I started playing a guitar a few months ago.

I have an Indian Acoustic, not the easiest to play but Ι'm doing OK. The problem is that my fingers are short and stocky. I Have a hard time keeping clear of the open strings. I put electric guitar strings, which helps a little.

I have tried out some other guitars without any luck. Could it be that I am not fingering correctly?.

  • You might want to look at the classical guitar with nylon strings, which are easier on your fingers for both fretting and plucking.
    – filzilla
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 18:26
  • Classical guitars are definitely easier on the fingers, but the high action that is common in classical guitars, might make it a little less welcoming.
    – MrTheBard
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 18:28
  • You said "Indian Acoustic", is it a brand name or acoustic guitar from India?
    – seseorang
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 18:33
  • Flamenco. Nylon strings, low low action, yes there's fret buzz but that be a part of the package. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 15:53

5 Answers 5


One of the best guitarists I know of, Redd Volkaert, has the stubbiest fingers I have ever seen. Not an excuse.

Remember to play with your fingertips and keep your thumb at the center of the back of the neck. I don't know your material, but be aware that not every string does need to be played, so if an open string gets muted, that can be fine. And play with the least pressure you can to make the note ring out.

I don't see that electric strings on a steel string acoustic guitar is that bad, but it will likely be unsatisfying. Light acoustic strings should be okay. Again, the main thing is getting the fretting hand correct.


If you play daily for at least an hour, you will build the finger callous needed for proper fretting within a few weeks. Practice makes perfect. Keep jamming, My Friend! Watch the hands of experienced guitarists, and look to see if they hold it differently, your grip on the guitar can also change your finger agility.

  • Yes, your grip is important. You may want to rotate your fret-hand thumb from the top of the neck toward the center of the back of the neck. That is the classical position which provides the best reach.
    – Kirk A
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 1:07

I found that an electric guitar is much easier to play for me as the action (distance between strings and fretboard) is much lower and allows my small fingers to move around more efficiently and accurately. Nylon strings are also more comfortable on the hands when you need to push them down more.

Most likely your problem is that you're just starting out... Guitar is a really difficult instrument, especially to play well. Keep working at it, maybe trying to find some exercises to help your hands find their way without much thought.


There are two possible causes for your specific problem of muting adjacent open strings:

1 -Poor fretting technique
To avoid muting adjacent strings you need to fret with your finger tips not your finger pads. Fretting with your tips makes the first joint lie more perpendicular to the fingerboard and the pads will not mute the adjacent strings, Fretting with your pad makes the fingers 'lie down' (for want of a better term) and mute adjacent strings.

Fingering position

See how the LHS fingers are 'standing up' and avoiding adjacent strings? Compare this with the RHS pic where the fingers are 'lying down' across the strings.

NB: Also note how the hand is collapsed with the palm against the neck in the RHS pic, that is also poor technique. Both pictures show poor thumb placement, the thumb should be against the back centre of the neck whenever possible (sometimes certain chords and techniques will not allow this). Poor thumb placement makes proper fretting more difficult in most cases.

2 - Unusually wide finger tips
Your finger tips are so wide that even with proper fretting technique you cannot avoid muting adjacent strings. This is very unlikely and can only be remedied by a new guitar with wider string spacing.


Firstly, DO NOT put electric guitar strings on acoustic guitar!

I began playing and learning guitar when I'm 10 years old, where my hands are small. If you want to be able playing the guitar as soon as possible, perhaps the problem is in your guitar:

  • Your guitar's action when you got acoustic guitar strings on.
  • Your guitar's quality of nut, saddle, and construction.
  • Your guitar's string quality.
  • Your guitar's string tension. Try lighter tension like 0.010" or 0.009"

Or the problem is on you:

  • Your fingers didn't press correctly, it should press harder to make a cleaner sound.
  • Your way to pluck the strings, you perhaps have wrong nails shape (if you don't use any guitar pick).
  • You're new to the guitar, that's mean you're not used to it. Try to play it for few months. Sometimes, you'll got calluses on your fingers, stay playing when you had it until your fingers get more thick and strong.

I can't recommend any brands that you should buy, because it'll be an off-topic question here. But, you can ask some of your friend that be able to play the guitar better, try their advice.

EDIT: If you can't resist with the string, you might change to nylon guitar.

  • 1
    It would be an off topic question to ask for gear suggestion, but it isn't an off topic answer to provide a suggestion on some strings.
    – MrTheBard
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 18:27
  • 1
    I have had a particular acoustic guitar for 40 years now, and I always put electric strings on it. What's the problem ?
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 21:30
  • There's no problem at all, Tim, tone and volume will suffer somewhat and the reduced tension will reduce neck relief (adjusting the truss rod will fix that) but it's otherwise fine. This answer doesn't address the specific problem at all: His fingers are muting adjacent open strings. Either his technique is poor (finger tips are not perpendicular to fingerboard) or his finger tips are simply too big for the string spacing of his guitar. The first is the most common and most likely.
    – Fergus
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 1:53
  • @Fergus I think his technique is poor.
    – seseorang
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 6:44

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