How to play guitar with fat fingers: 9 ways to make your fingers get along with playing guitar

You are a musical enthusiast but everytime picking up the guitar and trying to make some music, you end up with complaints like: “My fingers are too fat to fit altogether”. The most prioritized dilemma you want to deal with after entering this field is how to play guitar with fat fingers.

Whether they are skinny or a little bit chubby, it’ll always be a real disturbance for beginners to hold a string without touching the adjacent one. Before jumping right into the solutions for this typical problem, just make sure that your finger size has nothing to be blamed for. 

Typical Mistakes That Beginners Are Easy To Stuck With

No matter how bad the situation, we are here to give you buns of useful tips you can easily adapt to reveal this assumption. They are collected by digging into what the problems stemming from: 

  • The position of the guitar is not properly right in their lap; the hand is also not well-situated on the fretboard as a result of a fallen neck. 
  • Their playing technique has not developed enough to have your fingers perfectly curled that only the fingertips can touch the strings.
  • Their fretting hand muscles haven’t reached the stage in which they can comfortably stretch their fingers.

In this article, we’ll go over each of the points above in greater depth and how we can address these problems for you through many useful tips. So, let’s get this party started!

  • Typical mistakes that beginners are easy to stuck with
  • Benefits of playing guitar with oversize hands
  • Successful guitarist with chubby fingers
  • Useful tips for playing guitar with fat fingers
  • Suggested options for fat finger players
  • Marginal encouragement
  • Wrap up

Benefits Of Playing Guitar With Oversize Hands

how to play guitar with fat fingers

You can take advantage of your index or middle finger to hold down both of two adjacent strings if your finger tips are round enough. Unexpectedly, big hands with fat fingers turns out to be a one-of-a-kind blessing. As a result, you can value your large hands and learn to control them better. I guess you will be very proud of them one day.

This precious physical feature is especially best performed in the open E minor tuning in which the two strings of A and D are required to be pressed at the same time in the second fret.

Successful Guitarist With Chubby Fingers

If you still have no belief in guitar playing has nothing to do with hand size issues, just take a look at these famous guitarists whose success can prove you wrong.

Django Reinhardt

This extraordinary guitarist has challenged himself by playing guitars only with 2 fingers left after the ring finger and the pinkie one are disabled. He became the role model in this field regarding his admirable skill and stunning sound with OST in the film Something’s gotta give.

Richie Havens

He set a good example of not necessarily to be a technically talented guitarist so as to come across. His paranormal hand size was a severe struggle preventing him from playing open position chords. But he did seem to be held back when trying to figure out the sound he wanted by relying on open tunings.

There are still an abundance of cases calling on talents like Israel Kamakawiwo’ole or Johnny Hilland. All of them have one thing in common that they didn’t allow their physical limitation to limit their ability to play guitar. 

Useful Tips For Playing Guitar With Fat Fingers

Way 1: Correcting the guitar position properly

how to play guitar with fat fingers

How you hold your guitar directly affects the playing progress. This is also the most common mistake that beginners easily make from the very first step of practicing. But first, we have to start off with right seating position:

The appropriate seating position

Place your back leaning straightly on an armless chair. Hold your guitar in a way that the back of the instrument is touching the center of your chest and when you look down on the guitar, its neck is parallel to the ground, then you know your sitting position is quite on track. If you are a right handed person, the body of the guitar should rest on your right lap and flatly lie onto your belly area.

What if your stomach is not so flat to place the guitar fully against it?

Supposing your stomach is a little bit droop that takes a lot of effort to hold the guitar, so consider angling the body of the instrument slightly so that it rests flat against your stomach and gently to the right of your belly button, with the tip of the headstock pointing out in front of you. 

Way 2: Changing hand position

how to play guitar with fat fingers

After making sure you are in the right position to hold the guitar, but you still find it uncomfortable to have your hand embrace and approach the fretboard. This next step will partly solve your problem!

The difficulty can be illustrated by the situation when you settle the 1st finger right on the 1st fret, you can not access the rest strings on the fretboard with your chubby and rough fingers. If this happens, stay calm to keep adjusting your hand posture, especially the wrist position when you grab the guitar’s neck that affects the way you curl your fingers. 

Those newbies are usually stuck at the dilemma of trying to press the fretting hand’s palm flatly leaning against the back of the neck, which makes the wrist fold up at a pretty uncomfortable angle for the fretting fingers.

Tones are inevitably distorted as a result of wrong hand position. So how can we do it correctly?

  • Put your fretting hand’s thumb in the middle position behind the neck, meanwhile    make sure the top of your palm is towards the guitar’s fretboard.
  • Only the tips of your fingers- not the whole flat pad surface, should be lightly curled above the strings. 
  • Unless this instruction is optional, it is critical to keep these fingers curled at the knuckles.

