How To Play Guitar With Wide Fingers

Are you concerned about how to play guitar with fat fingers? The good news is that it does not matter how large your fingers are, there are ways to work around this!

How To Play Guitar With Fat Fingers? If you having trouble playing because of the size of your fingers then there are common techniques you can use to help! This includes changing your hand position, changing the position of how you hold the guitar & curling and stretching your fingers with different chord variations. 

In this article, we will go through each of the above in more detail… so let’s get started!

1. How To Play Guitar With Wide Fingers

When you first start to play guitar, it is always a concern for many of us that our fingers are too big that interferes with other strings when trying to play.

I am here to say, please do not be discouraged by this as it is perfectly normal for many people and luckily there is always a solution for you!

The complaints that I often hear are “My fingers are so large that they are muting the guitar strings” or “My fingers are too large to hold down the strings”.

But in fact, the problem actually does NOT come from the size of your fingers!

Below… we will look at what you can do to instantly see improvements in your playing.

2. Famous Guitarists With Wide Fingers

Many beginner guitarists blame their failure of controlling the guitar on their big size fingers, but this perspective is totally wrong!

Everyone Struggles at the beginning and everyone subconsciously blames insecurities. In fact, some of the BEST guitarists in the world had wide fingers.

Johnny Hilland

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

You can take a look at Johnny Hilland or Israel Kamakawiwo’ole who are the two famous guitar artists with fingers bigger than the average person. But, amazing guitarists in their own right!

3. Advantages of Playing with Larger Hands

There are some great benefits from large hands.

Rarely do you recognize the great benefit that your big hands bring to you.

If your fingers are wide and big enough, you can use your index or middle finger to press down both these 2 strings. It can be said that it is a unique gift large hands offer you. Therefore, you should appreciate your beloved big hands and learn how to control them better. One day, I believe that you will be very proud of them.

For example, when the chord you are playing requires two adjacent strings to be pressed at the same fret, then you can utilize your one chubby finger to fret them both at the same time.

To illustrate this point, you can look at the open E minor. Open E minor requires the A and D strings to be pressed one time at the 2nd fret.

4. Common Mistakes For Beginners

Knocking or muting other strings is a common mistake that beginners often make where the assumption is made that their fingers are too big.

You can correct this in THREE ways:

  1. Correcting Hand Position
  2. Correcting Finger position
  3. Correcting Hand Position

By maintaining the above you will be able to correct the typical fault.

5. Guitar position: Holding the guitar correctly

Holding the guitar incorrectly is the mistake that almost all the guitar players make at their first stage of practicing guitar.

This is simple stuff to correct but it is so common to see.

The Correct Seating Position

If you are a right-handed guitarist, the guitar body should rest comfortably on your right leg with the guitar neck being slightly upwards relative to the guitar body and the guitar back should be on your stomach.

The most important thing is to ensure your back is straight because this will allow your arm to reach around and access the fretboard.

IMPORTANT: You need your left arm (if right-handed) to freely reach the fretboard.

If you have difficulty reaching the fretboard because your stomach offsets the guitar then you can use a strap (even when sat down).

  • You should slightly angle the guitar body so as to make it sit flat against your stomach.
  • Also, your left elbow will be slightly lower than the fretboard so you can get the reach you need!
  • The important thing you should remember is always keeping the fretboard parallel to your body.

By mimicking the image above you will immediately notice a difference!

6. Hand Position

The problem that most newbies confront at the first stage of their playing is the ability to stretch their hands on the guitar.

The difficulty happens when they put their first finger on the top of the 1st fret, they can not touch the 5th or even the 4th fret with their little fingers.

The root cause for this issue actually stays in the hand position, specifically the wrist position on the guitar.

The principle is remembering that you should never grab the guitar neck with your palm, otherwise you will have great difficulty in stretching your fingers. Ideally, your hands should be put in a neutral position where only your thumb rests against the back of the guitar neck.

In addition, even though your thumb rests on the neck, you should be mindful to always slide the thumb so that it moves with your fingers.

7. Finger Position

Correctly Curling Fingers

Placing the fingers properly on the guitar strings is one of the most fundamental and difficult skills that most beginning guitarists players have to master. The principle when fretting a string is that you just need to use the very tip of your finger and keep your fingers curled at the knuckles. By the way, you should locate your fingers in the right position to make your fingertip’s lengthy size parallel with the neck of your guitar. When just fretting a single string, it is very easy and there is no problem arising. However, since guitar players hold down a chord, their fingers commence touching adjacent strings, leading to the risk of accidentally muffled strings. This issue often happens to most of the guitar artists, not just only with big-handed ones. The reason for this is that the fingers can not stay arched and perpendicular to the neck. Therefore, a right-hand position is very important to make your fingers approach the strings at a proper angle and avoid unintentionally muffling guitar strings. Moreover, you should regularly take practice for your hand and stretch your fingers so that it can be more flexible for your better control of them on the fretboard.

Finger Stretches to Improve Reach

Besides properly curling fingers, you should practice stretching your hands to enhance their dexterity. When your hands are flexible, you can improve the reach of your fingers. This is very vital to all the guitar players especially for those who have fat fingers. There are many ways for finger workouts and in this guide, we will introduce to you the method that is most used by many guitarists. At first, you can start by massaging your forearms and hands. Then you stretch your wrists and hands and proceed to bend your fingertips down to touch the base of each finger joint but you do not need to fix them to just 1 way. Instead, you should stretch your fingers in different directions to enhance their mobility.

