How To Minimize Finger Pain

Hi Joost,
Welcome here,and i wish you a lot of fun,…
This is not on topic ,but maybe it helps
https://community.justinguitar.com/t/acromioclavicular-joint-and-acoustic-guitar/121799

An introduction to introduce yourself with some more background will help better maybe,…

Greetings,Rogier

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I’ve wanted to learn to play the guitar literally all my life and only 3 days ago, at the age of 40, I gave in and actually started. I absolutely love it. Of course, I’m on this video page and commenting in this thread because… my fingers hurt! Lol! But it actually doesn’t bother me, for me it’s more about the fact that I want to practice more but I can’t because once my fingers start hurting, then I can’t even play a chord the right way. Is this going to cause significant delays in my learning experience? You know, I am 40 after all!

Welcome to the community Roberta.
Keep practicing, you’ll find that your fingers will hurt less with each day. :hugs:
It’s a bit of a double edge sword.
It hurts to continue,but it won’t get any better if you don’t. :upside_down_face:

Learning new instruments is always challenging, I started learning when I was 43. What I realised after a few years of practice is that this process is a marathon and endurance is what matters the most.

Just wait it out, fingers will stop hurting sooner than you think.

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Thank you, I’m so eager to learn, and I can already see even in a few days that the learning processes gets exponentially better each day! It’s kind of amazing in a way, especially since I’m not a kid anymore and society seems to have different learning expectations for adults. Glad I found this community!

Hi Roberta and welcome to the Community. Have you read through the previous posts in this Topic?

The keys ones are -
Is your guitar set up properly?
and use the minimum amount of finger pressure necessary to achieve a clean note. As beginners we all have a tendency to apply a ‘death grip’ around the guitar neck.
Good luck, enjoy and have fun.

Hi there, yes I’ve read the posts and watched the videos. What I’m noticing almost 2 weeks in, is that when I start my daily practice, everything flows very naturally for the first 2 minutes. The chords sound great, very minimal effort on my part, and it feels easy! But after that, when my fingers start hurting, I struggle to get a chord sounding right and it feels like I lose control of my fingers positioning… I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like I can’t keep my fingers in the right spot and they naturally move slightly on their own. Weird, but that’s the best I can put it into words. Has anyone else experienced this? Is that normal? When the pain starts, then it become harder and harder to keep playing and getting chords correctly and that’s very frustrating. So all in all, I can’t really practice for more than 10-15 minutes :disappointed:

@RadekSiechowicz Hi there, yes I’ve read the posts and watched the videos. What I’m noticing almost 2 weeks in, is that when I start my daily practice, everything flows very naturally for the first 2 minutes. The chords sound great, very minimal effort on my part, and it feels easy! But after that, when my fingers start hurting, I struggle to get a chord sounding right and it feels like I lose control of my fingers positioning… I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like I can’t keep my fingers in the right spot and they naturally move slightly on their own. Weird, but that’s the best I can put it into words. Has anyone else experienced this? Is that normal? When the pain starts, then it become harder and harder to keep playing and getting chords correctly and that’s very frustrating. So all in all, I can’t really practice for more than 10-15 minutes :disappointed:

@sairfingers Hi there, yes I’ve read the posts and watched the videos. What I’m noticing almost 2 weeks in, is that when I start my daily practice, everything flows very naturally for the first 2 minutes. The chords sound great, very minimal effort on my part, and it feels easy! But after that, when my fingers start hurting, I struggle to get a chord sounding right and it feels like I lose control of my fingers positioning… I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like I can’t keep my fingers in the right spot and they naturally move slightly on their own. Weird, but that’s the best I can put it into words. Has anyone else experienced this? Is that normal? When the pain starts, then it become harder and harder to keep playing and getting chords correctly and that’s very frustrating. So all in all, I can’t really practice for more than 10-15 minutes :disappointed:

Hi Roberta @Robertastevens08, I recall this struggle well. Everyone is different, but that said here’s how I navigated those beginning weeks. (FWIW, I was well over 40 when I started - nearly two years ago now!)

