Hand size

patspector
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Re: Hand size

Post by patspector » Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:21 pm

I just discovered another thread "Hand size and neck length and width" that covers this same topic in some detail. Perhaps it would be good to combine these threads.

scottfree
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Re: Hand size

Post by scottfree » Sun Jan 11, 2015 4:58 pm

Aurore, Thank you for the book title. I do recall seeing that somewhere a few years ago. I'll have to get a copy!
Scott

Joe de V
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Re: Hand size

Post by Joe de V » Sun Jan 11, 2015 6:37 pm

One statement that I forgot to mention in my previous remarks. Heard at a lecture by a CG teacher at the SF Conservatory Of Music...
Buying A Classical Guitar Is like Buying A New Pair of Shoes, Not One Size Fits All. Stature and Age Have Nothing To Do with It. Like Shoes that are Too big Will make comfortable walking Not Easy and if Too Small Distressing.

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CarlWestman
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Re: Hand size

Post by CarlWestman » Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:24 pm

bump ...

Just a quick word to recommend Prof. Kopfstein-Penk's book, The Healthy Guitar. She sells them directly. The price is high compared to the page count, but the advice - and additional considerations she provides, both in terms of medical issues and sizing a guitar - is worth it. It appears very few people have given serious consideration and research into the matter. If you suspect that a standard-sized guitar is too big (or even too small!) for your hand size/finger span, or physical limitations, it's worth considering (and paying for) what she has to say.

Joe de V
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Re: Hand size

Post by Joe de V » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:13 pm

Comfort in playing should be the primary goal for any guitarist. Comfort in walking is the principal goal for a person buying shoes. Would you buy a size 11 shoes if your feet comfort zone is a 10 size? Yes, you can walk wearing a size 11 shoe but if it is not the right fit you will not be walking in the most comfortable way. The same rationale applies to the relation of the hand/finger size to the scale length of a guitar. I have heard more than just a few guitar players advising new players with the phrase "No pain No Gain". Those who follow that advise end up giving up trying to play guitar. At least two of my CG teacher friends told me about students that come to them after " giving up" the steel strings guitar because it was too hard the play the fret board. Further inquires revealed that they were not referring to the steel strings but to the reach vertically between frets. They were learning on a full size steel strings acoustic with a friend who advised them using the old saying by some shoe sellers... "You Have to Break Them In For the First Few Weeks. Nonsense.
I personally find playing any of my 650mm scale length guitars limits my time playing _ tired-out- quicker than when I play my short scale guitar with a 635mm scale length. My fretting hand spread is only 8 and 3/8 inches. I believe that every one should find their comfort-zone when playing regardless of what others recommend.You will perform better and longer with the right fit.
And Remember...Selecting The Right Scale In Guitars Is Like Selecting A New Pair Of Shoes. Not One Size Fits All

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CarlWestman
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Re: Hand size

Post by CarlWestman » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:02 pm

Joe, I'll echo what you said and add a little bit.

My fretting hand span is but 8"! Though it is index to pinky that really matters; still, I bet it correlates highly with the thumb to pinky.

One word of caution in going for shorter scale guitars (and by shorter I don't mean just going to 640mm or 630) - when you get down to 615, 600, or 580mm and thereabouts, you may notice significant differences in sound (even my tin ear does). The bodies of these guitars are smaller, and I believe that is a major factor. As is generally understood, going with higher tension strings helps to counteract the reduced tension from going to a shorter scale. But I think the body size plays a big role in the sound, and most shorter-scale guitars are smaller in body too.

If you are like me, your ears may not appreciate the smaller scale guitar (in standard tuning) as much as your hands do! To keep the sound pleasing to your ears, you may need to undertake quite a bit of experimentation with strings. This can get a bit pricey, but ask around for recommendations and perhaps save yourself some unfruitful efforts. Alternatively, don't go too small. Find your right size (I am relying on Prof. Kopfstein-Penk's book The Healthy Guitar for this) and yours is a borderline case, choose the larger one. For me, the closer to a full-size 650/52 guitar, the more the sound will be pleasing in standard tuning. If you require a much smaller guitar, say below 580mm, you will probably either need to tune it higher (say to G) or you'll need to really research high-tension strings, probably non-nylon ones, to get a good sound in standard tuning.

