1.12.2009

Strat-O-Blogster Replys to Playing Guitar With Small Hands

JP at Strat-O-Blogster had some thoughts on an article I wrote about playing guitar and having small hands, The origional post has been buried in the archives and what JP wrote was an excellent comment so I'm giving it a post of it's own.


Be sure and drop by the Strat-O-Blogsters blog and give it a read.

Below is what JP had to add, it's good advice.


Two of the biggest complaints of people just starting to learn guitar are:

1) My hands are too small.
2) My hands are too big.

In compiling my Young Guitar Wonders directory-- and seeing so many 5-12 year olds who can wail on a standard guitar, I'm convinced that hand size isn't the real issue.

Guitar playing IS physically challenging no matter what, and conditioning goes beyond growing some calluses. Crummy guitars with lousy action compound the conditioning curve. But when a beginner learns to barre chord, they usually don't realize that the index finger doesn't have to death clamp all 6 stings like a capo, since the other fingers are also gonna be fretting some strings on higher frets.

Teachers & books don't tell 'em that either. "Oh, you gotta hold all those strings down perfectly or it's not right." B.S.!!!

Yeah, most players don't have large hands like Hendrix & SRV, which permit the old thumb over the top bass note fretting. But guitar writers have also tended to exaggerate the importance of having large hands in attempting to explain the virtuosity of players who just happened to have large hands. More people with hands like Hendrix will give up learning guitar for the same reason.

They say the same thing about piano players, and how important "span" is, etc. But Elton John & Billy Joel have small hands. And if you don't consider them serious keyboardists, ok, Chick Corea has small hands too.

Musical instruments are designed by humans for humans to play.

Maybe with classical instruction, size & span parameters can be more of an issue. But with Rock, too many people mistakenly rely upon full barre chording when actually, intervals and 3 note voicings are all that's needed.

If you're teaching guitar to kids, don't load them up with those full, 6 note barre chord forms. Instead, show them octaves and harmonic intervals that rock.

It's rare that someone's hands are actually too small for guitar. Either their desire to play is too small or they're being taught redundant chord forms that are physically overwhelming. Just because there are 6 strings doesn't mean that every string has to be implemented in every chord all the time.

That's like saying you need 88 fingers before you can play a piano.

In another area of life, we see jr. high & high school basketball players more concerned about their height than their skill. Then there's always that one 5 footer who goes right up the middle for a lay up-- or somehow seems to get more rebounds than anyone else.

To paraphrase that old saying about dogs, It ain't the size of the HAND in the fight. It's the size of the fight in the HANDS.

2 comments:

Stratocat said...

Whoa! You're kiddin! Thanks for the plug!

sarge1875 said...

It was a good addition to the original post.