When incorporating into the exercises on the guitar, you will begin by using your index finger to play the low E-string and play an F (the 1st fret), then you take your ring finger or the pinky finger to play a G# (the 4th fret). Finally, you keep applying this pattern across all 6 strings and simply finish the workout.

Long fingernails

If you are a beginner in guitar and in the progress of discovering the guitar by yourself, you can search for many lessons about the techniques as well as some key points you need to remember if you want to achieve success with this instrument. Among a lot of key messages on many channels, fingernail is the topic that is greatly mentioned in plenty of articles. We are a little bit nervous when mentioning this tip because it is applied for all the different hand sizes, not only for the big-handed hand. In other words, short fingernails are a must for every guitarist. But in the end, we decided to put this tip in this article with the purpose to help big-handed people clearly cover all the tips for overcoming the defects of their fat fingers. Since your fingernails are long, they will come in contact with the fretboard when you are pressing down on the guitar strings, which limits your ability to place enough pressure on the fretboard with your fretting hand, causing the strings to vibrate wrongly and to create some irritating sounds such as fret buzz instead of clear output signal. As a result, you should keep your fingernails as short as possible for comfort and precision when playing guitar.

8. Choosing A Proper Sized Guitar

As the aforementioned-part, hand size does not determine the success of one guitar player. The key point to master your guitar playing is that you must catch on the basic rules of playing guitar and take the right steps to enhance your flexibility on the guitar. If you try all the above instructions in 2 months but this does not make sense, then it is the moment you should find another guitar to fit your big hands or make other adjustments as a last resort.

Searching on the internet, you can find thousands of videos in which kids use small guitars fitting their anatomy for their songs, however, that is not to say you must use kid-sized guitar when having tiny hands and use huge size guitars if having large hands. The size of one guitar actually depends on the guitar neck. For larger hands, small frets mean trouble, hence it is often advised that big-handed guitar players should get the guitar with a wider neck as it can prevent you from touching the adjacent strings when you press a certain note on the fretboard. Guitar with a wider neck will provide you with wider string spacing and the ideal nut width is at least about 1.75 inches. Moreover, you can widen your choice by looking for a guitar that is equipped with a Floyd Rose tremolo system because these ones will have slightly wider string spacing. And if you are confused by so many types of guitars on the market, you can take a look at these types: Big Lou guitars, Seagull acoustic guitars, Big Lou guitars…They all have very wide guitar neck which can solve your problems. Have a look and pick up the one that can best fit your own requirements. However, in some cases, you should even need to get a guitar with narrow necks. At first, this advice seems very illogical but this will happen when you can not stretch your chubby fingers to the wanted notes. For clearer instance, hen playing a C chord and you can’t properly press down on the notes because you feel that they are too far apart.

Moreover, for selecting a guitar with a wider neck, you can look at its radius fretboard. When compared with a curved fretboard radius, a flat fretboard radius often goes with a wider and flatter neck. For instance, Ibanez’ Wizard necks or PRS style guitars are typical symbols of a wide neck guitar with flat radius.

9. Use Lighter Gauge Strings

If you have a problem with touching so many unwanted adjacent strings when playing the guitar, a wider neck is not the only solution for this issue. Besides, you can purchase a guitar having lighter gauge strings. The thinner the strings are, the bigger space we will have between them. Nevertheless, this solution also has a weakness. That is when the strings are thinner, the tone produced by them will generally be thinner. Therefore, you have to consider a trade-off between the playability and the tone. Ask yourself and find out what is more important to you and you can make the best choice. For the electric guitar, the ideal width is 9’s which can balance all by producing a decent tone and still decrease the finger obstruction. About the acoustic guitar, a light gauge is 11’s or even 10’s can also be a good choice for you.


Therefore you should understand that the main problem results from their hands and fingers not getting used to fretting chords. This article today will share with you all the aspects of problems that players with fat fingers often meet as well as the methods to overcome them, moreover, we also mention the advice to help you wisely choose a suitable guitar for your chubby fingers.

In this guide today, together we passed through the root causes that make you find it hard to control the guitar with your large hands as well as the methods to resolve these issues. In the early stage of becoming a guitar artist, most of us will be confused and even be depressed by the initial difficulty and that is the time any disadvantages can be amplified in the mind. Keep calm and find out about the essence of the matter. When you clearly understand all and keep practicing to make good your shortcomings, you will find everything very easy. I believe that everyone in the world all has their own weaknesses. Some have short fingers, some have tiny hands, some have big hands and some even are missing fingers… but nothing can prevent us once we try our best. Learn to embrace your physicality and your brain will do a great deal of the adaptation work in the background. That is the key message we want to give you today. Hope that you will find this article today useful and you can get much motivation from it.

Rich Wilde Music

My name is Richard Wilde and go by @richwildemusic on all major social channels. I am an artist, guitar player, and producer. I have been playing guitar for over 15 years and have come to learn the "tips" and "tricks" to enhance guitar playing, recording guitar, setting up guitar, and overall get that professional sound.

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