Following these steps can create favourable conditions for your finger to grab the neck and easily twang on the fretboard. 

Way 3: Practicing finger exercise for better stretches.

how to play guitar with fat fingers

The most important way among every technique in playing guitar with fat fingers is setting up an appropriate diet plan for them. In other words, this stage requires your patience and perseverance rather than any tricky tips. When you finally succeed in making your finger more flexible, they will prove what they can do beyond your expectation.

There are a variety of finger workout methods, and in this step, we’ll show you the one that most of the guitarists would prefer. 

To begin with, massaging your forearms and hands is a good warm-up to apply. Then you will want to stretch out your wrists and hands all over again before bending your fingers down to touch the base of each finger joint. Just like every other physical exercise, you should repeat this in every direction to improve your finger mobility and flexibility.

Final warning is about you should ensure that your hand position is unchanged when taking up this activity— Because the top-notch objective is to expand the reach of your fingers, don’t try to adjust your hands when any archy feeling occurs. In the end, it goes without saying that fat fingers could never deter someone’s dedication in playing guitar.

Beside from being physically active mentioned above, a real diet exercise for fingers is never too old for an advisory plan to keep your finger slimmer in this video: 

Way 4: Keeping your nails real neat

Another tip relating to reducing the disadvantages of your fat finger is to reshape part of it- finger nails. This is not really a tip but an unspoken rule in the world of guitarists as every hand size shares this guidance in common. 

As you may assume that a long fingernail can be the best replacement for a round big fingertips as they reduce the contact surface of the finger on the fretboard to produce precise sound of every single string. But if you have come into a practical situation, long fingernails turn out to be an awkward issue when it comes to pressing down the fretboard with the entire fretting hand. 

And if you have a good memory enough, you will know fretting hand position is the key factor to make fingers curl at their right angle as we mention above. This problem mostly contributes to the cause of the wrong vibrance which eventually leads to some shrill sound as fret buzz instead of the tune that you want it to be performed.

Way 5: Choose the most suitable partner

how to play guitar with fat fingers

There comes the most practical solution if all of the above techniques can not make you realize the assumption that your fingers shape is not suitable for playing guitar is totally wrong. The most important aspect of mastering guitar playing is discovering the fundamental rules of the guitar and following the appropriate steps to boost your dexterity on the instrument. But as long as these guidance turns out to be in vain, it’s time to choose the appropriate instrument to be side by side with you in the guitar journey.

Many inexperienced beginners struggle with making a decision over which guitar on the market that not only delivers the best sounds but also reduces their finger size restrictions. But among an abundance of brands, what standards can you base on to benefit for your fingers? 

For the most part, they tend to depend on the sizes of the whole guitar  when assuming that the guitar’s shape and scale must follow the size of their hand. It’s not really something unreliable as the image of one kid holding a small guitar or an ukulele fitting their physical feature for playing a song is easily seen through means of media. However, we’re not here to give you that idea of changing into a kid-sized guitar just because your fingers are fat and stubby to have the big one. 

In reality, the only standard you should seek after when resorting guitars for big hands is the size of the guitar’s neck. Small frets could result in problematic progress for bigger hands to practise with, so it is often recommended that big-handed guitar players should purchase the one with a wider neck, as this will prevent you from touching neighboring strings while pressing a specific note on the fretboard.

The neck width, which is estimated as the width at the boardnut, varies among different types of guitars. When searching for a guitar with a wider neck for your flabby fingers, thoroughly consider these following standards: 

  •  A guitar with a larger neck should have broader string positioning, and a nut width of at least 1.75 inches is optimal
  • A comparatively flat fretboard radius, as compared to a curved radius, will also benefit you.
  • Furthermore, you can expand your options by opting for a guitar with a Floyd Rose tremolo system, which will have fairly broad string spacing. 

In other cases, though, you may need to buy a guitar with a narrow neck. This advice may seem wrongheaded initially, but it will be necessary if you are unable to extend your chubby fingers to the notes you are aiming for. To be more specifically illustrated, it is the situation when playing a C chord and feeling that the notes are out of reach as you can not correctly press down on them.

Suggested Options For Fat Finger Guitarists

And we are about to list out some guitars with necks that are a little broader than the typical that have been carefully resorted out just to meet the demands of guitar players with their chubby fingers.

Big Lou Guitar
how to play guitar with fat fingers

Big Lou designed this broad nut in response to his own needs as well as the needs of others suffering the same physical limitations and finger pickers who value a “little extra room” between the strings. They designed a high-quality guitar that is simple to play and has all of the desirable characteristics, such as great tone, good sustain, and, most importantly, a great price.

Thanks to its ultra – wide – angle 1-7/8′′ nut width and full 8 mm string spacing, making a mistake or accidentally muffling strings while producing chords is more difficult to occur. Because there is so much space, you can be careless and still make progress with it. 

