3 Tips That Help People Playing Guitar With Short Fingers

playing guitar with short fingers is entirely possible for anyone, after they learn these three tips

There are lots of guitar players out there who will make you think that playing guitar with short fingers is not possible. If you’ve ever watched a video of the freakishly amazing Buckethead tearing up the fretboard, you may have come to the conclusion that you can’t do what he does with baby hands.

Bucket is known for his virtuosic ability to combine wide-stretching pinky using licks with flash-like speed. Anybody who’s new to playing guitar with short fingers will be relieved to learn a few things about the instrument…….

There are lots of players who’ve had great success learning the instrument that doesn’t have such sizable manacles (that’s hands). The core aspects of playing guitar often involve easy to finger chord shapes and scale patterns that are accessible to anyone. Buckethead is just up for challenging himself is all! 

Also, if you do suffer from small hand syndrome, many guitar manufacturers have produced guitars of smaller scales and frets. This way you won’t feel like you need the gripping skills of a talented rock climber just to play a power chord. We’ll reveal which guitars to look for if you’re playing guitar with short fingers. 

Keep this in mind, as well as the next three principles in mind if you’re determined to break this barrier to entry…….

Focus At First On Smaller Chord Forms Like Power chords

The key to getting started playing guitar with short fingers is to make it easy to get started. If you believe that typical chords like G, C, and D are too tough, then just focus on playing smaller chord forms. Take a look at a few of these chord forms below: 

You’ll be surprised how many songs only require that you play part of the chord and not the whole thing. Many songs by AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin are not focused on big stretches at all. In fact, most of the guitar repertoire involves a chord form called “power chords,” which you just saw up above. 

The popularity of this chord form came up because guys like Steve Jones from The Sex Pistols didn’t like to play what he called “Beatle Chords.” He was mostly just referring to big full-bodied chords like the 7th chords and diminished chords, which wouldn’t fit well in a genre like Punk anyways. Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath had no choice but to play chords like these as he famously injured his fingertips while working at a sheet metal factory. Django Reinhardt, the famous gypsy jazz guitarist, only had two working fingers to use after suffering an accident himself. 

If you have all your fingers, no matter how small they are, there is nothing holding you back from playing guitar with short fingers! Check out this article for a quick intro to guitar chords….. 

Playing Guitar With Short Fingers Tip 1: Get A Guitar With A Smaller Fret Radius & Smaller Body

This is another one of the more practical tips we can give you. There are many guitar manufacturers out there that will accommodate people like you that don’t have Buckethead type hands. You just need to look for a few certain factors in the instrument you’ll be learning on. 

Getting a guitar with a smaller fret radius will make it easier to press your fingers against the fingerboard. The higher the fret radius, the more curved it will be. A radius of 9.5-10 is ideal for many people for chord strumming, while a flatter fretboard is better for soloing. It all depends on your needs!

The types of frets are crucial too as there will be bigger and smaller metal pieces that make up the frets. Frets come in jumbo, medium jumbo, and narrow tall. There is no easy way to go about this than to visit a guitar store and ask for different guitars that have different fret pieces. 

Finally, you can get guitars that are at ¾ scale to the original model. Many acoustic guitars are made with this feature in mind as lots of people like you are intimidated to learn. This may be the easiest feature to spot in a guitar as many guitars have a similar size. 

Playing Guitar With Short Fingers Tip 2: Learn More Riffs At First Than Chord Progressions

Riffs are a word we use to describe short musical phrases that form a core part of a song. Many rock bands’ music is focused around one or two key riffs, which can sometimes be broken down into chord progressions. A lot of riffs are focused on a mix of smaller chord forms, like we mentioned earlier, as well as single notes. 

Take a look at the main riff for Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid:”

Black Sabbath - Paranoid guitar riff

It’s one of the best rock riffs of all time, and it has both the single notes and the power chord of E5 at the 7th fret. Playing guitar with short fingers is totally possible with a riff like this! There are artists of nearly every genre that will have at least one or two songs that have a riff you can play. To learn more, check out these 5 tips on how to get good at guitar chords

Playing Guitar With Short Fingers Tip 3: Focus A Lot On Fret Hand Exercises To Increase Your Dexterity

If you’ve just started to explore the guitar, you may have seen some exercises that involve you going 1-2-3-4 on each string. These exercises appear in lots of places online because they are very useful for every player, and that includes those playing guitar with shorter fingers. A simple search online for “guitar exercises” should give you all sorts of stuff to chew on. 

The purpose of these exercises will be to get you used to stretching your fingers and using them all. It will also help you get used to changing fret hand positions quickly. 

A few great exercise programs include Steve Vai’s “10 Hour Guitar Workout” as well as John Petrucci’s “Rock Guitar Discipline.” Between the two of these there will be more than enough exercises for a lifetime, or at least to start. 




If you’re looking for more chord forms that will help those of you playing guitar with shorter fingers, then check out the Uberchord app. It will help you with finger placement and timing too! Be sure to check our blog if you’re interested in learning how to write guitar music or build on your chord knowledge. 

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