Fingers too small? Scales are the answer!

As I practiced Johnny Cash, well tried my best to play, I could never wrap my hands perfectly around the guitar or guide my fingers quickly enough from fret to fret and string to string. At one point it caused me so much frustration I was ready to call it quits – I asked myself: “How can I possibly play this song when my hands are too small?” the same question I asked myself when I was younger and took guitar lessons, the same reason I quit the first time. But instead of quitting, I decided to search if anyone else has had the same problem and it turns out, this is very common!

Some people think it is just a cop out, in many cases it likely is. I know in mine, it was. There are tips and techniques out there specificially for people who have smaller hands but still wish to play the guitar. Use the higher frets, lighter strings, utilizing the pinky finger, stretch out your hands.. all great tips that I found in an article on Spinditty called “Eight Great Tips for Playing Guitar With Small Hands” by Sam Islam (Read it Here). What I enjoyed about this article is that the author admitted there are things they will never be able to do while playing the guitar, due to their small hands, but it has never stopped them from trying and being their best. How will you know if you give up after only one try?

When I read exercises and stretching of the fingers, I instantly thought of the finger pushup joke my brother used to do when we were kids and he wanted to beat me at a video game – “Just have to get my fingers in prime shape to beat you today!” Always brought laughter in the room. I found out with further research, finger pushups are not actually what they are referring to when they say exercise for small hands and the guitar. Darn! But what they meant was exercising your fingers to work on coordination, muscle memory, and the feel for the neck of the guitar.

The Exercises I tried:

  1. First I took stretching realistically, and now it has become part of my routine when I pick up my guitar. Always stretching out my fingers, releasing tensions, and allowing my hands to do their job without extra stress. This was something I learned in ballet class, to always stretch out my hands and shake out the tension before beginning to dance – “your hands know what to do without forcing them to do it” is what my teacher shared with my class.
  2. “The Almighty 1-2-3-4  Combinations Workout” by Klaus Crow (Find it here!). This workout challenged me to move my fingers along the neck of the guitar and both up and down the strings. It seemed simple enough at the beginning, but just like the article states, it becomes addicting! I took awhile to get a hand of making sure my fingers were hitting the right fret, the right string, and that I was strumming the correct string on the other end. Trust me, if you ever need to work on your multitasking skills, pick up a guitar! It will greatly benefit you. But besides the cognitive benefits, I eventually got the hang of the 1-2-3-4 workout and decided to take it up a notch.
  3. Klaus Crow’s “8 Excellent Guitar Stretch Exercises to Develop Flexibility” (Read it here!) Now this, this was a challenge!

Below I have a video of one of my attempts to get it right and a photo of what I am attempting to do. IMG_0040

This is the exercise I am attempting to accomplish in my video, I am playing the 12, 15, and 16th frets moving from E-e on the strings and back again. It is quite difficult to keep my fingers in place and my speed is quite slow – but one more thing that I am learning how to do on the guitar. I am no professional, but I am definitely learning a lot on this journey. Check out this video below, thank you for listening!

Uploaded and updated on June 27th! 


One thought on “Fingers too small? Scales are the answer!

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