Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Question for the Guru - My Fingertips Hurt...

Hello, I just got my guitar today and my brother has been teaching me a few chords. My fingertips are starting to hurt really bad. Is that normal? If so, how long is it supposed to last and what do you suggest to alleviate some of the discomfort?

Thank you,


Hi Alexia,

The pain in your fingertips is normal, although I'm sure it is uncomfortable to say the least.
What's happening is your fingertips are not use to pressing so hard down on thin metal strings. Ouch.
You do not have any calluses built up yet, and until you do, they will get sore pretty fast.. especially if you like to play and your motivated to learn.

The good news is that eventually it will go away. Well, it will get much better. It's not uncommon for a guitarist who has already built up calluses to still experience some finger tip soreness after playing for very extended periods. The more you play, the more you will build up calluses, and the longer you will be able to play without feeling discomfort.

The fact that you have experienced this soreness says to me that you already have a good interest in your instrument. That's great! Don't let this "right of passage" stand in your way to becoming a great guitarist and musician.

To answer your questions:

Is it normal? Yes, it's completely normal and it will get better.

How long will it last? Good question. Everybody is different. Your going to really feel it the first few weeks, since most likely you haven't got any calluses built up on your finger tips. They will get red, sore, and definitely feel uncomfortable. If you play a little bit every day, or at least a couple of times a week, you will get the best results. Take your time, there is absolutely no need to play while in pain. If you feel pain, STOP, take a break. You can always study your scales, theory, notation, etc. There are many things you can do to advance your playing without actually playing the guitar. Even listening to your favorite artists will help, now that you put a guitar in your hands you will start to hear music differently.

There is nothing wrong with taking a day or two break to let those sore finger tips heal. As they heal, thin layers of skin will build up on your fingertips, the more skin that builds up the better.

Remember, if you feel pain, STOP, take a break, or call it day. I would even suggest that as soon as you feel discomfort, which might be pretty quick, STOP, and take a break. If it hurts, call it a day.

What do you suggest to alleviate some of the discomfort? So you got your new guitar, and boy are your fingertips hurting. I would suggest soaking them in a glass of cold ice water. It will get the red out, help with any minor swelling, and cool and relieve those sore digits.

Every time that you play, you will get stronger and build up more tolerance to those tiny metal strings that are making your fingertips so raw. The process of playing and then resting is what will allow you to play longer and stronger. Take your time, there is no hurry and no reason to feel discomfort. Eventually you will build up enough calluses and tolerance that one day you will forget all about these early days and you'll just keep playing for hours and hours.

Congratulations! You have already taken your first step to becoming a great guitarist.

Welcome to the family.