Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
soundknight21
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby soundknight21 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:42 am

Wayne s made a comment about students being successful with a guitar that suited their body, i generally agree, however some people produce a certain feeling in their playing by over coming the limitations and ergonomical excentricities of the CG Guitar.
There is something about this discussion a little over looked. If you change the string spacing at the bridge but dont compensate at the nut the strings obtain different intonations and a straight 12th fret makes for intonation problems. I read a bit about it whilst in Japan, the company that makes electric guitars is called "History", they have some nice diagrams on it.
If you could change the fret shape to a slightly arched shape this would be a measured compensation for a change in string length of the more external strings e6 a5 b2 and e1.

hemiphractus
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby hemiphractus » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:24 pm

One can develop a problem with acquiring decent guitars on the cheap as they start to take up too much space in the house. Perhaps a better use for these would be to provide instruments to students who either could not otherwise afford a decent instrument or just don't have a clue about what a nice instrument should be.

kechance
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby kechance » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:10 am

Hello after a slight absence. I've changed jobs, moved and am living in Europe now. :-) With luck and some free time, I'll be making pilgrimages to some of Europe's great guitar makers - Hauser, Friedrich, Ramirez, Manazero, Contreras - while I'm here.

If you've taken interest in this thread, please submit your hand measurements soon, as I'll be doing the ergonomic study and statistical analysis over the next few weeks. After that, I'll be able to publish a revised table from the head of this thread, if revisions prove necessary.

Thanks to all contributors so far and an invitation to provide further measurements! Ken

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Michael.N.
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby Michael.N. » Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:57 pm

I hope everyone is measuring using the very same criteria, otherwise it makes a nonsense of the results.
Perhaps it would be advisable to give more exact instructions on how to measure.
Here are my measurements, fully stretched but without really straining the last mm! Measurement taken from the extreme edges of each digit as opposed to centre - centre measurement:

Pinky to Thumb: 215mm
Pinky to Index: 165mm
Pinky to Middle: 140mm
Pinky to Ring: 85mm

I play a Panormo copy. Much smaller than a modern Classical, with a Nut width of 47 mm and string length of just 630 mm's. One of the biggest factors in 'hand comfort' (if I may call it that) is the string band/Nut width. It is at least as significant as string length IMO. Don't forget that the Guitars of Sor, Aguado were much friendlier in terms of string length and Nut width. Giuliani may have played on a Guitar where the Nut width was probably as little as 44 or 45 mm's or smaller - hence his use of left hand thumb over technique.
Historicalguitars.

fishdavis
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby fishdavis » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:48 pm

pinky to thumb: 200mm, stretched: 205mm
pinky to index: 170mm, stretched: 175mm
pinky to middle: 145mm, stretched: 150mm
pinky to ring: 100mm, stretched: 110mm
pinky/ring/middle finger stack: 35mm

hand length, about 170mm, width at widest point with thumb about 95mm. i have pretty small hands and small fingers. i like the neck on my guitar, any fatter would be a bit much probably...

scale length: 650 (i do find 640 instruments seem a bit easier to play. but really the biggest difference (HUGE!) i felt was lowering my action, which was rather high. high/medium tension strings don't really feel very different? although learning tough stretches on that longer scale length and action certainly must have beefed my finger strength up somewhat!)
nut width: 52mm

:)

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LVR
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby LVR » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:01 pm

The other hand size topic; I suggest data merge.
The basic thing about playing the guitar is the pleasure you get from it. There's nothing wrong with pleasure is there?
Julian Bream

fluffy

Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby fluffy » Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:41 pm

Here are the measurements for a comfortable stretch.

pinky > thumb 202 mm
pinky > index 135 mm
pinky> middle 105 mm
pinky > ring 70 mm
stack 36 mm

I broke my l. pinky as a kid and it was never set and now it bends toward the nut when it is bent--a LOT. it makes playing barred chords harder. I am still searching for a good fit, but for now know that I prefer 50mm nut to 52 mm. Have not tried many guitars smaller than 650.

kechance
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby kechance » Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:03 am

It is long over due, but here are the results! Before I articulate them, let me say that these are just size guidelines issued for those who want some place to start from in considering guitar size. But like everything in life (shoes, articles of clothing, undergarments), you wont really know that they fit until you try them on. This is not an attempt to tell anzone what size guitar they must have, instead if you have been fighting your guitar or uncomfortable with it, these numbers may help you find a solution. A guitar is a tool for sound production, and in the end it must fit in the hands of the player.

