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Sore Guitar Fingers


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Sore Fingers
Ask just about anyone who's starting to learn the guitar and the primary problem they'll face is sore fingers.  For your entire life your fingertips have been subject to nothing more brutal than having chicken grease licked off them.  NOW all of a sudden it's forced to press down strings of steel on a hardened wooden fretboard.  The result, in one word, is pain.

Struggling with sore guitar fingers?  This page will give you some solutions to make it better and help you on your way to mastering the guitar.

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Return from Sore Guitar Fingers to Common Guitar Learning Problems
Lower the Action on your guitar - This is one of the most effective methods of increasing your guitar's playability and making it easier to fret strings properly.  Action refers to the distance between the fretboard and the strings.  The higher the action, the more difficult it is to press down the strings.

If you think your action is too high, take your instrument to a music shop and ask for help.  It's a very inexpensive adjustment and will make a HUGE difference.  Your fingers will undoubtedly thank you for it!
Dont overwork your fingers - When your starting out on the guitar, it's natural to be excited and eager - this is a good thing!.  You'll want to learn as much as possible in short periods of time.  But unfortunetaly your fingers won't allow you.  In the beginning you'll only be able to play a couple of minutes before your fingers will hurt.  Then you should take a break for 10 minutes or so, before you go at it again. 

This method of interrupting your practicing schedule with regular breaks, may seem counterproductive, but it's necessary (only in the beginning) and will help avoid seriously damaging the skin on your fingertips.
Use the correct set of strings - Strings come in different gauges and the higher the gauge, the thicker the string and the more difficult it is to fret the string properly.  What string type to use is largely a personal preference, though I always recommend extra-light strings for beginners.  Check out the What strings should I use? Guitar FAQ for more info.
Don't press too hard - You might be trying too hard.  Don't press the strings down so hard that you break your guitar's neck if half!  Only press the strings down hard enough to have your notes resonate clearly.  This is something which will come naturally with practice and time.
Build up your calluses - The calluses on your fingertips will develop naturally and over time, but there are ways to speed up the process.  Check out this page for some helpful tips on building of the calluses on your fingers.
Guitar Fingers Ouch
As rewarding as guitar can be, many unfortunatly give up too quickly - precisely because of sore fingertips.  "I must be doing something wrong, why else would my fingers hurt like this?"

This response is misleading and wrong!  You can be fretting your strings perfectly, but if you've got a fresh untrained hand, your fingertips WILL hurt in the beginning and the good news is, it's perfectly normal...
Solutions
Never allow a bit of temporary pain from sore guitar fingers to paralyze you from furthering your skills on the guitar.  Here are some solutions to keep your aching body parts happy and keep you motivated.
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Update:  A cool product called Gorilla Tips is now available to serve as temporary solution for painfull guitar finger.  Have a look at their website for details and ordering.
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