Hi all, looking for some advice…
I’m a beginner who picked up the guitar in January. It took forever to develop good calluses! I’m progressing through Beginner Level 2, trying to take my time to consolidate skills from earlier lessons as I go along. In September, we are taking our first vacation since before Covid. We’re very excited, but: how do I practice in a way to keep my calluses? (Skill maintenance is important too, but that’s not as physically painful to restore as the thick skin at the ends of my fingers!)
Some logistical details: we live on the West Coast (U.S.) and will fly to England; will travel around by train, end up in France, then fly home. We have a travel-sized guitar - it’s bigger than I want to carry. Been looking at those 4-6 fret fingerboard things, but am hesitant about their real utility. The Traveler Guitars look interesting - I’ve seen some folks mention them in this forum. If I were to get one of these, would acoustic or electric be best? (I currently play acoustic, but there’s used electric Travel Guitar available in my town for $200). Are there other options I should explore?
Awaiting your wisdom! Thanks in advance.
On a trip like that, I wouldn’t drag a guitar along. The silly little finger spring strengthen devices often have small ridges in one side to help with calluses. Maybe that would be easier. Or just screw a few string segments to a small piece of would and keep pressing on it.
How long are you going for? I just spent a week doing zero guitar stuff and soaking my callouses in salt water ocean and a pool (and booze). No harm to the calluses in that time frame.
We’ll be gone two weeks - forgot to mention that!
Thanks for you advice.
As Jamolay suggest, if you are going for a short time, focus on enjoying your vacation and don’t bother or worry about guitar practice.
If it’s going to be a longer vacation (say, 2-3 months or more) and you think you will have periods of downtime where you might want to practice, the electric Traveler Guitars are pretty good.
Having had one for a while I wouldn’t have one in place of a normal guitar, as there are a few compromises I found difficult to live with longer term. But when traveling, I could easily live with them if the only alternative was no guitar for a few months or more.
Thanks Keith. I’ve been trying to shed possessions recently, and don’t have any long trips on the horizon. I’ll follow your and @Jamolay’s advice and just. go. on. vacation.
My advice if it’s a short trip - grab a cheap £20 ukulele and play around with it, it should easily squeeze into your cabin bag Justin has a few lessons on Uke so if you find some time during your holidays that could be cheapest option enjoy your time in Europe!
Never thought about that - great idea! Lots of cheap ukes to be found around here!
Keeping a bottle cap handy will give you something to press into your fingers if you want to maintain callouses - but it’s probably not really necessary, they will come back fast.
Maybe take a book on theory (Justin’s practical music theory course is great) - that way you won’t feel like you’ve lost two weeks, at least not completely.
I’ve been in the market on and off for a travel guitar for ages. I still haven’t bought one and I think the advice given above is pretty accurate. Just enjoy your holiday.
You plan to be away for a fortnight and from your itinerary a lot of time will be on planes and trains when you can’t play anyway.
Unless you plan to be away for months (in which case I would buy a second hand guitar abroad and then sell it when you are due to return home) it’s perhaps not worth the hassle.
If I do end up buying a ‘travel guitar’ I think it will be more with a view to getting a guitar that I can take to friends houses for BBQs etc. or throw into the car for long weekend breaks and the like and not risk damaging my ‘good’ guitar. In other words, a cheaper guitar, not necessarily a smaller guitar.
However if you want more thoughts on the subject, I posted this topic a while back.
Travel guitar - any recommendations?
I have a journey brand travel guitar and it goes with me even on the shortest of holidays. The neck comes off and it sits beside the body in a case that fits in an overhead locker in an airplane, it’s dimensions just fit in the sizing frame at the airports. It also has a place in the case for my laptop and I fit a few other things like device chargers and cables and medication inside the body of the guitar. The model I have is the OF-660 (carbon fibre) and several friends have bought the cheaper wooden models offered by Journey.
A bottle cap - clever! I’ll pack a couple for sure. Then when I don’t tend to my calluses after all I won’t feel so silly!
I have a feeling I’ll end up in a similar place!
Thanks Tony. I’ve seen those…they are intriguing. It’s good to know your experience is positive. I’ll keep it on my when-I-grow-up-as-a-guitarist list.
It’s a good option for me. The saddle has had to be replaced a few times but they are cheap. Best to keep a spare or two.
I ran into the same situation and bought one of those grip exercise things with “simulated strings” to maintain callouses and while good I soon found I wanted to maintain skills on travel as well.
I then bought a Traveler brand Guitar (Acoustic version). I can’t say enough good things about this instrument, stays in tune, super easy to throw into an overhead bin on a plane/train or the back of the car on a road trip. I even keep it next to my desk so if inspiration strikes at work I can practice for a bit.
As for whether you get electric or acoustic I’d get whichever you have a deal on or access to (You’re probably going to want the one you didn’t get in a year anyway!). Good luck on your decision and trip!
Thanks for sharing your experience! This has put me right back on the “should I or shouldn’t I” spot. I do love toys…which is why I have to downsize! Perhaps this should go on my “when I grow up” list as well.
Here’s a bit of an idea, if you’re coming to the UK you could pick one of these up, a very nicely designed and manufactured electric guitar with attitude!
I was out of town for 4 weeks and rented a guitar from a local shop. Just rent a basher and use to keep in shape. Plus, its fun!