People with bigger hands often have a problem when selecting a new bass guitar. From the scale length to the width of the neck, you need to make sure that the guitar feels comfortable in your hand.
While you can adjust to playing the bass on any bass guitar, bass guitars with thicker neck profiles such as P-bass guitars are generally preferred to thinner necks. Neck width, string spacing, and scale are also important factors for big-handed players.
If you are in the market for a bass guitar and have big hands, you simply can’t go wrong with one of the following:
- Warwick bass guitars (jump to section)
- Yamaha Attitude (jump to section)
- Gibson Thunderbird (jump to section)
- G&L Tribute 2500 (jump to section)
The problem with big hands on bass guitar
If you are used to wearing XL or 2XL gloves, playing a bass guitar can be challenging on a small neck. Big hands typically run 8 to 9″ from wrist to fingertip and 9-10″ from stretched thumb to pinky.
Many players in this case find themselves playing with the base of their thumb resting on the top of the fretboard, which can be very uncomfortable and tends to make their hand cramp up.
Your fingers may get in the way of each other. You often mute strings that should be let ring, and accidentally fret unwanted strings.
Big-handed players playing on smaller bass necks typically wrap their fretting hand around the neck, with the top of their thumb coming to rest at the top of the fretboard.
Playing like this for an extended period of time, however, can quickly make your thumb start to hurt.
Wide vs thick bass necks for big hands
Most large-handed players recommend a bass guitar with a wider neck and a thicker, fat round neck front to back.
Players with big hands favor basses with wider necks as narrower necks tend to get too small for bigger hands, especially near the neck.
For this reason, Precision-style (1.625″ wide nut) and Rickenbacker-style bass guitars are often preferred over thinner Jazz bass necks (1.5″ nut width).
5-string basses are also favored for big hands for the same reason, as their wider necks with 19mm spacing feel quite comfortable for larger hands.
Neck profile & thickness
While neck width is important for comfort, neck profile is another crucial factor when choosing a good bass for big hands.
The shape (see below) and chunkiness of the neck makes a big difference for large-handed players. On a thicker neck, a large hand will grab on to more wood when playing. Some chunky necks have a curvature that feels like a baseball bat.
Some big-handed players tend to prefer necks with a thick chunky profile but a narrower nut width – such as a typical P-bass or the Gibson Thunderbird (see further below).
Fender categorized its bass neck profiles as follows:
C bass neck shape
The c-shape is the most commonly found neck profiles for bass guitars. These necks have a comfortable oval shape at the back which allows the player to rest their thumb easily.
The C shape isn’t as deep as U or V-shaped profiles They are very suitable for players with bigger hands.
V bass neck shape
If you like to play with your thumb over the edge of the fretboard, the V shaped bass is a good choice. V shaped necks come in too versions, a softer, more rounded V, and a sharper V.
U bass neck shape
U shaped neck profiles are rounded and chunky, often referred to as “baseball bats”. The U shaped is also quite common for people with bigger hands.
What about bass scale?
The scale of the bass guitar isn’t going to have a major impact on your playability, but it’s still something to take into consideration when choosing a bass for big hands.
Bass guitars with a shorter scale size have slightly less distance between the frets, which makes it a bit more playable for smaller hands. Short-scale basses are usually under 31” in length.
Long-scale basses, on the other hand, are above 33”, and are usually available in 34” and 35”.
The distance between the frets is slightly greater on long-scale basses, giving people with bigger hands or chunkier fingers a bit more space to move around the fretboard.
4 Top Bass Guitars for Big Hands
#1 best bass for big hands: Warwick bass guitars
Based in Germany, Warwick is one of the most popular bass guitar brands in the world. There 5 or 6 string basses are excellent for people with bigger hands.
Popular models like the Corvette have become a de facto choice for large-handed players who need a reliable bass that feels comfortable in their hands.
The 34” scale neck and U shaped fingerboard makes it easy for you to rest your fingers while playing.
Although the nut width on the Warwick is a bit narrow (1.77 inches) for a 5 string, the jumbo frets and massive fretboard with a relatively flat radius (especially at the nut end) makes it super comfortable to play with bigger hands.
Avoid the cheaper Warwick Rockbass which is cheaper but doesn’t have the tree trunk C-neck you want. The Corvette Proline and Standard, on the other hand are both excellent choices.
See the Warwick Corvette on Sam Ash
#2 best bass for big hands: Yamaha Attitude
If you have the budget ($2,000+) and need an excellent bass, the Yamaha Attitude is by far one of the best options available for a big handed player.
The Attitude 3, the company’s latest iteration, was made famous by Billy Sheehan, who has humongous hands. It’s one of the best guitars for those who want comfort and excellent value.
It features a 34” scale length and a 10” fingerboard radius. The fretboard width at the 12th fret is 2.26″ going all the way from 1.75″ at the nut. It’s a massive fingerboard that provides lots of room to play.
Overall a phenomenal bass guitar, especially for a large handed player.
More about Yamaha bass guitars here
See the Yamaha Attitude on Reverb
#3 best bass for big hands: Gibson Thunderbird
The Gibson Thunderbird is an iconic bass with a 34” scale length. It features a slightly larger fingerboard radius than the Yamaha Attitude at 12”. The nut width is relatively narrow at 1.5” but extends to 2.32” at the end of the board.
The 20 medium jumbo frets are spaced comfortably apart, and the 19 mm spacing string spacing makes it pleasant for bigger hands.
More about Gibson basses here.
See The Gibson Thunderbird on Sam Ash
#4 best bass for big hands: G&L Tribute L2500
The G&L Tribute L2500 bass guitar builds on the legacy of the L2000 bass released in 1989. This is a beast of an instrument with 21 medium jumbo frets and a 12” neck radius.
The 34” scale length makes it a good choice for players with bigger hands. The guitar has a medium C neck profile, allowing you to comfortably wrap your hand around the fretboard while playing.
The neck width at the nut is 1.75″, giving you lots of freedom to play the lower frets without worrying about your fingers getting in the way.
See the G&L Tribute L2500 on Reverb
Final words: a few bass tips for big hands
Bass players with bigger hands don’t always have to limit themselves to instruments with bigger neck profiles. Skilled players are able to play almost any bass guitar, though they must sacrifice a bit of comfort in the process.
With bigger hands, stretching your fingers before playing is a good idea. You also need to learn to create and maintain an arch when placing your fingers on the fretboard to reduce unintentional muting of the strings.
Work on wrapping your hand properly around the bottom of the neck. Bring it a bit closer to the E string, but without pressing on it. You’ll notice a dramatic increase in the range of motion available to you.