First, I echo what @sairfingers said: if you haven’t yet, it would be a good investment to have your guitar set up. It can make all the difference. Be sure to tell the tech/luthier that you’re a beginner; assuming you’re playing acoustic have them put 10-guage strings on (that’s the measurement of the thinnest, high E string) and lower the action if necessary. Call and ask before going in, but depending where you live this whould cost $50-$100 (US). It’s worth every penny if you haven’t already done this!

Now - yes, the fingertip pain. As I recall it didn’t really begin to wane until I was 3-4 weeks in. After that it still hurt (as callouses began to develop), but was tolerable, and improved until I pretty much forgot about it.

Next - sore hands. For the first month or two, I only practiced 15 minutes a day. My hands became tired if I played longer, and as you describe my fingers wouldn’t stay put. (They still don’t on some stretchy chords.) Think of this as an athletic endeavor - you have to build up endurance and flexibility, and if you “exercise” too much in a single “workout” you both suffer diminishing returns AND increase the potential for injury! When I was comfortable playing for 15 minutes, I did one of two things (depending on the day): Increased my practice time by 5 minutes, or practiced twice in the day for 10 minutes each time. I kept at that until I could practice for 30 minutes non-stop. After that, you’ll expand your practice time naturally in a way that fits your goals and your schedule.

When you get to Module 4, Justin introduces a finger stretching exercise that should help with getting your fingers to stay where you originally place them. I still work on this, and suspect I will for a very long time!

Hope this helps a little. Keep us posted on your progress!

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@judi, this is SO helpful! Thank you! I guess I misunderstanding what was said about getting a proper set up, in fact I had no idea what that really meant until you explained it to me. Your comment was very thorough and helpful. Now shopping for guitar setup!

Hi Roberta. I just wanted to confirm what Judi already written, it is my experience too. Guitar setup is really worth every penny.
Also at the beggining what I did practicaly all day long (if I could remember it) is with fretting hand to gently press thumb fingernail to the tips of the other four fingers. Genlty, but strongly enough I could feel it. I read somewhere that this would speed up the calusses process. As your calusses beggin to form your fingertips will be firmer and the chords will be automaticaly cleaner. Because of firmer tips you will have to press a little less, and also it will be less chance to touch other strings while pressing down.
Also I can comfort you that after month or two you probably won’t even know this pain anymore. I remember I could play for hours after just few months without pain. The problem was lack of knowledge and skills, not pain :slight_smile:
So hang in there, this is all a part of the fun :guitar: :guitar: :guitar:

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Not sure for how long you have been playing but it feels like less then a 3-6 months. In my case it took over 6 months for pain to disappear and calluses to form. Over this period of time almost nothing sounded right due to the fact that the strings were digging deeply into my fingertips which resulted in often strung buzz.

It’s like a gym or running, you need to keep practising to see the results :slight_smile: .

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@bk2 Thank you so much for the helpful tips! I scheduled a guitar setup and I’m really looking forward to it!

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@RadekSiechowicz I’ve been playing for… 2 WEEKS :sweat_smile: so, yes I’m very new to this. I try to practice every day for at least 15 minutes because I really enjoy it and I hope that continued daily practice will expedite my callouses. It’s really good to know that my experience with pain is not uncommon and even better to know that, once pain is gone, my strumming will sound much clearer. Right now, when my fingers are not in pain, in the first couple of minutes, my strumming sounds really good, but when the pain starts, my fingers touch the other chords and the sound gets muffled.
I’m really looking forward to sounding good!

Everything seems to be normal then. Just stay patient and everything will sort itself out. Eventually you will be able to go for hours without even noticing any finger pain. In long sessions frequent breaks and proper posture will be important but that’s for later. :slightly_smiling_face:

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@judi, @RadekSiechowicz, when I got my appointment for the guitar setup, the gentleman who will perform it stated that he doesn’t recomment strings size 10 because they’re too thin for acoustic guitars and should only be used on electric. He also said that a bit of pain when starting to play is actually normal and good because it will help in the long run with playing. He is installing size 12 instead. What do you all think?

No expert here. I use Elixir 11-52 and I am happy with them.

I’m also no expert, but many people here use 10s on their acoustic guitars. The luthier was willing to put 10s on my Martin if I wanted. I just went from 10s to 11s myself, after two years. You really don’t need 12s. That’s my two cents anyway. And, I think the guy should listen to his customer. :wink:

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I will insist for 11 then. Thank you so much! That’s very helpful.