How Do Guitar Players Toughen the Skin on Their Fingers?

by Natalie Lyda
Toughening the skin on your fingertips is part of learning to play guitar.

Toughening the skin on your fingertips is part of learning to play guitar.

Simon Lekias/Lifesize/Getty Images

Learning to play guitar can be torture for tender fingers. While strumming isn't often a source of great pain, firmly pressing guitar strings to the neck of the instrument to achieve the desired note requires tough fingers. Beginners often find that the pain caused by pressing string between frets is discouraging. With a little time and commitment, your fingers will toughen up to the task,


For your fingertips to become accustomed to the feeling of pressing on the guitar strings, practice chords on the instrument itself. By doing so, you will begin to form blisters on the tips of your fingers in the area used to depress the strings. Although this process may cause some pain, it is the first step in developing hardened fingertips.

Blister Care

Care for blisters that have formed on the tips of your fingers by keeping them covered with a thin layer of medicated ointment while not playing. Continue to play on a regular basis to retain the chords that you have learned and wear down the blisters on your fingers. Eventually, the blisters will begin to harden and give way to calluses. The calluses will provide a much less delicate area at the tip of your finger, making it less painful to achieve clean chords.

Nail Care

Fingernails should be kept short for guitar playing. Manage nail length by using trimmers to cut the nail back so that it is even with, or slightly shorter than, the tip of your finger. This will prevent your nail from being bent or damaged while playing guitar. If your nail does begin to slightly separate from the nail bed, place a small amount of super glue or liquid bandage at the tip of your finger between the nail and skin to adhere it in place.

Rubbing Alcohol

Many guitar players recommend that beginners, or individuals who have not played in some time, rub the tips of their fingers with rubbing alcohol. Apply the substance to the tips of your fingers three times each day for one to two weeks. The concept revolves around the notion that the alcohol will help dry out the skin on your fingertips and allow callouses to form faster than they would on soft, supple skin.

Photo Credits

  • Simon Lekias/Lifesize/Getty Images