One common obstacle for many people learning guitar is the discomfort that comes from pressing steel or bronze strings with your finger tips. This unfortunate necessary evil can be lessened considerably by following these five tips:
Avoid it. When you start learning guitar, or anything for that matter, short but frequent practice sessions yield the best results. Most people get excited about playing at first and keep at it for an hour or more the first time they try it. I’ve known more than one person who practiced till they were sore, quit for a week, and repeated this with the same three chords until they decided guitar hurt too much and quit for good. Practicing 10 or 15 minutes EVERY DAY to start will keep finger soreness to a minimum as well as speed progress. As you learn more and gain finger strength, the practice sessions can gradually get longer.
Shake it out. Part of the soreness is due to decreased circulation in the wrist and hand, which are working while being held in a position you aren’t used to. Stop occasionally and shake your fingers and hand vigorously to loosen them and encourage blood flow.
Work it out. Hold your left hand flat toward your face as though reading your own future guitar rock stardom in its lines. Curl your index finger forward as far as you can without moving the middle finger. Curl the index finger the same way, then the ring and pinky. Open them in the same order. Repeat moving faster as it becomes more comfortable. This works the muscles and tendons of your hand in a dynamic fashion, and it warms up and loosens the muscles and tendons.
Rub it. Rub your finger tips lightly on the fabric of your jeans (or whatever appropriate, soothing cloth is nearby). Denim is good, corduroy is even better. This is another way to improve circulation in the finger tips and rub the tips of your fingers back into shape after being pressed onto strings.
Lighten it. If it’s still just too uncomfortable, you might consider lighter strings (Silk and Steel is the name) or even switching to a classical guitar. The strings on a classical guitar are much softer and have less tension, therefore they are much easier on the finger tips. A playable classical guitar can be found for under $100.
While it’s true you have to suffer for your art, there’s no need to suffer needlessly. Follow these tips and take the sting out of learning.