3 Ways To Reduce The Chance Of Experiencing Pain When Learning To Play Acoustic Guitar

By Maurice Richard

The acoustic guitar is such a fantastic instrument. The look, the feel, the sound in combination make it one of the coolest instruments to play.

Acoustic guitars do present a few problems for most beginners however. One common complaint I get from people is that it hurts their fingers when they try to play and practice an acoustic guitar.

That is certainly no fun and has caused many people to stop learning how to play guitar or severely limited how much time they can spend learning which means their progress lags well behind.

Here are 3 ways you can reduce the chance of pain while learning to play acoustic guitar so you can progress and actually learn how to play it.

1. Reduce The Pressure You Use To Fret Notes

The most common cause of pain that I see in acoustic guitar players is created by using way too much pressure to fret notes.

It happens for different reasons. Most people who start to learn to play guitar are not usually very relaxed at first so this translates into more pressure.

The most popular reason people use too much pressure is because they feel that the sound they are making has to be perfect. Unfortunately, this is a trap that can lead to frustration and stunted progress.

I teach my students to reduce and even not use any pressure when first learning how to form chords. Amazingly, the pain usually disappears and their playing starts to progress much faster.

2. Buy Lighter Gauged Strings

The gauge or thickness of your strings can affect the amount of pain you experience while learning how to play guitar.

If you are not aware of the differences you could be playing with what is called a medium gauged set of strings. Although these sound cool, they are thicker and harder to press down properly. This can cause pain.

The next level down are light strings. These are better than mediums when you first start out but they can still cause problems for many people. Especially if you are not able to stop yourself from pressing down hard on the strings.

There is one more level of strings usually called extra light gauge that you could get and not compromise the sound too much. These are much easier to press down and use than medium strings and will reduce and sometimes eliminate the pain you are experiencing. 

Strings are not expensive so you could try all three and decide for yourself which ones work best for you. 

3. Start Learning On An Electric Guitar First

This may sound contradictory because you may be thinking „Hey, I don’t want to play electric guitar, I want to play acoustic guitar“!

This is a totally valid point! And I will get to this in a minute. First of all why am I advocating this? 

Well because electric guitars are much easier to play than acoustic guitars. The body is much thinner so makes it easier to reach the strings and see them. Less strain so less likely to have pain.

The strings are much lighter than an acoustic’s and they are also much closer to the fretboard of the guitar. Two more things that will make it less likely you will experience any pain. 

Here is the cool thing. Whether your ultimate goal is to play acoustic or not, all of the skills you learn on the electric will be transferrable to the acoustic. 

Other Things That Can Help Reduce Pain When Learning To Play Guitar

There are a few other things that can help you to reduce the pain when you learn to play acoustic or electric guitar.

Sitting up straight, making sure your guitar is not tilted back too far, not bending your neck forward to look at the strings to find the right notes to press, using a strap to support your guitar, or using a guitar footstool.

The best thing to do to make sure you are less likely to experience pain when you learn to play acoustic guitar is to find a trained professional guitar teacher to help you learn properly.

Learning to play guitar should be a fun and pain free experience if you have someone to help guide you along the way!

About The Author:

Maurice Richard is a professional guitar teacher that operates out of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He has been a member of an elite guitar teaching mentorship program since 2007 and has taught many people how to reduce pain when learning to play acoustic guitar.