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Small Hands Doesn't Mean You Can't Play Guitar!!


Glenn Gay
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I was chatting with a member the other day that mentioned she had kids hands. She said they are very small and sometimes she has a little trouble making certain chords that need some extra stretching. She said she was barely able to make them, but that little extra stretch hurt a little. The last thing we want, when doing something we enjoy so much, is to be uncomfortable, or in any kind of pain while doing it. 

So, this is what I suggested -

I told her to simply do the 1-2-3-4 / 4-3-2-1 exercise every time she picks up her guitar before doing anything else. Not only will this help "Warm" her fretting hand up, but it will build the muscles in and around her fingers so the fingers hurt much less when in motion. I also suggested, only if there is no real pain, to move her pinky finger up one fret after playing the 4 note. This will give that little extra stretch in the exercise which is where she is having some issues.

I also want to encourage anyone with arthritis or stiff finger joints to try this, DON'T over-do it. If the fingers get sore or tired. Stop. That is your muscles telling you they are done for now. This is fine. Some of us need a little work in this area than others 😁 me included 😁

Just do it every day, for a couple of minutes. You will be amazed at the difference it makes in the strength and mobility of your fretting hand.

 

Just something I thought may be of benefit to share - if anybody has any other tips for this kind of issue.....Let us all know 🤘

 

Glenn

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/11/2021 at 8:56 AM, Glenn Gay said:

I was chatting with a member the other day that mentioned she had kids hands. She said they are very small and sometimes she has a little trouble making certain chords that need some extra stretching. She said she was barely able to make them, but that little extra stretch hurt a little. The last thing we want, when doing something we enjoy so much, is to be uncomfortable, or in any kind of pain while doing it. 

So, this is what I suggested -

I told her to simply do the 1-2-3-4 / 4-3-2-1 exercise every time she picks up her guitar before doing anything else. Not only will this help "Warm" her fretting hand up, but it will build the muscles in and around her fingers so the fingers hurt much less when in motion. I also suggested, only if there is no real pain, to move her pinky finger up one fret after playing the 4 note. This will give that little extra stretch in the exercise which is where she is having some issues.

I also want to encourage anyone with arthritis or stiff finger joints to try this, DON'T over-do it. If the fingers get sore or tired. Stop. That is your muscles telling you they are done for now. This is fine. Some of us need a little work in this area than others 😁 me included 😁

Just do it every day, for a couple of minutes. You will be amazed at the difference it makes in the strength and mobility of your fretting hand.

 

Just something I thought may be of benefit to share - if anybody has any other tips for this kind of issue.....Let us all know 🤘

 

Glenn

 

 

I would just add to make sure you center your thumb when you do those 1234+5 exercises. It makes a big difference.  Also, there's a difference between pain and stiffness.  Stiffness is a sign that you need to warm up and stretch a little more.  Pain means you need to stop what you are doing NOW!  I have problems with both.  Sometimes I can return to what I was doing that caused the pain later on in a practice session and sometimes I can't.  I've learned to just accept it and try again on a different day.  Most of the time it works out and I'm able to move on and progress.

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I also wanted to add that you don't have to start the 1234+5s at the first fret.  That's a pretty big stretch.  I usually start them at the fifth fret and then move to the third and and first after I've spent some time doing them.  I do warm ups and stretches all throughout my practice time and it seem to really help.  Recently I've started doing them all the way up the fretboard.  My hand used to cramp up badly on me past the 12th fret but it hasn't lately.  I call that progress.

I broke both of my wrists (and a whole bunch of other bones) 14 years ago and didn't even attempt to play guitar for 8 years.  When I finally picked it up I played briefly and quit because it was too hard.  I switched to fiddle for 4 years and I really liked it.  I was pretty good at it too, better than most beginners.  I ended up giving it up due to a pain I had in my back from bowing.  I never could figure out how to get rid of that one.  If I do, I'll be back at it again.

So, I decided to give the electric guitar a shot again 2 years ago and I started BTG in October of last year.  So far I am satisfied with the progress I am making.  In some ways my hands and fingers are doing way more than they ever could before.  In other ways I'm still struggling to get back to where I was prior to my accident, especially making chord changes.  The biggest problem I have is putting too much pressure on the strings and not relaxing my hand.  It's difficult because my background is in acoustic guitar, which requires more pressure and of course my hand pain and the limited movement of my wrist are always challenges that I need to work around.  I get pain in the back of my hand now, which I never had before.  It's not all the time, but it's pretty intense when it happens.  That's usually an indicator that I need to stop for a while, so I do. 

I'm retired now so I am able to pick up my guitar(s) 2 or 3 times throughout the day.  I enjoy being able to practice that way.  It seems to benefit me mentally and physically.

I've played guitar longer (42 years) than any other activity I've ever engaged in.  It's like air for me.  It's a necessity.  I am determined to find a way to do it.  Like Jonathan says, it just gets better and better.  Some days I am amazed at the progress I am making.  I can actually play the things I'm hearing in my head now.  Not every day and every time, but more and more often.  I can hear a tune and go figure it out or say to myself "oh, that's a hammer on right there."  I could never do that stuff before.  It's all still real simple stuff, but the point is I will get better and better as I keep doing the work. 

This might be a good time to point out that I also suffer from tinnitus in both of my ears so my hearing isn't 100%.  The ringing is pretty loud sometimes (like now) and other times I barely notice it.  Both ears always feel stuffed up, like when you get water in them or you have a cold.  I've gotten used to it, but really would prefer not to feel the pressure in them all of the time.

Despite all of these challenges I play guitar.  It's who I am, it's what I do.  I'm still not great at it, but I am getting better.  If I can help someone else get better, that's a bonus for both of us.

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  • 1 month later...

Thought I'd bring up that using a 3/4-sized guitar is technically an option.  I'm a small person with small hands, and that's the route I'm taking.

Well... at least for now.  I might switch to a full-sized guitar after I've got a good amount of practice with the smaller-sized guitar I bought for myself, but... I'm thinking probably not.  I'll admit, there's something about the idea of it being something that people don't normally do that appeals to me.

That, and I've heard that sometimes smaller people just like smaller guitars, anyhow.

Sure, training your hands to play a full-sized guitar is an option, but I figure it shouldn't be a requirement.  I think smaller-handed people should be encouraged to try both routes, see which one they'd like to aim for.

Sure, it might be harder to find decent 3/4-sized guitars, since they're less popular... for me, that's part of the challenge, though, and thus, part of what makes it ~interesting~ :classic_biggrin:

...But yeah, working the stretches for this 3/4-sized neck is hard enough as it is for me right now. :classic_blink:  I really doubt I'm switching to full-sized anytime soon.

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  • 1 month later...

What you do is put all 4 of your fingers on the low E string. Your index finger goes on the 5th fret your middle finger g0es on the 6th your ring finger on the 7th and your pinky on the 8th. Then play each individual note. Then work your way down to the high E. That is the 1234 exercise now go backwards to the top 4321. You can find the exercise in module 1 of unlimited dexterity.

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