So, you’re going through the agony of burning fingertips from playing the guitar? I understand you. Finger pain from guitar is something every guitar player has gone through. And you, as a beginner, are no exception.
The process of learning how to play the guitar is not all roses and tulips. Everything has its downsides. You have to accept that this harsh, but true, fact applies even for the guitar. But let me tell you something: It Is Worth It!
A lot of people have given up because they thought that their fingers are not ‘designed’ to play the guitar. It’s really funny when I hear it, because there is no such thing as “designed to play the guitar”. If they are not designed for the guitar, then why don’t you design them? See, when it comes to something like this, positivity is your best friend.
Imagine yourself standing in front a huge throng of audience.. You are there, strumming those strings, while the crowd is cheering and listening to your music. No, this isn’t daydreaming. It’s called vision. You have to believe that you will be that person on that stage. And to get there, you HAVE to keep going.
Okay now, hopefully I have succeeded in fueling your motivation up. Let’s get back to our main point. We were talking about fingertip pain from playing the guitar. I am here to tell you that it’s completely normal. Lucky for you, there are ways to minimize the pain.
HOWEVER, do NOT try to avoid the pain. Yes, it is painful, but in a good way. And for a good reason. In the long term, your finger tips will start to harden and develop something callus, synonym for ‘hardened skin.’ When that happens, you won’t feel even the slightest tinge of pain. Exceptions do apply, though. If you play for 3 hours straight, for example, it’s almost impossible for your fingers not to hurt. Your fingers are not metallic robots.
They list of ways that I will mention down below are just to minimize that pain, not to completely relieve it.
Ways to minimize fingertip pain.
- Get the right strings. This is crucial if you want to make the strings easier on your fingertips. There are different types of strings. They range from light gauge to heavy gauge strings. There are also the nylon and steel strings, but we’ll focus on the gauges for now. Usually, light gauge strings are more preferred, because they are, obviously, lighter. If you feel that your current gauge is a bit thick or heavy, consider switching to a lighter size.
- Don’t press too hard. This is a mistake a lot of beginners make. And it’s wrong. You shouldn’t press the strings with all of your might. If your action is properly set, a moderate and light press is all you need. Also, over-pressing won’t give off a better note sound or clarity. If anything, it might mute the string, not to mention tire your arm and fingers.
- Check your action. If you didn’t get what I meant by action in my last point, the action is the distance between the fret board and the strings on the guitar. If your action is too high, then it’s no wonder why you are having a hard time from your fingertips. A high action prompts the player to press harder to get the note, so a lower action is better. Usually, this is a matter of guitar quality. Guitars of poor quality have actions that are either too low or too high, both of which are undesirable. If you feel that your action is on either extremities, get your action professionally set up if you have no experience in such route.
- Try some remedies to dull the pain. Remedies are a good way to lessen the pain from your fingertips. Cold water is a simple remedy for this case. All you have to do is soak your fingers in cold water for a few seconds. Do that before and after playing. It will make huge difference.
- Type of instrument. If you have a steel string guitar, it’s actually a good idea to switch to a nylon string guitar. Nylon strings are relatively way more softer on fingers. However, I don’t really recommend beginners to try this route because it’s going to prolong the time for calluses to develop. When your calluses do develop, you are going to feel pretty much nothing whilst playing. Don’t you think it’s worth enduring the pain?
Lastly, do not stop practicing. Consistent pressure on your fingertips will cause a hardened layer to form on the skin. But to get those calluses, you have to keep playing. There is no other way around it. When I first started out, my fingertips used to be on fire after my guitar sessions. There were cases where they used to bleed and burn like crazy. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but it was well worth it.
If you are really in the point of unbearable pain, then you have the option to invest in some fingertip protectors. There is also something called artificial callus, which is a formula that can be applied on the fingertips to form a layer. Basically, it’s fake callus, but it does the job. I have looked up some good fingertip protectors that don’t cost much.
This is the callus formula:
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