I’m still stuck on how to access the pictures that I took to accompany this post (and several others). That’s primarily what’s been keeping me away from posting. I hate being absent though, so here’s the post anyway, sans pics.
*EDIT: Okay, obvious I fixed my picture issue. Here it is!
Before I could start attempting to learn the guitar again, I had a few things to do. I needed to fix my broken string (little high e was the victim of a terrible tuning accident) and get the sucker tuned. Now it’s in tip-top playing shape, seeing as it hasn’t really been touched for a number of years.
I also needed to pick up a simple book on learning, and a book of chords for support. Check and check. I still need a plectrum, but I’m not really playing anything at the moment, so I can wait a little and strum with my fingers. They were cheap, cheap, cheap, but they really do help. I should have bought these years ago.
But I sat around strumming a few simple chords, and I learned something—or, at least was reminded of something—that has completely changed the way I think about learning this gorgeous instrument.
I have some seriously small hands.
Seriously small hands.
Measuring from the knuckle on the back of my hand, my middle finger, the longest finger on my hand, is barely three and a half inches long.
Fretting is difficult and painful—as it supposedly should be in the first several weeks. I know the pain will eventually subside, especially once I develop some calluses, but there’s nothing I can do about the anatomy of my hands. I have thin, short fingers that don’t arch well. I haven’t developed any muscle or flexibility yet, so it’s going to take time before I can even attempt to reach some chords. Simply holding down the steel strings is a challenge— one string or another is always buzzing a little because I’m physically not strong enough yet to keep them down for very long.
I know that tiny hands and short fingers aren’t as tragic as it sounds. For one, there are lots of players out there with smaller hands out there, so it’s not at all unusual. There are also blind guitarists, guitarists that are missing fingers, at least one guitarist who plays with his feet… wait, why did I even bring this up again? Of all the pain-in-the-rear situations a player could fall into, I think I have the least painful situation possible.
There are also apparently smaller guitars with smaller necks that I can look into buying—that’s going to have to wait though, because I currently can’t afford a new guitar. I mean, I’ve barely used my current guitar.
Things could have, and probably should have gone differently when I bought that guitar almost seven years ago. It was my birthday present on the day I turned fifteen. I’d been telling my parents for months prior that I wanted to take up the guitar, nearly to the point of annoying them. On my birthday, a balmy Saturday, they surprised me by driving me to the Guitar Center when I thought we were running random errands.
We went in, and the process was quick and painless enough—which was probably part of the problem. I had no idea how to go about purchasing a first guitar, and neither did my parents. They told a rather detached, barely post-adolescent salesman that we needed a guitar for a newbie—something sturdy but inexpensive. That’s all we really knew. He recommended a small Yamaha beginner’s model packaged in a box. I got the feeling that it was the only guitar he ever recommended to every beginner—or anyone—simply because it stated “beginner’s guitar” on the box, not necessarily because it fit the player. I didn’t strum it. I didn’t hold it. I just looked at it on display. It came with a case and everything. $100—not bad at all, right? All I knew was that I wanted a guitar.
And hey, it gets the job done— it sounds good, it looks good, it’s well built, and it’s small, so it fits the rest of my petite stature well. I can sling my arm over it comfortably. But even being a diminutive little thing, its neck is still a little large for hands my size. If I’d actually played around with it the day I purchased it, I might have learned that right away. I probably would still have bought it, but at least I would have known.
For inspiration, I’ll do some research on famous guitarists with smaller hands—there seem to be a lot of them. This is by no means an insurmountable obstacle. In fact, it’s not really that much of an obstacle at all. I’m just going to work my tail off, which is what I was planning on doing in the first place.