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Thread: Tips for playing without killing your hands | Forums

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  1. #1
    I would like to open up a discussion. Tips for playing without killing your hands. So to start it off here we go.

    1.) Find an easy scale or riff that you can move up and down the neck. Play slow then progress faster.
    2.) Make sure you clean your strings after you are done playing. A little lemon oil, pick some up at the grocery store, can go along way. It is good for your fret-board as well.
    3.) Make sure your guitar is setup properly. $30.00 at your local guitar shop can work wonders.
    4.) Don't play with strings that are to heavy. start with 9's, if you break them doing bends, get some 10's (will require a new setup / 30 bucks)
    5.) When your fingers get sore and start to get callouses, soak your finger tips in vinegar.

    Have fun!
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  2. #2
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    Just to add to his post.

    1. Always do warm ups before diving right in. This will loosen your hands an fingers up so they will be ready to play.
    2. Yes lemon oil does work on most guitars but make sure you know what your neck is made out of first. I have the Dunlop lemon oil an it works but the bottle says do not use on maple necks.
    3. When your playing don't force to go faster you will have injurys this way so make sure you play slow an work the tempo up speed is not a must but will come over time with practice.

    That's all I have for now but I'm pretty sure me or the OP will have more tips later one once more people have questions.
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  3. #3
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    Thank you for the tips.
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  4. #4
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    Only use enough finger pressure so the note rings cleanly.

    Use lighter strings.
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  5. #5
    If you put lemon oil on your fretboard every time you play, you're going to gunk it up. Instead of cleaning the guitar after you play, you should be cleaning your hands before you play. I like to use soap and water, but if you do that, make sure you let your hands dry completely before playing. You don't want your fingers to be wet while playing because the skin will tear more easily.

    Elixir makes a string called "Nanoweb" that come with a coating that serves several functions. It's slick, so it's easier for your fingers to move around, making playing easier while reducing fret noise. It also protects the strings from dirt and corrosion, making them last longer (I like to stretch the life of my strings, but I've gone almost a year on a single set before). I like the super light strings (.009).

    If you want even more slipperiness, there are products such as "Finger Ease" that you spray onto the neck and wipe in. It feels slightly weird at first but after a little while, the stuff transfers to your fingers and really does make playing easier. The great thing about finger ease is you can also apply it to the back of the neck if your palm is having trouble sliding.

    Pressing too hard on the frets is a common beginner problem, but the thing is, if you're going to be playing an hour every day, you're going to get callouses, which is a good thing since once you have callouses, your fingers won't hurt. But you have to build callouses to get callouses, and that's not always fun. If playing is causing you too much pain, just take a break.

    While it isn't very wise for a novice player to spend a lot of money on an instrument they might not use, there is a world of difference in playing on a decent guitar and playing on a crappy guitar. The biggest difference is usually the setup on the guitar. If you don't know how to set intonation or string height, I'd highly suggest learning or taking your guitar to a luthier who can set it up.

    The DIY approach is like this: whatever instrument you get, make sure that it's electrically and mechanically sound. Look down the neck from the base of the guitar and make sure it's not twisted or warped (many guitars I've looked at were either or both). Get the set of strings you like, regardless of what anyone else says (if you honestly think that 10's are too much for your fingers, try 9's... that's why they make them). Set the relief, string height, and intonation to whatever you like (lower string height is usually better for faster playing, but make sure to try both and see what you like). If you do all that, then the guitar will be a lot easier to play.

    By the way, while you're stringing your guitar, take a pencil out and rub some graphite onto the nut. Just dig the tip into each string valley and try to get some graphite in there. This will drastically improve the guitar's ability to stay in tune if your strings get caught in the nut (you can hear this as popping sounds while you're tuning).
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  6. #6
    I actually got this info from my chiropractor when I messed up my wrists. She had me start doing hand stretches before playing guitar. this involves stretching each finger back individually for a few seconds. Also, I do wrist stretches (bending the wrists forward and backward).

    Though I don't need to do these stretches all the time any more, it makes a huge differnce when my guitar hands start hurting.
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  7. #7
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    Massage the joints in your fingers and wrists before playing.

    Baby powder on the fretting hand works like a charm.

    If you feel tension in your wrists, forearms, or fingers then stop, and try to find out what is causing the tension. For myself too much focus can cause tension, so I have to find the feel of what Im playing....bobbing the head, tapping the foot are things I do to break the focus on my fingers, picking.
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  8. #8
    I learned a few hand/wrist evercises from an article by Kirk Hammet in Guitar World. I've been doing them for a few years now, every time before and after I play....and they have helped me in many ways.

    There's 3 parts to the exercise...

    First exercise: Stretch your arms straight out from your sides, in a 90 degree angle. Then bend your wrist so that the tips of your fingers are pointing up to the ceiling and hold it for 5 seconds, then bend your wrist so your fingers point to the ground and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10-15 times.

    Second exercise: With your arms still stretched out to your side, bend your elbows in and put your palms together with your fingers pointing up....kinda like your praying. Hold for 5 seconds, then bent your wrists down and do the same for 5 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times.

    Third exercise: Put you finger tips together...kinda like praying again, but this time, stretch your fingers out and push the tips of your fingers together. to form a diamond shape with your thumbs and fingers together. If your doing it right, you will feel your fingers stretch apart and also stretch along the whole finger.

    These exercises have helped me limber up my fingers/thumb, and wrist. I can always feel the difference when I play if I don;t do those exercises before....my hands end up getting tired a lot sooner.
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  9. #9
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    Originally posted by BubbaMc:
    Only use enough finger pressure so the note rings cleanly.

    Use lighter strings.
    I hear this all the time but it seems like I have to push down fairly hard for it to ring clear. I use 10,13,17,26,36,46. I was using heavier stainless steel before I picked up Rocksmith for the heavy metal sound.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member crispyfunk's Avatar
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    If you have a lespaul style bridge i find that the strings will almost feel like one gage lighter if you rap the strings around the tallpiece befor going over the bridge.the reason for this is because the strings will be at a much less angle to the bridge and take alot less force to bend it,also it will save your strings a little longer because the normal angle from the tailpiece to the bridge is to much and puts alot of stress at one point on the saddle
    so when you string the guitar next put the strings in the holes from the bridge side and rap them around the tailpiece then over the bridge. and do not forget to put graphite on the saddles under the strings and most importantle graphite under the strings on the nut. if your guitars action and string hight is set correctly you will beable to bend those strings very hard all night long and not have to tune them in the morning
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