Hand Size And Scale Length

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
AndreiKrylov

Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by AndreiKrylov » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:45 pm

MatthiasYoung wrote:I've recently discovered some shorter scale classical guitars and I find them extremely comfortable to play. I've never measured my hand span, but I can reach the interval of an 11th on the piano. And "full" scale is 650mm. So a Les Paul is a child's guitar at 630mm? I think not. 19th century guitars were in the 610mm-620mm range. The guitar scale length has grown to accommodate the need for more sound, but it gets to a point where there is a diminishing return. If a string is longer, it takes more energy to move air, so at a certain point, it's not louder, hence why bass guitars are quiet.
Thanks for very interesting point Matthias!

djenkins

Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by djenkins » Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:32 pm

I am 4' 11" (1.49 meters) and my hand measurements are:
Pinky to Thumb 68mm
Index to Pinky 128mm
Palm Width 68 mm

Not sure what the 3 finger stack is

my finger lengths are:
Thumb 50mm
Index 67mm
middle 73mm
ring 65mm
and pinky 52mm

No way can I play a 650mm guitar! I agree, guitar dimensions ought to match hand dimensions. I need a shorter scale length that can only be found in 3/4 size guitars, and they are generally of low quality and sound bad.

When you lower the scale length everything about playing becomes substantially easier, the string tension becomes substantially lower and the guitar becomes easier to play. And there is no reason a shorter scale instrument should have bad intonation if it is built properly. As another contributor pointed out, the classical guitar "standard scale length" used to be much shorter. I have just purchased a set of plans based on an Antonio de Torres guitar with a 604mm scale length. I don't think Antonio de Torres would have built a guitar he knew would sound bad!

If you need a louder instrument there are many excellent options for amplifying the sound electronically, and if you are not trying to project to the back of a concert hall, do you really need as loud of an instrument?

I am a novice guitar player and just want to play for my own enjoyment, family and friends. My dream guitar would allow me to play barre chords without putting horrifying amounts of pressure on the delicate bones and ligaments in my hands. They are the only hands I have and I need them to last for the duration.

Thanks for the hand measurements and I hope more people will contribute. I have been thinking on the subject for some time and am learning to build guitars so I can build good quality instruments which fit women and men with small hands. I can sympathize with those players with large hands as well, I'm sure that end of the size spectrum has their own problems with the "one size fits all approach"! :D

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George Crocket
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Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by George Crocket » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:33 pm

Hi Djenkins.

Welcome to the Delcamp classical guitar forum.

Please have a look at this page for more information about the forum and its rules, then introduce yourself herefor a proper welcome.
George
2010 Stephen Eden spruce/cocobolo classical guitar
2012 Stephen Eden cedar/IRW classical guitar

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Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by LVR » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:00 pm

kechance wrote:I'm still hoping to receive more hand measurements on this thread - there have been almost 2000 views, but only approx 20 measurements of hands.
There seem to be 2 concurrent topics on handsize and scale length. Perhaps you can use data from the other thread as well. It's called something like "Hand size and neck length and width." I and others have posted measurements there and very likely most do not even realize that this is a different thread.
The basic thing about playing the guitar is the pleasure you get from it. There's nothing wrong with pleasure is there?
Julian Bream

kechance

Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by kechance » Sun Apr 01, 2012 9:04 am

right. this older thread was the inspiration for the newer one. If you can/ want to merge them, feel free. the second theead was intended to make the measurements more consistent among contributors.

I have only about thrity sets of measurements now. And like most surveys, most respondents are those who have been inconvenienced; in this case small hands and too big a guitar or vice versa. But maybe there is enough to recalculte the table.

kechance

Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by kechance » Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:29 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 a similar thread on this topic 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!

AndreiKrylov

Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by AndreiKrylov » Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:52 pm

kechance wrote: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 a similar thread on this topic 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!
I'm sorry but I'm totally disagree with this approach...
It is too simplistic and even not useful for many cases...

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...
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)

I think that larger size of guitar and longer length of the neck will create more health problems, than benefits for player!
- back pain, spine , nerve, tendinitis etc problems.
650 mm is already large enough for any player and even a bit smaller and shorter guitar will be more ergonomical less physically demanding to play.

It would be very interesting if someone would make a study of guitarists health in time before year 1900, when most of guitars were smaller.
Myself I never heard/ read about massive amount of health complains (like it is now) connected with guitar playing then... and by the way many guitarists played in standing position.

I have a large hands, but I don't like long and wide necks

Yes guitar must be as convenient as possible, but it is not as simple as shoes size (my shoes size 13 by the way) .

kechance

Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by kechance » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:53 pm

Thanks to those who presented addtional measurements and additional commentary saying that more detail is needed. Indeed, I couldn't agree more. However...this was not meant to be comprehensive - it is just a useful starting point, using simply made measurements, to provide guidance to those who are 'fighting' the ergonomics of their instrument.

