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If you are starting to learn guitar or considering learning, one of the most common questions beginners guitarists have is if they can play guitar with fat fingers?
Yes, there is nothing that says a guitar player cannot play with fat fingers. In fact, many guitar players are amazing musicians and they do not even play with their fingers.
In this article we will go over some of the most common questions about playing guitar with fat fingers, and how you can overcome your own physical imperfections while still mastering the guitar.
Can you really play guitar with fat fingers?
Yes, you can. There are several famous guitar players that are extremely talented and have fat fingers. The same way that a guitarist with skinny fingers can also be a tremendous musician.
Your ability to play an instrument, and in this case the guitar is obviously influenced by your physical features.
However, that does not mean that you cannot overcome your own limitations, to master the instrument.
Are your fingers too fat to play guitar?
Every guitar player knows how it can be very frustrating to learn how to play. But this should not deter you from keep practicing and improving.
At times it can be overwhelming, and if you have fat fingers, it can be difficult to hit the right notes and move around the guitar fretboard, without accidentally hitting the other strings.
Remember that even if you have fat fingers hitting other stings, or having a hard time hitting the right fret and note is a common beginner’s problem.
What you need to understand is that even if it takes a little more time, you can still learn how to play the guitar. It is complicated in the beginning to have the right-hand posture and to hit the right notes without hitting the other strings.
The only way to overcome the frustration of trying to learn guitar with fat fingers is to keep practicing and improving.
There are also a few ways that can help you improve your guitar playing with fat fingers. Let’s look at some of the most common.
How to play guitar with fat fingers?
There are some techniques that can help you overcome the “fat finger” issue. Sometimes it may even seem like your fat fingers are getting in the way of your improvement, but there are other reasons for it:
The position of the guitar (guitar posture)
If you are trying to play guitar but you do not place the guitar in the right position on your lap, it might be more difficult to hit the right notes. It may seem like the reason is that you have “fat fingers” when in fact you are not holding the guitar correctly.
This can make it difficult for you to place your fingers on the fretboard correctly. For that reason, you should always make sure that the guitar is in the right position on your lap.
You can check this image to understand what is the best guitar posture, either sitting or standing:
One of the most important components of learning guitar is to adopt the right-hand position. This means curling and arching your fingers in a way that allows you to hit the right notes, without also hitting the other strings.
Your hand should be arched in a way that is easy to attack the strings and play the right notes. This makes it easier to play without hitting the other strings involuntarily.
Another important part of learning guitar that every beginner should focus on is practicing finger flexibility. This is what allows you to stretch your fingers on the fretboard, and play those complex chords, or solos.
There are exercises specifically designed to improve your finger flexibility. This may cause you to think you are not playing well because of your fat fingers when you still have not developed finger flexibility.
It can take some time for your fingers to get used to stretching, and adapt to playing guitar. So the goal should be to keep practicing, and do daily finger flexibility exercises. It is extremely important to focus on your guitar dexterity, and finger independence when you are initially learning how to play guitar.
Remember to always practice slowly, until you build enough finger flexibility.
Tips and tricks to improve your guitar playing
In order to improve your guitar playing and make it easy for you to learn, we have a few tips and tricks to help you along the way.
- The body of the guitar must be rested comfortably on your right lap with the back of the guitar on your stomach, and the neck of the guitar tilted slightly upwards relative to the body of the guitar.
- You can also use a footrest on your left foot to tilt the neck of the guitar even more. This is how most classical guitar players perform, as it becomes easier to hit the notes. When you play standing up, you will also notice that most guitar players adopt a similar guitar position even if they are not sitting.
- Having the neck of the guitar tilted will help you to learn and practice, and it will also allow you to improve your hand positioning.
- The guitar body shouldn’t be parallel to your chest, instead, it should be somewhat sideways. This allows you to attack the strings easily.
- Not only the guitar position but also the hand position is important when it comes to learning how to play the guitar. Beginners tend to hold the guitar neck with their palm and it’s incorrect. When holding a guitar, your thumb must be pressed against the back of the guitar neck, so that your palm won’t touch the neck at all.
- The next one is the finger position. You must use only the very tip of your finger for fretting a string while holding the fingers arched and pointed perpendicular to the fretboard. The lengthy side of your fingertip should be parallel with the guitar neck. Mostly, this is not an issue for fretting just a single string. This becomes an issue when you start trying to play complicated chords that require you to use all 4 fingers.
Along with the above-mentioned basic things, you can practice the following tips to overcome your problem of failing to play guitar, just because you have fat fingers.