Beside that, this brand also offers for sale every part of this guitar as supporting implements. Obviously, you can just have only the neck of this guitar to fit in your favorite style of guitar such as Stratocaster or Telecaster. For all the reasons above, Big Lou deserved to be the best option for those fat finger guitarists. 

Seagull Acoustic Guitar
how to play guitar with fat fingers

This is an Canadian Company serving throughout almost 40 years in the field just to produce the best quality hand-crafted components and build them up into a reasonably-priced guitar for every class of guitarists in society.

Every single neck of Seagull acoustic guitar is featured by Mahogany or Silver Leaf Maple with the nut width varying around 1.8’’ which make them extremely stable and fit with the big-handed players all around the world. Some useful keywords to search for the best range of Seagull can count on such as Coastline, S-6, Artist Mosaic, and the Performer. 

Other choices

The necks of classical Spanish guitars are the widest, with a requirement of 2″ at the nut. Try it after a regular electric or acoustic guitar; it’ll make you feel like fish catch the water. And when it comes to a guitar with flat fretboard radius, Ibanez’ Wizard or PRS style guitars are on the top rank of this type to support you stubby fingers. 

Furthermore, you can have a thorough consideration by looking at this list of the best guitar for we have prepared for beginners to make the best decision: 

Way 6: Lighter gauge string can be an alternative solution.

how to play guitar with fat fingers

A wider neck isn’t the only solution if you’re having trouble touching too many unwelcome adjacent strings while playing the guitar. Beside that, you can also buy a guitar with a lighter gauge of strings based on the indicator on the above image. We’ll have more space between the strings if the strings are thinner.  

However, everything has its drawback and this tip is no exception. The thinner the stringers are, the lighter the sound is produced. The chord is no longer what you are expected it to be. For this reason, you have to take it into consideration before deciding to buy which guitar could meet your demand. 

You can divide into two standards of playability and sound quality to make the best options for your own. The perfect width for an electric guitar is 9s, which can balance everything even while providing a quality sound and lowering finger obstacle. When it comes to acoustic guitars, a light gauge of 11s or even 10s could satisfy you the most.

To be more assured about your decision, dive into this article to know what strings suits you best: best electric guitar strings for beginners

Way 7: 12 String Guitar Alternation

Another option is a 12-string guitar with some innovative tweaking if you are not so willing to run into a brand new wide neck guitar. This tricky tip can be applied on your existing instrument and charge you no side fee. We call it 12 string guitar transformation. You can simply have some clues about the instruction out of this name which is the 12 string guitar will be converted to a 6 string guitar.

A 12 string guitar normally has pairs of strings. Simply remove the greater string from each pair to make it a six-string guitar. As a result, you’ll have a 6-string guitar with a broader neck and strings that stay far apart to leave more space for  your finger. Although it may sound inconvenient at first but if you really go for this, it can turn out a quick fix with effective results for those have much worry about income

The only major problem with stringing a 12-string guitar with six strings is that 12-string guitars are designed to handle the additional tension created by the extra strings. So, if you just use 6, you potentially cause neck issues or even injuring the neck if it isn’t adequately set up. That’s why we just suggest this adjustment after you have spent a sum of time and effort on getting used to the fretboard so smoothly that you just let your fingers do their work without any hesitation.

If you still find 12 string guitar is the best ideal instrument, you may find this article useful for you

Way 8: Equipped the guitar with supporting accessories


how to play guitar with fat fingers

It may also assist to use a capo on the 4th or 5th fret (or to play your scales on higher frets).

The frets get tighter with each other as you progress down the guitar’s neck. As a result, you won’t have to extend your fingers as far as you would in the first position (up near the headstock of the guitar).

Closer frets means less effort to reach out your fingers which can make playing guitar easier for people with small hands or fat fingers. For such these benefits, you should seek after one suitable to your guitar and playability due to this below article right away: best classical guitar capo


how to play guitar with fat fingers

This equipment is specially made for the beginners and intermediate players in playing guitar when it comes to chord transitioning. Those with fat fingers find it difficult to get used to every chord in the fretboard and just take it down to their physical limitation for most of the time instead of keep on practising. 

The solution is to become intimately acquainted with the chords you’ll be transitioning between. Begin slowly with a metronome, concentrating on the bare minimum movement needed to play the chords. Gradually increase your speed, and you can see results! 

Another one of the most important guitar tips for changing chords, regardless of finger size, is to keep your fingers off the fretboard as much as possible. They’ll have to come up to some extent, but it’s critical to keep it to a bare minimum to avoid slowing you down.

Metronomes can be purchased in brick and mortar, online platforms, or as a smartphone app (many of the free ones are by far the best!). If you’re a novice, the Uberchord App will help you learn chords and timings by providing you with a beat to practice and play along to. 

