Why Do My Fingers Hurt When I Play Guitar? (9 Reasons Why)

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Freya Crawford

Freya Crawford is a self-confessed geek. She loves gaming, watching classic movies, and her guilty pleasure is trashy reality TV. She also enjoys collecting old NES and Gameboy games.

Playing the guitar can be a gratifying experience, but it can also be hard – especially if you’re not used to it. Just starting, your fingers will hurt.

The guitar is one of the most challenging instruments to play. This article discusses 9 reasons your fingers hurt when you play guitar.

Why Do My Fingers Hurt When I Play Guitar?

1. Building Finger Tip Calluses

A lot of people wonder why their fingers hurt when they play guitar. There are a few reasons your fingers might hurt, but the most common is fingertip pain.

Pressing down strings can lead to the tips of your fingers hurting if you have not built up calluses.

Finger calluses are small, hard patches on the surface of your fingers that form from repeatedly gripping the chord neck or picking the strings.

When they form on the tips of your fingers, they cause friction and pressure against the nerves. So to prevent finger pain, you need to build finger calluses.

2. Building Muscle Memory

Muscle memory is essential for playing guitar. When you practice regularly, your brain starts associating the guitar’s motions with musical sounds.

This allows you to play the guitar without having to think about it. However, new guitar players often experience sore hands and fingers from practicing. Like any muscles, your hands get sore.

If you injured your fingers somehow, your muscle memory might be unable to function correctly and cause pain.

3. Physical Complexity

When you play the guitar, your fingers move against the strings. The tension on the strings pulls your fingers towards the fretboard, which can cause sore fingers.

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The physical complexity of playing guitar causes your hands and fingers to hurt, leading to soreness in your hands.

Several factors can contribute to finger soreness when playing the guitar. The most common culprit is over-stretching.

Over-stretching also occurs when you use a too-tight grip on the strings or force your fingers into positions they’re not designed for.

4. Chord Transitions Are Hard

One of guitar players’ most common complaints is that their fingers hurt after playing for a while.

This problem can be attributed to the fact that chord transitions are often tricky and require a lot of finger dexterity.

You can do a few things to make these transitions easier and reduce the chances of finger pain.

One of the most important things you can do is practice regularly. Keep learning new chords and techniques so that your fingers have plenty of opportunities to try different combinations.

5. Over-Practicing Without Healing

Over-Practicing Without Healing

To avoid finger soreness, take some time each day to relax your fingers and let them rest. Use light resistance when strumming or picking the strings.

Make sure you have a comfortable grip on the instrument. Keep your practice routine varied, and avoid activities that overwork your fingers or hands.

Many guitar players unknowingly over-practice their fingers, leading to finger pain. In addition, they don’t take time to heal, which makes it worse.

6. Bad Posture

When playing guitar, it’s important to maintain good posture. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the importance of proper posture and end up hurting their fingers due to bad habits.

Here are four common mistakes and how to avoid them:

  • Slouching – One of the most common mistakes people make when playing guitar is slouching. When you slump your shoulders, you stress your neck, back muscles, and tendons.
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This can cause inflammation and pain in these areas, affecting your fingers. Sit upright and keep your neck and spine straight to avoid this problem.

  • Fidgeting – Another common problem is fidgeting. When you’re not comfortable with what you’re doing, you tend to move around more than necessary.

This can cause pain in your hands and fingers because you constantly pull on them. To avoid this problem, try to stay still as much as possible and focus on the music.

  • Resting Your Hands Too Much – Another common mistake is resting your hands too much between songs.

7. Bad Technique

Guitar players often suffer from finger pain when they play. This is usually the result of incorrect finger placement or improper hand positioning.

It is important to find the root cause and correct the technique to alleviate finger pain.

Get lessons from a trained instructor to learn proper techniques to avoid hurting yourself. Many people don’t realize how important technique is.

8. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Playing the guitar, your fingers move up and down the strings. This motion can cause pressure on the median nerve, which is in the palm of your hand.

This pressure can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the middle part of your arm, between the elbow and the shoulder.

It can make it difficult to move your hand and cause pain in your fingers and wrist. However, there are treatments available for carpal tunnel syndrome.

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9. Guitar Is Different

The guitar is problematic because it is different from other instruments. One of the main reasons why it is so hard to play guitar is that it is a  string instrument.

Unlike a piano or even a trumpet or saxophone, a guitar relies on the player holding the correct string on the right fret and strumming with the proper technique.

The guitar is different from other instruments because it requires a lot of practice and fingers. Other instruments, such as the piano, can be played with just one hand.

Guitar players must use all five fingers on their left hand to play the strings. Unfortunately, this is also why guitar players sometimes experience pain in their fingers.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why guitar is so hard, why Stairway to Heave is the forbidden riff, and why you suck at the guitar.


These 9 reasons explain why your fingers hurt when playing. Like anything else, playing the guitar takes practice to get better.

If you’re experiencing pain in your fingers when you play the guitar, there are a few things that you can do to try and relieve the pain. First, it’s important to determine the cause of the pain.


  • Freya Crawford

    Freya Crawford is a self-confessed geek. She loves gaming, watching classic movies, and her guilty pleasure is trashy reality TV. She also enjoys collecting old NES and Gameboy games.

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