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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So during my first days of learning the guitar, I have a feeling like I have only two fingers on left hand and those fingers must be the shortest fingers in the world (I do have short fingers though). I have read about how "walking" develops certain muscles so that you can separate fingers more. It all sounds nice, but I want to hear some real world examples to get my low self esteem off the ground. Could you maybe write this kind of info from your own beginnings, the best you can remember of course:

- how long are your fingers (long, average, short)
- what were you able to do with your fingers from the beginning (see * and no sexual content, only guitar related, please :cool:)
- how long it took you to see improvement there and what was the improvement
- what were you doing to get this improvement
- what can you do now

Are there any exercises WITHOUT guitar that could help me achieve that, so that I could do it anywhere?

* for example at the moment my second finger can be used only at one fret distance from first and third finger and only on frets starting at 8-9. That's it. Completely limited. I'm talking only about correct placement, I can improvise something if I try to break my hand.

As a side note, does anyone have short fingers or do you know anyone with short fingers and how does that influence/limit guitar playing? For example my fingers are (measured like this, so bending and measuring from top to the - including - knuckle):
1: 3.95 inches (yeah, very precise, I know... :rolleyes: )
2: 4.4 inches
3: 3.95 inches
4: 3.4 inches
 

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Bro of Bros, Bro.
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Man, I'm almost right there with you on the measurements. I have relatively short fingers, but I don't think it's really hindered me too much in playing what I like to play.
 

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NICE BLACKMACHINE YO
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No idea if it's true, but my fingers shot up when I first started playing guitar (16) and I have very long ones now, especially for such a shortarse like me. :lol: I can fret a 1-4 power chord shape with the first two fingers, and I can manage 24p13 fret pull off without any noise.
 

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Puddin
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Dude. My longest finger is 3 inches exactly. Ok, yeah, I'm a chick and my hands are small, but it's just about training your muscles. For example, if my 1st finger is fretting at the first fret, my second finger can get to the fifth fret if the first finger is not barring. I've never needed to do that, but I could. I actually have some hyper-mobility going on in my hands so I don't know how normal that is.

My guitar professor would have us sit there doing hand stretches when we watched TV and stuff. One would have us span our hands as far as posible and hold it for a minute, another would have you push your fingers back toward the back of your hand as far as you could. Start slow and don't force anything. Also look the exercises up so you don't hurt yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That sounds like science fiction to me, holy f...


How did you do when you were just starting? Do you remember what was the "easiest" chord or technique that you were not able to do because of physical limitations?
 

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Dream Crusher
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It's all about stretching and muscle memory. I've got small hands and short fingers (especially my pinkie, which is freakishly small) but I've played cello for 16 years and as a result I can stretch from 1st-4th fret on a 37" scale bass on the low B string.
 

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NICE BLACKMACHINE YO
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That sounds like science fiction to me, holy f...

How did you do when you were just starting? Do you remember what was the "easiest" chord or technique that you were not able to do because of physical limitations?
Barre chords, and sus2/add9 chords (two powerchords on top each other). Can rip 'em out effortlessly now, but I struggled back then.
 

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Puddin
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J.T. said:
That sounds like science fiction to me, holy f...

How did you do when you were just starting? Do you remember what was the "easiest" chord or technique that you were not able to do because of physical limitations?
Any barre chord. Ugh, gods, barre chords had me ready to give the guitar up completely. And if you promise to keep it a secret, I'll tell you I still kind of hate them :lol:. Oh, and any time I need to bring my thumb around onto the fretboard it's tough. My hands are simply not big enough. Good thing that happens so rarely. Honestly, when I first started I even had trouble with C. It's just practice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for these words, makes me feel a bit better. It can only get easier from now on, can't get worse. Unless the strings cut my fingertips. :D I heard they will get tougher with practice.

Regardless of the troubles, I do enjoy it a lot. It's very satisfying when I get something recognizable out of the guitar.
 

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NICE BLACKMACHINE YO
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Thanks for these words, makes me feel a bit better. It can only get easier from now on, can't get worse. Unless the strings cut my fingertips. :D I heard they will get tougher with practice.

Regardless of the troubles, I do enjoy it a lot. It's very satisfying when I get something recognizable out of the guitar.
Yeah, they do get tougher! I'm currently playing 8's tuned UP a tone to F#, basically cheesewire, never bothers me aha. It all comes with time man.
 

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BT
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Makes little difference. Check out Pavel Steidl. I've played with Pavel I can assure you his hands are tiny. IMO he's easily one of the best guitarists in the world.
 

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Super Moderator
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I know what you mean. What we're saying sounds like science fiction now, because you're having so much trouble that you can't imagine how you could possibly ever be able to stretch so far. I remember being frustrated and just pulling my fingers apart so that they hurt. Not the best idea, but at the beginning, it can be frustrating.

