Learning to play the guitar is a pursuit that can bring much fulfillment into your life. It has certainly brought happiness to mine.
But many people who start playing guitar eventually quit because learning to play the guitar can be very painful in the beginning.
Self-improvement is an amazing life pursuit and pushing through the pain of first learning the guitar can be really rewarding.
If you want to get really good at guitar you need to accept the fact that you are going to go through a little bit of pain. Pain is OK.
A little bit of pain means that you are pushing yourself to your limits. Pushing yourself builds your skill on the guitar as with many other things in life.
You should be careful, however, that your practice technique is not causing you more discomfort than is needed.
When you get sore fingers while playing the guitar, playing through the pain will help you to improve. However, knowing when to take a day off to rest your fingers is also important.
The calluses that form after extended guitar playing are a natural side effect of playing the guitar, especially if you are playing an acoustic guitar with high action.
These calluses are usually temporary and can actually help you play guitar better.
When the tips of your fingers get harder, it becomes easier to press down the string and easier to play for longer without your fingers getting sore or going numb.
If you are experiencing sore fingertips or numb fingers, it is usually natural and nothing to worry about. Just take a short break and play again in a few hours.
If you lose feeling in your fingers completely, it could be another medical condition and you should seek advice from a professional medical practitioner.
I am not a doctor and this article is just my advice from personal experience. You should always take the advice of your doctor over anything you read on the internet.
Playing a lot of guitar is going to make your fingers sore; that is just a fact. This is OK and a good thing. If you push through this phase, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and come out the other side as a capable guitarist.
I do not want you guys to quit. I want you to push through the pain and become better guitarists. That is why I have compiled a list of things that you can do to ease the pain and make your practice sessions more comfortable and something to look forward to.
1. Tweak your guitar.
Action is the distance between your strings and the fretboard. It can be adjusted in many different ways on the guitar.
Your guitar’s action is the biggest contributing factor to finger pain after long periods of practicing.
Lowering the action can make your guitar much easier and more comfortable to play. You must be careful, however, because the lower the action the more fret buzz your will get on your strings.
You can lower the action by either adjusting the neck height, bridge height, truss rod, neck saddle or bridge saddle.
A combination of all these adjustments will get you the best action possible on your guitar. Once you have made adjustments, remember to check your intonation.
You should try and find the perfect balance where you get no fret buzz at all but the strings are as close to the fretboard as possible.
If you do not know how to do this yourself, feel free to take your guitar to your local music shop to have it adjusted.
2. Don’t press too hard
I know it sounds obvious, but beginners tend to press down too hard on the frets while playing because they are trying hard to play the song.
Not only should you relax while practicing to avoid bad posture and stiffness but you should relax your fingers so that they are only pressing down as hard as they need to.
Pressing down too hard will cause you more pain than is needed and will stop you from practicing for as long as you could.
To check if you are pressing down too hard, fret a chord as you normally would and release more and more on each strum until you find the point where the notes do not ring properly.
Try and always play your guitar at this strength to avoid unnecessary pain and joint pressure.
3. Build your calluses
After a few weeks of continuous playing, you will start to develop a layer of hard skin on your fingers.
This layer of skin will take away this pain. You will also notice that your fingertips are less sensitive to heat and touch.
Be careful not to overdo it. If you play for many hours in a day you may develop blisters.
Blisters are very painful and can actually prevent you from playing for a while. If you do get a cut or blister, clean it with benzine and put a plaster on it for a day or two.
There are also many other natural home remedies out there for blisters that you can try.
Once your calluses are properly formed, they will stay with you as long as you practice regularly. Thanks to them, your painful fingers will be a thing of the past.
4. Use the right strings
There are lots of different strings you can use (the links below go to Amazon so you can find the right ones for you).
Using strings that are of a lighter gauge can really make it easier to play your guitar. Lighter gauge mean that they are thinner and therefore take less effort to press down.
Thicker gauge strings can be useful for a thicker heavier guitar tone but it is always a good idea to have a practice guitar with very light gauge strings handy.
You should also try playing with heavier strings or even get your hands on a bass guitar from time to time if you can.
There any many different types of strings or strings gauge combinations you can use. Experiment and find what is best for you.
As with many things in life, practice makes perfect. Playing guitar for at least an hour a day is way better for long term improvement then playing for eight hours on the weekend.
Keep at it and eventually the finger pain will go away and you will really start enjoying the guitar for the beautiful instrument that it is.