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For someone with big hands, what kind of guitar is suitable?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of big hands for playing guitar?

  • Hi - what kind of guitar ? electric or acoustic ? – user2808054 Apr 10 at 15:28
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Your big hands are not some imaginary pair of generic big hands. Like any other new guitar purchaser, you're going to have to go try some guitars and find one (or more) that feels right to you. There is no one true answer here.

Get out there and put your hands on some guitars. Don't limit yourself to what you think you want or what someone else has told you is good, right, or best. I went shopping for an Epiphone SG and ended up in love with an Ibanez SZ520 - because the neck on the Ibanez felt better than anything else I touched.

Go to a guitar store (one that carries real guitars - stay away from Wal-Mart, etc.,) and start trying some. You don't have to know how to play anything. You don't have to impress the salesman or the other people in the store. You just have to trust yourself to know what feels good and what doesn't.

If you want to get rigorous about it, bring a small notebook and a pen. When you find a model that feels good, write it down. Then you can ask the salesman (Or, frankly ask Google when you get home - for every incredible guitar salesman out there with a huge font of knowledge, there are 150 kids who know less about guitars than they do about Nintendo.) specifics - fret size, radius, neck shape, etc.

Here's the truth: A guitar that feels good will be played more than one that doesn't. Feeling good is more important than sounding good. Sound is malleable. If you want to play rock or blues, you can get a decent approximation of any sound out of almost any guitar. Obviously, you can't play metal with a nylon-string classical, but within reason, you can make a guitar that feels right into a guitar that sounds right.

But if playing feels bad, you'll never get good enough to care how you sound anyhow.

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Advantages of big hands - potentially your reach, although this depends on whether your fingers are long, or just big. And for guitars with wide necks big hands can help.

Disadvantages of big hands - you might find it tricky to play certain chords high up the neck if you can't get your fingers into a small space.

Realistically though, I have seen people with all sorts of hands play perfectly well on short scale guitars and large basses, so I'm not sure you should worry too much about this. If you do find you have trouble up at the 22nd fret, play more down the other end. If the neck feels too thin, buy a wider necked guitar.

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    An extreme solution to getting a guitar with a wide next would be to play a classical guitar (they have wide necks) or get a 12-string and string it with 6 strings (bad for the neck, but lotsa room). A guy I currently play with has large hands and plays mandolin quite skillfully, though, so I'm inclined to think this is mostly a matter of practice unless your hands are truly ginormous. – neilfein Mar 16 '11 at 3:05
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Advantage of having big hands is that you can do crazy stretches which people with small hands cannot. This will add some spice in your guitar playing and will separate you from the others.

As far as Guitar recommendation is concerned, i would recommend Ibanez metal fat fret guitars which are very nice for shredding, sweep picking and performing stretched legatos.

Then at the end of the day it is you who should be comfortable with your guitar because it becomes a part of your personality.

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Honestly, I think the advantages of having larger hands far outweigh any disadvantages -- I have larger than average hands, and love being able to wrap my thumb around the neck to fret the 6th string.

I also play mandolin, which has tiny fret spacing, and only have minimal problems high up the neck.

I'd say that if you have really big hands, you would want to stick to a full size guitar. Classical guitars have wider string spacing, which may help too.

  • I agree with this. I have small hands, and altough there are some advantages (I don't feel my fingers are crowded while fretting a chord), the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. I have seen videos of people playing riffs without moving their hand on the neck while I had to move my hand to play the same riff due to a very short reach. Similarly, playing "Hendrix" chords with the thumb is extremely difficult. – Anonymous Mar 14 '11 at 18:28
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The radius and profile of the neck, and width of the fingerboard can make a big difference in the feel for different sized hands. I have long hands - my palm and fingers are long, so I favor a wider fingerboard and a thinner profile neck.

Ray Benson, the lead guitarist for Asleep At The Wheel, has big hands, and Guitar Player Magazine interviewed him years ago and specifically asked about whether there were pluses or minuses to this; his comment was basically they let him reach further than most people can.

The only downside to having longer fingers is when I'm playing on a narrower fingerboard by the nut. Sometimes it's hard to jam my fingers together for a D chord, but for rock it's seldom a problem, because I cheat and drop the F#, or switch to a guitar with a bit wider neck at the nut.

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From the finger-picking perspective: I have been playing for decades and only recently come to realize that a wide neck is right for my large hands. I was just working on the intro to The Boxer, and yes, ability to reach is significant. But what really helps me with the wider neck is left-fingers fretting without bumping the adjacent strings. I unstrung 6 from my 60's Epi 12 with a 2 inch nut and have a new best friend! I don't really have fat fingers but they sure feel that way. I've seen guys play even really skinny necks and make it work. We all have our own limitations to work with & there's always someone who makes it look so easy, darn it!

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I have large hands and play a Telecaster. Very squeezy at the open chord end of the board but great for A scale blues lead. Can bend a D to a G note on the G string without too much trouble. I struggle with intricate lead around the 12th fret or above however. As Clint said: "A man's gotta' know his limitations".

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I have very large hands.My ring finger is a size 13 on my fret hand.I have struggled for years to find guitars that fit me.Salesmen always steered me away from "baseball bat" necks because "no one" likes them.As a huge Zakk Wylde fan who has gone through lots of "great playing" guitars that just hung on my wall because they hurt to play,I went against the norm and tried a Wylde Audio guitar.That baseball bat felt great in my hand,I just did not care for active pickups.Six months later I ran accross a Ritchie Kotzen signature tele.Felt great and sounded great too.That "baseball bat" went home with me that night.I sold my other 3 electrics because they never got played anymore and have not looked back.An advantage to big hands.......my friends are always amazed by my vibrato and bending techniques,and fat thumbs allow me to grip a pick just right for pinch harmonics almost naturally.

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