How hard and where to press down a fret
So many learning guitarists press down far too hard to make their chord shapes or when playing anything. Some students call it ‘Gorilla Grip’. This exercise demonstrates how little you can press down with the right finger positioning, which should make everything so much easier!
The ‘My fingers hurt!’ exercise
- With your first finger, play the note at 3rd fret on your thickest string (Or any dotted fret)
- Play the note as you usually would, and give a number between 1 and 10 to indicate how much you are pressing down, 10 being like making a fist, 1 being not pressing at all
- Now place your finger to your side of the fret, between the dot and the fret nearest to you
- Play this note once every second, and gradually lesson the amount of pressure on this note by a fraction at a time until it buzzes and eventually the note doesn’t ring out at all
- Play the note again, but only press on just enough so that the string doesn’t buzz. Ensure your finger is at the ‘good’ side of the fret
- Give a number between 1 and 10 again to indicate this pressure. It should be much lower than before. THIS is the amount your should be pressing down every time you play anything on your guitar
- You should repeat this exercise with each finger and around the fret board if you feel it will benefit you!
As this is such an important topic for new guitarists, here's my 5 tips for if your finger tips hurt playing guitar!
- Play little and often. 10 or 20 minutes then put the thing down. But pick it up again the same day or the next day, every day!
- Vary between chord playing and single note playing- learn some simple melodies or riffs! It'll be easier on your fingers trust me
- Get your guitar 'setup' with good 'action' (total lifesaver, give these terms a google if you're unsure about them)
- Use a capo often. Capos make guitars with good or bad action even easier to play. If you don't use one and your fingers hurt, use one!
- Play with good positioning. This is covered in every beginner video I've ever filmed. Position at the side of the fret closest to you
Finally, accept it will hurt if you don't play every day and then play for much longer than normal, or if you play for too long in general because you want to practice. This is frustrating, I know. Just remember, guitar is a physical skill and there is an optimum/ happy medium. Find what that is for you and stick to it.
No matter what - playing a little and often (even just 10 minutes every day) is best.