Does small hands player stuck ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by wishforbass, Feb 25, 2018.

  1. wishforbass


    Jun 23, 2016
    I find our having small hands is kind of disadvantage for bass players .
    And kind of player with smaller fingers stuck to the bass with smaller neck and they can't(or not good enough ) on basses like p bass.
    Like Victor Wooten uses his own bass that has a very slim neck .
    And usually good players have bigger hands ?
    Like I never saw Victor Wooten play a p bass or a Warwick but always on his own bass (fodera).
    What do you think and what is your experience ?
    Does bigger neck make player with smaller hand slow so they prefer skip them ?
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  2. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    Honestly I don't think it has any influence at all. Wooten plays 5 strings.

    Have you ever seen Tal Wilkenfeld playing? Or even any other female bassist?

    Have you ever seen Michel Petrucciani playing piano?

    Django Reinhardt playing guitar?

    You adapt. The size of the hands have no influence, in my opinion.
  3. Chico Ruger

    Chico Ruger

    Dec 11, 2014
    Western NC
    Many great bassists have small hands, as pointed out by J_Bass. But whenever I see Pino Palladino’s long fingers elegantly straddling the fretboard I curse my stunted digits.
    fretlessguy, Deak, bassestkkm and 3 others like this.
  4. There was a thread about this just the other day. No. Small hands don't mean you have to play a short scale bass. If you need to change your technique to play notes faster rather than stretching your hands, do that instead. Hope this helps.
  5. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Ever think about the fact that maybe having small hands might give you certain advantages, too? I have small hands. I don’t feel sorry for it, though. Some of the most memorable bass lines only use a couple of notes and I’m going to feel sorry that I can’t do that one harmonic of that Jaco song one-handed because I can’t execute an exotic stretch? Haha. Good one. I’ve been playing music since I was a child. There has never been a musical idea I couldn’t execute because of a size issue. Bass is mostly a monophonic instrument, anyway. You don’t have to stretch to any note. You can shift.

    And when I say smaller hands might give you advantages, sometimes I do weird shapes where I feel like even my tiny child hands get crowded in certain positions. Sure, this is more of a guitar issue, but I probably find it easier to use two different fingers on two different strings on the same fret. Plus, physics. Smaller fingers have less inertia and less force to move faster.
  6. LadyLoveStingRay5


    Jul 17, 2004
    Can’t focus on what you don’t have . Be grateful for what you do. You have a nice Ibanez bass. Enjoy it and play on.

    Trust me , Victor Wooten isn’t sitting around complaining about playing a Fodera instead is a Pbass.
  7. toowrongfoo


    Nov 25, 2017
    I have child sized hands. I hate it, but it doesn't keep me from playing :)
  8. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    I don't have real long fingers and have no problem playing 34 inch scale basses, though I have come to prefer J necks to Ps. I also play a six string at times, but I find my hands get to tired to do 3 sets on it, so I just pull it out when I really need the range.
  9. I think "small hands" is just another excuse people make on Talkbass!

    Practice a lot, and shift! Don't stretch and don't worry about "one finger per fret" because it's nonsense
  10. mbene085


    Feb 24, 2018
    This is very funny to me, because my other forums I frequent, AGF (acoustic guitars) and OSG (electric guitars) have the exact opposite arguments.

    On AGF, lots of people say they can't play a 1 11/16" nut for fingerstyle guitar because it's too cramped. On OSG, people say that as a 6' tall man, a 24" scale guitar is too cramped. Now I've landed here in TB where some believe that a 34" scale is too big for their hands?

    I'm with everyone here who says it's nonsense. I've seen some pretty tiny double bass players, and some giant mandolin and ukulele players over the years. If anything, it probably breeds unique techniques to play an instrument that is a bit larger or smaller than usual.

    I'm 5'6" and I play my 34" MM just as comfortably as my 30" Bass VI, or my 25.5" Jazzmaster, or my 24" Jaguar, or my 17" uke...if I'm screwing up a fingering, it's a dexterity issue, not a size issue.
  11. Whippet


    Aug 30, 2014
    I have small hands and short fingers and play 6 strings @ 35 inch with 19mm spacing. I also play a Dingwall Z3 6 string. It's not a problem. In fact I prefer 6 string to a 5 string because I don't have to move up and down the neck.

    IMO, The neck width isn't as important as the profile of the neck and thickness. I never think about the string spacing and width when buying a bass.