As to one particular point, what is more important thumb to pinky distance or index to pinky distance? I also expected index to pinky to be more important, but in doing the statistical analysis, the significantly better correlation was to thumb to pinky. A bigger dataset may have produced a different correlation.

So, submit your measurements! :D And eventually, I will recalc using the additional data.

And if you want to propose a more comprehensive measuring schema, I am happy to work with the larger dataset. Start a thread and tie me in to it.

Ken

PS: Some have aluded to hand strain being correlated to larger neck sizes. I find on small neck guitars, that I have to arch my hand more, and do fold backs of end joints on my fingers. For me, that is very straining. Whereas finger splay is comparatively easy. Strain may be a person to person thing, too, not absolutely correlated to a neck size, but rather to the player in combination with the neck. I am fortunate enough not to have had strain, but I definitely sympathize with those who face this challenge.

kechance

Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by kechance » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:02 pm

Hi to all who have taken an animated part in this discussion. I am still looking for hand maeasurements. If you could take a momment to measure your hand as described in the thread, I'll add the new data to the database and post new guidelines, if any emerge, for the guitar to hand size relationship. I will also recheck the correlation figures to see if the statistical relationships persist in a larger data set.

Cheers - Ken

MatthiasYoung

Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by MatthiasYoung » Thu Aug 16, 2012 7:48 pm

Is there actually a scientific chart anywhere that relates hand span/size to scale length? If not, what really determines the optimum scale length for a player's hand?

kechance

Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by kechance » Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:40 am

The only 'scientific' chart that I know of is in this thread.

I put scientific in quotation marks, since it is scientific to the degree that reader responses were submitted. First of all, the data set is relatively small, 30 or so samples. People did their own measurements, rather than in a controlled environment. Also, not everyone submitted all the measurements. Finally, the sample isn't really random - it is just people who felt inclined to submit measurements, and those are people with higher than average interest, often because they've been inconvienienced by one guitar or another. The general population might show different statistical characteristics.

Still for what it is worth, the results bore out my own conceptions about neck length and width. I think it is not a bad place to start, lacking anything else. Smaller isn't necessarily better. And bigger isn't necessarily better. I do believe that much of comfort comes down to the proportions between the instrument and its player.
Last edited by kechance on Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by soltirefa » Sat Aug 25, 2012 2:20 pm

I have 650, 640, and 630 guitars. I have been back and forth between them and conclude that it's a tradeoff. You go to 630mm and you get some easier reaches, but you give up that luxurious roomy feeling of a 650mm, and that is something that makes playing easier. With a 630mm, if you're playing up at the 10th fret or so, the chords/fingerings are going to be crunched together more. Not only that, but because the neck is shorter your hand is actually closer to your body when playing anything, but especially noticeable with chords high on the neck. You find your elbow is now touching your body.

There is something about the "splay" your hand gets with the longer scale that makes playing easier. With the shorter scale your hand is crunched together more, and at times you find that you get more leverage with the splay of the longer scale.

Each has its advantages. Ideally you could buy a new, larger hand instead of a shorter scale guitar. Given the tradeoffs, with a 630mm you can learn to adapt to everything being crunched together more. But with the 650mm you can't grow a larger hand.

One thing I have found is that I like both long and short scale. It's refreshing to play my pieces on a larger scale after having played my short scale for a few weeks, and vice versa.

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Keith
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Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by Keith » Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:19 pm

well i am going to throw a monkey wrench into this machine. although scale length may be a factor i really think neck shape, nut width and action play a more critical role in one's playing comfort--afterall that is really most important for most players playing most pieces. scale length i think may be a factor appropriate for those who do not have good technique, have very small hands or have a hand pathology.
be true to the one you love but have many flings with different guitars

guitarras en la espiritu de la:
Marcelo Barbero
Jose Ramirez III

kechance

Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by kechance » Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:29 pm

Action height is very important. But we assume 'proper' set up, around 3mm at fret 12 on all guitars. (2.5 mm - 4 mm). If one's action is above this, it is too high. See a luthier.

As for neck width, it is also important, and finger stack is the human side of this factor. Fat fingers on a narrow neck won't work. (okay, okay, big boned fingers...not fat.)

As for neck shape, probably neck depth or thickness is the primary measurement. This would relate to finger lenghth. Problably longer fingers work better with a deeper neck. But no attempt has been made here to capture this as it is hard for most people, without a caliper, to measure neck thickness

Again, the point of this thread is to collect measurements and relate them to scale length and neck width. And this is a starting point to find a comfortable guitar. Individuals will have their own preferences that deviate from any average, but the further from the average preference, the lower the probability of this preference.

If people submit some more measurements, I will recalculate. :D

musicstand

Re: Hand Size And Scale Length

Post by musicstand » Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:26 pm

Hello Ken,
Neck thickness measurements.
Yamaha CG 150 CA.........24mm between nut and 1st fret.
Altamira N100 7/8 size Senorita.......20mm between nut and 1st fret.
Fender Stratocaster (naughty naughty).......22mm between nut and 1st fret.
Cheers
Jim

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