Do Your Fingers Hurt from Playing Guitar?

Published in Guitar Lessons on 7th February 2014
Do Your Fingers Hurt from Playing Guitar?

Fingers Hurt from Playing GuitarIf you’re getting sore fingers after practicing the guitar then the good news is, you must be doing something right.  Sore fingers probably means you’re doing enough practice and believe me, you’re not the only one to get sore fingers.

The other good news is your body will be creating calluses (hard bits of skin) to protect your fingers from injury and pain.

It’s quite natural if you think about it. You have been pressing a delicate part of your body onto sharp bits of wire. It’s bound to hurt! It ‘s just something we all go through when learning to how to play the guitar.

Even if you’ve been playing for years and you have an extended period without touching a guitar, the hard skin on your fingers will disappear and you’ll find it hurts again.

OK! But how do I stop them hurting?

Our goal is to build thick skin on the tips of our fingers so that the nerves are not as exposed. Here are a few tips to if you’re getting sore fingers.

  1. Take a day off. Stop playing. Give it a rest if they are hurting and come back to it tomorrow. But make sure you do play even just a short while each day when you come back to it. This will help your fingers build the thick skin it needs to prevent the pain.
  2. Dip the tips of your fingers in alcohol or something like vodka. This is believed to accelerate the hardening up of the skin by dehydrating it. Kind of like the opposite of using softening hand cream.
  3. Avoid washing your hands too much.  Again, too much pampering of the hands will soften up the skin.
  4. “Ghost” the fingers of the left hand. That means touch the strings rather than press down on them. This means you can still practice but you won’t be hurting your fingers. Not great fun but at least you can still practice finger changes.
  5. Tune the guitar to an open tuning and use your first finger to barre the chords. A good open tuning for this would be open E (E B E G# B E). Then you can move to the 5th an 7th frets with your first finger to play A and B. This means you can still practice your right hand techniques.
  6. I’ve also heard rumours that applying witch hazel to your finger tips will work. Never tried it myself so I can’t vouch for it. If it works for you let me know.

It’s also rumoured that the great Eric Clapton would use alcohol to harden up his finger tips so it’s worth a try!

Above all, only time will help with the finger pain because only with time can you build up the thick skin required to press those wires down.

Yes, I’m afraid so. It’s our old friend “stick at it” and it will all come good.  Oh well, it happens to us all ;-)

For more tricks to help stop your fingers hurting click here.