Whether you look up sheet music or TABS, the first part of any song that you learn to play is memorable. You finally nail those chord progressions or that riff, and you raise your hands in celebration. But then you notice your fingertips are sore. For the beginner guitar player, sore fingertips are common and show progression. Don't be discouraged. Stay persistent. The way experienced guitar players can shred through those insane solos is by developing calluses on their fingers. 

So what exactly is a callus and how do you develop them?

How Calluses Grow

Calluses are small patches of hardened skin that result from routine contact, friction, and pressure from the strings and frets. As you first learn guitar, pressing on the strings and frets will often produce new and uncomfortable sensations in the fingertips. This is because of the minor skin irritation that comes with the skin interacting with and getting used to the feel of the thin, protruding elements of the guitar.

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Over time, the calluses will thicken. Thick calluses strengthen and fortify the fingertips, making them more comfortable to pluck or strum. You'll be able to move between notes with fluidity and ease.

How to Develop Calluses

Shorter, Frequent Practice Sessions - Of course, the tried and true method of developing calluses is to continue practicing the guitar or bass regularly. You're far better off playing for 10 minutes at a time several times a day than going for a long 2 hour burst and then not playing again for days.

More frequent sessions of less duration are not only better for learning but will accelerate the rate at which you grow calluses. Long sessions before you have solid calluses are how you end up with blisters instead.

A little self-explanatory, but it is sound advice. The best way to get calluses fit for guitar strings is by playing on guitar strings. You can do extensive research, but just like you can't learn to ride a bike without actually riding a bike, the same can be said for guitar calluses. Like most things in life, there is a time for seriousness and a time for play. If you find yourself struggling to desire to continue because of pain, maybe you need to help the positives outweigh the negative.


If you want to learn guitar, turn to the skilled music coaches at Hawaii MusicWorks in West Oahu. These experienced professionals have offered music lessons to people of all ages since 1995. Visit the website to get more information about their classes, or call (808) 486-8600 to inquire about enrollment.