Guitar Finger Pain – What causes it And How To Fix It

Guitar Finger Pain


Getting finger pain from playing is not unusual, especially if you are a beginner. If your fingers hurt from playing the guitar then there are quite a few reasons why this may be happening and there are easy ways to avoid it. 


Keep in mind, if you are a new guitarist you should expect this as the calluses on your fingers need to get stronger.


The Main Cause Of Guitar Finger Pain

The reason why you are feeling pain at your fingertips is simply that you have not strengthened the calluses inside your fingers. It may be painful at first (but you don’t have to do it for extended periods) but you need to just keep on playing and keep fretting your strings.


It’s best to do practice with an acoustic guitar so you when it comes time to play electric guitar, it will feel effortless to play. 


So in summary, this is most likely what why you are getting guitar finger pain, but if not check out these other possible reasons.


1. You Are Pressing On The Strings Too Hard

Chances are that you press too hard, and this can be hard if you are playing an awesome head-banging riff, but you need to learn to loosen up to avoid this pain. You can still have the same amount of fun, all that is required is that you implement new habits.


Question – How hard is too hard? 

This is an interesting question. In essence, your fingers should be touching the frets with the bare-minimal amount of pressure. A great exercise that you can do is to put your finger on the string with no pressure whatsoever and start picking the string with your picking hand and slowly put pressure on the string.


As you slowly put pressure onto the guitar string you will find that it will first sound muted and then you will hear a buzzing sound because you are not hitting the strings hard enough, but then you will hear a clear note.


That’s what you want, a clear note. Try to make the note as clear as possible with the least amount of pressure on your fingers. Once you have found the sweet spot then start playing around the fretboard and get your fingers touching the frets with minimal pressure.


After this start by playing the songs that you normally play, and focus on your fretting hand. Don’t worry if you hear a lot of fret buzz at the start this is normal and requires some trial and error.


If you are still unsure here is a video, that will help you tremendously.



The worst thing that can happen to you from using too much pressure is that you will develop tendonitis. This can make you stop playing the guitar altogether, so make sure to take care of yourself!



One thing that you will notice is that if you press too hard on the fretboard is that you will not only get guitar finger pain, but you will also get thenar eminence pain.


2. Your Strings Are Too Thick

guitar finger pain

Now as mentioned before you should start on an acoustic to build your finger strength. In case you were curious what the other reason might be that your finger is hurting a thick gauge on your guitar strings is a possible answer. Here is a guide on guitar string gauges and what might be right for you.


If you are using 13-56’s for example, you may have a very difficult time playing at the start especially with bending strings. The advantages are that you will make your calluses stronger in a shorter amount of time.



3. Your Action Is Way Too High


guitar finger pain

If your guitar has not been set up properly there is a good chance that your action is too high and that’s what’s causing you to get sore fingers. The higher that your strings are off of the fretboard the harder it makes it too play. If it’s too high it can become unplayable.


If it’s too low then your guitar will either get fret buzz or won’t play at all because the strings are touching the neck. This is all easily fixable by turning your truss rod which can either bring your neck closer to the strings or further away.


The problem might not be the truss rod though, it could also be the bridge. If the bridge is too high then all you need to do is to turn the cogwheels on them so you can get it to your desired height.


Unfortunately, there aren’t any shortcuts that you can take to skip this process but it isn’t all that bad. After a couple of weeks, your fingers should be strengthened. 


One bonus thing that you will find useful that will make your life much easier when it comes to doing stuff like bending strings, is to invest in a finger strength exerciser.


Here at TheMusicGig, we sell our own tool which countless other guitar players have used to help increase their strength. You will find that it’s hard to bend with your pinkie because it is weak compared to your other fingers.


By having a finger strength exercising tool, you can take your pinkie and even your other fingers to its full potential and make playing not only easier but not enjoyable.




When playing the guitar, you may be getting pain in your arm somewhere. To solve this, the same principle applies. Use the minimal amount of pressure required. It can be hard at first because you are so ingrained into the habit of using force.


One last piece of advice that will make your life even easier is to use coated guitar strings. Coated guitar strings make it easy to slide up and down the neck, and just improves the playability in general. Elixir Polyweb strings are a popular choice.


Final Thoughts

Be patient on your journey and remember to have fun because that’s what guitar is all about. Hopefully, this post answered your questions on guitar finger pain, and that your guitar playing is slightly more enjoyable as a result.