Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
kechance

Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by kechance » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:43 pm

Thanks to those who presented addtional measurements and additional commentary saying that more detail is needed. Indeed, I couldn't agree more. However...this was not meant to be comprehensive - it is just a useful starting point, using simply made measurements, to provide guidance to those who are 'fighting' the ergonomics of their instrument.

As to one particular point, what is more important thumb to pinky distance or index to pinky distance? I also expected index to pinky to be more important, but in doing the statistical analysis, the significantly better correlation was to thumb to pinky. A bigger dataset may have produced a different correlation.

So, submit your measurements! :D And eventually, I will recalc using the additional data.

Ken

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robin loops
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by robin loops » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:23 pm

I agree that it is a good starting point. Databases must be built on statistical averages, and for someone like me with shorter thumbs it wouldn't be too difficult to look at the average thumb length for fingers my size and adjust accordingly. Likewise for a person with stiffer tendons, shorter arms, or other variables. Starting points are just that, a place to start from.

BTW: I will post my data when I get a chance...
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

Leong J. Zi

Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by Leong J. Zi » Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:09 am

Scale when stretched

pinky to thumb: 185mm
pinky to index: 140mm
pinky to middle: 120mm
pinky to ring: 70mm

Wayne S

Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by Wayne S » Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:55 am

Kechance, it is a great starting point and Andre also has good points. I would agree that more measurements have to be added.
One thing I would like to add as a new measurement would be the measurement from Pinky to Thumb without any stretching, in other words just spread your hand without any stretching and measure. That would put Andre's comment about liking to play a shorter scale than what the calculation table indicates. e.g Table indicates 664mm for Andre but he prefers a 650mm.
I have a 659mm guitar which I can play but I find it better with 650mm and would probably prefer a 640mm.
My Thumb to Pinky stretched is 235 but relaxed is about 210 so 650mm is playable but a more relaxed hand would be comfortable on a 640mm scale as per your chart below. I think the range is over 3 sizes of the chart for most people but the lowest scale length for any given hand size is probably the best for comfort.
This would enable a much more relaxed & fluent left hand technique. I, just like Andre have played the Lute and find it very comfortable with shorter string scale lengths.

Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 250+ 664mm scale length
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 230 to 250 656mm scale length. (I can play but hard for some pieces)
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 210 to 230 650mm scale length. (More comfortable for most pieces)
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 190 to 210 640mm scale length. (Ideal scale for music with hard stretches)
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

I recently put a Cappo on the first fret position and played my guitar. So pieces I play with difficult fingering at the first position became a lot easier with a scale length of about 623mm. This has indicated to me that I would play much better with a shorter scale length like 640mm.

Cheers Wayne S.

simonm
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by simonm » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:15 am

My view is that statistics like these are complete nonsense. On this principle only midgets could play mandolins and violins, and the bass section in an orchestra would all have to be ex-basketball players.

The measurements themselves are dodgy in the first place. If you do serious warm up and stretch exercises routinely over a number of months then this distance will increase substantially. The first thing my (professional, well trained) guitar teacher had me do was start off on a series of stretching exercises. People who learned other instruments from professional teachers all recognised the exercises.

I would guess that you can quite easily add 10-20mm to the stretch with stretching exercises over a period a half a year or so if you don't already do such exercises. Be warned, if you do the exercises too enthusiastically and badly you can destroy your future music career. You need someone to show you how or you can injury yourself.

I do agree that "one size fits all" (here 650mm) is almost always a case of one size fits nobody.

Wayne S

Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by Wayne S » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:24 pm

Simonm, I think you are missing the intent of this thread which is to try an correlate some basic measurements as a guide for neck and string scale dimensions versus hand size in order to accommodate a more playable Guitar for a given hand size.
Many players could improve their technique with a guitar that is better suited to their hand size, of this fact there is no doubt and any denial is futile and illogical.
Measurements like these are not a definitive answer but can be very helpful.

Cheers Wayne S.

Beth F-R
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by Beth F-R » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:09 pm

Wayne S wrote: Many players could improve their technique with a guitar that is better suited to their hand size, of this fact there is no doubt and any denial is futile and illogical.
Measurements like these are not a definitive answer but can be very helpful.
I would like to reiterate the point that stretch is not the only consideration, either. Finger length is also critical. There are people on this listserv with fingers up to 2 inches longer than mine -- quite a difference. Ditto lenght of torso and arm (which gets into body size more than fretboard).

