Just as musical instruments differ in size and shape, so do musicians. Guitarists especially have myriad options when it comes to selecting a guitar to suit their needs.
There are some things to take into consideration before making your selection, and comfort while playing is of the most critical.
Les Paul guitars are better for small hands as it has a shorter scale length. This means that its frets aren’t as far apart, which makes it easier to play for those with small hands or short fingers. When comparing the two most iconic electric guitars on the market today, the Gibson Les Paul and the Fender Stratocaster, Les Paul has the advantage.
Generally speaking, electric guitars are designed with smaller fretboards, and that is the reason why people with small hands might favor electric over acoustic guitars.
This article will take a look at several Les Paul guitars that are suitable for people with small hands and take you through what to look for when selecting your perfect guitar.
Guitars for Small Hands: What to Consider
When you are selecting a guitar for yourself, the best way to go about it is to visit a music shop and ask whether you may play some of their guitars to test them out.
This is because when you have small hands, some guitars can have an awkward feel or even hurt your hands after a while.
There are some aspects of certain guitars that make them better suited to smaller hands, and it is these things that you need to pay attention to when selecting a guitar.
Although there are certain strengthening techniques that you can use to build up the muscles in your arms and hands that will make playing guitar easier, it is also wise to select an instrument suited to your physical abilities.
The neck size or profile of a guitar is one of the first things to consider if you are a guitarist with small hands. The neck itself shouldn’t be very wide because wide-necked guitars can be difficult to play overall for those with smaller hands.
For a comfortable grip, you should be able to wrap your fingers around the base of the neck quite easily with your thumb in the middle of the back of the neck.
The next thing to look at when selecting your guitar is the neck profile. The profile describes the shape of the back of the guitar’s neck. There are three main shapes: the C-shape, the V-shape, and the U-shape.
If you hold the guitar up to your eyes and you look horizontally down the neck towards the body, you will be able to see the profile of the neck.
If you have small hands, the best guitar neck profile to choose is one that isn’t very large, chunky or bulky. The C-shape neck profile is often the best choice as they are easy to wrap your hand around.
It is best to avoid the U-shape neck as they are generally chunkier, while the V-shape can be uncomfortable and might slip in your hand.
Other more modern but less common shapes like the D-shape will cause great discomfort as they are large and bulky with sharp angles that are uncomfortable for those with smaller hands.
There are different names for the neck profiles, and many guitar brands will name their own neck profiles in unique ways.
However, they will generally all follow the three main shapes, and your best choice for small hands would be to select the one with the slimmest and most streamlined neck profile that you can find (source).
The scale length of your guitar affects the distance between frets, so, logically, a shorter scale length is better for those with smaller hands.
In electric guitars, the scale length affects not only the playability of the instrument but also its tone, so this is something to keep in mind.
A shorter scale length may be more beneficial for those with shorter fingers or a shorter hand-span in general. But the shorter you make the scale, the less bright and clean the overtones will be.
A shorter scale length produces more warmth, and a longer scale length produces a brighter tone.
Many modern electric guitars, including the popular Fender Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, and Esquire, use a scale length of 25.5 inches.
They have made guitars with scale lengths of 22.5 inches or shorter, but these are ¾ – size student guitars and not recommended for the serious musician.
Gibson, however, opted for a shorter scale length of 24.75 inches for most of its standard-sized electric guitars, including the Les Paul collection, which makes it more suited to the player with smaller hands or shorter fingers (source).
Use a Capo
A capo is a mechanism used by musicians that clamps onto the neck of a guitar. It generally transposes the instrument and shortens the length of the strings, which in turn raises the overall pitch.
In many music circles, there is the bizarre notion that using a capo is cheating and an indication of a lack of skill in the guitarist, but nothing could be further from the truth.
There are a great number of valid reasons for musicians choosing to use a capo, and it has nothing to do with skill.
If you have small hands, a short hand-span, or short fingers, a capo can be your saving grace. It will save you from having to play too many barre chords.
Although this is a key skill to learn, it does place a high demand on your fretting hand, which is problematic for those with small hands.
If you have small hands, using a capo can help you develop a clear understanding of how to transpose keys, and it can assist you in decreasing the number of barre chords you have to play in a single song (source).
Les Paul Guitars
The original Gibson Les Paul was an electric guitar first sold in 1952 by the Gibson Guitar Corporation, and it was designed by the Gibson president and his team with input from guitarist Les Paul who also endorsed the instrument.
After 1952, the Les Paul guitar line was extended with a few more models, including the Classic and the Custom, but advancements in the design of the body and hardware ensured the Les Paul collection would develop into a long-term series of variations of electric guitars.
The Gibson Les Paul collection also includes several signature models custom-built for specific musicians like Jimmy Page, Slash, Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler.
The brand has since become synonymous with the pinnacle of craftsmanship, quality, and sound excellence.
Good Les Paul Guitars for Small Hands
There are several electric guitars in the Les Paul collection that are suitable choices for musicians with smaller than average hands, fingers, or hand-spans.
The main reason for this is because all the below mentioned guitars have the Gibson scale length of 24.75 inches, which makes it easier to play for those with small hands.
Custom Shop Guitars
The Gibson Les Paul Custom Shop guitars are some of their most expensive models, but if you have the cash to spare, there are several models highly suited to the guitarist with smaller hands.
The 60th Anniversary 1960 Les Paul Standard has a skinny C-shape neck profile, which makes it really comfortable in one’s hand.
The 1960 Les Paul Special Double Cut Reissue and the Les Paul Special Double Cut Figured Top both have a slim taper neck profile, which is easy to wrap your hands around and offers a comfortable grip.
Here are a few examples that all feature the slim C-shape neck profile, which is preferable for those with small hands:
- Les Paul Axcess Standard Figured Floyd Rose Gloss
- Les Paul Axcess Custom w/ Ebony Fingerboard Floyd Rose Gloss
- Les Paul Axcess Custom Figured Top w/ Ebony Fingerboard Gloss
Original Les Paul
The Les Paul Standard 60s guitar falls within the Original Les Paul collection and is mid-priced. It also features a slim taper neck profile and would be a good choice for small-handed guitarists.
Modern Les Paul
The Modern Les Paul collection features several models that are suitable for people with small hands. These are much more budget-friendly and highly recommended for musicians just starting out or those buying a first guitar.
The Les Paul Special Tribute DC, Les Paul Junior Tribute DC, Les Paul Classic, and Les Paul Studio all feature a slim, tapered neck profile that is comfortable in hand and offers a superior grip. Any of these guitars would be a great choice.
The Les Paul Modern guitar model has an asymmetrical slim-taper neck profile, which is good for small hands.
It is also one of their most popular models with a compound fingerboard radius, which is more rounded and can, therefore, be better for playing chords (source).
The best type of guitar for people with small hands or short fingers is one that has a flat neck with a shorter scale length.
This makes it easier for your hands to reach around the neck and more comfortable to stretch your fingers to reach the frets while still being able to press down on the strings.
The Les Paul collection has several electric guitars that are highly suitable for small hands due to their shorter scale lengths and slim or tapered neck profiles.