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Thread: Small Hands Problems? Ask another small-hands person.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
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    Central Texas
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    Default Small Hands Problems? Ask another small-hands person.

    I compiled some interesting things to check here if you feel like you have hands too small to play ukulele. This is by no means gospel, just suggestion from another small-handed player. I might actually have the smallest adult hands per body height on this board unless someone pipes up and says differently. The last time I met a woman with the same size hands as me she was 4'8" several inches shorter than me at 5'2". I wear children's medium gloves.
    A lot of this data comes from guitar sources. I can't vouch for 100% accuracy as I just copy and pasted.

    ------------------------

    Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 250+ 664mm scale length
    Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 230 to 250 656mm scale length
    Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 210 to 230 650mm scale length
    Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 190 to 210 640mm scale length
    Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 170 to 190 630mm scale length
    Thumb tip to pinky tip span of below 170 615mm scale length

    Comes from http://www.wilsonburnhamguitars.net/...hand-size.html

    They suggest taking the thumb to pinky span measurement to see what size scale of guitar might feel comfy for you. Detailed directions on the link above. P.S. if you can't get your hand to lay completely flat you can gently press it down as long as it is not painful. Your hand span may be short due to flexibility issues.


    ---------------------------------

    How does this convert to ukulele sizes?

    Info from : http://www.12fret.com/repairs/scale-lengths/

    Comparison Chart

    Here’s a chart that shows the scale lengths of a number of instruments around the shop at the moment.

    Instrument Scale (inches) Scale (mm)

    Fender Telecaster or Stratocaster 25.5″ 647.77 mm
    Gibson Les Paul or SG 24.75″ 628.65 mm
    Fender Precision or Jazz Bass 34″ 863.6 mm
    Hofner Beatle bass 30″ 762 mm
    Hagstrom 8-string bass 30 11/16″ 779.5 mm
    Gretsch White Penguin, 6118, or Billy Bo Jupiter 24.625″ 625.5 mm
    Martin D-18 or D-28 25.4″ 645.2 mm
    Martin 000-28 24.9″ 632.5 mm
    Gibson J-45 Legend 24.625″ 625.5 mm
    Gibson L-4 24.75″ 628.7 mm
    Gibson Advanced Jumbo 25.5″ 647.7
    Larrivee Baritone 26.9″ 683.3 mm
    Ramirez 4NE 25.59″ 650 mm
    Various Mandolins – Gibson, Collings, Kentucky 13.86″ 352 mm
    Trinity College Octave Mandolin 20.16″ 512 mm
    Collings UC-2 Soprano Ukulele 15″ 381 mm
    Kala Tenor Ukulele 17″ 431.8 mm

    ----------------------------------------------------

    How do I measure up?

    My fretting hand span is an absolute max of 189 mm (gently forcing it flat) which is the 630 mm scale length. That means according to the suggestion: even a tenor ukulele (431.8 mm) should be no problem at all. I do play baritones from time to time too and have little to no problem with those either.
    In fact full size classical guitars which is what I started on in elementary school are usually 26" scale which is more in the 650 mm territory. (and no, I lived in a rural area going to a poor school pre-internet era so it's not like i could just order a smaller custom scale instrument. You took what you could get and just hoped really big.) This explains why it was so hard to play, but it certainly wasn't impossible. My teacher said if I hoped to ever play professionally I would need bigger hands and longer fingers. It's just truth guys. It hurt my feelings back then but I understand now. How many professional basketball players have you seen that are like 5'2"? not many. It's certainly *possible* to do, but certain activities work out best if you have the right physical proportions. There are physics reasons why most female gymnasts do not exceed 5'3" in height and why hurdle jumpers usually have long legs.

    So yeah even if your hand span is smaller than mine like under the 170mm on the chart you'd still technically have big enough hands for a tenor ukulele.... if that's your dream! At the same time don't feel hand-sized shamed into a smaller (or bigger) ukulele. You like what you like. Enjoy what you play! That's the most important thing.

    Usually the people shaming think they are being helpful or inspirational by telling you of some special unicorn who just happened to have the same problem as you but is now a virtuoso. Just pull yourself up by your own bootstraps b.s. The shamers usually don't suffer from your problem, but think they know better than someone who has to live with the issue on a daily basis.
    My current stable:

    (Son of Snaggletooth) Romero Creations Tiny Tenor Spruce & Rosewood
    (Coco) Hanknn Koa Concert
    (Spruce Bringsteen) Burks Spruce Soprano
    (bootleg) aNueNue pineapple Concert
    (Toothless) IZ thinbody soprano w/ pickup
    (Lucky-Lefty) Decca Mahogany 1960 Soprano

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Default

    I've come to avoid most small-hands posts around here since inevitably some shamer will link to those little North Korean kids with guitars - which really is not a fair comparison. But yours got my interest and I had to measure! Following that guide my span is 185mm. And I'm about a half-inch taller than you! Kids' size medium gloves *and* socks here

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    441

    Default

    I have smallish hands (haven't measured--probably never will) and I play tenors exclusively (aside from my baritone and tenor guitar). The only thing that gives me problems are the somewhat exotic chords that require a big stretch. I had to work on the C# major chord. Aside from that I can play everything I want. I normally play all the triads and 7-chords, maj7's, diminished, half-diminished, augmented, sus chords. So take heart small-handers! All it takes is some practice. And know that you're not alone. Big-handed people also struggle from the other end of the spectrum. We all have challenges.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2017
    Location
    Central Texas
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    Hello small hands sister janeray1940! I'm about 187mm if I do not hold my hand flat, which is probably more accurate for actual playing ability. Just for giggles, I measured my non-fretting hand and it is 175mm!!! I wonder if I managed to stretch my fretting hand more by using it or I'm just asymmetrical?

