I suggest switching to a "crossover" AKA "hybrid" classical guitar, which uses easy-to-press nylon strings, and incorporates a narrower fretboard than a standard classical guitar. For example, http://www.antoniohermosa.com/ah10nf.html , about $180usd new.
Tommymc touched on the guitar's...
I suggest switching to a "crossover" AKA "hybrid" classical guitar, which uses easy-to-press nylon strings, and incorporates a narrower fretboard than a standard classical guitar. For example, http://www.antoniohermosa.com/ah10nf.htm...
, about $180usd new.
Tommymc touched on the guitar's setup, and I wish to emphasize that. Take the guitar to a luthier or experienced guitar technician to check the neck relief (the fretboard's very, very slight forward bow), string heights at the nut (where the strings cross from the tuners to the fretboard), and height at the 12th fret.
Before anything else is checked or adjusted, the neck relief must be set. This is so quick and easy that shops very seldom charge for it.
String heights at the nut are determined by the depth of the slot a string rests in. It is common for the heights to be very excessive, making playing in the lower frets difficult, painful, and out-of-tune. As this is precision work and requires special tools, it's no DIY job.
Once the neck relief and nut slots are correct, string height at the 12th fret can be set. On an acoustic, the height is lowered by sanding the bottom of the saddle (which the strings cross before attaching to the body).
You might also consider changing to a light gauge string set, .011-to-.052 80/20 bronze. If you go even lighter, say to .010-to-.047 or silk&steel, very likely the neck relief will need to be adjusted for the lower tension.
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About hand size — I've been a bassist and guitarist for most of my professional life, and I often play standard classical guitars with a spacing of 1.7 inch (43.3mm) from E to E at the nut. My fretting hand's index finger, from the tip to the crease at the bottom, is below average at just 2.75 inch (6.99cm), but I seldom strain except in rather unusual cases.
It is quite possible that your difficulties are due, at least in part, to guitar positioning and suboptimal fretting-hand technique, and maybe limited finger-spread as well. A decent CLASSICAL guitar teacher can provide guidance in these areas, and give you reach & development exercises.