Today we’ll talk about how to toughen your fingers for guitar playing, see why it’s crucial to do so, and look at the best practices and exercises – all to make sure you’ll advance as a guitar player!
Remember to apply the practices as soon as you are done and keep doing so every day until you’ll notice the significant results – a few minutes a day will pay off tremendously over time.
The fingers are the most used parts of the body for guitar playing, and without proper preparation the process of playing the instrument may all of a sudden become stiff and painful.
Playing chords and notes places stress on fingers as they bend into shapes they are not used to.
The stiffer they become, the tenser we become as we try and force them to play. And the tenser we are, the worse our fingers are affected.
The answer is to prepare our fingers beforehand. Do finger exercises to strengthen the fingers even when not playing the guitar.
Squeezing a soft rubber ball will give the fingers strength so that it will be much easier to play barre chords or other chords and notes that are known to be challenging to get the hang of.
Fingers also need to be kept supple as well as strong, and there are some exercises that will help.
Traditionally, the third finger is the weakest as you’ll see if you place your hand palm down on a flat surface and try to lift that one without moving the other fingers.
Try and give the third finger more exercise by using it where you would typically use your index finger.
Even while you are watching TV, you can wriggle your fingers around for exercise.
Walk them along the armrest of your chair; make your hands into fists and then stretch them out and practice moving each finger separately.
After playing for an extended length of time, stop and stretch your arms above your head and out to the side. Shake your hands, keeping the fingers loose.
When you are ready to play your guitar, first shake your hands around in the air to release the tension, then do some warm-up scales.
Start them slowly and gradually increase your speed as you warm up.
Warm them up first by soaking them in a dish of hot water.
If you get blisters on your fingers after playing, wait until they have healed before you do any more practice – you may end up damaging the blisters and having to take a much longer and quite painful break.
When you first start to play, you should just do it for a short time and gradually extend it.
It’s similar to working out – it’s easy to put yourself under a lot of stress on the first day and have sore muscles for a few days after.
This will harden your fingers gradually so you shouldn’t get blisters.
Tapping fingertips on a hard surface will help to harden them. Essentially, you have to stay persistent and avoid expecting outstanding results after a couple of hours of practice.
There is practice, and there is fooling around. Which do you do? You may think you practice the guitar for a certain number of hours a day, but what are you really doing?
It’s easy to strum that familiar tune and then gaze out the window as you think about being on stage or playing like Jimmy Hendricks or whichever star is your hero.
Then you play a few more notes and a riff here or there and decide to break for a coffee or go and play PS4 for a bit (which we all know will end up being hours).
My friend, that is noodling, not practice.
Set up that metronome and play the latest addition to your repertoire with it tapping out the right beat. In fact, set it onto extra slow and play the tune through.
See how it’s actually harder to play at a slow speed?
If you get most of it right but seem to have trouble with a specific part, don’t play the whole tune over and over, but isolate that troublesome part and play it alone very slowly, over and over until you get it right. Remember your attention span.
We are told that the human brain can only pay attention for from two to five minutes. Pretty short, hey? Well give yourself a time limit of about fifteen minutes, set a timer and don’t stop playing until you hear the beep.
Take a few minutes break to ease your fingers and brain, then get right back into it again.
This increases your tension and makes it harder to get those fingers in the right position. It will also make you tired more quickly. When you’ve finished practicing that new, harder piece, reward yourself by playing a tune you really like.
Save doing that until the very last so that it can also be a reward for all those scales and arpeggios you practiced so diligently. Take a break in the middle of your practice to read up on the theory.
While you are playing, try and visualize what you are doing. While this seems incredibly simple, it’s a lot easier to wander around in your head which most people end up doing.
When you first start, warm up with scales and such before you attempt a new piece. If you do two and a quarter hours with fifteen minutes for each section, leave the new piece for the second last fifteen-minute section. Pretty simple, isn’t it? Then get to work already!
As you can see, it’s all about practice and patience. While it may be glamorized to keep pushing even when your fingers are begging for rest and getting close to bleeding, this is nothing more than a myth – your body and your mind need rest after all.
Here is a great tutorial for you if you are more of a visual learner!
Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about toughening your fingers – it’s crucial for every beginner. This will make long practices and gigs later down the road a million times easier!
There is a ton more to learn, so check out more tutorials here at Blue Buzz Music.