5

I have thick fingers. Whenever i try to play after 12th or 13th fret, I end up making some strings dead. Sometimes while playing some of the chords or while I have to switch chords quickly, this happens. Should I drop playing guitar and pick up some other instrument or is there any solution for it ?

  • 1
    Good players don't play full chords in any position, let alone above the 12th fret. Four strings is more than sufficient, five a luxury, and six mostly just unwanted thickness. Tal Farlow played rhythm on two strings, and Freddie Green on one. Revise your expectations, and have a good look at your technique in a mirror: make sure your fingers are absolutely at right angles to the strings at all times. – user207421 Aug 26 '15 at 12:09
  • The string action means there is always a little more string height when playing the higher frets. So your fingers are more likely to accidentally touch nearby strings. This is perfectly normal, it "just" needs extra practice if you want to play chords up there. – Andy Aug 26 '15 at 14:31
  • @EJP: I almost always play five- and six-string chords (mostly) arpeggiated, though doing so is much easier on my tuning than on Standard [I generally use the fifth or sixth string plus the top four then plucking, though when strumming some chords use all six]. My C chord (barred) is c-[G]-g-c'-e'-g', my G chord (barred) is G-g-b-d'-g', and my D chord (open fifth string) is D-f#-a-d'-f#'. – supercat Aug 26 '15 at 17:35
  • @supercat Well I don't. Draw your own conclusion ;-) I can't make head or tail of your voicings. Open 5th string gives you a bottom A in the D chord, for example, which you haven't shown: what you've shown is a zero-fret C chord moved up two frets with a 2nd-fret barre. Your G and C chords are either in the wrong order or unplayable. – user207421 Dec 15 '15 at 4:34
  • @EJP: My tuning is G-D-d-f-g#-b, with the fifth string being the lowest. I started out just using the top four strings in minor-thirds tuning, but thought chords seemed wimpy. Adding an octave below the fourth string made chords sound better except for the second-inversion chords which were too heavy on the fifth; tuning the sixth string to provide the root of such chords makes them sound much better. – supercat Dec 15 '15 at 15:13
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Most players probably don't play full chords above 12th fret; however, you could try using fewer fingers, as in for an E shaped chord, using one finger on 5th and 4th strings, similarly on A shaped chords, play with 2 or 3 fingers - a barre over all 6, and a mini barre over 4,3 and 2.

Just playing 3 or 4 notes out of particular chords works well, too, as discussed in earlier questions/answers.

5

The short answer is - DO NOT give up on playing guitar just because your fingers aren't optimally configured. You can adapt and learn to play quite well - if you really want to!

Unfortunately not all of us who aspire to learn to play guitar are blessed with long slender fingers. But if you have a strong desire to play, you can overcome whatever limitations you were born with.

Like you, I have short stubby fingers. Then, to make matters worse, I broke my pinky finger on my fretting hand as a teenager and it grew back crooked. But I had a strong desire to play guitar. So I learned to adapt and have learned to play well enough to hold myself out as a professional musician who gets paid to perform.

There was a time when I was feeling the same frustration as you are because there were certain chord shapes or voicings that I just could not physically play. Then I found several videos on YouTube of amazing guitar players who only had two fingers (even one who had no hands and played with his toes) and I realized that anyone can learn to make music on a guitar regardless of their limitations.

As others have said, there are modified versions of all chords that will sound authentic or there may be substitute chords or alternate fingerings or chord voicings that you will find easier to play.

I started with open position chords and barre chords between the 1st and 7th fret and still tend to avoid full chords higher than fret 8.

I find it almost impossible to play some guitars with very close string spacing. So you might try different guitars to find a neck shape/ neck width/ string spacing combination that is more comfortable for you to play. You will discover that even with guitars that have the same nut width, some have a tighter spacing (strings are closer together). To compare two guitars, hold the nuts close together and try to match the two center string slots and see how they compare. You will often find different spacings among different makes of guitars - even with the same nut width.

A guitar with a slightly wider nut and wider string spacing might be easier for you to play. I find the Taylor Guitars in the 300 series and up with the 1 3/4" neck width to be easier to play without muting adjacent strings than say the 200 series Taylor with the 1 11/16" nut width.

Here is one of many videos on YouTube about playing guitar with fat fingers Play Guitar With Fat Fingers YouTube

The guitar is a versatile instrument that can be played in many different ways to make beautiful music. Learning to play will provide a lifetime of enjoyment and pleasure. It takes practice and work no matter how optimal your finger shape or hand geometry. But if you have enough desire and dedication - you will get to a level that will provide great satisfaction whenever you have the time and desire to pick up your instrument. Keep working at it and don't be discouraged! The rewards will be worth the extra effort.

Good luck!

  • Just complementing your motivational introduction: Tony Iommi lacks two fingertips and is one of the best guitarrists ever. – Pedro Affonso Aug 27 '15 at 2:10
3

Could be a few things to look at, with the best/most likely at the top

  • Finger and hand positions, experiment with different techniques until you find a perfect hand position/shape for EVERY chord you are getting bum notes with that reduces the chances of a bad sound, trying alternate places and or missing out notes to get a chord that sounds best
  • Have another guitarist watch you and see if they can spot any obvious issues with your hand shape/finger positions
  • Try a lighter pick that vibrates the strings less by putting less energy into the strings when you strum/pick
  • Is the action too high, if so can be tricky to avoid other strings for anyone
  • Is the guitar too bowed at 12th may need a truss rod adjustment
  • Different brands of guitar have slightly different width neck, it might help a little
  • Learn the bass?
  • +1 for learn the bass. Bigger everything! - and very few chords... – Tim Aug 26 '15 at 10:55
1

Look around for a guitar that fits your fingers better. Neck width and length varies among manufacturers and even among models for a single manufacturer. If you have the ability to visit multiple stores trying stuff out, you should be able to find one that works for you. Or, if you have plenty of cash, find a builder and have one made to your own specs!

Another option is to get a baritone guitar. A baritone is tuned lower than a regular guitar, so the neck will have wider frets.

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