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Old 01-26-2022, 05:32 PM
Possible? Possible? is offline
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Didn't come across this question using the search function so here goes:

I can't play for more that a couple minutes before my fingers start screaming at me. Watched some videos to help to understand how much pressure to apply to the strings. As an absolute beginner I assume I am pushing to hard. But regardless of how much pressure you put on the strings (and less is better of course) you still have to push the string down enough so that it touches the wood part of the neck between the frets, correct?

Assuming that is the case (I have not found any source that says otherwise) , the pressure needed to push down such that the string touches the wood is significantly greater at the front of the fret than the middle or back of the fret (you have to bend the metal string over a shorter distance at front of fret rather than middle of the fret). Simple physics, right?

What I find troubling is that all the instructional videos out there say to push down as close to the perpendicular raised bar thingy as possible. However, the closer to that raised bar thing you get the more painful it is. Effort required to get string to tough the wood there seems exponentially greater than the middle or back of the fret space.

Could someone tell me if this is just the way it is with this instrument? I really don't think I have the finger strength to play a guitar even though I'm, a pretty big guy.

Thanks.
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Old 01-26-2022, 05:39 PM
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Rev Roy Rev Roy is offline
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You get the cleanest note when your finger is just behind the fret. Nature of the beast. We all went through that finger-tips-on-fire stage as beginners. Again, nature of the beast. It’ll get better. Hang in there.

Here’s a recent thread that may be helpful:
https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=637891
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Old 01-26-2022, 05:43 PM
Dave Hicks Dave Hicks is offline
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My wife got through that stage twice, once with uke, once with guitar. I hear her plunking away in the next room now, so she's doing ok!

D.H.
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Old 01-26-2022, 05:45 PM
jacot23 jacot23 is offline
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Play through it, in about 3 weeks you won't be able to use the touch screen on your phone/iPad with your fretting hand, but you'll have painless fretting ability.
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Old 01-26-2022, 05:49 PM
shufflebeat shufflebeat is offline
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Make sure you're playing a guitar that's playable. Maybe take it to a decent music shop and have them cast a professional eye over the playing action of the strings/neck.

Once you're happy with that it's just a matter of time and patience, the technique will come.

If you have access to a guitar teacher who can assess your progress from time to time, doesn't need to be intense, then you can streamline the process significantly.
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Old 01-26-2022, 05:50 PM
stokes1971 stokes1971 is offline
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Doesnt need to touch the wood between the frets,just enough to contact the fret and rsound clearly, dont focus on forcing it to the wood.Its gonna hurt til you develop some callous on the finger tips.When I started back in the early sixties I had a cheap acoustic with action that was almost 1/2" at the 12th fret.Only strings available were the bridge cable gauge Black Diamonds, the music store in the neighborhood didnt even sell string sets, just singles in the heaviest gauge they made at the time.You have no idea how loud your fingers can scream.
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Old 01-26-2022, 05:54 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Possible? View Post
...I really don't think I have the finger strength to play a guitar even though I'm a pretty big guy...
Welcome to the Forum...

Sounds to me like your guitar (you didn't tell us what it is) might just need a few tweaks from a tech - nothing to be concerned about as most new instruments need a pro setup job before they can play/sound their best - and if I could learn to play as a (then) pudgy-fingered nine-year-old, on the heavy-gauge strings and low-quality student instruments of the early-60's, you can too with a little persistence...
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Old 01-26-2022, 06:00 PM
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birkenweg42 birkenweg42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shufflebeat View Post
Make sure you're playing a guitar that's playable. Maybe take it to a decent music shop and have them cast a professional eye over the playing action of the strings/neck.

Once you're happy with that it's just a matter of time and patience, the technique will come.

If you have access to a guitar teacher who can assess your progress from time to time, doesn't need to be intense, then you can streamline the process significantly.

That's excellent advice! Have a guitar tech look at the guitar. He can tell you if it needs a setup. Even as a beginner you should have enough finger strength to fret the strings with a well-setup instrument.

