guitarist with small hands is playing the guitar

The 10 Most Iconic Guitarists With Small Hands

April 13, 2022 Selin Gökova 6 min read 1 Comment

Don’t back off from playing the guitar because you have small hands. You might not know this, but so many famous guitarists have used their small hands to make a difference and stick to the norm.

Angus Young, Prince, and Paul Simon are just some famous guitarists who had small hands. But we’ll be talking about many others too that joined the industry despite seeming to be at a disadvantage, and they managed to make a name out of themselves.

So it’s not the tiny hands that would put you at a disadvantage; rather, not knowing how to use them for playing the guitar would. If you are looking for some inspiration or even knowledge on turning your small hands into the same feature that will help you become a great guitarist, read on!

Angus Young

Ranked 24th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Angus Young is the lead guitarist and co-founder of the iconic rock band AC/DC. He’s known for putting up great shows that are lively and energetic.

Though Angus Young does have small hands, it never stopped him from being a successful guitarist and achieving so much in his life. He made sure to find different ways to play the guitar and increase his reach which might seem difficult with shorthands.

Angus Young is known to play the guitar extraordinarily fast and leave people thunderstruck! (Yes, pun intended) He uses three fingers, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th one.

For these reasons, Angus Young has inspired so many people and instilled the thought that if he can do it, then so can others with small hands.


Prince started when he was only 7. That was the first time he wrote a song on his dad’s piano. He had a way about instruments from a very young age because his parents were also musicians.

His talent and skills led him to get ranked 27 amongst the 100 Greatest Artists by Rolling Stone.

Like Purple Rain and Sign O’ The Times, many of his songs were also ranked highly by Rolling Stone. And when it comes to playing the guitar, Prince is still considered one of the best guitarists. However, he did have small hands and was also shorter, just like Angus Young.

Did small hands stop him from being his best self? Not at all! Moreover, Prince had a guitar collection that is every guitarist’s dream. 

Nancy Wilson

Just around 5’2, Nancy Wilson broke many labels with her success with small hands. She was a great guitarist despite her small hands, but she also shocked everyone with her abilities that doubted her for being a woman.

Nancy had formed a band called Heart with her elder sister Ann Wilson and other musicians too. She not only played the guitar but was a vocalist too. She was famous for mixing up flamenco, classical and hard rock and this made her stand out.

Paul Simon

With a 5’3 height came small hands too, and Paul Simon publically vocalized how his short height led to a lot of discrimination from society. Despite his many troubles, he continued playing the guitar and showed the world that he was different.

Paul Simon had a love-hate relationship with his school friend Art Garfunkel, they’d often sing together and then split when things didn’t go too well.

Paul Simon went on to win 12 Grammy Awards and many honors and awards.

Danny Gatton

Not only did Danny Gatton get nominated for a Grammy Award, but he’s also recognized as a legendary guitarist. He had become a part of many bands, but his first one was called ‘The Lancers.’ 

Since he had small hands, he decided to tweak things to suit his style better. For instance, he used the Fender Telecaster 1953, which was also customized, and this helped him play the guitar with his tiny hands much better.

Gatton was also great at mixing several genres, which got his playing style the name ‘redneck jazz.’

The notable thing is that Danny Gatton did not stop playing the guitar because he had small hands; he found ways to get around it, and so can you. There are many hacks that can help you play, no matter how difficult it may seem to play certain music.

You should start by getting used to the pinky finger when you play the lead guitar and this will help you to ease into using small hands to play the guitar.

Phil Keaggy

Phil Keaggy is a great guitarist that also received the GMA Dove Award seven times. He began with a band called Squires, and they rose to fame after publishing the song Batmobile. Is that not the best thing ever?

He achieved this despite having small hands, and that’s not all, he was also short of a finger!

Due to an accident when he was very young, he lost one of his fingers. Yet he still manages to play well and shocks his audience because people refuse to believe he can play so well with only nine short fingers.

But as long as you practice and play well, your hand size will never matter. Over time you’ll notice that your hand span increases, and you can reach the fretboard further.

Randy Rhoads

Randy Rhoads was around 5’5, and it was a given that he’d have small hands. Yet he played so well and so quickly, making him so famous at that time. Though he died very young, he still inspires people today.

Rhoads was one of the co-founders of Quiet Riot, and he was also really close with his bandmate Ozzy Osbourne.

Rhoads had been a songwriter and guitarist while he worked with Ozzy. Though his journey was brief, he left a mark on the music industry.

Randy Rhoads spoke about the hand exercises he’d always do, especially before going on stage. It would often include the 1st, 2nd, and 4th finger. These hacks allow people to perform music just as good as people with big hands.

Steve Lukather

Ever heard of Africa by Toto? Steve Lukather was the mastermind behind this iconic song.

A guitarist that recorded 1,500 albums and more, can you imagine that? He also received a total of 5 Grammy Awards for different things. But if he can achieve all this with small hands, who says that having small hands is a disadvantage?

Steve Lukather had stubby fingers, and he often used chromatic phrasing in both his licks and solos. It has provided him with an edge that no one else has. So his notes are usually semitone or half step apart.

He remained persistent throughout his musical journey and maybe that’s what kept his band ‘Toto’ going for a long time.

Shawn Lane

Another guitarist that had small hands was Shawn Lane. His hitchhiker’s thumb was also more pronounced, and this gave him the chance to have a tighter grip on the pick. Is that not a significant advantage?

Shawn Lane used an Ibanez guitar, and it was rumored to be the only one made as a signature token for him. It was called the ‘Ghost Rider,’ and he played on it fantastically. 

Muriel Anderson

You’d be surprised if you have seen Muriel Anderson playing because her hands look tiny. However, she knows what to do to play better. She holds the guitar neck up as it grants her full access to the guitar’s fingerboard. This way, she doesn’t need to bend her wrist uncomfortably.

She’s also the first person to win the National Fingerpicking Guitar Championship.

Her talent is not restricted to just guitar, as she also plays the harp and is always exceptional in her performances. If you choose to play her way, you’d be able to play lots of different neck widths.

These were the 10 famous guitarists with small hands.

All of the players mentioned above have accomplished so much in the music industry and have publically displayed their talent and impressive guitar skills. Having small hands did not hinder their performances or success in any way.

View the 20 famous small-handed pianists that proved hand size doesn’t matter.

Take these small-handed guitarists as an inspiration and let them encourage you to pursue your hobby no matter what size your hands are.

And, get practicing!

Selin Gökova

Selin Gökova is a neo-classical composer and pianist from Istanbul, Turkey. Holding an ABRSM certificate on piano performance, she's been playing the piano and composing for ten years. Wandering Tunes is her side project where she combines her two passions: writing and music.

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1 Comment

  • Priti Kumari April 21, 2022 at 8:25 am


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    Hi, my name is Selin. Playing the piano and composing are my biggest passions. I've founded this blog to share everything I've learned throughout the years about piano playing and learning. I hope you stick around! Read More

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