Country Blues > Country Blues Licks and Lessons

Finger soreness

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Jersey Jack:
A quick question about fingerpicking.  I'm fairly proficient, but I often go long periods without playing in this style.  I'm back to it again, and starting to experience soreness on my picking fingers.  I suppose at some point callouses will form and everything will be fine, but right now it's pretty tough going.  I've never bonded well with fingerpicks, which cause their own kind of discomfort for me, so I'd like to know if there's anything I can put on my right hand finger tips to keep me playing until the callouses form.  I thought of a mild glue, but I suspect this may affect the strings.  Any ideas?  I can gut through it, of course, but I really want to keep playing, and unless I find some way to mitigate the soreness I don't believe I'll be able to devote more than a half hour per day to fingerpicking at this point.

Stuart:
Hi Jersey Jack: Over the decades I've gotten paints and adhesives like glues, etc. on my fingers that wouldn't come off easily and I wouldn't recommended it. They are chemicals that pass through the skin. I can't recall trying to fingerpick while the stuff was still on my fingers.

To state the obvious, I'd simply play a little bit every day or every other day until the calluses begin to build up and then gradually increase the time and frequency spent playing until you're back where you want to be. I had a similar experience last summer when I was asked to play at an event. I hadn't played for quite a while and it took about a month before the calluses returned to where I could play without discomfort. It was a slow and somewhat frustrating process. Based on my experience, patience is required and don't get ahead of yourself. I did and the resulting blisters were counterproductive and slowed things down. --Just my 2 cents.

Jersey Jack:
Thanks, I figured as much.  What I need to do is stay more consistent with fingerpicking—and not go running off into Bluegrass flatpicking for an entire year, which is what got me into this mess!

Stuart:
I think perhaps scheduled routine maintenance to keep your calluses where there's no soreness when you play might be in order. Playing fingerstyle several times a week for short periods would probably do it. My doc once told me that calluses form to protect what's underneath from something on the outside. Once you get them back it shouldn't be too hard to settle into what works for you. With everything that seems to come up in life, the trick will probably be sticking with the schedule.  Where's the day with unlimited hours when we really need it?

Gmaj7:
I keep nails on my right hand and hit the strings with my nails. I am not a classical guitarist but this is what I've settled on doing. Is this especially unusual in Blues fingerpicking? Are there disadvantages? Obviously there is a difference in tone; it's easier to make the treble melody sound "brighter".

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