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I am a struggling beginner. Any tips for learning to play the guitar for a guy with small hands? I am having a hard time with cord changes as well. Whatsda good guitar to start with? I have a guitar special til I am confident enough I wont break an expensive one.

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Do you have a teacher? A good teacher can prevent you from developing bad habits and posture that can make forming chords more difficult.
As far as choosing your next guitar, I highly recommend that you go to a good music store (brick & mortar) and play a few different instruments. Have a staff person help you, play and listen to a few different guitars. Find the one that says "take me home." Nobody can tell better than you which neck width or profile will be most comfortable in your hands.

Good luck in your search.

As far as a teacher, I have a couple books and a dvd set in the mail, I am deployed to Iraq right now so I can only look online for guitars, I am gonna try to get one sent to me via the mail system
ended up ordering an inexpensive OM model to practiced while I am over here. Will try to find a descent Takamine when I get home
Eddie Ennis said:
ended up ordering an inexpensive OM model to practiced while I am over here. Will try to find a descent Takamine when I get home

Eddie: I hadn't realized your were deployed to Iraq. Thank you for your service from one of the folks back home. I guess all my advice won't do you much good 'til you get home. Be safe. Play as much as you can

Let me ask this .. once you get a chord you can play the chord correctly ? Are you just having problems changing chords quickly ? If this is so .. try this .. practice grabbing your chords in SUPER SLOW MOTION and as you do this very carefully watch your fingers and lay them down all at the same time. For years you've trained your fingers giving a higher priority to your index and thumb for picking up small things like a pencil etc .. and you've also been training your fingers to pick coffee cups and other items where accuracy and timing isn't an issue. Using the super slow motion method you'll notice certain fingers have a tendency to "jump ahead" of the others .. or you'll try to "anchor" one or two fingers to use as a reference for the remaining fingers .. the slow motion method also allows time to be "sliced" into more segments. Your eye can only see about 1/24th of a second. Going slow feeds the brain a much higher resolution image and allows you to insert additional feedback such as the way the fingers "feel" in certain positions that they are unaccustomed to.
Ok .. hope this helps ..
shout out to the men and women so very far away from home .. with such a very difficult job.
Wishing you a safe and speedy return.
God Bless
Jeff Williams
Well I will suggest that it does take a while to switch from one chord to the next, so be patient with your self and give it time and once your fingers remember more it will become easier.
And on behalf of Canada be safe and be strong and know that we admire the hard work you are all doing on our behalf and wish you and yours a safe journey home and I hope the music gives you some comfort during these hard times my the heck with it my name is Louis
I appreciate the comments and support, thank you. I am not sure if I needed a slim neck guitar or what have ya, but I am 5 foot 5 so my hands are small. when I tried to changed chords my fingers were all on top of each other and the chord sounded horrible. lol I am gonna take your advice and try practicing changing chords super slow. I am hoping playing with a OM body style guitar will greatly help. As of right now, I am at the mercy of our mail system until my new guitar comes in.
Eddie; Best wishes on your deployment. My brother has served 2 tours and 1 previous(Desert Storm) in Iraq. I am pleased to say that he is safe and back in the US. I wish you the same success in your mission and personal safety.

As to small hands making chord changes; It is possible. I am short, 5'3", and have hands proportionate to my height. Many of the chords when I started I would have to take my picking hand and move by fretting fingers around the neck and strings, before plucking the strings. Changing a chord meant stopping picking and moving fingers that did not move themselves. I got so I would practise moving my fingers into the chord shape in the air before putting them down. After lots of practsie the shapes are getting to be natural and swift. Some of the barr chords, or in my acosutic blues idiom, fretting with a thumb over the edge and covering the 6th string (low E string in standard tuning) took longer, but they too have come. I have even been suprised lately that I can do a many fret stretch whilst barring a chord. It does work. All that said - it takes training, practise and many reps of perfect execution of fingers to make improvement. Do not get discouraged with the practise - you will get better.

I started with easier chord shapes and then slowly changed between them. I played S L O W L Y for a long time in order to get the chord change to happen within the music.

Examples of smaller players with exceedlingly developed fretting talents would no doubt be headed up by Muriel Anderson. Check out this YouTube example, . Check out others of her going to town on the acoustic guitar. She may play different music than you, but the example of shorter and smaller hands working is strong.

Good advise with choosing a teacher. You can source up on-line lessons and get terrific advise. Acoustic Guitar Magazine's website has an article a couple of issues back that spoke well to this topic and offered many suggestions. Search up the article and check to see if it would work for your schedule.
Hello, Eddie The Finest guitar player I knew had little short stubby hands and fingers, his name is Hank Garland do a web search and you will see what he accomplished, now what are you trying to play musical y if you are playing a lot of bar chords make sure you keep your palm away from the back of the neck use your thumb to press moderately as you make a chord arch your hand to use your fingers to note the chord it would not be unreasonable to have your palm parallel to the fingers or the fret board relax sit up and point your elbow up as you note your chord shape your wrist will arch naturaly if you point your elbow up a little you do not need a guitar neck to practice this use your fore arm if you are right handed this would be your right forearm to represent the neck of your guitar and fret an imaginary C chord with your left hand on your right fore arm try this and let me know if it helps Good luck Rob English
Hey Eddie:

I want to ad my own thanks for your service to our country, especially in such times of uncertainty and doubt. It is a special gift to our people to have those like you in the service standing up for our nation and those that can't stand for themselves.