As an example, I am now trying out a 615mm scale guitar with high-tension strings. In terms of fret spacing, it's a great relief. In terms of string spacing, it's OK (at 48mm nut) and I will adjust. I sometimes miss the 52mm nut standard, but I also know there are vertical & diagonal reaches that are much easier now too. So the narrower neck has its pros and cons. In terms of sound, it's pretty good, not too far off my full-scale, but I can tell a difference if I really pay attention, and I do miss the richness of the full-scale 650/52 at times. You pays your money, you takes your choice, as they say.

Just to offer a contrast, though - I also recently acquired a Yamaha Guitalele, tuned A-A. The frets are REALLY close together, and that can be a bit of a challenge - but as far as sound, well, it's tuned A-A, so you don't expect it to sound like a CG. It sounds like it's own unique lovely thing, so the difference in sound to a full scale CG is not bothersome. Plus, since it's tuned higher, it doesn't sound bad in absolute terms either. That said, I have read of someone who tuned it E-E by shifting the strings over one place, detuning the C to B, and adding a low E. I wonder if they kept it that way.

When discussing short-scale guitars, Rob Mackillop once replied to a comment on his site that he would not recommend going below 600mm for standard tuning. In general, I can see why - it's hard (but not impossible) to get a good sound out of them. Either tune up or be prepared to experiment with a wide variety of high-tension strings.

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HNLim
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Re: Hand size

Post by HNLim » Tue Apr 14, 2015 1:17 pm

I am 5'5" (maybe even shorter now as I age), the distance from the tip of my thumb to my pinky is 9.5". What scale length is recommended?
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markwk

Re: Hand size

Post by markwk » Tue Apr 14, 2015 1:26 pm

I think a 640 (52 width)would be good for you. I have 9.25" pinky to thumb and 7" index to thumb and have a 640 mm. My fingers are not thin. I will get a 650 next(a little more room). The difference between 640 and 650 is .39 inches. On web see "fretboard calculator" it shows distances from nut to each fret for a given scale length.

Mick the Ramirez Man

Re: Hand size

Post by Mick the Ramirez Man » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:26 pm

I have long fingers and have a hand span that can play well over an octave on the piano.

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CarlWestman
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Re: Hand size

Post by CarlWestman » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:37 pm

HNLim wrote:I am 5'5" (maybe even shorter now as I age), the distance from the tip of my thumb to my pinky is 9.5". What scale length is recommended?
I'd ordinarily recommend you buy Prof. Kopfstein-Penk's book; the analysis she does is part of how she makes her living, and she deserves support for it. Moreover, her measures involve the index to pinky, and done in a certain orientation that is revealed/explained in the book.

That said, I suspect your reach is plenty for a full-size (650/52) guitar ... maybe even more! That's a remarkable reach for your height. It shows what tremendous variation there can be among people.

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CarlWestman
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Re: Hand size

Post by CarlWestman » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:56 am

markwk wrote:The difference between 640 and 650 is .39 inches.
That's true - for the total scale length. But for distances between and across frets for certain reaches, it's only going to be a difference of 2-3 mm tops ... maybe a tiny bit more diagonally if the string spacing is also narrower on the 640mm.

ashepps
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Re: Hand size

Post by ashepps » Sat Jul 11, 2015 8:44 pm

CarlWestman wrote:
markwk wrote:The difference between 640 and 650 is .39 inches.
That's true - for the total scale length. But for distances between and across frets for certain reaches, it's only going to be a difference of 2-3 mm tops ... maybe a tiny bit more diagonally if the string spacing is also narrower on the 640mm.
Just saw this now Lim, we are the same height, yet my pinky to thumb is only 7". I wish I had your hand size, I probably would not have complained too much about my 663 and looking for a 615 mm.

