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Finger trouble

JonnyJonny SwedenNew
edited March 2009 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 42
Have any of you guys had any problems with/know anyone who has or has had problems with hitting the upper side of your index finger of your pick hand on the strings? It's very annoying and has almost irreparably damaged my finger. I've tried putting scotch tape on it, but that causes the pick to slide all over the place, which is also very annoying. Is there some sort of protection for your finger or something that can be used in these cases?


  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,893
    Hi Jonny...that's totally normal. Over time, you'll develop a callus on the top of your index finger.


  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,923

    I've developed the calous that you are talking about but I've also noticed that my fingernail on my index finger has a slight flat spot maybe a 1/4" wide where it has worn down. Is that also normal? I also sometimes catch my index finger nail on the upstroke on rhythm playing only (less so since I am trying to remember to curl my index finger in a little more).

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,893
    yes...your nail will also wear down!
  • That also used to happen to me all the time. It still does from time to time, especially as a rhythm player, but I have managed to learn to hold my pick in a way that has stopped it from happening. My point is that it is possible to learn to hold the pick so that you dont wear down your finger. Some people don't mind having their finger wear down because they are like Wolverine and they heal fast and regrow their fingernails in seconds.

    When I was in second grade, while all of us were learning to write with pencils, my teacher would always slap my hand because I was holding the pencil down by the lead. In time I learned to hold the pencil on the yellow part. Just an example of how you might change your grip.

    You should experiment a little with how you hold your pick, by the position of where you hold it, which side you hit the strings with , and by how stiff you hold the pick or allow it to wobble.

    Always experiment and try new things. That is what guitar is all about.
    Jon Austen, Portland, OR
    playing since 1997
  • JonnyJonny SwedenNew
    Posts: 42
    ok, thanks for the inputs, guys. I'm afraid it would be difficult for me to change my technique, since it has developped over quite a large period of time, but I'll try.
    Once, at a gig, the finger even started to bleed, because I kept hitting the strings without noticing, since I was so into what I was playing. It wasn't pretty..
    It hasn't bled since, but as I said, it's completely deformed, the darn thing. I played at the Djangofestival in Sweden yesterday and kept hitting the strings during the whole performance and it didn't start to bleed, so maybe it's toughened enough now. I'm just afraid the deformation will grow, intensifying the problem.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,923
    I played a really long gig once when I hadn't been playing much in a long time and my calouses were gone and had it wear thru in a spot and start bleeding a bit. Had to finish the gig and by the time it was over there was a fair amount of blood. My band mates thought it was really cool. I was bummed.
  • JonnyJonny SwedenNew
    Posts: 42
    ok! Are we talking about the same thing though? I don't mean my fingertop, but the top of my index finger; it's hard to explain, but I mean my picking hand, and not the other one. Is that what you all mean as well? Because naturally you develop calouses on your fingertop..I'm referring to the upper side of the index finger of my picking hand.
  • Matthias LenzMatthias Lenz Lucklum, GermanyNew
    Posts: 101
    Hi Jonny,

    yes, from what I can tell all the comments were on callouses on the picking hand.

    I started Gypsy Picking in May, and have also developed that slightly "deformed" spot directly under the fingernail. I also have two smaller ones on the middle and ring finger, but those are located at the tip joint of these fingers. It comes from not unfolding the fingers, so I don´t touch the guitar´s top at all. The middle and ring fingers then provide extra "damping" of the higher strings, and IMO this also reduces the "impact pressure" that the index finger might suffer from.

    If you´re really in trouble or worried about your index finger, then you might consider doing this as well. It´s pretty much what Michael describes in "Gypsy Picking" on the bottom of page 13 : "it might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but eventually you´ll develop calluses on the back of your fingers"

    Calluses, calluses, calluses...I wonder where it will end sometimes. Two years ago I started playing Tommy Emmanuel Fingerstyle without any fingernails, so I developed calluses on the right hand fingertips, also a callous on the left hand thumb because of thumb fretting technique, and now with Gypsy Picking there are even more on the right hand. I guess the phrase "No pain, no gain" was originally from an acoustic steel-string guitar player :wink:

    I wish you good luck,

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,923
    Yes, on the hand that holds the pick. I have callouses on the side of the finger that brushes against the strings just below the nail on my index finger (and to a lesser degree on the others near the first joint). The nail on my index finger also has a little flat spot so I guess it also brushes the strings a bit sometimes.
  • The LosThe Los San DiegoNew
    Posts: 71
    Hey man, I get the worn down finger nail too! I wouldn't worry about it. You can try this cream called, "Healthy Hoof". It toughens up your nails right away and so, slows down the "sanding" action. Also, consider yourself lucky it's only one finger. I bust my knuckles sometimes and I've seen top players with bloody fingers, calluses, etc. The pain never ends. Such is the sacrifice we make for this music...
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