on your guitar. Now a capo is a small device that is used to clamp on the neck of the guitar so that the length of the strings shortens. Try using a capo on the 4th or 5th fret. You’ll notice how easier it will get as you don’t have to stretch your hands that much. Small hands won’t be a problem anymore then!

Go Finger by Finger

You don’t need to hold all the notes of the chord together at the beginning. Try maintaining one by one. You can take a few notes together and practice. By doing this frequently you’ll eventually understand how to deal with the difficult chords. Though it’s a slow and tedious process, it will help you to build up flexibility over time.

Stretch your Fingers

A lot of people complain about their fingers because they can’t move their fingers swiftly. In the beginning, you will feel as if you’re producing muffling and mute sounds on and on. Maybe you’ll find the strings way too far to stretch and curse your little hands! But it’s all about practice. Trust me! Not only people with chubby fingers or small hands face the trouble but also everyone faces it at the beginning.

So, for that, a beginner should do some exercises. By regularly stretching the fingers your muscles will get used to the calluses and you’ll be flexible while playing. It eventually will develop dexterity in your guitar skills. Your patience and hard work will help you to gain that proficiency over time.

Let’s hear something from a real person!


Playing guitar with small hands or chubby fingers it’s not a problem you see! Just keep practicing with patience. Your physic won’t be a problem anymore. People around the world mostly survive with bare hands with sausage fingers, they still manage to play and rock their guitar up. So can’t you? Just stop worrying and start practicing.

2 thoughts on “Playing Guitar with Small Hands and Chubby Fingers”

  1. I don’t have the biggest hands but I have managed to improvise and find ways because of immense passion to play the songs that I hold dear to my heart. if you have the want and desire you will find a way!!!!!!

  2. My hands are small AND chubby but I manage. My hands are so small I can barely wrap my thumb around the top of the fretboard. It was a process I had to figure out on my own but it can be done. I use a rolling technique for a lot of chords. Not sweeping but not fretting chords with proper technique either.

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