They call them ‘man hands’ for a reason.
If you’re like me, that phrase took on a whole new meaning when you started learning the guitar.
I remember feeling like my fingers were always in the way of each other. I was muting strings I wanted to let ring, and constantly fretting strings I didn’t mean to!
It was a disaster.
And sure, I wondered for a while if maybe the guitar just wasn’t the right instrument for me.
If you’ve had this experience, you’re not alone.
But even better than that: There is a solution!
Today, I’m going to tell you a bit about the techniques I used to overcome my fat fingers, as well as 5 fantastic guitars that are perfect for guys with large hands like us.
The Top 5 Guitars for Players with Big Hands
|1.||Ibanez GIO Series|
|2.||Seagull 039296 S6 Acoustic|
|3.||Ibanez AEG12IINT Acoustic-Electric|
|4.||Cordoba C3M Classical|
|5.||Ibanez AM53 AM|
My Daughter Played the Ukulele, But it Felt Like a Joke in My Hands
I was first inspired to finally pick up and learn the guitar by my daughter.
She had been learning the ukulele online, and in just 4 months she was already able to play whole songs with ease.
Needless to say, I was impressed. We started talking more about music, and she even offered to show me how to play the ukulele.
As you might imagine, that was a complete joke.
For her, the ukulele was the perfect size. For me, it felt like I was holding a child’s toy. I couldn’t hit any of the notes I wanted to, and it was impossible to play an actual song.
But this is a ukulele, I thought. Surely the guitar will be different.
When I First Tried to Play the Guitar, I Thought My Hands Were Just too Big
Unfortunately, I had very similar problems on the guitar as I had on my daughter’s uke.
I’m sure you understand many of the frustrations I mentioned at the beginning.
I’ve worked with my hands for nearly all my adult life. After almost 40 years of manual work, you can imagine what kind of condition my hands were in.
It seemed like, no matter how hard I tried to play well, I could never quite get the chords to sound right. There was always an extra note sounding, or one that was muted.
My fingers felt awkward and uncomfortable, and my hands never seemed to find the right position on the fretboard.
And yes, I did wonder: Are my hands just too big to play the guitar?
I Learned the Right Techniques, and it Made a Huge Difference
Thankfully, I found some techniques for men like us with large hands that really made a difference in my playing.
I also realized that there are certain types of guitars that are better for large hands.
First, let me introduce you to 6 techniques that helped me get over my fat fingers, and then we’ll see the best guitars for large hands.
- Make Sure To Press With The Absolute Tips Of Your Fingers
The arch of your fingers is extremely important when playing the right notes on the right frets.
While it might feel more natural at first to play with the whole tip of your finger, you really only want to use the absolute tip. This is the part of your finger that is in front of your nail, not underneath it.
Think of the way a ballerina stands on the very tip of her toes. This is what you want your fingers to be doing.
The longer section of your fingers should be perpendicular to the fretboard. This arch position gives you more flexibility and movement on the fretboard.
- Adjust Where Your Fingers Are Inside The Frets
When you have large hands, fitting more than one finger in a fret to play a chord can seem impossible.
However, remember that the frets give you some wiggle room.
If you’re having trouble fitting your fingers in a chord, try exercising some of the space you have. Move your fingers to the edges of the fret, as close as you can to the metal piece that separates the frets without touching it.
This will allow you to use the space you have in a better way.
- Keep Correct Posture
Something I never realized about the guitar is that your entire body posture can affect how well you play.
So, make sure you’re not slouching over the guitar. Your left elbow should be at about a 90-degree angle, and your wrist should be just slightly bent.
Make sure you’re not holding the neck of the guitar with your palm: that will greatly limit your movement on the fretboard.
Instead, let your palm hang on the side of the fretboard, allowing your fingers to make the arch we mentioned above.
- When You Can, Stay At The Top Of The Neck
The frets get closer together the higher you go on the neck. The closer you are to the body of the guitar, the less space you have to play with in the frets.
For larger hands, small frets mean trouble.
So, whenever possible, try to stay at the upper part of the neck, further away from the body of the guitar.
- Use Barre Techniques When Needed
Barre chords allow you to use one finger to fret multiple strings. This technique can be extremely useful to people with large hands.
For example, the normal A chord requires you to place three fingers in the 2nd fret. Granted, this is one of the largest frets on the guitar. However, people like us with large hands will find it difficult to get all three fingers next to each other.
I pretty much gave up on this chord until I learned the barre technique!
When I found out I could use just one finger to play this entire chord, I was relieved. While barre chords take some practice, in the end this technique will help you to play without muting or hitting unwanted strings.
- Keep Practicing!
While it may seem obvious, this point has been so essential for me that I felt obligated to add it to the list.
We’ve all told our kids that practice makes perfect. But don’t forget, this phrase may apply even more to us older folks!
The more you practice the chord positions, the better those chords will sound.
Best Guitar Features for Big Hands and Thick Fingers
So now that we know some techniques for larger hands, what features should guys like us look for in a guitar?
