It’s inevitable. When you first learn guitar your hands will probably not just go along with your will without putting up a good fight. You will probably work muscles in your hands that were long thought extinct!
If we jump back to the real world, you are probably here because you found this out the hard way (like most of us). That means you really need some helpful tips to alleviate your pain. You got Sore Fingers Playing Guitar, and now I will help you make sure they are a thing of the past.
Relax – It The Key To Everything!
When playing the guitar the hardest thing to do is relax. Everyone tells you it the right thing to do and you know this but to actually do it is another story! You have to practise this and even say it out loud every few minutes until you get the message through to your hands.
Tensing up your fingers, your hands or any part of your body is a great way to sabotage all your hard work. If you want speed, relax. If you want good technique, relax. If you want, good to play clearly and precisely, relax!. What I mean by relaxing is that you should just apply enough pressure to clearly play the required notes. No More, no less.
You don’t need to squeeze your hands or fingers extra hard to play the notes and in fact, this can hurt your progress because your hands will fatigue faster and learn bad habits.
Correct Technique – Pain Be Gone!
The best way to make sure you are not suffering unnecessarily is to get your technique in order. We will focus mainly on the hands but in general, when playing the guitar you can play in two positions:
- Classical Position: The guitar is placed on a raised leg at an angle (I would say 45 degrees is the most common).
- The thumb of the fretting hand is placed in the middle of the neck and the fingers curl around for the fingertips to reach the frets. This makes it easier to reach the Low E string and also to stretch and play wide scales and notes.
- Casual Position:: The guitar is generally placed horizontally.
- The thumb usually is usually closer to the top of the neck and can be used to mute certain strings. The thumb can float down to enable easier reach.
Making sure to use proper technique can make sure that you are not putting unnecessary strain on your finger or hands.
Cut Your Nails! – But……WHY?
This one may be a shock to some of you out there so I thought I would get it out of the way quickly! Your fretting hand will be used to play notes and chords. Whenever you play said notes or chords you fingers form different shapes but most often they will “curl” and your nails will be pointing towards the fretboard.
It will now be easy for you to see why having long nails can be troublesome for you! They can stop you from curling your fingers enough to fret the notes with your fingertips.
It is also worth noting that some styles of guitar, like classical, are traditionally played with long nails (on the strumming hand). Here the nails sort of act like guitar picks producing a sharper sound compared to using fingertips.
This does not mean that if you have long nails you cannot play the guitar! It will be a bit more difficult to play certain chords as your nails will keep scratching against the fretboard (which is really uncomfortable, trust me!), but I am sure you will find a way around this, right?
Push Through The Pain – Tough Love.
It may seem mean of me to say, but maybe you just have to suck it up and push through the pain! I am not saying be reckless and play until your fingers bleed or anything, but perhaps you just need to give yourself some time. Your fingers will get used to interacting with the strings and your finger and hand muscles will get strong enough to play.
This may not seem like the most helpful advice but as long as you are not hurting yourself to the point of not being able to use your hands or fingers you should be good to go. Remember to start with a little bit every day and work your way up to longer sessions (like 30 minutes), don’t be afraid to take a break to heal if you have been overzealous.
Remember that the guitar is supposed to be fun! Take your time and as hard as it seems to be patient with yourself.
What About Finger Exercises? – You’ll Do Some Anyways!
Finger exercises could mean anything from doing physical exercises or simply playing the guitar with proper technique. An example of this would be things like learning chords. Different chords require different shapes and therefore different grips. This means exposing yourself to a variety of chords means that, your hands will learn to adjust to all those positions.
Playing stretching exercise like using the index finger and the pinky finger, and playing on the 5th and 9th fret is a good stretching exercise. Moving up and down the fret helps you build coordination and finger strength while stretching.
Change Your Guitar – If You Can!
If you are absolutely fed up and feel like your guitar hates you and is hurting you on purpose, perhaps it is time for a new one! I have played the guitars that are so difficult to play I almost felt like I had never played the guitar before. I think that electric guitars are easier to play for a number of reasons. Even entry-level electric guitars can make your troubles disappear.
The reason is that electric guitars usually have lower gauge strings ( not as thick as some acoustic guitars). They also tend to have lower actions ( the strings are closer to the fretboard). Putting these two properties together you wind up with thinner strings which require less force over a shorter distance to be fretted.
There may also be acoustic guitars with narrower necks, but most of the ones I have seen have thicker necks than electric guitars.
In other words, it is easier to play!
Have Patience Young One – Do Yourself A Favor
The most important thing to remember is that learning the art of guitar takes time. A consistent effort every day is better than A bulk session. What I mean by this is that it is more beneficial to play 30 minutes every day, rather than not play for two years and then spending 10 hours playing on one random day and then wondering why you can’t play the guitar.
Sore Fingers Playing Guitar? NO? GREAT!
I Hope this post has helped you in some way and as always, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions, feedback or suggestions below.