    I feel you. If i had a dollar for every person who shows me some asian children shredding a large guitar (as if it were the norm) I'd be rich. I mean even one of the articles I cited above has some reference to a 5ft tall Japanese woman who has small hands who wanted a large scale instrument. But as you know, hand size is not necessarily proportional to height. I have met 9 year old children with bigger hands than myself. Also if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, why not try an electric guitar? Electric guitar never held Angus Young back and he's like your height. LOL! I wish I had found ukuleles sooner but better late than never!
    My current stable:

    (Son of Snaggletooth) Romero Creations Tiny Tenor Spruce & Rosewood
    (Coco) Hanknn Koa Concert
    (Spruce Bringsteen) Burks Spruce Soprano
    (bootleg) aNueNue pineapple Concert
    (Toothless) IZ thinbody soprano w/ pickup
    (Lucky-Lefty) Decca Mahogany 1960 Soprano

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Central Texas
    Posts
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    Default

    Yes, big handed people on small scale instruments also have their challenges! yay for working with what you got Ripock!
    My current stable:

    (Son of Snaggletooth) Romero Creations Tiny Tenor Spruce & Rosewood
    (Coco) Hanknn Koa Concert
    (Spruce Bringsteen) Burks Spruce Soprano
    (bootleg) aNueNue pineapple Concert
    (Toothless) IZ thinbody soprano w/ pickup
    (Lucky-Lefty) Decca Mahogany 1960 Soprano

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    I have smallish hands (haven't measured--probably never will) and I play tenors exclusively (aside from my baritone and tenor guitar). The only thing that gives me problems are the somewhat exotic chords that require a big stretch. I had to work on the C# major chord. Aside from that I can play everything I want. I normally play all the triads and 7-chords, maj7's, diminished, half-diminished, augmented, sus chords. So take heart small-handers! All it takes is some practice. And know that you're not alone. Big-handed people also struggle from the other end of the spectrum. We all have challenges.
    C# = 1114 and is not difficult at all with index finger barre. You probably mean't C# minor?
    I use 110x, but there are higher up fetboard easy fingered 4 string alternatives (missing the low C# in normal tuned uke).

    I agree with some above posts that ukes are all regardless of scale length so much easier to play than classical guitar regarding finger length.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by kitsunegarcia View Post
    Hello small hands sister janeray1940! I'm about 187mm if I do not hold my hand flat, which is probably more accurate for actual playing ability. Just for giggles, I measured my non-fretting hand and it is 175mm!!! I wonder if I managed to stretch my fretting hand more by using it or I'm just asymmetrical?

    I feel you. If i had a dollar for every person who shows me some asian children shredding a large guitar (as if it were the norm) I'd be rich. I mean even one of the articles I cited above has some reference to a 5ft tall Japanese woman who has small hands who wanted a large scale instrument. But as you know, hand size is not necessarily proportional to height. I have met 9 year old children with bigger hands than myself. Also if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, why not try an electric guitar? Electric guitar never held Angus Young back and he's like your height. LOL! I wish I had found ukuleles sooner but better late than never!
    Ha ha, I measured my non-fretting hand and it's 5mm shorter span than my fretting hand. I'm pretty asymmetrical in general but I do think the fretting hand gains flexibility and stretch over the years. Of course, for those of us north of 50 like myself, I also think biology works against us and we *lose* a bit of flexibility.

    When I first started playing I used one of those squishy hand strengtheners that rock climbers use. It really did make a difference! I think one can only stretch so much, but gaining strength helps with those stretches as well, especially when fretting with the pinky (my biggest challenge).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Mainland
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    I have smaller hands, but I've found that finger/joint flexibility is sometimes a more important factor.
    My Ukuleles: A Hawaiian, an Oregonian, and a Kiwi.

  9. #9

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    I bought a tenor to start and quickly became frustrated because if felt so big (plus it flaired up trigger finger to the point that I needed surgery). Anyway, came back to it trying a concert, and as I'm getting better with chord progressions can finger the tenor better.
    Love the info. Fascinating. My hand measures 180, but I wonder how they figured out scale because of instrument neck sizes, etc.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarmo_S View Post
    C# = 1114 and is not difficult at all with index finger barre. You probably mean't C# minor?
    I use 110x, but there are higher up fetboard easy fingered 4 string alternatives (missing the low C# in normal tuned uke).
    I actually meant C#. 1114 wasn't working for me because when I fretted the c string, the portion of the index finger barring the chord would come up and mute the E string. It took me some practice and stretching to make it work.

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