Articles, Blog

Sore Fingers? | Setup Your Acoustic Guitar For Easier Play (especially bar chords)

October 16, 2019

Hi there. I am Tomas Michaud from
Today I want to talk to you about sore fingers. Now the reason this is an important subject
is because for many beginners when they start practicing regularly, like you should, your
fingers get sore and this is particularly an issue on the steel-string acoustic guitar.
Not so much on the nylon string guitar and not so much on the electric guitar because
of the thin strings on the electric guitar. Just to be clear I am talking about the fingers
of the left hand, the left hand if they press down into the strings, the middle strings
cut into the fingers and they make your fingers sore. Now, there are several things you can do about
this. One is to put lighter strings on your guitar. I would recommend starting off by
putting extra-light acoustic guitar strings on your acoustic guitar. They are thinner
but they still sound good. Another option is to put electric guitar strings on. They
don’t sound as good but you can put thinner strings on that way and, of course, you can
always build up to thicker strings. Another possibility is a type of string called
silk and steel. This string is a hybrid-type string in-between a steel string and a nylon
string and it goes on the acoustic guitar. It has a softer sound and a softer feel. Some
people don’t like the sound and it might not be the overall sound-solution for you but
a good stepping stone to get to the thicker strings on the acoustic guitar. Another possibility is to adjust the action
of your guitar. What I mean by that is you are going to adjust the strings so they are
closer to the fret of the guitar, they are closer to the neck of the guitar, which makes
it easier to play. Now there are several steps in adjusting the action of a guitar. It involves
making the nut of the guitar lower, the bridge of the guitar lower and the neck just the
right angle. Then finally, the last possibility is to file
down the frets so they are more even. The trick is to get the strings as low as possible
without buzzing anywhere up and down the neck. You want to be able to press the note here
[guitar strum] and have it sound nice and clear, not hit one of the frets up here. This
is tricky and I recommend getting a competent guitar repairman to do the work. If you are mechanically inclined and have
a reasonable tolerance for risk, you can learn how to do it. Check out videos on “You Tube”.
There are some good videos I have seen on there. The risk is if you file the nut too
low or the bridge you are going to have to go out and get a new one and you can actually
over-tighten that metal truss rod in the neck of the guitar to the point you even break
your neck. Last thing to do is to file the frets and
that is a really tricky one and I wouldn’t even try that. The last resort is to play
your guitar with sore fingers until they get tough. Now they will actually get tough. It
usually takes about three or four weeks and some people can just work through it. The
trick is to find that place where if it is holding you back from practicing, do what
you need to do to get easier strings on the guitar. If you can keep practicing and wait
until they get tough then go for it. There is nothing wrong with that and once you get
calluses on your fingers, or thicker skin rather, you really won’t have to worry about
that much anymore in the future as long as you keep playing. If you stop playing for
a while you kind of have to go through that again. So, that’s it. I hope this has been some help
for you. Mostly I want you to keep practicing and that will keep you on the road to getting
better and better as a guitarist and having more fun. I’m Tomas Michaud from
Check out my other videos on my website at There are plenty of free
videos and tips for you to learn with. Thanks and see you later.


  • Reply ahighbalckguy October 31, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Classic guitar with metal strings

  • Reply SteveBenBob November 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Nice video.Iam using a Fender DG-3 to learn on but i got told that while this is a nice sounding guitar the action is pretty difficult for a beginner.Any thought?

  • Reply david ceadmile November 3, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Stick it up your arse – jiggle it about a bit – spin on it.

  • Reply Tim The Enchanter November 6, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    if you want to toughen your skin up quickly and if you cant get your hands on it, soak your fingertips in surgical spirits or vodka, it stings like a bitch bit it helps

  • Reply Adele Roncato November 6, 2013 at 10:08 pm

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  • Reply Indrek Pringi January 1, 2014 at 8:27 am

    1 hr a day playing: in 2 weeks you get calluses not 3 weeks not 4 weeks
    He's full of shit

  • Reply Laura Kohlhaas January 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    I read that I could tape my fingers too…does it work or not? Some experiences?