Nowadays, however, I can do an arpeggio with fingers between the 1st and 5th frets. When I first wrote the riffs, I couldn't play it without my fingers touching the other strings or my fingers not fretting correctly because they were stretched too far, but now I can play it like a piece of cake. In fact, the newest song I wrote for my band, regularly has 5 fret spreads being played as chords throughout the song, something that I would never have imagined being able to play way back when I first started.

Thanks for these words, makes me feel a bit better. It can only get easier from now on, can't get worse. Unless the strings cut my fingertips. :D I heard they will get tougher with practice.

Regardless of the troubles, I do enjoy it a lot. It's very satisfying when I get something recognizable out of the guitar.
Yeah, the more you practice guitar, the more your left hand's fingertips will get harder. After a while, there is zero pain and you can play very naturally.

However, if you don't do any right-hand tapping or finger-style bass, then your right hand fingers will blister up when you first try to use them.

Practice builds hard pads on your fingers. :yesway:
 

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Is Actually Recording
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For example my fingers are (measured like this, so bending and measuring from top to the - including - knuckle):
Like this:

"Sorry if I wasn't clear enough. When I did it I measured from the side. I had my finger out straight and bent as far as I could toward my palm so that I could measure from the tip to the back of the knuckle."

So, measuring the back of the finger?

pointer: 4 1/8"
middle: 4 5/8"
ring: 4 9/16"
pinkie: 3 3/4"

This is my fretting hand.

I think the most telling stat is this - if I stretch my fingers as far as I can with my thumb aligned, my fretting hand pinkie extends out almost two full inches farther than my picking hand pinkie. I don't know how they compared when I first started playing, but I suspect they were equal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Like this:

"Sorry if I wasn't clear enough. When I did it I measured from the side. I had my finger out straight and bent as far as I could toward my palm so that I could measure from the tip to the back of the knuckle."

So, measuring the back of the finger?

pointer: 4 1/8"
middle: 4 5/8"
ring: 4 9/16"
pinkie: 3 3/4"

This is my fretting hand.

I think the most telling stat is this - if I stretch my fingers as far as I can with my thumb aligned, my fretting hand pinkie extends out almost two full inches farther than my picking hand pinkie. I don't know how they compared when I first started playing, but I suspect they were equal.
The back of the finger... I would call it top of the finger maybe, but I think we are talking about same thing.

Your ring finger is huge :eek: My ring finger is half an inch shorter than middle finger. It's funny how different our hands are. :D
 

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I think the most telling stat is this - if I stretch my fingers as far as I can with my thumb aligned, my fretting hand pinkie extends out almost two full inches farther than my picking hand pinkie. I don't know how they compared when I first started playing, but I suspect they were equal.
Woah. I never compared my hands to each other before, but my left hand fingers (my picking hand's) are longer than my right hand fingers.

So that begs the question: Are left hand fingers generally longer than right hand fingers or does the act of playing the guitar make them stretch longer?
 

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Is Actually Recording
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...whereas with my fingers extended parallel to the surface of my hand, it's probably only an 8th of an inch shorter.

I can do some pretty long stretches - 1-8 on the low B is about my limit, though I can't trill that cleanly - but honestly I don't think finger length has a tremendous amount to do with that. For example, I still have trouble doing a 2-fret stretch, cleanly anyhow, between my middle and ring. It's not fluid, and actually it's something I've been trying to work on.

Another thing to try - I don't know how to describe this in text very well, but I seem to be able to stretch better if I kind of angle my hand - it helps a ton for 4-note-per-string stuff (not that I do much). Tough to describe, but maybe think of the way a violinist or cellist holds the neck:



See the way her hand is angled? Try that for stretchy stuff on the treble strings. I have NO idea what the long-term implications of doing this would be for technique with regards to RSI injuries and whatnot, but in the limited amount of time I've tried it (honestly, much as I admire Rusty Cooley, super-stretchy linear stuff isn't a huge part of my technique) it seems like a more fluid answer.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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So that begs the question: Are left hand fingers generally longer than right hand fingers or does the act of playing the guitar make them stretch longer?
I've demonstrated this to non-guitarists before, who are always blown away and always seem to be about equal. I'm going with the later. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Wow. I know that our bodies are far from being symmetrical but it would be an interesting thing for others to check as well. :eek:
 

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Wow. I know that our bodies are far from being symmetrical but it would be an interesting thing for others to check as well. :eek:
It makes a pretty cool party trick, for sure, especially because it gets every girl in the room wondering what else you can do with your hands. :lol:
 

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NSLALP
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Generally your handedness determines which hand/fingers are bigger/longer. I am right-hand dominant, and my right hand fingers are slightly longer. I play shitloads of guitar and my left hand has never "caught up". Your bones don't grow anymore past some age (16, 18, whatever) so your fingers won't become longer. You can obviously work on stretching ability.

Playing guitar facilitates The Shocker and all other kinds of cool moves. :lol:
 
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