Cheers,
Beth F-R

Wayne S

Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by Wayne S » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:23 pm

Yes Beth I agree finger length is also important with regard to the width and thickness of the neck and the String Scale length,
I have seen players with fingers like the Alien playing the wind instrument in the Star Wars movie when Obi One cuts the arm off the Alien at the Bar.
These players can get every stretch imaginable on the Guitar with ease.
Cheers Wayne S.

Ledhand75

Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by Ledhand75 » Sun May 06, 2012 3:20 pm

This is an interesting topic. I have short fingers, especially my pinky. I have assumed that I needed an instrument shorter than the 650 mm standard. My current teacher has pointed out many things about my left hand alignment that were greatly affecting my ability to reach notes, however. In particular, I have a long standing habit of bending my left wrist severely, as opposed to keeping it flatter, with my palm closer to the bottom of the neck. This insight has made a huge difference for me. It can be dangerous to approach the problem strictly from the standpoint of building an instrument just to compensate for faulty technique.

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robin loops
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by robin loops » Sun May 06, 2012 11:32 pm

Ledhand75 wrote:It can be dangerous to approach the problem strictly from the standpoint of building an instrument just to compensate for faulty technique.
This is true but also trying to compensate for an instrument that is much too large can cause one to develop faulty technique. An example of this is having a nut too wide for finger length can cause/require poor barre placement... That said, wide nut spacing also can result in the need to have much more precise barre placement. So again it all comes down to proper balance of size, technique, etc. (and as you said not addressing a problem strictly from the standpoint of size alone, or any singular standpoint for that matter).
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

kechance

Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by kechance » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:02 pm

Hi to all who have taken an animated part in this discussion. I am still looking for hand maeasurements. If you could take a momment to measure your hand as described in the thread, I'll add the new data to the database and post new guidelines, if any emerge, for the guitar to hand size relationship. I will also recheck the correlation figures to see if the statistical relationships persist in a larger data set.

Cheers - Ken

Beth F-R
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by Beth F-R » Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:45 pm

Hi Ken,

I'm not sure if I did this already, but here are my measurments:

thumb tip to pinky -- 185 mm
thumb to ring -- 183 mm
thumb to middle -- 187 mm
thumb to index -- 158 mm
pinky length -- 45 cm
index length -- 6.6 cm
middle length -- 7 cm
ring length -- 6 cm

I'd love to see some finger length measurements from other participants.

Beth F-R

Beth F-R
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by Beth F-R » Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:56 pm

Here's some more data you asked for:

i-m-a stack -- 40 mm
current guitar: 650/51, but I am shopping for a 630/50 w/smaller body

Looking back over other people's measurements, it seems clear that I'm doing pretty well in the stretching department for someone w/such small hands. The big difference is that my pinky is much, much smaller than everyone else's, and is bent. Hence there is virutally no difference between my thumb-pinky stretch and my thumb-ring stretch. Weird. (BTW, the pinky length in the last post should read 4.5 cm, not 45 cm!)

Beth

Javier

Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by Javier » Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:33 pm

Hi I am interested in this discussion since I have just entered in the waiting list for a new guitar with Woodfield. Hum, I think my hands are no large but they are wide (thick). Now I am playing a 650 scale guitar, perhaps it would be more comfortable to play a 640, however, since my fingers are thick when I am playing in the 17th or higher fret is not easy sometimes to fit them correctly. The thickness of the neck is not wide (around 20mm) and the width of it is 55 mm in the 1st fret. Distance between 1st and 6th chord in 1st chord is 45 mm. I do not know exactly what is the exact meaning of "fully stretched but without really straining the last mm!" but here it goes

Pinky to Thumb: 212mm
Pinky to Index: 157mm
Pinky to Middle: 133mm
Pinky to Ring: 90mm
i-m-a stack: 53mm

Cheers, Javier :bye:
Last edited by Javier on Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:37 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Alicia
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Post by Alicia » Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:14 pm

Pinky to Thumb: 195mm
Pinky to Index: 142mm
Pinky to Middle: 116mm
Pinky to Ring: 77mm

I'm not sure sure how useful these measurements are as they don't take stretchiness into account.

My CG is 650 scale,
I cannot successfully play C with 1 at the same time as F# with 4 in the first position. I only just reach past the third fret and get a buzzing noise instead of a note. This is after 5 years of trying, so it's no good telling me that it will come in time.

Any piece which requires this stretch just gets played further up the neck.
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