  • Reply Pyrlalah January 10, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Yesterday I bought my first steel string acoustic guitar. I've been playing nylon for a year and a half now. My fingers still hurt like fck

  • Reply Taylor Moon January 24, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    I thought that the thin strings were the reason for sore fingers, especially the high e and the b strings

  • Reply KeGaMo January 27, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    I've playing an acoustic Ibanez for 1,5 years now, the strings had much distance from the fret, and it was hard to play, but after a while my fingers became enough strong to play it. And now it's easier to play most of the guitars with 12's

  • Reply Anurag Sai January 29, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    I love your videos Tomas!!

  • Reply Guilherme Luz February 4, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I've got like 3 Silk and Steel, and the other three plastic .-. (still sounds great)

  • Reply Mark February 7, 2014 at 2:40 am

    Elixr polyweb

  • Reply Andres Saenz February 19, 2014 at 6:53 am

    I started with the copper strings skip the pussy shit nylon

  • Reply Andres Saenz February 19, 2014 at 6:53 am


  • Reply Liolar43 February 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I have calluses on the fingers of both hands, as I've been playing for quite a long time, but I still get sore fingers. I suppose they would get sore if I play for a particularly long time, or should I eventually be immune to finger-pain? I'm using a pretty low-action acoustic guitar with nylon strings at the moment, so they're not exactly severe at current.

  • Reply David Salembier February 26, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Great video! Thank you!

  • Reply Lonnie Christopher March 22, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Sounds like the best thing is to 'tuff it out'…but the best sound on my guitar are 12's in the steel string for acoustic.  It is a 'b^#tch on the fingers !!…I see tiny 110 lb.girls on the internet playing acoustic effortlessly for hours– how can that be?? I am missing something…..

  • Reply Lauchlan Mccutcheon March 28, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Some guitars are just harder than others. Been playing for years and play hours every day. One of my guitars, a Washburn is tough as hell and nothing in the world is gonna change that. Pity, though as it sounds so good but still kills me on barre heavy tunes.

  • Reply Nicole Solomon April 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Thank you sir. This was very helpful for a beginner like me. 🙂

  • Reply Marc Piechowicz April 19, 2014 at 12:48 am

    Cheers dude. I'm a total beginner and my fingertips are actually slightly numb at the moment! So I find it difficult to get a clean chord. Suffice to say I've ordered some extra light Martin strings for my steel stringer. My nylon and electric are nowhere near as harsh. I love practicing guitar and any way to enable me to do so for longer is literally priceless. Hopefully they'll be easier to learn on also so bonzer mate, I'll be bloody happy! Thanks again 🙂 Best wishes and happy strumming…..:)

  • Reply Tobbe E April 25, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    I'm a beginner. I played on a steel guitar and started bleeding. So I bought a new steel guitar that the seller adjusted for me so that it is easier to play so that the strings are closer to the neck and he put lighter strings on it. I felt a big positive difference and I definately recommend this for other beginners. This made it much easier to hold down the strings, make barre chords, hammer-ons, pull-offs and licks and pretty much everything. You get a richer sound with thicker strings though.

  • Reply Angel Cielo April 26, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    This is why I stopped plaing guitars back in the 80s. Recently I tried again and again the same issue. I saw a guitar maker by the name of zager that makes guitars with this in mine. Unfotunately, I do not have the money to pay $500+ for a guitar.

  • Reply jklatman May 5, 2014 at 12:27 am

    you mean lower the saddle?

  • Reply Nat the Full Natty Shrugger May 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    It's a habbit of beginners to push the strings much harder than they need too. Also if you start slowly and stop when your fingers start hurting (don't keep going until blisters form, that will make playing much harder) you will slowly build hard skin on the tips of your fingers which will make it much easier for you. Just keep at it guys.

  • Reply Zane Fowler May 15, 2014 at 5:12 am

    I've been playing since December, but I've never had isues with calluses. But I'm curious, i've had issues with my fingers as a whole getting sore easily, not the tips, but the fingers themselves. I've tried not pushing as hard on the frets, but that has only resulted in muting the strings, rather than fully pressing them down. What would you recommend?

  • Reply Angel Cielo May 15, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Surprise surprise I just got an electrical guitar and its way easier for me to play with. I can now spend more hours practicing. The neck of the guitar is smaller and the action is lower. Great for my small hands.

