Gut Rumbles

February 18, 2005

hamburger fingers

In response to a couple of comment below: There is no cure for "hamburger fingers" when you start to play guitar. It's gonna hurt until you become accustomed to it. If your fingers are that sensitive, try a classical with gut strings. The guitar probably isn't much good for what you want to play, but it won't hurt your fingers so badly. Use THAT, you Pussy.

Take a good look at a guitar player's left hand if you ever meet one. He (or she) will have the kind of callouses that you can strike a kitchen match on at the end of every finger. I mean THICK, nasty callouses, the kind that even deform your hand after a while, and the kind that you wouldn't even want to see on your FEET.

That's what happens when you play with steel strings. I once did it up to nine hours every day (counting matinees) six times every week. I had a magnificent left hand back then. No nurse could puncture a finger on my left hand to get a blood sample. The skin was too thick.

That's what you have to be willing to do to learn to play guitar.

(I've heard that soaking your fingers in vinegar will toughen them up, but I never tried that. I just kept playing, even when it hurt. I got blisters and I bled, too. I just figured that part went with the turf I wanted to walk. And I wanted it badly enough to accept a little pain.)


Or you can urinate on your hands to toughen them up, as some ballplayers do.

Posted by: John on February 18, 2005 04:03 PM

Here is a pee link:

Posted by: John on February 18, 2005 04:04 PM

As a tyro gitty player, I can only practice for 30 mins or so right now without my tips getting raw. After a week, I am already starting to get some callouses.

My biggest problem is my sausage link fingers are always hitting the adjecent string when I press. Maybe I should have taken up the bass...

Posted by: rightisright on February 18, 2005 06:02 PM

Hint, Right: When your fingers get raw, keep playing. Play until your left hand can't grip the fretboard any more - yeah, it hurts, but it's going to hurt anyway, and I found that when I played through the pain my callouses developed faster. Less pain over time is good.

Posted by: Queenie on February 18, 2005 07:51 PM

I agree with Queenie. Until the calluses develop, it stops hurting after a few minutes. Just keep playing.

Posted by: Jim - PRS on February 18, 2005 08:24 PM

Remember the Beatles White Album? "I got blisters on my fingers!"

Posted by: Dan on February 18, 2005 10:34 PM

OK, I'll keep playing after the rawness. It does get to a point where the pain kinda feels good... but maybe that's just me.

Now, as to the sausageness of my fingers... that' s another problem.

Posted by: rightisright on February 19, 2005 01:01 AM

OK, I just broke the "thinnest" string on my new axe. I would like to buy string sets in bulk. Any suggestions as to brand?

I would also like to buy them from Rob's buddy because I was very impressed with his service. So suggest accordingly.

Posted by: rightisright on February 19, 2005 01:09 AM

I started playing guitar in the 10th grade, at the same time I was taking typing. Man, did it hurt to do a typing test after playing guitar all night in my bedroom!

Posted by: rivlax on February 19, 2005 10:36 AM

This is one reason why I quit the guitar a hundred times but manage to practice the piano at least two hours a day.

A dreadnought or a jumbo with medium-gauge strings hurts your fingers even when they're in shape. But playing the piano is like squeezing tits.

Posted by: Steve H. on February 19, 2005 11:52 AM

Theres only one way in my opinion to get through the pain. Deal with it and keep practicing. Get the stiffest decent souding strings you can and fret them bad boys over and over. Work them tough chords hard over and over and over and eventually your finger tips will adjust. As for the lighter string, why bother when you're learning, you suck anyway, so who cares .

When you fret the strings right you'll know it and then you can move on to the next chord. Really want to abuse yourself, learn notes on stainless steel strings.

Posted by: The Spud King on February 20, 2005 02:32 AM

I have to agree with The Spud King. For years I wimped out with .008 and ..009 sets, and kept wondering why I wasn't getting that big sound I liked. I saw an interview with Townshend where he said he used heavy strings, .012s or .013s, and I decided to try them (.012s). I got the sound....

Of course, one thing you could try if you go to heavier strings is to use flatwounds. Pyramid flatwounds are very cool (same kind of strings the Beatles used back in the day) but heavy bending, fuhgeddaboutit...

Posted by: The Proprietor on February 20, 2005 10:21 PM

Hey John,

Playing bass hurts at least twice as much as playing six string. The strings are much thicker and rougher. Plus the fretboard is wider and longer. The result is that you have to use more pressure, causing major cramping and more fingertip pain. Plus, if you play with your fingers, you'll get blisters on your picking hand, too. I've been playing guitar for about 4 years or so and just recently started playing bass. Hurts like a bastard.

Posted by: josh on April 18, 2005 08:17 PM

hey, i started out on bass and went to guitar. when i switched over i had no problems with guitar playing related blisters, however from playing bass i get blisters on my plucking fingers every now and then, if i don't practice enough, then do alot of playing. i've got callouses on my plucking fingers and fingering fingers. some major problems with going from guitar to bass seem to be plucking, and for bass to guitar seem to be chords/getting your fingers down without covering the wrong strings (i have large fingers and a deformed left ring finger which was crushed by a rock once, so its wider than normal, other people might have other problems). what i would do is just let your blisters stay as long as possible. it may hurt alot, but if you cant take it then use a pick if you need to, or you could put tape on your fingers (not too good for the strings). after that, let your blisters either dissappear or pop on their own, and if they do pop dont pull the skin off because it will turn into hard skin, which will protect the raw skin underneath until its thick/strong enough to use.

Posted by: John on May 7, 2005 04:57 AM

let me just say bass kills and ots yer fingers away

Posted by: jamie on January 20, 2006 09:28 AM

i have found a cure to getting blisters and casasis(cant spell) on your fingers when playing guitar/bass if u put a dab of superglue on your fingers ( i no this may sound stupid but trust me) it works i do it every time we gig because i tend to play a lot harder live and it deff works

Posted by: Rupert on August 9, 2007 03:24 PM

i've just started playing the guitar.. been like 3 weeks.. my fingers hurt a little yeah..but they're becoming stronger..
As funny as this may sound.. i like "torturing" myself just to play the guitar etc :) it feels good.. but i guess you're all gonna think im some weirdo :P

Posted by: mysterious on July 26, 2008 10:48 AM

Try the super glue that Rupert sugested, it works really good. I was just jammin with some friends and my fingers were hurtin like a biz-nitch so I put a little bit of superglue on it, waited like 30 seconds and then my finger didnt hurt at all.

Posted by: Jesse on November 22, 2009 05:26 PM
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