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Surviving Guitar Fingers and Managing Finger Pain

Follow these tips for easing the pain associated with guitar fingers.

You’ve started to learn how to play the guitar and before you know it, your fingertips are on fire. You wonder … is this normal? Why do my fingers hurt from playing guitar? We’ve all heard the old adage, “no pain, no gain,” but don’t worry, this fingertip sensitivity is temporary and we have some tips to get you through the torture.

Play a Little Every Day

Truth? The best thing to do is play more guitar. Practicing consistently gives your fingers time to build calluses and toughness. But watch how long you do it. Give it a good 10-15 minutes a day so you don’t push those fingertips too hard at first and regret it later.

Good Pain vs. Bad Pain

Fingertip soreness can be expected, but severe muscle or wrist pain can be an indication of poor technique. Don’t press harder than you need to, as this can cause soreness and muscle or wrist issues. Explore different ways to hold the guitar so you are keeping your wrist as flat as possible.

This Too Shall Pass

Fingertip soreness is temporary and can last a week or more. It doesn’t require treatment, although icing and numbing creams can provide short-term relief. But again, simply playing guitar until you build up some calluses, is the best remedy.

String Types

Some new players prefer nylon-string guitars, known as classical guitars, because they’re easier on the fingers than steel-string guitars. Electric guitars use lighter gauge strings than acoustic steel-string guitars, which makes fretting notes on an electric a little easier. But lighter strings are an option to use for any type of guitar. If the pain is really getting in the way of your playing, you can get your guitar re-strung with lighter strings at your local music store. Here's more info on guitar strings.

Is Your Guitar the Problem?

Your guitar can also contribute to the discomfort. If the strings are set too high from the fretboard, it will be more difficult to fret a note. If you suspect this is the problem, you’ll want to bring the guitar to a music store and ask them to check the “action”.

Don't Give Up

We've all been there. Every new guitarist has gotta suffer. But stick with it, keep playing and before long, you’ll be so focused on mastering songs that you won’t even remember they hurt in the first place!

Want to learn more about how to place your fingers correctly on the fingerboard? Watch this video. If you're not a member of Fender Play yet, you can get 3 months of unlimited access free no credit card required.