Hand size

scottfree
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Hand size

Post by scottfree » Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:35 pm

Hello,
I would be interested on some advice or opinions on hand size in relation to guitar scale length. I'm in the market for a guitar, the spread of my hand from thumb to pinky is 8". Larger palm area and shorter fingers. For instance when trying on gloves I have to buy mediums to fit the palm, but the fingers are always to long. I'm thinking about looking for a 640mm guitar, but do you think too much is made of hand size? Should 650mm be fine for hands the size of mine? I would love to hear form any of you who are playing larger guitars with smaller hands. Thank you!
Scott

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Michael.N.
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Re: Hand size

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:26 pm

8" is the same as my pinky/thimb measurement. It isn't that small, you certainly get people who are well under that. Some of the BIG stretches I struggle with (on a 650) but the vast majority of the repertoire is within my reach. Not that I'm a good player, just that I've tried some of the more difficult stretches in isolation. I do find 635 mm and 50 mm Nut width easier though. For me a 50 mm Nut is probably more important than a shorter scale, although the combination of the two obviously makes a difference. Don't forget that stretches feature both across and along the fretboard. My fingers are a little short and stubby but I don't have problems inadvertently damping adjacent strings with the 50 mm nut width.
Historicalguitars.

patspector
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Re: Hand size

Post by patspector » Sat Jan 10, 2015 3:12 pm

On hand size, isn't the length to the thumb less relevant than the ability of the four left hand fingers to reach "stretch" notes? Is there some measure based on the four fretting fingers of the left hand?

scottfree
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Re: Hand size

Post by scottfree » Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:07 pm

Thank you both. What you are both saying makes sense. With my hand stretched as far as I possibly can go the distance between index and pinky is 5". Does that tell you anything?

Ancient

Re: Hand size

Post by Ancient » Sat Jan 10, 2015 5:58 pm

The 650mm is suitable for those players whose spread between thumb and pinky is 9″ or greater

The 640mm is suitable for those players whose spread between thumb and pinky is 8″-9″

The 628mm is suitable for those players whose spread between pinky and thumb is 7″-8″

The 615mm is suitable for those players whose spread between pinky and thumb is 6″-7″

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Alicia
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Re: Hand size

Post by Alicia » Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:02 pm

scottfree wrote:Thank you both. What you are both saying makes sense. With my hand stretched as far as I possibly can go the distance between index and pinky is 5". Does that tell you anything?
I wasted years struggling with a full-sized CG. My reach is the same as yours. These days I drive a 610 mostly, but use my 560 for advanced stretches.
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bear
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Re: Hand size

Post by bear » Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:15 pm

My guitars range from 640 to 655. The bodies are all full size. My custom build is a 640 x 50 (I may have been more happier with a 52, I have wide finger tips). The measurement that I'm familiar with is from the tip of the thumb to tip of the pinky with the fingers spread. Mine is 9 1/2, a decent size. I think you should play what is comfortable. I can close my hand over my wife's fist and her fist disappears, yet she can play any guitar we have but prefers a 580. My preference is the 640. It is more comfortable and comfort allows me to play longer.
2013 Jeff Medlin '37 Hauser 640mm sp
2006 Michele Della Giustina Concert 10 string 650mm ce
2005 Jose Ramirez 4E 650mm ce
2005 Manuel Rodriguez Model C3F 650mm sp
2003 Manuel Rodriguez Model D 650mm ce

Joe de V
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Re: Hand size

Post by Joe de V » Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:59 pm

My fretting Hand finger spread - from tip of pinky to tip of thumb is 8.5 " ( 19.5mm ) and I have a handicap ring (anular) finger where I cannot bend it at the first joint. When I started playing the CG with a standard size scale length of 650mm (25.5") I had difficulty utilizing that finger to reach accross - horizontaly - to the sixth string. By trying various ways to accomodate playing with that finger I have been able to play with a little extra effort a full size 650mm scale length guitar. What I discover for myself is that a shorter scale guitar makes for me a more suitable and comfortable playing experience as well as being able to produce - at least to my ears - a more clear and precise sound. I still own 4 full 650mm scale guitars but I have now collected a number of short-scale CG that I prefer to play whenever I am playing or practice over 45 to 60 minutes at a singele session. I have found good results in using my handicap finger when playing any of my short scale CG ranging from 630 - 620 - 605 - 585 - and 525 mm guitars while using the appropiate strings for a shorter scale guitar. - I use the Hannabach "Kinder Guitar" Series Strings and/or the Savarez "Prodige" Series strings.
Note: I use my smallest short scale CG - 525mm scale length - as a Baritone Ukulele guitar with six strings when I play with my Ukulele Ensemble. It is my favorite when I want to play and sing along.