- You must make sure to hold the guitar and hand in the correct positions as mentioned above.
- Do finger stretching exercises as much as you can. It will stretch and strengthen your fingers with time.
- Hardening your calluses through practicing is also important because you don’t need to press the strings so hard with guitar calluses and it prevents you from spreading your fingertips so widely.
- You can also angle the headstock upwards towards your shoulder more while keeping the body of the guitar in the same place.
Are guitars harder with fat fingers?
Usually, people find it hard to play guitars with fat fingers. In fact, it’s not easy to play the guitar with fat fingers at first since the spaces between strings are not that wide. However, this should not be an excuse not to play.
If you are really determined to learn how to play guitar, then nothing should stop you. Let’s look at the example of one of the most fascinating jazz guitar players that have ever lived – Django Reinhardt.
Django Reinhardt had everything going against him. He did not know how to read or write, so obviously he did not read music, and that did not stop him.
Additionally, Django Reinhardt had a terrible accident that left him severely injured. Only his index and middle finger were able to move at all. This also did not stop him from becoming one of the most acclaimed jazz musicians in the world.
Reinhardt, however, became a great guitar artist with only two fingers and some people still consider him the best all-time jazz artist coming from Europe. So, if someone using only two fingers could become an amazing guitar artist, can playing with fat fingers be hard?
Here is one of the few Django performances that were ever recorded:
Playing with your feet
Yes, it is possible to play guitar with your feet. If you are still thinking that playing guitar with fat fingers is difficult just imagine what it would be if you had to play it with your feet.
It is possible! There are several guitar players that do it!
Tony Melendez is one of the most famous guitar players with no arms that is able to play with his feet! Here he is playing it:
The moral of the story is that you can overcome everything in life, and playing guitar with fat fingers might not be so bad after all if you consider what some musicians are capable of doing with just their feet.
The best guitar for fat fingers
Although a guitar will not fix your fat finger problem, there are a few guitar models that tend to be easier to play for guitar players with fat fingers.
One of the biggest problems with fat fingers is that you tend to hit more than just the string you intended to play. For that reason, guitars with wider necks tend to be a great choice.
This means that the spacing in between each string will be bigger, and it makes it easy to hit each string individually.
For that reason check the size of the nut, and how wide the neck is. There are a few Seagull acoustic guitars that have a 1.8” to 1.9” nut width. This can be a great solution if you are looking for an acoustic guitar with a wider nut.
However, one of the best solutions for beginner guitarists is to buy a classical guitar. Classical or Spanish guitars have wider necks, and this means that the strings are further away from each other. Making it easier to hit each string independently.
Usually, classical guitars are the best ones for anyone who has fat fingers, because it reduces the problem of touching the adjacent strings while holding down a chord.
Famous guitarists with fat fingers
If you ever feel discouraged because you have fat fingers, and you are finding it difficult to play the guitar, you should remember that there are several famous guitar players that have fat fingers. Here are some of the most iconic guitar players with fat fingers:
B.B. King is a solo artist who is arguably the most influential Blues guitarist when it comes to soloing. Despite his fat fingers, he mastered the guitar and even introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending, shimmering vibrato, and staccato picking.
John Lee Hooker
John Lee Hooker is another great guitarist who didn’t allow his fat fingers to get in the way of becoming famous. Not only that but also developed a completely new blues style by mixing existing styles, such as talking blues and Hill country blues.
John Lee Hooker is also best known for the guitar version of Delta blues, noticeable voice, and smooth guitar licks.
These famous guitarists had fatter fingers than most guitar players, but they ended up mastering guitar and even introducing several music styles to the industry. So, should fat fingers stop anyone from mastering the guitar? No!
When you are initially learning guitar it is common to question if your playing is not improving because of fat fingers. However, this is not a problem. If some of the most successful guitarists could become acclaimed musicians with fat fingers or just two fingers, you can too.
Remember that in order to play the guitar you need an extreme amount of devotion and dedication. It is also very challenging in the beginning, but you cannot give up. Continuously practicing and improving is the only way to overcome your guitar frustration.
If there were famous guitarists with fat fingers who astonished the world with their amazing guitar playing, why can’t you do it?
I have been playing guitar for the past 15 years, and my knowledge and passion for guitars prompted me to start Guitaresque to share my knowledge, tips, and tricks with other guitar players. The sole purpose of this website is to help and inspire guitar players worldwide, to improve their playing and their love for guitars.