How to Protect Fingertips While Playing Guitar

how to protect fingertips while playing guitar

One question that almost every guitarist asks is, “how do I protect my fingertips?”

This issue isn’t guitar-specific either, all string instrument players go through this issue.

And it is understandable since fingers hurt when you are just starting.

As a beginner, your fingertips are very sensitive and you may feel some discomfort, even if you are playing some basic chords, which is typical at first.

But this little bit of sensitivity is only temporary and will go away once you build calluses on your fingers.

But until you develop those calluses, here are a few tips you could use to protect those fingers.

9 Tips to Help You Protect Your Fingertips

There is no actual substitute to calluses, but till you get your badge of honour you will have to keep on with your practice, don’t give up in the middle.

1. Trim your Fingernails

If you have long nails, they might stick into the guitar strings if you happen to be fingerpicking.

Plus, it is pretty dangerous to play the guitar with long nails; they might break.

Another benefit to keeping short nails is that it makes it easier to build calluses.

2. Practice on Nylon strings

Nylon strings are much less aggressive on the fingertips since they are softer than their steel counterparts.

These strings will allow you to indulge in long sessions.

You won’t have to worry about the finger pain, but the trade-off here is you will have to wait a long time to develop your calluses.

3. Don’t Press too Hard

If you tend to push hard on the strings, you don’t have to do that.

Relax your fingers and apply enough pressure to ensure that the strings touch the fret. That is more than enough to produce a decent sound.

The greatest danger of pushing too hard is developing tendonitis, which will inadvertently stop you from playing the guitar altogether.

So the lesson here is Light touch + Less pressure = No Sore fingertips.

4. Don’t Play with Wet fingers

Say that you have played for a while and have developed some calluses.

The worst thing you can do in this situation is to play with wet fingers. Your calluses will soften up if your fingers are immersed in water.

So if you find your fingers a bit wrinkled and your fingertips are soft, wait till you have dry fingers and hard again to start your practice session.

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5. Use a Guitar Pick

guitar pick to Protect Fingertips While Playing Guitar

Guitar picks are meant to replace your fingers.

If you are skilled enough, you can do the same things with a guitar pick that you would do by fingerpicking.

They keep your fingers safe and your strings cleaner, good for your guitar’s health.

Read: How to Properly Hold a Guitar Pick? to find the best ways you can hold your pick to make a great sound.

6. Tape your Fingers

If you practice daily and don’t take breaks, you can tape your fingers with medical tape.

It may help protect your fingertips but make things difficult while playing.

Your fingers may slip from the strings and disrupt the pressure you put on the strings.

7. Choose Proper Strings

guitar string


There are a lot of different string gauges you can look into for your guitar.

The lighter gauge ones are easier on the fingers than the medium and heavy gauge strings, as they will cause much less soreness.

But on the other hand, medium and heavy gauge strings that hurt more will eventually help you develop great thick calluses.

Read: Best Guitar Strings For Beginners: All You Need to Know, to find out the best string choice for you.

8. Alternate your Practicing Days

It is important as a beginner that you practice a lot, but too much is too bad.

If you overdo it, you might develop blisters, which is not a good condition.

Alternating your practicing days will help you not only build your skills as a guitarist but will do a massive favor to your fingertips.

Read: How much should I practice Guitar? to find out exact number of hours you should practice.

9. Use Rubbing Alcohol

Dipping or rubbing your fingers in alcohol can make them hard.

This is only meant as a quick trick; you should focus on getting acquainted with the guitar strings.

They are a great tool to start your practice but only supplement your journey. Eventually, you will have to leave this trick aside. 


Do guitar fingertip protectors work?

The honest answer is, not really.

Fingertip protectors restrict accurate fretting and can also mute neighbouring strings. Sometimes, they stick to the fretboard due to friction, making it inconvenient to play.

What do guitar players wear on their fingers?

Guitarists wear several things on their fingertips – slides, thumb picks, tape, and fingertips protectors. Some of them work only for advanced players, but beginners maintain caution.

Some even have long nails to support their finger styles.

Is it better to play the guitar with your fingers or a pick?

Using a guitar pick will produce a more precise and brighter than your fingers. Plucking your guitar strings with different parts of your fingers will have different and inconsistent sounds.

So guitar players even use their old credit cards as a makeshift guitar pick, that is how clear a sound you get.

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Ultimately all this leads to you playing the guitar. As a beginner, your fingers suffer the wrath of your guitar for a couple of months before they develop calluses.

But until that happens, and you decide to drop off before your fingertips are well prepared to handle the strain of those strings, you can use these tips to help you practice.

But stick with it because everyone has to deal with the sore fingers and the pain.

Do what you need so you can continue your guitar practice and make the next Stairway to Heaven or be the next Eric Clapton.

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