If you have small hands or short fingers, trust me, you’re NOT at a disadvantage. You may have to find the right guitar and the right technique, but you certainly can play like your favorite artists.
Angus Young, Danny Gatton, and Paul Simon don’t have the longest fingers. Despite that, all of them are formidable when it comes to killing it on stage.
If you too feel dejected because of your short hands, then this list is going to be a massive confidence booster.
Here are 10 of the most famous guitarists with small hands who killed it in the industry despite being at a so-called disadvantage.
10 Famous Guitarists With Small Hands
If there’s one name that should be the inspiration of all the small hand players out there, it’s Angus Young.
I’m sure all of you know him as the co-founder and lead guitarist of the rock band AC/DC. He’s ranked 24th on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time.
Despite his small fingers, you’ll often see him play some of the greatest stretches and superfast licks that’ll leave you thunderstruck! (Get it?)
Angus uses his signature Gibson SG with his custom Angus Young Signature Humbucker pickup.
Whether it’s about fast soloing, huge finger stretches, or challenging fingerpicking, Danny Gatton has shown that the size of your hands means nothing.
Danny played a customized Telecaster 1953 which suited his small hands and playing style better. He is also known to have used a jazz-style teardrop pick.
This is interesting for any newbies out there. If it seems tricky then you can find ways to make things easier. This could be getting an instrument that suits your style (or modifying it) or even trying out new techniques.
After all, it’s about playing the music you love.
Danny Gatton originally started playing jazz, but combined it with blues, country, and rock to create a unique style called “redneck jazz.”
He has played in many bands, but his first band was named “The Lancers.” He was also nominated for a Grammy Award for “Elmira Street Boogie” in 1991.
Although born in Andalusia, the heart of Flamenco, Andrés Segovia was a classical guitarist. In fact, he is known to be among the best classical guitarists ever lived.
It doesn’t seem like ‘small hands’ and ‘classical guitar’ would go together very well, but Segovia’s compositions and extraordinary performances speak otherwise.
Besides being a master at guitar, he was also a phenomenal teacher, and many of today’s professional guitarists were his students.
Segovia was awarded numerous awards during his career, including an ‘Ernst von Siemens Music Prize’ and a ‘Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.’
One of the most charismatic female guitarists of all time! Nancy Wilson is just 5’2, which naturally means not very large hands.
She’s best known as a guitarist and vocalist for the band Heart, which she formed along with her elder sister Ann Wilson.
Nancy Wilson is lauded for her playing, mixing classical and flamenco elements into traditional hard rock style.
Her success as a female rock guitarist broke all the stigma associated with hard rock music at that time. The band Heart was eventually inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
Paul Simon is one of my personal favorites from this list!
He is just 5’3 and doesn’t have the longest of fingers. Paul made a statement on how his short height was ridiculed by society. But despite all the struggles, he went on to become one of the most-loved guitarists ever.
If you haven’t yet, check out his songs “Sound of Silence” and “The Boxer” to name a few, which are examples of his phenomenal fingerpicking and songwriting techniques.
Paul Simon has 12 Grammys and many more awards to his name, most of which came when he was a part of the duo Simon and Garfunkel.
Phil Keaggy is a seven-time GMA Dove Award recipient and two-time Grammy nominee.
Although he has released more than 55 albums covering a plethora of genres, he is most famous for his contributions to contemporary Christian music.
His small hands and stubby fingers didn’t keep him back from his mastery at fingerstyle guitar. He often incorporated percussion and harmonics into his playing.
This is despite missing one finger in his picking hand, which just makes it truly remarkable!
Phil did shock his audience with his technique and skill, who ridiculed and embarrassed him during the beginning of his career. It goes to show you that hand size or physical imperfections never matter as long as you put in enough effort.
Steve Lukather is one of the founding members of the band Toto. I’m sure you’ve heard the song “Africa.” Well, Lukather was a key mastermind behind the song.
Despite the short and stubby fingers, you’ll often see him incorporate chromatic phrasing and challenging licks into his solos.
Having recorded tracks for over 1500 albums, he is one of the most popular session guitarists ever. He has worked or shared the stage with some of the biggest names in the industry including Michael Jackson, Joe Satriani, and Steve Vai.
Lukather received a total of five Grammys, three of which came for work with Toto.
Of course, all this came when he doesn’t have the biggest hands out there, which should be the inspiration for all of us.
Shawn Lane had short and fat fingers, not what you want ideally for playing the guitar. He actually began his musical journey with piano, but later switched to the guitar which he quickly became a master at.
He was known to play the guitar exceptionally fast, whether it was about rhythm playing or insane arpeggio sweeps and everything in between.
He used a signature Ibanez guitar called the “Ghost Rider,” and it’s rumored that his guitar was a one-off model custom-made for him.
Shawn has performed with big artists like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Ringo Starr. He also released two albums during his career which unfortunately ended too early.
The legendary musician Prince was just 5’2 and had very short fingers, yet that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the best-selling artists of all time!
Of course, he did start at a very early age of 7 and probably spent much more time than we could imagine perfecting his playing.
Prince released more than 39 albums during this career, most of which were produced by himself. His music covered an enormous amount of styles and genres including rock, funk, soul, jazz, and hip hop to name a few.
If you think short height and small hands can limit you in any way, listen to his performances of songs like Sing O’ The Times or Purple Rain, or the closing solo in While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles.
Muriel Anderson is a fingerstyle guitarist known for her performances with a nylon-string harp guitar. She’s also the first female guitarist to win the National Fingerpicking Guitar Championship.
She has performed with the likes of Tommy Emmanuel, Chet Atkins, and Les Paul among others.
If you haven’t heard about the harp guitar, it’s basically a standard guitar but with an extension for additional bass strings that are plucked open with the thumb.
The massive footprint of a harp guitar with small hands doesn’t seem like the most comfortable combination. However, Muriel doesn’t care!
Her technique and big stretches demonstrate that having short hands is never a problem. You can play just as well as anyone with gigantic fingers.
I’m Pranshu. I’ve been a passionate guitarist, keyboardist, and music producer ever since I got my hands on a keyboard as a small child.
With Harmonyvine, my goal is to share tips and knowledge about music and gear with you. I also enjoy recording music and guitar covers, which you can check out on my Instagram page.