Sore Fingers when playing guitar?
One of the issues that comes up frequently with guitar learners is the subject of sore fingers. This happens to virtually everyone at first and generally improves the more you play. The reason for this is that playing the guitar builds up calluses on your finger tips, which helps prevent soreness.
There are some other things you might want to consider!
Action: Ensure your guitar is well set up. This means that the strings are the optimum height above the frets, so you should not have to push them down very far.
Strings: nylon strings are easier on the fingers than steel strings. However also consider that light gauge strings are easier on the fingertips then heavier strings – especially true for steel strung guitars. Also old and dirty strings are more likely to make your finger tips sore, so keep you strings clean and change them regularly – this will also help your guitar sound it’s best.
Pressure: try to use as little pressure as is needed to fret notes, it is usual for beginners in particular to push down too hard on the strings. Also be aware that bending strings, especially with heavy strings can cause more pain, due to the increased pressure that is required for this move.
The key is to practice regularly for short periods. Also make sure that you use your little finger! Use warm up exercises that makes sure you use your little finger lots, for instance.
Some people have used either surgical spirits or Apple cider vinegar to harden up their callouses – I do not recommend this route, but it can help some people.
A word or two of caution. I remember reading that George Harrison used to practice until his fingers bled. Don’t do that! Also, to continue the Beatles theme, if you get blisters on your fingers (cf Ringo at the end of Helter Skelter on the White Album) then rest up for a bit and don’t pop them. They will go away on their own in a couple of days.
Once you are building up callouses, make sure that you do not play guitar after a bath/shower/ washing your hands – or any time you have had your hands submerged in water – this softens the skin and makes it easy to destroy your callouses. Leave it at least half an hour if you can. At least make sure your hands are completely dry. I like to wash my hands before playing and leave about 15 mins between washing and playing.
If you have any further questions about this just let me know.
Guitar Lessons in Bristol, Backwell, Nailsea and Keynsham.