Pain in the hands and fingers is pretty common for guitar players. Some beginning players quit guitar early on because of it. Many seasoned guitarists find themselves developing medical problems like arthritis and feel they have to give up playing altogether. However, there are some actions you can take to reduce hand/finger pain and keep strumming for years to come.
Decrease String Height
When guitar players complain about finger pain they usually report they must push down too hard to play notes and chords (which over time can result in tendonitis). The main cause of this is typically the string height, or the “action”, of the instrument is set too high or has moved in that direction over time. The higher a guitar’s action is set, the more pressure is necessary for the strings to make contact with the fret. The solution won’t always be a different kind of string, but rather an adjustment of the action by a professional. This helps reduce pain and increases the instrument’s overall playability.
Choose New Strings
If your guitar’s action is low and you’re still experiencing hand/finger pain (like arthritis) it’s time to consider new strings. Using lower tension strings (extra lights) and strings with a more forgiving surface (silk and steel) can help players with pain issues. If you want more information or want to try different string options, contact the Denver Folklore Center staff. We’re happy to help.
Play Near the Fret
Another way to reduce hand/finger pain is to press down near the fret (not on the fret or you’ll mute the note) on your guitar when you play. This will lessen the amount of finger pressure applied and help relieve discomfort. And it’s simply good playing technique.
Try Warming Up
It’s always a good idea to warm up and stretch a few minutes before you play, even if you don’t have hand/finger pain, as it helps keep joints and tendons loose, reduces inflammation and can even prevents the chances of injuries. Go here to learn a few warm-up exercises.
Reduce Pain and Play On
Sure, guitar players have the occasional aches and pains, but if you are experiencing consistent hand/finger pain be sure to consult your doctor to make sure it isn’t a serious issue. And let us know if you try these tips for reducing hand/finger pain. Contact us with any questions and play on!