    In the end it's all about getting used to a bass. I do believe that the more strings, the slower you will be. After all you have to physically move your fingers more. That applies universally to everyone. But if you have a 5 or 6 string, you can always just play between the 5th and 12th for basslines and 15th and beyond on the on the adg/c strings and play as fast as you can without a lot of finger stretching.
    Element Zero, gebass6 and wishforbass like this.
  12. HesslerGerard


    Jul 18, 2010
    5”2 here and I play a 35” scale Lakland 55-94. My main issue rather being small is the weight of the instrument. I’d prefer it to be under 4kgs. Not that my Lakland is heavy!
  13. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    No one else provided a measurement reference to compare with.
    Here's mine. 20180226_080240.jpg 20180226_080322.jpg 20180226_080352.jpg

    Are my hands small?Are they big?
    Who knows?Compared to who?

    In the first five "frets",I can spread about six inches and reach four "frets"on a 34"scale bass with 19mm spacing.
    It's 1.250 at the nut and 3.000 wide at the twelfth. Snapshot_20171201_2.JPG
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018
    FNHScar17s, Haroldo and Whippet like this.
  14. Curley Shadow

    Curley Shadow

    Oct 16, 2009
    Here is a quote from Yung-Chiao Wei, bass professor at LSU and internationally recognized classical bass soloist, Larry Wolf was principal bass of Boston Symphony and is a large man:
    “If anyone can play loud, I can play louder. If anyone wants to play fast, I can play faster. But that is not important. It is music that matters.” Larry Wolfe

    Larry said this in one of my lessons 20 years ago and made a huge impact in my career.

    It was special to come back to Boston, give classes to a bunch of talented and dedicated students at the New England Conservatory and Boston Conservatory, and seeing friends and teachers whom I haven’t seen for 20 years! Two of my former teachers (Larry Wolfe and Don Palma) were sitting in the audience and I was able to tell the class my musical journey of being a short female bassist with little fingers only 1.5 inches long. It was 20 years ago and I just graduated from the Eastman School with a Performer’s Certificate. The New England Conservatory offered me a full scholarship for the graduate program and the New World Symphony offered me a position at the same time. I choose NEC to study with Larry Wolfe. So I thought I was good. Then I had an opportunity to play in a guest master class and was discouraged to be a bass player because of my height. I was so devastated that I couldn’t play anything in my bass lesson.

    “If anyone can play loud, I can play louder. If anyone wants to play fast, I can play faster. But that is not important. It is music that matters.”

    Because my teachers believed in me, I kept going.
  15. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    I don't think it's a problem, but you do have to work harder at certain aspects of your playing. I'm 5'6, and I play P basses as well as a 35 scale Jazz dlx. It's a physical disadvantage, but not one that gets in the way.

    You have to stretch a bit more for lower note sequences every now and then (if there's really no other way to play them - which is rare), and develop good technique for your plucking hand, because string crossing is a bit more effort with small hands. Other than that there's really not much difference to how everyone else plays.
  16. Whippet


    Aug 30, 2014
    Oh my god, my hands are way smaller than yours! But I can still reach for frets with no problem.

    Thanks for the pics, now we have some sort of visual reference.
  17. Ampslut


    May 15, 2017
    Barrackville WV
    I have tiny hands but started on upright and played it all through college. A 34" scale feels really small after playing upright. If you are having a hard time getting around I would say that you are not using proper bass hand positions.
    EatS1stBassist and Curley Shadow like this.
  18. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    Naa, your fine. Natural ability is a whole separate topic. You can make anything work if you put in the time and make the commitment. Be happy that there is such a variety of gear available. Buy what works best for you and hunker down in the shed and get good.
  19. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    As others have posted, there are techniques that level the playing field. 19th century upright basses had massive scale lengths, which even challenged players with long fingers. So, the techniques were worked out a long time ago. Get yourself the Simandl method book (and a teacher) to see how it is done.

    What matters most is putting the shed time in.

    For additional inspiration, locate some Django Rheinhardt videos on YouTube, and check out what that cat did with two fingers; the rest of his left hand having been badly damaged in childhood.

    Finger length = unimportant. Informed practice = important.
    EatS1stBassist and Haroldo like this.
  20. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I have short fingers and it does cause me issues with finding the right 5 string bass. 6 String basses are totally off the table for me.
    If a neck profile is too thick I can have cramping issues if I am playing around the lower frets. If it is too wide, I have to rely too much on my middle finger and ring finger. As it is, my pinkie has trouble reaching the E string when doing quick runs on a four.
    I have never known Victor Wooten to have particularly short fingers. I played a Fodera once (and only once, because I've only ever seen one once) and was surprised that the neck was pretty round. It was a light bass, which was nice. Anyway, maybe if he does have shorter fingers, that could be why we adopted the style he did.
    99% of the time, when I'm watching videos of bass players I am impressed by, they have monster catcher's mitt hands. The only guy I've seen with stubby digits like mine was the former bassist from Ne Obliviscaris, Brendan Brown.