Cheers,

Alan
Last edited by ashepps on Sat Jul 11, 2015 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Alan Sheppard
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stevel
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Re: Hand size

Post by stevel » Sat Jul 11, 2015 9:21 pm

Interesting. I'm 5'3" on a good day. I'm definitely at the small end of the spectrum of human sizes for a male. If I stretch my thumb and pinky so they're pretty much "in line" with each other on opposite sides of the hand, I too can reach 8" (and 1/4") so it surprises me that some of your hands are that small. Pinkie to index I can make 6".

My finger lengths, measure from the tip to the "crotch" between fingers is:

i: 2.75"
m: 3"
a: 2.5"
pinkie: 2.25" (slightly less).
Thumb: 2.25"

The "crotch" is different on one side of the finger than the other most noticeably between ring and pinkie, but that's about the average.

I play what I consider a "full-size" instrument. Nut to Bridge is 25.5". and nut width is right at 2" even.

I wonder about playing a smaller scale guitar.

Some things I can't do for instance is play a B Barre chord shape at the 7th fret and finger the C note on the high E with my index finger while holding the low B on the 6th string. I have to use my middle finger, and it practically "folds under" (so I'm playing that C note with the tip of my finger really close to the nail.

I can't play this A chord (without the D string getting muted):

5
5 (or 2)
2
2
4

And a lot of notes of the 5th string get muted if I play something on the 6th string, such as F# and A or G and B on strings 6 and 5 respectively. Even playing the G7 with a B on the bottom makes the B finger touch the D string if I don't contort my hand to get a high enough arc. This is not a problem in general, but happens when my pinkie or ring finger are called on to play notes on the 1st or 2nd strings at the same time.

Another example is playing the high and low G on the 3rd fret of both the high and low E strings with the Pinky (high) and Ring (low). While I can reach it, it's at the limits and my pinky is likely to back-bend at the joint (because if it's not placed exactly right I again end up fretting it really close to the nail on the tip of my finger).

Even reaching a G# on the high E while playing G# on the 3rd string with open B (and E moving to the G#) as many pieces call for is tough for me.

Getting the 3rd of a major chord like C# above A at the 9th and 5th fret like so:

5 (9)
5
6
(7)
(7 or 0)
(5)

is impossible to sustain any of the lower notes (except an open A!).

Even when doing this for the C chord at the 8th fret I can barely do it.

Any guesses what kind of scale length would be good for me (and do I need a shorter scale, or less nut width, or both)?

Steve

George2ec

Re: Hand size

Post by George2ec » Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:00 pm

Hi, one thing is getting muted strings....another thing is not to reach the frets, try to put one capo on the first fret so you have automatic 615 (aprox) scale guitar (tune one step down to have the proper standard tuning), but with a slightly more big nut, play and you can figure out if you need short scale guitar. For avoid muted strings, I think that you need to check your technique, but maybe a short scale guitar helps. Try to do the experimento with the capo.

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HNLim
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Re: Hand size

Post by HNLim » Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:25 pm

CarlWestman wrote:
HNLim wrote:I am 5'5" (maybe even shorter now as I age), the distance from the tip of my thumb to my pinky is 9.5". What scale length is recommended?
I'd ordinarily recommend you buy Prof. Kopfstein-Penk's book; the analysis she does is part of how she makes her living, and she deserves support for it. Moreover, her measures involve the index to pinky, and done in a certain orientation that is revealed/explained in the book.

That said, I suspect your reach is plenty for a full-size (650/52) guitar ... maybe even more! That's a remarkable reach for your height. It shows what tremendous variation there can be among people.
I only started noticing my big hands when I went for guitar lesson for a period of 3 months with my friend in 1977. He struggles to even touch 8" and we are both of the same height. However he continued to play while I gave myself a break for almost 40 years.
1980 Yamaha GC30A - BRW/Spruce
2006 Yamaha GC70 - BRW/ Spruce
2015 Sen #5 - BRW/Spruce
2017 LHN - BRW/Spruce

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