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I've been playing piano for past 5-6 years and I can't reach further than an octave (Even some chords within the octave are not reachable, or it's hard/borderline impossible to play them with reasonable speed) Fingers are proportionally short.

While I still enjoying playing the piano. I'm looking for an instrument that is not significantly less versatile, but is suitable for hands of my size.

I've already taken a brief look at classical guitar, and that clearly is not an instrument I find comfortable at all. I can't play/reach most chords, or some of them only in a way that doesn't produce a clean sound.

Compared to the piano, where getting piano with 7/8 sized keys costs a fortune (well, buying decent regular piano costs a fortune too), guitars of all sizes are ridiculously cheap(comparatively speaking of course!), and getting 3/4 sized electric is easily affordable.

Now there a few questions regarding this topic:

  1. What are the best electric guitars with small nut/neck?
  2. Do I need to get 3/4 size guitar or is regular sized electric with small/neck nut gonna be small enough to play comfortably (remember, very small hand, can barely reach an octave!)?
  3. What are the best 3/4 sized electric guitars?

Although I'm a complete beginner with guitars, I would like the guitar to sound really good, that is extremely important for a beginner. So I can spend significant money on the guitar if need be. (say up to 1000 eur) (If I'm gonna play on headphones mostly do I need to get an expensive AMP too? Or any will suffice?)

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Shopping recommendations are off-topic (see the FAQ). If you want to change this to be about distinguishing guitar types and how to select one appropriately for fit, that would be acceptable, but as-is it will be closed. –  Matthew Read Oct 28 '11 at 21:48
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Have you considered learning the ukulele? They are not toys; if you want to spend $1000 on a uke, you can (and it will be lovely). YouTube has examples of virtuosos playing serious music. Even with your tiny hands, a soprano uke will feel small. A tenor uke is bigger, but still smaller than a 3/4 guitar, and because it's the "right" size for what it is, doesn't have the tonal compromises of a 3/4 guitar. –  slim Mar 1 '12 at 14:40
    
I thought I'd let you know that if you're not set on guitar and are looking for an instrument for which hand size matters not at all, woodwinds and brass are it. Like not at all, reach has nothing to do with playing them. –  Iain Duncan Nov 30 '12 at 5:52

4 Answers 4

Classical guitars are distinct in that their standard method of play is notes all over, so there's a wide neck to allow you to fret one string without accidently sounding on another. Steel-string acoustic designs are designed more for strumming, so the neck is narrower, which is closer to what you want. However, the more popular body designs for acoustic were created for projecting loudly, which means big and wide. Presuming that your small hands are relatively proportional to your body, I'd say look for a 00 or smaller guitar, or maybe a Taylor Big Baby.

Electric guitars are easier in oh so many ways. One of the iconic figures in rock is Angus Young of AC/DC, jumping around in his schoolboy uniform with a Gibson SG. Angus Young is a short man with small fingers, and he's playing on a standard SG.

1) Depends on what kind of playing you want to do, whether looks matter to you, and how much money you want to spend. A lot of the "shredder" brands like Ibanez, Charvel and Jackson use neck profiles that are "fast", by which they mean skinny, which should work well with your hands. The SG also has a skinny neck that at least Angus thinks works well with his small hands.

2) The tuning of guitars is such that heroic string stretches are rarely necessary.

3) 3/4-size instruments are generally designed for young people who are not finished with their growth spurts, who will want to step up to the next guitar fairly soon. They are not of the same grade as full-size guitars.

ETA: Another thing to add is scale length. Fenders generally have a longer scale length of 25.5", which makes the reach harder on the lower frets, while Gibsons have about 24.75". Normally I see that discussed about string tension, but it works toward hand size.

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+1 Great answer. When it comes to acoustics, whereas 1/2 or 3/4 size classical guitars aren't that brilliant, Martin do a half size model (a la Ed Sheeran) that is not too bad at all. musiciansfriend.com/guitars/… –  Ali Maxwell Oct 28 '11 at 20:48
    
"so there's a wide neck to allow you to fret one string without accidently sounding on another" - yeah, but if the finger is small, that might not be an ussue, no? –  JBeurer Oct 28 '11 at 21:16
    
I think there's misconceptions about what I mean with super-small-hands. Smalls hands doesn't mean the hands are just not that big, or that they are wee-bit on smallish-side. For the record, in piano players world small hands usually mean you can reach from C to E. I mean there's really no point in playing if your hands are any smaller than that unless you're willing to seriously limit yourself and your repertoire. Even with C to E reach you'll have extremely hard time playing significant amount of pieces. –  JBeurer Oct 28 '11 at 21:33
    
Here a good picture of hand sizes: steinbuhler.com/assets/images/HandSizePage_12.gif ( I have ~7 inch reach. Yeah. ) That basically is a super-small, 12 year old boy(girl?) hand. –  JBeurer Oct 28 '11 at 21:35
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Giving the best advice I can. I'm 6'3" with reasonably big hands (can't palm a basketball, but I can easily shuffle sixths in G). Really, the only way to really tell is to go to a well-stocked guitar store and start trying things on. –  VarLogRant Oct 29 '11 at 4:05

Unless you're dead set on an electric you might take a look at parlor models like this one or these?

You also have Taylor GS Mini or the Sierra ST10 Compass among others.

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I'm by no means dead set on electric. It's just that electric guitars are usually have thinner necks and hence are easier/more comfortable to play. –  JBeurer Nov 1 '11 at 15:38
    
The A&L Ami is a very nice guitar, but its sibling, the Seagull Grand, is an amazingly responsive steel-string fingerstyle guitar - and it sounds great. I wouldn't use it for rhythmic playing, though. –  neilfein Mar 6 '12 at 5:41

The majority of chords are going to be a 4-fret reach or less, and the frets get closer together as you move up the fret board towards the body, so worst case is at the nut (fret 1). All guitars vary by manufacturer, but a fender 22-fret is probably about 5 inches for the first 4 frets, and the distances get smaller as you go up the board. (see for instance: http://www.stewmac.com/fretscales )

There are some chords I play which are 5 frets wide with a barre, but they are easily avoided. Note that I have a finger span of about 7 inches (WITHOUT the thumb, close to 10 with it).

Daisy Rock purportedly makes smaller and slimmer fretboard guitars catering to females.

Bring a chord sheet to a store and try the first position major chords and see if you can reach. B and F are probably worst-case.

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The best way (for anyone, really) to find a guitar you are comfortable with, is to go to a guitar shop and try out different models for yourself. Then you will also get professional help from the people working in the shop (if the shop is serious about guitars). Dedicated guitar shops often have highly qualified staff, and you should not be afraid of asking questions.

As for your reference to piano and cannot fully reach an octave - this is not allways comparable. I have actually trouble reaching an octave on a piano, but that is not because my fingers are short. It is more related to that I can't stretch out my fingers enough. On guitar I don't have so much problem with that, unless the chord is streched over 4 bands or more. Most basic chords does not stretch over more than 3 bands.

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protected by Matthew Read Dec 1 '12 at 0:15

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