After looking at every ones measurements, the most highly correlated measurement versus scale length preferrence was thumb to pinky distance, with a R squared correlation of 0.6. In non mathematical terms, that is a pretty good fit of the data to a line, in other words, the bigger the thumb to pinky distance, the longer the scale length that was preferred and vice versa. Other measurements, like index to pinky, which I had expected to be the most highly correlated measruement, had lower correlation values, like 0.4, 0.05 and 0.06. R squared values less than 0.5 indicate not good fits of lines to data.

The best fit curve has the formula of 0.46*(thumb to pinky distance in mm)+547mm. For me, with my 240mm span, this worked out to 656mm, which is where I personally am most comfortable. Time to commission a Hauser!

There was not enough data submitted for pinky ring index stacks to develop correlation data. However, if your finger stack is above 40mm, consider a 54mm neck witdh.

The chart at the head of this thread should be revised, as well, since it expressed guitar size in terms of index to pinky distances, and this does not correlate well with player preferences. The revised chart, using commonly available neck sizes and expressing scale length versus the thumb to pinky distance, would be as follows

Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 250+ 664mm scale length
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 230 to 250 656mm scale length
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 210 to 230 650mm scale length
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 190 to 210 640mm scale length
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of 170 to 190 630mm scale length
Thumb tip to pinky tip span of below 170 615mm scale length

I hope that this information will be of use to people who are still looking for that guitar that fits their hands. Happy Playing!

pablus
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby pablus » Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:06 pm

My pinky-thumb strech is 210mm
pinky index 180mm
pinky-ring-middle stack 42mm
I play 650mm (but would not mind having 645, also 655mm is managable). I definitely
need 54mm nut size with 43.5 string spacing (at least).
In fact the string spacing is much more important to me than the scale length.
I just don't feel any comfort playing something with smaller string spacing.
The correlation of had-size vs. string length seems to work for me! Good job. P.

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robin loops
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby robin loops » Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:41 pm

I just noticed the humor in the title of this thread...
"Scale length and neck width versus hand size"

Makes it sound as if the two are somehow at odds with each other... With the guitar being one of instruments that presents the most ergonomic problems, that is so true!

I suppose in many ways it's US Versus THE GUITAR :-D
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby AndreiKrylov » Sat Apr 07, 2012 10:07 pm

robin loops wrote:I just noticed the humor in the title of this thread...
"Scale length and neck width versus hand size"

Makes it sound as if the two are somehow at odds with each other... With the guitar being one of instruments that presents the most ergonomic problems, that is so true!

I suppose in many ways it's US Versus THE GUITAR :-D


All instruments present ergonomic problems... guitar is probably not the worst it is one of the better ones...
Playing piano you condemned to sit... playing violin - neck, chin, hands position not ergonomic at all and there is no way to change it... playing flute - we crooked on one side... etc. - with guitar we have choices, we could sit or stand, have guitars of different sizes, and if our guitars are not too large for us we can put our hands not far from our bodies and would not have to have that much strain and stress as it could be in the case of some other major music instruments!


but I'm totally disagree with this pinky-thumb *correlation* approach...

It is too simplistic because:

1. If someone wants to make any correlations in this then, not one, but many measurements should be used.

a) the whole length of the hand
b) the length of the hand between elbow and thumb
c) the size of shoulders
d) the size of the chest
e) age of the player
f) the physical condition of the person - because different people has different speed, power, could do different stretches...
g) guitar playing level and experience
and other things etc.

Guitar is an instrument with which we do a lot of work, in this work we use many parts of our body and it is a way too simplistic to thing that our playing will be best and depends only on distance between two fingers and size of guitar...

my right hand is between pinky and thumb - !! 260 mm !!
according to this I should play 664 mm ??