  • Reply JD Bridge May 28, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    are u double jonted i was looking at your fingers and your pinky is way back 

  • Reply salh June 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    I actually have the problem with my electric, for a beginner an electric is as painful as an acoustic. Please help.

  • Reply Steve Lehnert July 3, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    thor thingerth

  • Reply Bigsby July 7, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Yea but i got bass electric/elecrtic

  • Reply ChillingLikeANarnian InNarnia July 17, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    is it just me or does that guitar only have 3 strings?

  • Reply Ifah Rofifah July 23, 2014 at 4:27 am

    what if your acoustic guitar can't change strings!? 🙁

  • Reply David Gouin July 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Really I am not just being an ass. None of this needs to be addressed if the action is good just man up!!

  • Reply Frances McMahon August 11, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I think electric strings on an acoustic will make the problem worse! Metal strings are agony, and not good for your guitar either (different tension).

  • Reply Canaan August 14, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Hi , im not exactly a beginner but i did just get an acoustic and its killing me , its frustrating cuz i was decently good on my electric but now i cant even play bar chords , so do you think that putting the strings from my electric on my acoustic will eliminate that problem ? And what if i were to do an alternate tuning to make the strings looser?

  • Reply onpsxmember August 21, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    He has a classical guitar in his hands, made for Nylon Strings and Nylon Strings wounded with silver etc…
    NEVER put electric guitar strings on a classical guitar!
    A classical guitar has no truss, so no metal backbone to handle the high tension of steel strings!
    Differenciate between classical, acoustic and electric guitar

  • Reply letsplayBOOMbeach August 23, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    You are awesome sir thanks for the tips but could you help me with the lowering of the bridge how can i do that without ruining my guitar….

  • Reply Zahra Zainy September 22, 2014 at 4:14 am

    This is very helpful! Thanks for uploading!

  • Reply Sidz September 26, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I'm having so much trouble with the 1st and 2nd string. They're so thin that when my fingers are there it just buzzes

  • Reply Budd james September 28, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks for the interesting advice.
    The tips of my  fingers are "killing" me ( I know,over exageration;) but they are hurting me and I'm finding it painful to practise.I think I've probaly practised to much! I've just bought my first guitar which is a Fender CF-60.The strings on there are Fender Dura-Tone coated strings (whatever that means).Would I be better off with the ones you've suggested instead? thanks.

  • Reply Joe Mauro October 1, 2014 at 7:25 am

    This fellow Tomas is a fantastic artist!

  • Reply Tomas Michaud October 21, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Sore Fingers?
    How to Make Your Acoustic Guitar Easier to Play

  • Reply Alex T November 2, 2014 at 3:13 am

    i like this guy.

  • Reply TheMorpheusProject November 2, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    my hand are really sore i'm practicing for hours a day well over 3 weeks and i have a nylon string guitar

  • Reply Dilyan Nikolov November 10, 2014 at 1:41 am

    I hate it. I sooo wanna play and i cant the fucking pain is beyond me

  • Reply sanjivani patil November 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

    you sound like "skippy" by @edbassmaster 

  • Reply Jason Bliss November 14, 2014 at 5:32 am

    wrong! thinner electric strings hurt worse, because, since their thinner they cut worse; like a sharper knife. THEY ARE NOT SOFTER IN ANY WAY. I know I play both.

  • Reply Jason Bliss November 14, 2014 at 5:33 am

    but he is right about everything else. 🙂

  • Reply Blooper Blonde November 20, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    @Tomas Michaud  I just recently got an acoustic guitar and I've been practising regularly , what I noticed is, my fingers were sore for few days , and now they are not , but what bothers me , my fingertips are numb , really numb . Will it go away ? Am I doing something wrong . My guitar is fine and the action is low, I don't press on the strings too much because I'm starting to feel the guitar , but this numbness in fingertips really bothers me. Any advice ?

  • Reply Daniel Vigil December 4, 2014 at 4:02 am

    What should i do if my strings buzz sometimes when i play a single string note?? I have built my calluses and all i noticed os tha my strings buzz when i play single string notes but never on chords. I have a steel string guitar

  • Reply Random. Times Entertainments. January 4, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Can i use my finger nail?