Way 9: Alternating the chord

You could be trying to mimic all the tricky techniques for fat fingers on the internet such as what we are listing out in this article. However, just because you’re muting a string or can’t play the chord perfectly doesn’t mean you’re out of luck with all of the solutions as well as the fingers you were born with.

One thing that we often relate to those newbies is to learn to live with unusual differences in hands if there is just no way to overcome it. Beside all the techniques ranging from posture adjustment, fingering exercise to appropriate choice on instrument and what could make the most of them to assist your physical flaw, this approach is all about how you could just release your anxious anxiety to accept the present playability.

Because the guitar is often used as a backup instrument for a vocalist or band, it is not always necessary to play all of the strings of a chord. Even if you can only play three notes, you’ve fundamentally covered the basics of a chord.

how to play guitar with fat fingers

This technique would be adapted less physically now economically demanding as those mentioned above. Although you could be limited to certain songs, it still encouraged you to play and take up a great deal of right-hand strumming methods that you would have missed if you had focused solely on your left hand and vise versa.

Girls often use alternative tunings because they suffer from a similar issue of insufficient finger strength. You’ll have to experiment a lot with an alternative tuning, but it’ll come to you finally.

How To Transfer From Standard Turnings To Alternate Tunings

  • When tuning up, gently turn your first tuning peg a quarter turn each time to avoid the likelihood of a string snapping.
  • Next, as you gently turn your peg, continue plucking your string until it reaches the wanted pitch.
  • After that, keep the same movement on the rest of strings.

Let’s look at some of the most popular alternative tunings that you could easily take up to support your guitar journey.

Best Alternate Tunings For Beginners

Drop D Tuning
how to play guitar with fat fingers

Drop D tuning is one of the most straightforward alternative tunings to pick up. It only affects one string, lowering the tone of your low E string by a full step and bringing it down to a D: D-A-D-G-B-E D-A-D-G-B-E D-A-D-G

Open D Tuning
how to play guitar with fat fingers

When you strum all six open strings in Open D tuning, your guitar will sound out as an open D chord. All but two of the guitar’s six strings are tuned differently in open D tuning. Your strings will be tuned in the following order, from lowest to the highest tune: D-A-D-F#-A-D 

Open C Tuning
how to play guitar with fat fingers

In Open C tuning, strumming open strings produces the sound of a huge, heavy C chord. Because you would adjust your strings lower several steps in Open C tuning, your strings may tear because they have more slack than they would in standard tuning. Tune your strings as follows (from lowest to highest): C-G-C-G-C-E

Drop A Tuning
how to play guitar with fat fingers

Make a drop A tuning entails lowering all strings by a fourth and then lowering your low E string by one more move: A-E-A-D-F#-B 

Open E Tuning
how to play guitar with fat fingers

Open E tuning is a minor deviation from standard tuning that changes the tone of three of your guitar’s six strings. When you pluck your guitar in an open position, you can form an E major chord with this tuning. To achieve Open E tuning, tune your strings in the following order from lowest to highest: E-B-E-G#-B-E 

Last But Most Important Key

It may sound cliche, but practice does make perfect. You’ll finally adapt and evolve into your own style of play, no matter how you’re designed, just keep in mind that your fingers are always perfect for playing guitar. 

how to play guitar with fat fingers

Any drawbacks can be exaggerated in the mind of a beginner, so rest assured that having bigger fingers will not bother you for long. The more you play, the more subtle ways you’ll discover to compensate for perceived disadvantages.

People sometimes ignore the fact that our physical characteristics exert a big impact on our playing style, and it actually makes our own sound be the most distinctive. People with short fingers, for example, are more likely to use sliding and box pattern runs than people with long, spidery fingers.

Accept your physicality, and your brain will take care of the issue of the adaptation for your guitar journey. Your priority job is to keep on practicing patiently as no tricky techniques could impede a persevering effort. 

Wrap up

When students or beginners try something for a short time and it doesn’t work, they either give up which is a terrible idea or start to look for a temporary solution, such as a different guitar or an easier way to do the technique. However, this does not address the root of the problem: a lack of a systemic approach to learning a new skill and trouble sticking with something you can’t quite master.

We would like to stress that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for changing the guitar, adjusting the strings, or seeking something simpler. It is extremely beneficial to learn guitar in a comprehensive manner. This entails doing efficient practice on a daily basis. If you’re still having trouble with anything, making other alterations to lower the bar makes more sense.

Most of you will lack confidence at first when adapting this new type of entertaining skill as playing the guitar. Patience, practice, and perseverance are what we sincerely want to give you as the key of success. As a matter of fact ,you will gain more patience and perseverance as a result of the process. And if you are about to join this journey, economical friendly guitar for beginners should be belong to one of you collection: best cheap guitar for beginners

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