Here are some points that I’ve found helpful in my search for the best guitar for large hands:
- Slimmer Neck
In this case, we’re talking about the depth of the guitar’s neck from front to back.
It’s true that having larger hands makes it easier to reach around the neck of the guitar. However, beginners with large hands will actually find it much easier to reach the right notes if the neck of the guitar is somewhat slimmer.
This feature, while not essential, will help you to get the arch position that we mentioned before.
- Wider Fretboard
When we speak about width, we’re talking about the size from side to side of the fretboard.
Having a wider fretboard gives you more space in between the strings, which is very important for those of us with large hands and fat fingers.
A wider fretboard gives you the ability to fret the right strings, and to avoid muting strings you don’t want to.
The 5 Best Guitars for Large Hands and Fat Fingers
So, which guitars fit into the categories we mentioned above?
Which guitar will help guys like us with large hands to play the guitar with ease?
Here are 5 of the best guitars for large hands:
- Ibanez GIO Series GRG121DX Electric
This beautiful electric guitar features 24 jumbo frets, meaning your fingers will have plenty of space to move around.
If you’re looking for an electric guitar for large hands, this is one of your best options.
Also, the price tag on this guitar can’t be beat! This reasonably priced guitar features decent pickups, a solid mahogany body, and a maple neck.
- Jumbo frets
- Solid wood build
- Good price
- Sharktooth inlays
- Comes in three different colors
- Minor adjustments, such as new strings, may be needed on arrival
- Fixed bridge, meaning you can’t add a whammy bar
- Seagull 039296 S6 Acoustic
This beautiful acoustic is built with a solid spruce and wild cherry body, with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. It has a nice sound that is neither too warm nor too bright, with very good resonance.
Another great feature of this guitar is that it is made in the US!
But the real reason this guitar is on our list is because it boasts a wide fretboard. As we mentioned above, this feature is extremely useful to those with large hands, because it gives you more room to play with on the fretboard.
- Wide fretboard
- Solid wood
- Good sound and resonance
- Manufactured in the US
- Only available in sunburst finish
- Ibanez AEG12IINT Acoustic-Electric
With a solid mahogany body and neck, this Ibanez produces a beautiful sound. The rosewood fretboard features detailed inlays, which are both beautiful and practical.
This guitar also uses Fishman Sonicore pickups, which are great for when you want to plug in.
Another interesting feature of this guitar is its thin body and neck. As we mentioned above, a smaller neck gives you more space to move around, and can be especially useful for beginners with large hands.
- Acoustic/electric is great for any occasion
- Quality pickups and Ibanez preamps
- Thin body is great for beginners, and lightweight
- Built in tuner
- Lacks volume when unplugged
- Slight buzzing, but can be easily adjusted
- Cordoba C3M Classical
Classical guitars are known for having much wider fretboards in general. Of course, this guitar will offer you a completely different style of music. However, the tone of a classical guitar is beautiful, and can be a great companion for fingerstyle acoustic.
This Cordoba is built from natural wood, and features a Cedar top with matte finish. The soundboard is very responsive, and allows you to have a nice tone and volume when playing unplugged.
- Wider fretboard than a normal acoustic or electric
- Bright tone and reasonable sustain
- Excellent price for what you’re getting
- Good volume
- Classical style guitar will produce a different sound, and thus is better only for that type of music
- Fret edges are somewhat rough and may need filing
- Ibanez AM53 AM Artcore Semi-Hollow Electric
As the Ibanez guitars tend to feature wider fretboards and larger frets, this is yet another beautiful Ibanez to add to our list. This guitar is a unique semi-hollow electric, allowing it a very unique sound and excellent resonance.
This guitar and its Sonicore pickups are very versatile for different styles of music. While the sound can be a bit twangy when the volume is too high, you can roll back the volume and adjust on the amp to create the sound you want.
With a Sapele body, mahogany neck, and rosewood fretboard, this guitar has a beautiful tone and an excellent sustain.
- Unique style and design
- Very versatile tone and pickups
- Solid build and good sound
- Goes out of tune somewhat easily
- Strings will probably need to be replaced on arrival
- Guitar is somewhat heavy
So, Which is the Best Guitar for Large Hands?
We’ve gone through some of the most beautiful and powerful guitars, perfect for those with larger hands trying to learn the guitar.
Above, we’ve seen 5 different guitars ranging from acoustic to electric to classical.
Of course, the guitar you choose will likely depend on the style that you intend to play.
However, if I had to pick one, it would be the Ibanez AM53.
The semi-hollow design is an awesome choice for those with large hands, and it also gives you the versatility to play many different types of music.
Overall it's a win-win!
All in all, guys with large hands like us are still fully capable of learning the guitar.
All you need are the right techniques and the right guitar.
With these two advantages, even those with the largest hands and the fattest fingers can still play the guitar well!
P.S: If you're looking for an acoustic, then I would choose the Seagull 039296 S6!
See you in the next one!