#1
I think this is the last question I have. just recently have I gotten more serious about playing guitar, and I'm wondering about building calluses. What's the best way to build them? For the last couple months I would always just mess around on the guitar and I would fret very lightly but still be able to get sound, but could never produce loud hammer ons or pull offs. So on electric do you build calluses and should you fret hard? I'm worried that me not fretting hard enough is killing the sound of the guitar a little bit.

So how hard should you fret?

edit: I also just tried playing with the tuner, and when ever I try to fret hard enough to try to feel pain on my fingers to build calluses I go sharp, but whenever I go light I stay in tune but it feels somewhat dead or too quiet. Is this a problem with my open string tuning and maybe me not playing loud enough?
Last edited by abfirstr8 at Jan 29, 2012,
#2
I used rubbing alcohol sometimes...
Just dip your fingertips in that stuff and let it dry...1-2-3 Weeks and you got some nice calluses...
And don't wash your hands often.. Ofc after you went to toilet you SHOULD wash em..
But don't wash them too often and just with cold water.

Afterall calluses build up quite fast if you play your guitar daily.
#3
If you fret it too hard it causes a lot of unnecessary tension and can hamper you ability to play quickly, but if you play too lightly the desired sound won't be produced. You really only need to fret as hard as is required for the note to sound cleanly.
#4
You press down as hard as you're comfortable with, but that has more to do with strength than the thickness of your calluses. Experienced players often alternate between playing with a sturdy grip and then playing with a real light touch (AKA applying just enough pressure so you can hear the note, then immediately releasing it to get a more staccato sound) depending on the feel and sound they're trying to achieve

Calluses are just something that develops over time. Believe me, there are no guitarists complaining about "their calluses holding 'em back" as they're trying to progress

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Last edited by shwilly at Jan 29, 2012,
#5
Get an acoustic and play that, the heavier strings really help to build callouses and finger strength. Beyond that I would just say wait for them to form on their own
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#6
Yes your fingertips might hurt if you play for hours on end, but so will your wrist, your fingers, your neck, etc. If you find the soreness of your fingertips to be disproportionate to the amount of playing you do (in other words: if that's the only thing that's bothering you while you practice) then yeah, you might have to pay some special attention to this issue

"Weak" fingertips are usually much more of a right hand problem (I bet if you searchbar the word "calluses" you'll probably encounter a bunch of threads by bass or fingerstyle players, even tho they're heavily outnumbered on UG, lawl). If it's just your left hand this problem then yes, you can reduce the ammount of applied fretting pressure down a notch (tho you won't notice a lot if your fingers were already hurting: this is just something to remember for your next playing session). Also, fingertip pain can often be countered by paying special attention to WHICH PART of your finger is actually pushing down the string, especially while bending (the bit of flesh that's right under the nail is particularly sensitive, as is the flat area at the other end of your fingertip. Y'know -> the part that's used when they take your fingerprints)

The best remedy, however, is rest, and if the pain is getting severe but you don't want to stop playing just keep in mind that you might have to lay the guitar down for like a day or so in order for your fingers to recover. For now I wouldn't worry about it too much

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Last edited by shwilly at Jan 29, 2012,
#7
You don't have to fret hard at all. You should fret just hard enough to produce clean sound. You don't have push on the strings as hard as you can.

For building calluses, do lots of bends and slides.
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#8
Doing lots of slides will help build calluses
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#9
Didnt know about that alcohol thing..

Heres however a good "cheat"
Plant finger 1,2,3,4 on string 1, slide like a mofo for 2 minutes...go to the next string.. go on and come back.. do this every other day :P say hi to your new callouses..

(this doesnt work well on coated strings like nanowebs because they dont offer much friction, but it still helps)
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#10
Quote by RaspberryPouncy
I used rubbing alcohol sometimes...
Just dip your fingertips in that stuff and let it dry...1-2-3 Weeks and you got some nice calluses...
And don't wash your hands often.. Ofc after you went to toilet you SHOULD wash em..
But don't wash them too often and just with cold water.

Afterall calluses build up quite fast if you play your guitar daily.


Um... ok, I agree that calluses will build if you play guitar a lot. I really don't think that not washing your hands is going to be the best way to build calluses.

-They will just develop on their own.
-Be sure to use ALL your fingers, not just 2 or 3...
-Stop playing as SOON as you notice any blisters (and let them heal completely).

Please, try to wash your hands frequently though... I don't know whether the alcohol thing works, but it SOUNDS like it MIGHT be harmful to your skin.
#11
Quote by Haunt
If you fret it too hard it causes a lot of unnecessary tension and can hamper you ability to play quickly, but if you play too lightly the desired sound won't be produced. You really only need to fret as hard as is required for the note to sound cleanly.


+1,000,000

This is exactly right.

However, note that if you're performing a technique that requires you to push harder, don't hesitate to do so (like bending strings).

Remember always to RELAX your hand and fingers right after you play any note. That will keep the blood flowing properly, and brings the tension back to 0.
#12
I also use the acoustic guitar to speed up callous development. If I go on holiday for a couple of weeks and don't play, combined with swimming, I tend to lose the callouses.

When I get back I detune the acoustic by a tone and spend most of the next couple of weeks playing that. I take the tuning up a semitone when my fingers start getting the callouses back, and start getting stronger. After two or three weeks the tuning goes back to regular tuning and I don't have any problems.

This also has the beneficial side-effect of improving my playing in general on the electric.
#13
Quote by maltmn
Um... ok, I agree that calluses will build if you play guitar a lot. I really don't think that not washing your hands is going to be the best way to build calluses.

-They will just develop on their own.
-Be sure to use ALL your fingers, not just 2 or 3...
-Stop playing as SOON as you notice any blisters (and let them heal completely).

Please, try to wash your hands frequently though... I don't know whether the alcohol thing works, but it SOUNDS like it MIGHT be harmful to your skin.

I did not say to completely stop washing your hands. That's filthy obviously! :P
#14
Regularly practice the chromatic scale, C-major scale and bars with each finger. That worked for me.
#15
My callouses just apeared over a couple of months- I do allot of rock climbing too though, so my hands were already tougher than average.
#16
There is no need for alcohol or purposely mutilating your fingers. Just play and let them come naturally.

As said before you only need to press hard enough for the string to ring clearly. If you do it slowly you find that it hardly takes any pressure at all. You do not need to press the string all the way down till it contacts the wood. If your notes aren't ringing it's more likely a problem with your picking hand.

Also are you playing on your finger TIPS? Touch a wall with your finger tips keeping your hand slightly angled down (maybe 30 degrees from horizontal). The skin that makes contact with the wall is where you want to be playing.

-Tony
#17
Surely Frank Zappa had the answer to this, and indeed to all guitar-related questions...

"Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar!"

It will work.