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FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / Hand size..does it matter??

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davey f

san diego/ US

Feb 18th, 2016 01:17 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Last night I was watching an excellent video of Jimi Hendrix at Atlanta. For some reason, I had not noticed the size of his hands before...they were HUGE!! I noticed that his fingers were at least 1" longer than mine and his thumb about 3'4" longer also!! The ability for him to wrap his whole hand around the strat neck was very impressive! I don't recall SRV as having such large hands, but I do know that Steve Howe certainly does. How much does hand size have to do with playing ability.....excuse me if this has probably been asked before....


swampyankee
Contributing Member
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olde New England

If you can't play good, play loud
Feb 18th, 2016 06:40 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It matters for guitarists and piano players. Seems like the fastest players have long skinny fingers. My hands are probably on the small side, so I can't do the 4 fret spread very well. I've developed my own style over the years. My brother's fingers are so short they look almost like they were cut off at the last knuckle. But he plays piano very well and has written some beautiful suites of music.

As they say, it's not the size, it's the motion...

themaestro
Contributing Member
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Wichita, Kansas

Drums = pulse, Bass = heartbeat
Feb 18th, 2016 07:06 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It may matter some, but I've seen some mighty small, chubby hands do some mighty things. As swampyankee says, people develop personal styles to cope with physical problems. Think gypsy jazz king Django Reinhart, who only had 2 functioning fretting fingers. There can sometimes be physical barriers, but creativity has no bounds.

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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Eat. Sleep. Guitar.

Repeat
Feb 18th, 2016 11:02 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

And then we have Redd Volkaert, who has hands that look like throw pillows.

And he is one of the finest 'finesse' players out there these days. I don't know how he does it. Both his hands are deceptively quiet, even when he's tearin' it up.

Lookit them MITTS!

shunka

Willoughby, OH , USA

I'm arrogant and a moron
Feb 18th, 2016 11:07 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

One of my teachers, and perhaps one of the best players I've ever heard, had fingers that looked like my thumb. He used "correct" classical hand position and could play chords that spanned 7 frets.

5Strats
Contributing Member
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Edmond/OKC

AXE VICTIM
Feb 18th, 2016 11:11 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Steve Vai and Joe Satriani are small guys so they use small guitars with skinny necks.

Also, Danny Gatton's fingers weren't long and it didn't stop him.

gdw3

LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Feb 18th, 2016 12:58 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

SRV did have large hands for his size. He wasn't a big guy, but his hands were proportionally large.

Everyone has limitations. The trick is, playing to your strengths, and working on (or around) your weaknesses. My guitar student is a guy not too much smaller than me, but there are certain things his hand just cannot do. Like not being able to reinforce his index finger with his middle when making a minor 6th-string-rooted barre chord. His hand just won't do it. So, he's gotta work on making that barre strong.

davey f

san diego/ US

Feb 18th, 2016 10:22 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

So, are we saying that having small hands is no problem...because there is a work around that will off-set. I actually do believe that having small hands can in some ways work in one's favor...in the speed area for example...I think small fingers can probably move a little quicker....However, if you look at some of the chords that Steve Howe can finger...I'm not so sure that anyone with much smaller hands can go there...??
Perhaps there is a plus and a minus for each hand size. Although Jimi's hands IMHO certainly helped him tremendously on a lot of the music he was able to play....that and of course his immense skill!

(This message was last edited by davey f at 12:25 AM, Feb 19th, 2016)

DrKev
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Irishman in Paris

Forget Tone - go with Note Choice
Feb 19th, 2016 05:40 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Steve Vai's hands are enourmous. Has thumb can go right over the top and play the D-string!

That said, hand size is not really all that important for most people. It is far less important than TIME. The time you spend with the guitar in your hands trying to improve, and your ability to make that time happen, is infinitely more important than hand size or anything we might think of as 'natural talent' or skill.


5Strats
Contributing Member
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Edmond/OKC

AXE VICTIM
Feb 19th, 2016 09:38 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The necks on Vai's JEM guitars are super small so maybe it makes his fingers look longer than they are?

reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
Moderator

When I sin

I sin real good
Feb 19th, 2016 09:41 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It's a case of as long as they're not *too* big for the instrument (and it happens, I can't hit some chords because you can't make two objects fit in the same space at the same time).

You learn to deal if that's the case.

Bass VI though, is like a crazy home where it's all normal.

And it's not just about length or hand size but how big the actual fingers are.

gdw3

LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Feb 19th, 2016 05:10 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Right. So big hands can reach a long way, but smaller hands can do things big can't as well. The point is, guitars are made for human hands. They are shaped as they are because they work for most. Beyond that, there are so many fret board sizes and neck shapes that you can maximize what you've got!

gdw3

LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Feb 19th, 2016 05:11 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

...and another thing!

Even if everybody had exactly the same size hands, we'd all still sound different from each other and like ourselves!

davey f

san diego/ US

Feb 19th, 2016 09:15 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

reverend rob, I think the length of your fingers and your thumb is very important...as I said, it looked like Hendrix had incredibly long fingers and thumbs. His fretting hand shows him to wrap his thumb way around the neck and his fingers look just huge on the fretboard.


Roly
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Whitehorse Canada

I don't get out much
Feb 20th, 2016 02:17 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

You beat me to the punch Mr. Goo.

Often bumped into Redd on the Alberta circuit in the 80's. Attending a Saturday jam when Redd was present was a treat.

Redd was heavily influenced by George Moody.

Here's the link I planed to post....perhaps it's the same one.

Home in Sanantone.

reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
Moderator

When I sin

I sin real good
Feb 21st, 2016 07:13 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It's not just length, it's the combination of that plus thin that are magical for some things.

Big all around, you get me, and well, you do with what you have.

BbendFender
Contributing Member
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American Patriot

I'm on guard these days.
Feb 21st, 2016 07:50 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Size doesn't matter.

Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Feb 24th, 2016 05:13 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Flexibility matters

K4
Contributing Member
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I prefer

dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery
Feb 24th, 2016 06:51 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have large mits, I cannot play any new off the shelf Strat for a full set. Neck is too small and my hand cramps. I absolutely hate the C neck.

Same with most brands of guitars. I have to play 300 to find one that fits my hand, then another 900 to find one I like.



Gaukdawg

Ohio

Say what one more time!
Feb 25th, 2016 03:59 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

As a Cleveland Browns fan, hand size is very important it seems.

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FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / Hand size..does it matter??




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