But expect your fingertips to be sore until you build up some calluses.
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Old 01-26-2022, 06:00 PM
Italuke Italuke is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shufflebeat View Post
Make sure you're playing a guitar that's playable. Maybe take it to a decent music shop and have them cast a professional eye over the playing action of the strings/neck.
For the time being, ignore all other comments and go with this one. Playing guitar does not hurt.
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Old 01-26-2022, 06:10 PM
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warfrat73 warfrat73 is offline
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As stokes said, you don't have to press the string all the way down to the fretboard (the wood part between the frets).

You have to push down only far enough to produce a clean tone.

There's also a good chance that your guitar would benefit from a good setup, which will make it easier to play (even most brand new guitars need this).

You also may be able to switch to lighter gauge strings that will make thing easier on your fingers while you progress.
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Old 01-26-2022, 06:12 PM
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Has the guitar been set-up recently by a competent guitar tech or luthier? That can often make a big difference....
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Old 01-26-2022, 06:12 PM
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Ease into it. If it hurts, set it down for a while. It takes weeks to build up the calluses you need on your fretting hand. And it could be you're applying too much pressure. A common suggestion is to fret a note without using your thumb against the back side of the neck. Do this for a bit and you'll discover just how little pressure you need to apply.

And as others have noted, be sure to either take the guitar to a tech (not Guitar Center, in my experience), or search the web to learn about guitar setups, action, etc. Could be the nut slots need to be filed, or the action needs to be reduced to get the strings closer to the fretboard. Your fingers will thank you for it.
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  #13  
Old 01-26-2022, 06:24 PM
Macpage Macpage is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Italuke View Post
For the time being, ignore all other comments and go with this one. Playing guitar does not hurt.
Welcome to the forum. You will find some nice folks and great advice here.

I will go along with the string of quotes recommending a good set-up on your guitar. This will ensure that your guitar is adjusted to the proper specifications for your preferences, which as a beginner should likely be playing comfort.

You might find some discomfort for a bit, but the above is true. It shouldn't hurt. I have a couple of guitars on hand that I have no doubt you would find a joy to fret compared to what you might be experiencing. Most guitars can be adjusted to get to this point. It seems counter intuitive, but many times the guitars we start out with are the ones needing the most adjustment.

Good luck and hang in there!

Best,

Mac
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  #14  
Old 01-26-2022, 07:52 PM
Paleolith54 Paleolith54 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Possible? View Post
Didn't come across this question using the search function so here goes:

I can't play for more that a couple minutes before my fingers start screaming at me. Watched some videos to help to understand how much pressure to apply to the strings. As an absolute beginner I assume I am pushing to hard. But regardless of how much pressure you put on the strings (and less is better of course) you still have to push the string down enough so that it touches the wood part of the neck between the frets, correct?

Assuming that is the case (I have not found any source that says otherwise) , the pressure needed to push down such that the string touches the wood is significantly greater at the front of the fret than the middle or back of the fret (you have to bend the metal string over a shorter distance at front of fret rather than middle of the fret). Simple physics, right?

What I find troubling is that all the instructional videos out there say to push down as close to the perpendicular raised bar thingy as possible. However, the closer to that raised bar thing you get the more painful it is. Effort required to get string to tough the wood there seems exponentially greater than the middle or back of the fret space.

Could someone tell me if this is just the way it is with this instrument? I really don't think I have the finger strength to play a guitar even though I'm, a pretty big guy.

Thanks.
I'll add to the noise level.

1. You probably need a setup.
2. The "raised bar thingy", not the space between them, is the fret (although in conversation the difference usually doesn't matter, it's still good to know the difference.)
3. In theory it's true that you get your best tone with fretting fingers close to the fret (see how handy it is to know what that means?), but in practice it really doesn't seem to matter much. And for many chords it's just not realistic to get all those fingers snug against the fret. So like another guy said, press where and how much needed to get a good clean tone.
4. Nothing wrong with starting with lighter guage strings and even tuning them down one or two semitones (Google that.)
5. Take your time, take breaks, understand that all of us have been through exactly this. You aren't finding any new problems.
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  #15  
Old 01-26-2022, 08:26 PM
DBW DBW is offline
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You have to build up callouses. It will hurt for a while, then you build up callouses and your fingertips go numb. That's when it stops hurting. Kind of a weird feeling but you get used to it. It also sounds like your neck is bowed.
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