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Hand size or hand stretch?

dfassodfasso Northern California
edited January 2014 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 12
I know that there are some (very helpful) discussions out there about alternate fingerings of chords that don't involve thumb use. I've been grappling with many of the chords presented in L'Esprit Manouche, and i was wondering this - is it large hands that allow people to play these chords, or is it simply a matter of training the hand to stretch to meet them? I've managed to stretch to get a few that I initially thought were impossible, but I can't get many of them, and I can't even begin to imagine throwing them into a fluid or high speed progression.

What do you think? Do most people struggle to get there, or is it a piece of cake if your hands are the right size? Thanks.


  • jonpowljonpowl Hercules, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Altamira M01F
    Posts: 614
    I like the sound of 3 and 4 note chords as found in Robin Nolan's Gig Book, and they are easier to play for the rookie gypsy jazzer. Occasionally he'll mix in a barre chord, but for the most part 3 & 4 note chords. As @stuart said, hand and guitar neck size as well as scale will make a difference.
  • JonJon melbourne, australiaProdigy Dupont MD50B, '79 Favino
    Posts: 391
    A student once asked me to place my palms together and stretch the fingers as wide as I could. Interestingly, my left hand - the one that's been stretching for things just about every day for a couple of decades - has about a 2cm wider spread than the right. Chords like the standard gypsy voicing for a G minor 6th (355355) with thumb over the neck and no 4th finger were very hard for me at the beginning, but not so much now. It's definitely worth the effort and sticking with it.
  • edited January 2014 Posts: 3,707
    That's actually a minor 6/9 as it has both the E and an A.

    I find the 3 note 3 x 2 3 xx to be a good easy voicing and if I need a fully voiced one try the grande barre on 3 and fretting the 5,4 & 2 strings at 5 fret with 2,3 & 4 fingers. It's pretty quick once one gets it.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • dfassodfasso Northern California
    Posts: 12
    Glad to hear these tips. I think I will focus on learning the songs and rhythm in workable ways first, and spend a little time here and there trying to make those stretches. Otherwise, it may be years before I comfortably get through lesson 1.
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