  • Reply Maximus Solorio January 10, 2015 at 2:55 am

    Or you could just practice with nylon strings basically plastic but they do the trick

  • Reply xtina1872 January 15, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    Don't laugh!!! Ok laugh! But what do you think about those guitar fingers you can buy? They even have a glove. It doesn't take all the pain it says … But enough where you can practice and still get tougher fingers.

  • Reply Chrum January 24, 2015 at 12:39 am

    Good stuff. Enjoyed :D. Hope to watch more ! I create videos too :P.

  • Reply nancejo January 24, 2015 at 12:44 am

    Painting your fingertips with "Liquid Bandage" or "Nu Skin" will extend playing time until calluses build up.

  • Reply Apracity January 27, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Why not just buy guitar gloves

  • Reply Guitar Maniac February 1, 2015 at 6:55 am

    Please reply: I've been playing guitar for a long time and i have calluses and everything so I'm not a beginner. For some reason i would get a sharp pain on a certain finger and it won't go away for about a two weeks. The pain is as if there's a splinter there but when i look there's nothing there and the pain isn't just there when I play guitar but also when i do everyday things with my hand. It's irritating because every time this happens i have to wait two weeks just to play guitar again. If you know what I'm doing wrong please reply. Btw i don't press very hard on the strings and i like to play the guitar tuned down a half step a lot.

  • Reply Musician's Practice Glove February 10, 2015 at 12:43 am

    Regarding sore fingers…  I saw a special guitar glove being sold on eBay and Amazon called “Musician’s Practice Glove” that gives sore fingertips a break while you still keep playing.. real thin material… lots of additional benefits too!

    Use it to play in-between callous building sessions!

  • Reply David D. Stanton February 10, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you!

  • Reply Pepsimaru March 8, 2015 at 3:41 pm


  • Reply Zack David Music March 15, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    thanks man!

  • Reply Michael Weikath March 18, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    what about me i use 13 – 64 in my electric guitar

  • Reply arash March 19, 2015 at 10:26 pm


  • Reply Tomas Michaud March 24, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Sore Fingers?
    How to make your #acoustic #guitar easier to play
    #guitar #acoustic #acousticguitar  

  • Reply Mikesaniceguy March 25, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Some advice on buying a new guitar: cheap guitars almost always have horrible action. Guitars are "graded" once they've been made and priced accordingly. You get what you pay for. If you have to pay someone to make your cheap guitar easier to play, you might as well have spent the money on a better guitar.

  • Reply Caster March 30, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Thanks sir ☺☺ this really helped me!

  • Reply Jhannah Soriano April 14, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    i stopped playing for a couple of months because of exams now my fingers are all mushy and it sucks

  • Reply Micscience April 18, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Thomas I just bought a brand new acoustic guitar and my finger tips hurt when I practice and I can play threw I think I just wasn't sure if it was me or the guitar or if this was a normal issue so thanks I thought this video was very informative.

  • Reply DS. Kim May 1, 2015 at 5:49 am

    you're good

  • Reply yuh! May 31, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    I'm 12 and have a heck a lot of homework and can't use my money or parents money to buy those strings or pay for someone to do it, my guitar was 20 bucks new in 1998 (it sat in the box for a while) so I can't adjust stuff, it will break. What are my options because I can't really practice much

  • Reply Lyana Shaheera Shamsul Bahrin June 11, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    my fingers kind like freeze can move especially the ring n pinky wht should i do

  • Reply Ricardo Hardoy July 4, 2015 at 6:10 am

    Thank you so much Tomas, for this excellent video. I've just bought a Cort L1200P Parlor guitar. For the last 54 years I've been playing classic guitar. Why buying a parlor? I want to try some folk and blues. It is never too late. I haven't bear hands and I must tell you, my left hand is in misery. But I wont give up. I want to practice chords and I'd also like to get a warmer sound. What strings do you recommend me to try? Thank you again.

  • Reply Tomas Michaud July 7, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Sore Fingers? | Setup Your Acoustic Guitar For Easier Play
    (especially bar chords)

    #guitar #acousticguitar #sorefingers  

  • Reply Tomas Michaud July 8, 2015 at 7:19 am

    Sore Fingers? | Setup Your Acoustic Guitar For Easier Play (especially bar chords)

    #guitar #sorefingers #acousticguitar #guitarlesson  

  • Reply Rich Bessey August 6, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    I'd have thought you'd recommend a classical guitar because of the nylon strings.  You can practice longer before your finger tips hurt.

