C Chord Blues: Short fingers/Small hands?

So I’ve been working on getting a clean C chord for a good month and half to two months. In a vacuum, I can play it no sweat. I can do 40 or 50 on 1 minute changes. But man on man I haven’t been able to clean my c chord up when playing actual songs. I might hit it clean 25% of the time and maybe even that’s exaggerating.

I’ve actually moved on to grade 2, but continue to work on this C chord with very little progress. I think part of the issue is my fingers are really short. Hands are really small so i’m trying to learn a good way to play them. Just wondering if anyone else had this kind of issue. I’ve considered picking up a short scale guitar to see if that helps… But, I figured I’d ask around here and see if anyone else had a similar issue with C and if it was just a matter of pushing through or maybe a technique thing?

Hi Javier,

I’m relatively short (5 feet 4inches) and have pretty small hands. I too had issues with the C chord when I was in grade 1. What helped me is focusing all of my song practice with songs with a C chord in it. (I used what’s up by 4 non blondes). I now do clean C chords about 99% of the time and have 0 problems incorporating it in songs. I bet it’s just a matter of persistence and patience.


Make sure that your thumb is in the correct position (on the middle of the back of the neck) and arch your fingers as much as possible to clear the strings, my hands are smaller than my wife’s yet I can still play clean chords on a Classical guitar which has quite a wide neck, just wait until you need to play a G7!!!


Thinking that my hands were the wrong shape for guitar was what made me give up guitar the first time in my teens. It’s just not true - don’t think that way.

If you can play a C chord clean in isolation, you can learn to play it clean in songs. It’s just practice, and slowing down. Remember practice makes permanent? Try to slow the songs down, or do one strum per bar, and try to get those changes clean, if slow. Then speed up the strumming. It will come with persistence, like @alexisduprey says. And once you have it, it will be automatic.

Some chords are hard ones to learn. Some are easy. C is the first hard one - later you’ll learn other chords that make C look like a piece of cake :wink:.

Yeah mate, it just comes down to technique and practice. You’ll get there before you know it. Maybe post a quick clip. It may illuminate something that the folks here can help with.
Re the small hands query, there’s plenty of 6 years olds on Youtube shredding it better than all of us with their tiny mitts. :smile:


I’ve got long fingers, and am still not happy with my C chord changes, after working on it for several months now.

Made worse because I had to give up on muting the big E string with my ring finger, and switch to thumb muting. Feels like I’m starting from scratch, and can be quite frustrating.

As others have said, posting a video would be a really good idea (this is definitely a case of “do as I say, not as I do”…I haven’t posted one on my C chord struggles either :()

On the other hand, nobody picked me on the C chords in my Behind Blue Eyes video, so I guess they sound OK to the listener. But they don’t feel good to play.


As Darrell mentions, check your hand positioning:


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Been working on it… Still not “perfect” but much improved. The app is really what’s been keeping me going, actually.

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Well done Javier, perseverance always come through. Couldn’t agree more with your comment about the app, it’s a god send!

Are you doing the module 4 finger stretches ? If not you should be as it will expand and open up your ability to stretch.


  1. When you’re comfortable doing this whole exercise at Fret 5, start moving it down the fretboard until you’re able to do it starting from the 1st fret.

As my fingers, well at my age, my whole body gets stiff and tight. I still do this as a daily warm up but start at the 7th fret and work down to the first. I have a number of songs that have a 4 fret span and always struggle if I approach them cold. This exercise opens things up and for sure back in the day made the C chord more doable.

Oh I have small hands and fingers, Or at least I think I have.

My 2 cents


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I actually do those stretches, maybe not as religiously as I should. I play daily, but 3 or 4 sessions are actually “formalized” practice. The others I’ll head up to my office for something else and end up spending an hour playing songs on the app. Lol.

Wife thinks I’m funny.

Mine thinks I am certifiable !! Make those stretches part of your daily warm up before playing. It will make a big difference. Just a few minutes doing those slow and deliberate stretches will make a world of difference. All about discipline.