I Got Blisters On My Fingers! #jusjojan

I played guitar for over 40 years, and over that period of time built up some pretty hefty calluses on my fingertips, particularly on my left hand, the fingers that held the strings down against the neck. As I started playing more fingerstyle guitar, I started getting calluses on my right fingers as well. Try as I might, I could never use my fingernails when playing fingerstyle, and I thought I was doing it wrong. Then I watched a video by Tommy Emmanuel, and he said he always used the fingertips rather than the nails, and I figured that if he, who had earned the title "Certified Guitar Player" from Chet Atkins (one of the greatest fingerstyle guitar players of all time), could use his fingertips, so could I.

All of which is moot now, since I can’t use my right hand for anything requiring fine muscle movements, and which has apparently developed a mind of its own. I might have been able to get at least some of the function back, but it would have taken more work than I wanted to put in. Anyway, the calluses, or as some players call them "corns," are gone now. Easy come, easy go…

Written for Just Jot It January 2021, when the prompt was "fingertips."

18 thoughts on “I Got Blisters On My Fingers! #jusjojan

  1. Hi John – how interesting to read more about the adaption the body makes. I’m glad people push themselves forward … all the best – Hilary

    Like

    1. That’s really all it is, an adaptation. Classical players who use nylon strings don’t have it as hard, but they still have to get used to it.

      Like

  2. I never even thought of the issues one has when playing guitar or any other instrument. I wonder how violinists do it regarding their shoulder etc…

    Like

  3. I didn’t play for a couple of months when we stopped going to church in person. Maybe it was more than a couple of months because I had to build my calluses up again. It’s interesting how the body adapts.

    Like

  4. I started on bass and then went to guitar and haven’t looked back yet. I remember starting and my fingers would hurt so bad…I had one cheap guitar with the strings way off the neck…just painful but I built strength up that way.

    Like

    1. That’ll build your finger strength and give you good tone as well. I used to use very light gauge strings on my guitar (.010-.046), and when I started using heavier ones (.012-.052) I was surprised at how good the tone was. It didn’t take long to get used to the heavier strings, either: a little painful, but it went away quickly enough…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I usually use 11….now I’m using the Rotosound British steel strings…I’m happier with them than I was with the other.

        Like

  5. Lindsey Buckingham plays with no pick and when he does Big Love for instance, it is amazing. Funny, with all the typing I’ve done over the years, no blisters or callouses on my fingertips.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jeff Beck is another that doesn’t use a pick, though he did early on. Leo Kottke used a thumbpick and finger picks for a long time, and he caused himself carpal tunnel so badly he had to stop playing. He rehabbed his arm and threw the picks away…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. When you’re first building them up, it can be a little painful, but you get used to it pretty quickly, and after a while you barely notice it.

      Like

        1. To an extent, all musicians have to make some sort of adjustment to play their instrument. Even singers have to learn to control their breathing and where their voice is coming from (“head” vs. “chest” voice) in order to extend their range. No one says it’s easy…

          Like

Comments are closed.