Beginning guitar can often be a frustrating experience, there is no doubt. There are three real major areas I really had to figure out when I was starting, only about 5 years ago. The first area, the finger coordination, you've received some great advice from the people here already. Take it slow, and repeat repeat repeat your chord changes, regardless of what they sound like, or what everyone else says about listening to it. Keep doing it....not only are you developing the coordination, but also the strength required to fret the notes properly.....which leads me to my next point.

Most cheapie guitars have less-than stellar materials or construction, which is what makes them a budget guitar. That doesn't mean they are bad, just not as stellar as others. The most common issue with them, though, is that they just suck to play. the reason for that is that they are most often not set up properly. If you are unfamiliar with what I mean: there is a relationship with the height of the strings off the nut, the bow of the neck (yes, it really does bend) and the height of the strings at the saddle. All these things affect the "action" of the guitar, or how easy it is to fret a note. If the action is high, the strings are high off the fingerboard. You have to press very hard to pull the strings down across the fret, which does two things: digs into your fingers, and could also possibly stretch the strings so hard they play sharp. If the action is too low, the strings can buzz the fretboard.

Most budget guitars do not do any setup. The only ones I have seen coming from the factory fairly well set up are Yamahas, though I have heard the Takamenies also are fairly good, even in the sub-$200 range. It is a good idea to try to determine how well your guitar is set up, though that may be difficult where you are. If you can get your hands on some needle files and an allen wrench, as well as some calipers from your mechanic over there, you will have everything you need to improve the action on the guitar. is a great resource for all things guitar, and there is a whole section on instrument setup. I would suggest, if it is possible, to follow each item step by step and get the action comfortable. If a guitar is not comfortable to play, you won't play it. It is painful and will sound like crap because it pretty much cannot be played well. Most people who are more familiar with guitars will pay the $45-$65 after buying a new instrument to have it proffessionally set up for them by a guitar tech or by the builder, or they learn it themselves.

The third item is callouses. The ends of your fretting fingers have to harden, and the only way is to continue to play. AZs the finger harden, you will not have to press as hard on the strings to get them to cross the frets. Because you won't have to press as hard, you won't be embedding the strings so deeply into your fingers, which will reduce the pain, and will also reduce the dendency to "fat finger" the chords. This will translate to cleaner sounds, faster transitions, and a better experience overall.

Look at the chords that you do know already. Pick two chords, and try to find a song that has nothing but those two chords in them. All you have to worry about then is making the strumming pattern fit the song. Bob Marley's "Don't worry bout a thing / one love" is a great tune everyone knows when they hear it. It is mostly alternating the A and D chords, with the occasional E at the end of a verse and in the chorus. SO simple when you break it down, but 15 minutes of practicing the chords, and you are playing a song everyone knows. Jambalaya by Hank Williams is D and A7, nothing else. John Denver's Leavin on a jet plane can be played in A, D, and E. Again, start with simple 2 and 3 chord songs. Theres thousands of them out there. Good luck, and let us know how things are going.
I really appreciate all the great advice. I can honestly say that I didn't know so much went into learning to play. I ended up ordering online a Rogue OOO. It has an OM body and been fairly comfortable to play. I am progressing slowly on learning to play different chords and chord changes but I will get there. I have a friend who assists me in tuning my guitar when I need help. I purchased a electronic tuner.

When I go on my mid tour leave ( R'n'R ) I am planning to go to a couple different guitar stores back home and test out different guitars to try think on my next guitar choice. I have read both Takamine and Yamaha are both good brands. So i will have to wait and see. My oldest son ,(almost 11) has expressed an interest in learning as well so I will take him with me.
I have been practicing my left hand placing as keeping my thumb behind the neck of the guitar. It has seemed to help poisition my figners easier. I have been also doing my chords and chord changes slowly.
I realize I still have much to learn. I am hoping to be able to start playing a song or two in a month or so. We'll see. lol

Once again, I want to thank everyone for the support, the GREAT ADVICE, and the patience.

As I am a HUGE Kenny Chesney fan, I am gonna try to score me the sheet music and take a shot at playing Bob Marley's "Don't worry bout a thing / one love".
I am in the same boat. Have been playing since March, 08. I also have small hands. I started with a Taylor 110 which is a full size dreadnought. After playing it, I learned that this is not the guitar for me. I went to a Larrivee parlor model. I'm not going to suggest a parlor, but Larrivees generally have smaller necks. I believe it was already mentioned in this thread to try an OM size.

Good luck,



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