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Unread 01-14-2012, 12:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Fingers too large for chords?

Is it possible to have fingers that are too wide to play guitar (chords)? It doesn't seem to matter how I adjust my fingers, angle my wrist or position my thumb. I just can't seem to get my second finger to fret a note without deadening or muting the string below it when it try to play a chord (D7 most recently). Any advice...in addition to practice? Or switching back to bass?
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Unread 01-14-2012, 01:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Jimi had huge fingers.
I don't have tips, since my fingers are small but I am sure there must be a way.

Serious request: Post pics of you just holding the neck...i.e. your fingers draped across it - to get an idea of the scale we're discussing.
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Unread 01-14-2012, 01:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

I prefer wider necks for that reason, and have a really bad time with narrow necks, like an Affinity Strat's. Practice does play a big role, of course, and some chords I just don't play "correctly", especially if they have to be played quickly. But I find myself doing just fine with my narrow-necked jazz box because it has ultra-low action and light strings. I don't have to press as hard, so my fingertip doesn't flatten out and into the other string.
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Unread 01-14-2012, 02:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

It might be as River suggested and my fingertips are flattening from pressing too hard. I don't think I have gi-normous hands or anything. I know I need more practice. Just get frustrated sometimes when I can't get the positioning right to practice.
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Unread 01-14-2012, 02:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Play on your fingertips, with plenty of arch in each knuckle.

Playing with a full band, I end up playing more fragments than full chords, anyway. It's rare when I'm playing a barre chord. I focus on thirds and sevenths when I'm playing blues and jazz, or root/5 power chords playing heavy rock.
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Unread 01-14-2012, 02:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Never had a problem with Epiphones but I have a couple of Squier teles that I find impossible to play some open chords but I use them as lead guitars
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Unread 01-14-2012, 06:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

I used to give guitar lessons to a guy who is 6'3" and an iron worker by trade. He has fingers the size of kielbasa sausages but he still did pretty good at guitar. Having a wider neck like River already said does help. You also may have to find the best way to play chords etc. that works for you even if it is not technically the "right" way to do it. Keep up on your finger tips and don't let your fingers lay flat on the fret board and that will also help keep from muting the open strings.
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Unread 01-14-2012, 07:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

You just have to adapt your technique. I have a friend with huge-ass hands and he plays bluegrass mandolin (!).
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Unread 01-14-2012, 10:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

and hey, just play hard with what god gave ya-- make it your style- sometimes some finger overlapping sounds cool
just do your thing, i have sloppy fingers, but i have accepted i will never be a technical guitarist and i am ok with that and have fun with it
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Unread 01-14-2012, 10:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

for chords I always work on the tips, ive got big hands and found it hard to play lightly, i mooshed the crap outta that thing when I first started...I bit a hole in my acoustic the first week I owned it, week two it was in the street in pieces....So I understand your frustration.

I played lighter and tipped the fingers and it became much much easier, for root notes I squish the shit out of the board...I can pull an acoustic powerchord by barring the ring finger...which is bad, I gotta get that pinky back in action again.

learn to enjoy it regrdless, some of my favorite players are "sloppy" don't mean they don't got style.
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Unread 01-15-2012, 01:36 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Talking Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
I used to give guitar lessons to a guy who is 6'3" and an iron worker by trade. He has fingers the size of kielbasa sausages but he still did pretty good at guitar. Having a wider neck like River already said does help. You also may have to find the best way to play chords etc. that works for you even if it is not technically the "right" way to do it. Keep up on your finger tips and don't let your fingers lay flat on the fret board and that will also help keep from muting the open strings.
Fingers like sausages.
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Unread 01-15-2012, 05:15 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

It all about technique. Keep practicing and it will come.
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Unread 01-15-2012, 07:42 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AngryHatter View Post
Fingers like sausages.
I used to joke about that with him and he always laughed
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Unread 01-15-2012, 07:47 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

the more you practice the smaller your fingers become
it is all perception
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Unread 01-16-2012, 03:18 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Lots of good advice. Thank you all I've been applying most of it and am seeing progress. I'm trying to break myself of the habbit of pressing too hard when fretting.
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Unread 01-16-2012, 07:04 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

A lot of times here, you will see people talking about "trying on" different guitars, to see which one "fits them" best. There is a reason for that.

They are all different in sound and in feel. Wide, narrow, different shapes, cross sections, etc.
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Unread 01-16-2012, 09:28 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragon1413 View Post
It might be as River suggested and my fingertips are flattening from pressing too hard. I don't think I have gi-normous hands or anything. I know I need more practice. Just get frustrated sometimes when I can't get the positioning right to practice.
A common problem for new guitarists is adjusting you hands. If you play bass, you'd obviously understand.

As river said, if you press heavily your tips flatten. With a bit of dexterity you'd be suprised and how lightly you need to press guitar strings, especially if they are light gauge.

However, I do know someone with abnormally fat fingers (iirc, the conversation paned out that his jewelery finger size is z+6, if that means anything to anyone!). He however, would find playing guitar exceptionally difficult if he did... but not saying he couldn't.

I have fattish, stubby fingers and I manage. I find the gibson scale fretboards easier to chord with definately. Oh, and many guitars use that scale, its not just gibson...