  • Reply Prabhath MP August 9, 2015 at 3:20 am

    The best advice ever! Thanks so much 😊

  • Reply Walter Rider October 20, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    thank you

  • Reply Bavani Sankar December 6, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks! That was encouraging!

  • Reply Usman Qureshi December 6, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    I can see why he plays guitar, to get rid of thore fingerth

  • Reply Mc Devious February 5, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    Thomas, thanks.  I appreciate your thoroughness and not selling things.  Good information.

  • Reply spaceglobes April 17, 2016 at 12:24 am

    Masking tape woks pretty good.

  • Reply Sudbury Man June 28, 2016 at 5:27 am

    Thank you Tomas. I've been playing for years and this knowledge is new to me.

  • Reply Stevie Ray September 15, 2016 at 6:09 am

    okay here is my rant start by buying a Tanglewood acoustic guitar Why ? because it is the only acoustic I've ever played that plays like an electric even the cheap ones have awesome low neck action right out of the box  I'm serious I hardly ever played acoustic over the last 25 years until I came across and bought one they are that good and if your a beginner your fingers might still get sore at first but not as much you will enjoy and not hesitate as much to practice they really are awesome guitars and here is hoping Taylor and Martin and others don't pick up on what Tanglewood is putting out there so they will stay the best value for money some even have fishman electronics I mean seriously Wow Tanglewood guitars are easier playing great sounding and a lot cheaper end of rant

  • Reply drummerboy1390 December 19, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Playing guitar is difficult. Your fingers are going to hurt. Get used to it.

  • Reply Bryan Brett October 21, 2017 at 4:00 am

    What kinda pussies are we raising nowadays?!? You play until your fingers bleed and then you play some more…..and then, you keep going and do it again and again and again and again……

  • Reply John Sulli October 31, 2017 at 6:01 am

    DO NOT put electric guitar strings on an acoustic it can damage your instrument. Not designed for a acoustic guitars bracing but a solid body usually

  • Reply xd December 16, 2017 at 11:33 am

    what is that intro song
    i really need it in my life

  • Reply Mubashir Mahi April 14, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Yayy lisp!

  • Reply Anthony Hewitt July 16, 2018 at 12:18 am


  • Reply stefan stanojevic July 30, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    A chord just killed my finger

  • Reply kishor kamble August 11, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Build up calluses on finger fast best method I use to do was
    1)lol bandaid I know it sound stupid but it will work for first few weeks
    2)rubbing alcohol on fingers it will keep them dry and build up calluses faster
    3)don't play guitar if you are our of shower wet or soft hand tend to get blisters
    4)play taking breaks like if you continuously play for 30 min in whole day do this then play 5min in morn 5min in afternoon evening and so on that way it won't hurt your fingers all these are for beginners ..hope this weird way helps.

  • Reply kipponi August 31, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    I have four guitars and only one hurts my thumb finger ? Too much thumb pressure or neck profile wrong ?
    I think it is important where you place your thumb it makes huge difference how easy it is other fingers too.
    And that depends neck profile and thickness of neck. It is not same place for different guitars.

  • Reply breezyvibe October 3, 2018 at 4:01 am

    You are speaking my language. Thanks for a super helpful video!!!

  • Reply Gordon Agnew November 3, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Go with FLATWOUND strings! Much smoother action and NO ZIP, ZIP, ZIP as you slide up an down the fretboard!

  • Reply Tina Catwitch November 7, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Xylocain(lidocain)-creme on the fingertips is unbeatable👍🏻😉

  • Reply huntiflo January 6, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    thank u

  • Reply Xx_Rain_xX June 8, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Would this advice be the same for a 12 string guitar? Because I play the 12 string

  • Reply Jack Lindsey June 29, 2019 at 10:51 pm

    Sore fingers suck but trust me, keep playing and it will pay off. In a week your fingertips will get calloused and hard as rock. Dont worry.

  • Reply Cassandra Brittany August 23, 2019 at 4:23 am

    Great video, thanks for the tips!

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