But I hate 664 mm guitar, and prefer 650mm scale and 42mm between 1 and 6 string, or shorter (I'm fine with 550 mm Lute)

If someone wants to make a formula like that - then he should use not pinky-thumb versus scale length but all points which I mentioned and even more...

Then it would be helpful and useful correlation.

And larger guitar will demand lot more strength and stretch and work from your back, shoulders, neck, hands etc.
from the person who have more distance between pinky-thumb, but much less strength and stretch abilities ?
And then this person will have problems/pain etc. because of following advice (according pinky-thumb versus scale length table ) about *proper* size of guitar for him...
I'd better speak by music...Please listen Andrei Krylov at CDbaby, iTunes, Spotify, Amazon etc. Thanks!

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robin loops
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby robin loops » Sat Apr 07, 2012 11:14 pm

I agree about the pinky thumb correlation not being a perfect approach. In my case this wouldn't work at all because I have relatively short thumbs in relation to my finger length... Stretches are done with the first through fourth fingers while the thumb sits behind the neck. Thumb length may come into play when considering neck thickness (With my little thumbs, a thinner profiled neck is more comfortable) but short thumbs won't necessarily limit someone with longer fingers from making stretches needed on a longer scale guitar.

As for other factors: I have found a 560 scale guitar with a slightly narrower nut and lower action, easier to play than a 550 with standard nut width and higher action. So aside from some of the factors Andrei mentions I would say that a 'perfect' equation would also include other characteristics of the guitar. So while formulas may serve as a good starting point, nothing can substitute experimentation by sampling different guitars. Maybe someone should make a device like you use in the shoe store to size the feet, patent it, and make a fortune. ;-)

As far as ergonomics of the guitar, perhaps I should have said 'ergonomic issues for the hands', (rather than assuming that would be understood considering the post is about hand size). Either way, whether it does or doesn't present more ergonomic issues, this thread still has a funny title.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
-James-

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby AndreiKrylov » Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:50 pm

robin loops wrote:I agree about the pinky thumb correlation not being a perfect approach. In my case this wouldn't work at all because I have relatively short thumbs in relation to my finger length... Stretches are done with the first through fourth fingers while the thumb sits behind the neck. Thumb length may come into play when considering neck thickness (With my little thumbs, a thinner profiled neck is more comfortable) but short thumbs won't necessarily limit someone with longer fingers from making stretches needed on a longer scale guitar.

As for other factors: I have found a 560 scale guitar with a slightly narrower nut and lower action, easier to play than a 550 with standard nut width and higher action. So aside from some of the factors Andrei mentions I would say that a 'perfect' equation would also include other characteristics of the guitar. So while formulas may serve as a good starting point, nothing can substitute experimentation by sampling different guitars. Maybe someone should make a device like you use in the shoe store to size the feet, patent it, and make a fortune. ;-)

As far as ergonomics of the guitar, perhaps I should have said 'ergonomic issues for the hands', (rather than assuming that would be understood considering the post is about hand size). Either way, whether it does or doesn't present more ergonomic issues, this thread still has a funny title.


Thanks for your thoughts , Robin!
Yes it is not enough - pinky thumb correlation...
One need to consider lot more - many things... :)
I'd better speak by music...Please listen Andrei Krylov at CDbaby, iTunes, Spotify, Amazon etc. Thanks!

Wayne S

Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby Wayne S » Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:00 am

Andrei and Robin, you have some good points and I would also agree that the neck thickness is a factor that has a big impact on playing and hand size the other thing to mention is the shape of the neck, many necks have a semi circular shape while others have a more ovoid (Oval) shape and one I played almost seemed to have a flat rectangular shape.
We need to chart all these facts as they become available so that the Luthiers can improve the art and science of construction.
Cheers Wayne S.

Vassily

Re: Scale length and neck width versus hand size

Postby Vassily » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:34 am

Pinky to Thumb: 200mm
Pinky to Index: 150mm
Pinky to Middle: 120mm
Pinky to Ring: 65mm


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