And as for technique, it helps a lot. Try getting the tips of your fingers as perpendicular to the fretboard as possible. You can be sloppier on bass...
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Unread 01-16-2012, 10:28 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

If you're really stuck just throw on a shit load of overdrive haa


When I first started lead, fresh off bass, I played tons of different guitars...I badgered everyone in every music store around this area, I played Aria Strats, Squier Telecasters, Epi Les Pauls, Rockburn Les Pauls, Danelectros, Tokai Firebirds ....everything I could to see which felt better. I ended up learning on an old Pink Aria STG003 Strat copy.. Had a flatter radius which I found easier to fret on for some reason so I learn't with that a few months... I played Telecasters for the shape of the neck then moved over to Les Pauls...cus let's face it...Everyone has to own one at least once and found it such a different animal.

But as mentioned you get better and it's good to move about to see which suits you better. I had an Epiphone I had to sell because I just couldn't get on with it... Played a Les Paul Burny and it reopened my eyes.

I guess after that ramble what im getting at is there's no set way and there's nothing wrong with trying everything you can to make the journey easier.

different strokes eh.
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Unread 01-20-2012, 10:50 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

I have the opposite problem......My pinky finger is too small..so I tend to play with the other 3.....For lead stuff anyway.....The surface area of that finger is small so hitting the string isnt always that easy depending on the chord. I guess everybody has their own way of playing.



I noticed Gary Moore using the 3 finger technique for soloing......is there many other people that do? It's probably quite common. Longer fingers helps no doubt.
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Unread 01-21-2012, 03:56 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Look at Redd play. He has fingers like the marshmallow man in ghostbusters.
He's doing pretty good.
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Unread 01-21-2012, 07:19 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?



This guy had the same problem, but found a unique
way to overcome it!


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Unread 01-21-2012, 11:43 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

I used to think my fingers were too big. Just keep practicing amazingly enough it'll make your fingers shrink. BTW, it lead me to get a Seagull Folk for acoustic that has a wider neck.
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Unread 01-22-2012, 08:17 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Quote:
Originally Posted by delawaregold View Post

This guy had the same problem, but found a unique
way to overcome it!



....and here's me (and others) struggling to get our fingers on the right chords
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Unread 01-24-2012, 12:30 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Practise
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Unread 01-24-2012, 07:54 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

I used to have a hell of a time with this when I started playing. I'm 6'2" with huge hands, sausage fingers, and this little bit of skin that sticks out when I fret notes that seems custom-engineered to mute the string below the one I'm playing. I just stuck with it, though, and eventually my fingers changed. The skin callused up into smaller pads that are perfect for playing, my fingernails ripped away from the skin enough times when I was doing huge bends that now I can trim them much shorter than I do on my right hand, and my hand loosened up to the point where my short pinky isn't much of an issue any more.

The thing I try to remember when I get frustrated about these kinds of things is that there's always someone both worse off and a better player than I am. I may have sausage fingers but they're nothing compared to BB King's and he manages. Jimi never seemed to have a problem with long fingernails. As with pretty much anything else in guitarring, the answer is always just practise.
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Unread 01-24-2012, 09:33 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Lots of good feedback in this thread. River mentions pressing too hard which might be tough if the action is too high. It will also come easier with practice. No kidding it will be a "how did I do that" moment. I have large hands and fat finger tips. The first chord I taught myself was D. I never thought I would get it, but I kept working hard at it. Now it is the easiest chord for me. Then C was tough. Rinse and repeat.

I watched a Lynyrd Skynyrd reunion concert DVD, and I couldn't believe one of the guitarists could even play with the slabs of beef he had for hands. Sorry, not enough of a fan to know his name.

I still do not understand why more mainstream companies do not offer a wide nut/neck option. Trouble muting strings has to be the #1 complaint for thos just starting out. I have a Seagull S6 acoustic with 1.8" nut. It almost elminates any muting problems I have.

The overdrive idea is also a good one.
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Unread 01-30-2012, 07:21 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lampens View Post
Look at Redd play. He has fingers like the marshmallow man in ghostbusters.
He's doing pretty good.
Redd Volkaert on Double Stops - FREE LESSON - YouTube
Redd's the example I was going to use. The guy's got huge fingers.
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Unread 01-30-2012, 07:39 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
I used to give guitar lessons to a guy who is 6'3" and an iron worker by trade. He has fingers the size of kielbasa sausages but he still did pretty good at guitar. Having a wider neck like River already said does help. You also may have to find the best way to play chords etc. that works for you even if it is not technically the "right" way to do it. Keep up on your finger tips and don't let your fingers lay flat on the fret board and that will also help keep from muting the open strings.

I like polska kielbasa, dobra dobra!
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Unread 02-03-2012, 01:21 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

Quote:
Originally Posted by moodyedge View Post
I have the opposite problem......My pinky finger is too small..so I tend to play with the other 3.....For lead stuff anyway.....The surface area of that finger is small so hitting the string isnt always that easy depending on the chord. I guess everybody has their own way of playing.



I noticed Gary Moore using the 3 finger technique for soloing......is there many other people that do? It's probably quite common. Longer fingers helps no doubt.
Heh heh. Longer fingers help sometimes. When I practice, I play some "weird" chords sometimes that involve a pretty good stretch. My problem is, sometimes the pinky "overshoots" and I've reached TOO far.
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Unread 02-08-2012, 12:02 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Fingers too large for chords?

I started playing bass when I was a teenager and used to pick up my friends guitar and be frustrated because I couldn't form chords. Took me twenty years to get over that mental block. I am happily making up for lost time now. If I could go back I would have kept at it and have twenty years experience under my belt now! It's never too late and your hands are never too big.
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