Aurore

Re: Hand size

Post by Aurore » Sat Jan 10, 2015 7:14 pm

Hands are unique, it is not just a measurement.

I believe though that index to pinky is more representative of the hand's ability to spread across frets.

Each of the fingers will be longer/shorter, perhaps have an injury, the tips will be quite fat or slender etc
One can do quite a lot to improve with technique, but if after playing for quite a while on a 650 you still struggle it might be time to look at exactly what the issue is and either a shorter scale, or tweaking the set-up you have.

Other factors to consider
- E-E string spacing at the nut, not just the width of the guitar's neck (can be a very easy fix such as having the nut removed and a new one put in with a different string spacing put in) a luthier can do that even 1 mm less can be great

I think in your case that actually might go a long way in helping, given what you described.

- with either narrower neck or narrower E-E, your precision has to be better but might find so much easier to access upper strings if fingers are short

My current guitar is 640/52 with 41mm E-E which is narrower than standard, It is set-up that way as I have a very short pinky, works great

- consider the action, is it too high? often factory guitars do that to ensure they don't buzz, which would make the playability a bit harder
- depending on where you, yes do try 640's, try 630's but when you do, bring a good tape with you and measure the string spacing at nut, bridge, action, neck width and so forth and then you can see what elements of the particular guitar work for you

patspector
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Re: Hand size

Post by patspector » Sat Jan 10, 2015 10:57 pm

Aurore wrote:Hands are unique, it is not just a measurement.
I believe though that index to pinky is more representative of the hand's ability to spread across frets.
Ancient wrote:The 650mm is suitable for those players whose spread between thumb and pinky is 9″ or greater
The 640mm is suitable for those players whose spread between thumb and pinky is 8″-9″
The 628mm is suitable for those players whose spread between pinky and thumb is 7″-8″
The 615mm is suitable for those players whose spread between pinky and thumb is 6″-7″
So can those who responded to this topic give examples of index to pinky dimensions that work well on the different scale lengths? It would be useful to have Ancient's chart be base on index to pinky dimensions too.

barnowl

Re: Hand size

Post by barnowl » Sun Jan 11, 2015 12:28 am

My pinky to thumb length is a bit under 8'' and index to thumb is 6''. I play a 660mm scale and I don't encounter any impossible stretches (although I do plan on buying either a 650 or 640mm for my guitar). I don't think it's possible to assign a hard number of finger spread length to scale length, there are other factors at play as mentioned earlier. If you are unable to try the guitar, I would probably go with the shorter scale length.

scottfree
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Location: St. Louis, Mo. USA

Re: Hand size

Post by scottfree » Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:53 am

Thank you everyone for the replies, really helpful information. I agree that it's much more complex than just measuring hand spread. Everyone's hand is unique, varying palm sizes and then each finger length is different and also differences in finger diameter. Then add to that the guitar dimensions...nut width, string spacing, action height, neck thickness and radius, scale length. I guess it really just comes down to whatever guitar works for each individual player. No formula.
Scott

Aurore

Re: Hand size

Post by Aurore » Sun Jan 11, 2015 1:12 pm

patspector wrote:
Aurore wrote: ..........

So can those who responded to this topic give examples of index to pinky dimensions that work well on the different scale lengths? It would be useful to have Ancient's chart be base on index to pinky dimensions too.
The method is from Alicia Kopfstein-Penk's book, called The Healthy Guitar. I got the book when I was trying to decide on my next guitar. She came up with a method based on how many frets you can span with your index and pinky finger, and gives a chart for finding the 'right' scale length for your span. The chart is conservative, I went with a longer scale than what her sizing suggested. The book does discuss several other considerations.
But it was very helpful overall and was a good start help in choosing my shorter scale instrument.

patspector
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Re: Hand size

Post by patspector » Sun Jan 11, 2015 1:42 pm

Aurore - Alicia Kopfstein-Penk's book seems to be out of print. Would it be possible for you to abstract her chart for fret span to scale length?

Aurore

Re: Hand size

Post by Aurore » Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:03 pm

she sells them privately, Ill pm details, or she can easily be found searching for Profile Alicia Kopfstein-Penk - American University

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