Ok, so if there's anything thats getting to me making it hard to practice, its either the fact that my guitar refuses to stay in tune and I'm not very good at tuning it to begin with, or the fact that I haven't developed calluses on my fingers yet, so the steel strings hurt like hell. So, my question to you guys is this: Is there some way to speed the development of calluses? I've had a couple friends suggest pushing the edge of a credit card into your finger tips, and there's the obvious option of practicing a lot, but is there anything else I can try?
I find that practicing string bends up a couple of pitches seems to build those finger tips up rapidly.
Practicing a lot.
And responding to the pain by going, "humph, I'm a MAN!!!! I can take this pain!!!!!"
For obvious reasons, if, like me, you are not a man, doing option two will only cause people to give you funny looks. :roll:
Apparently doing stuff like soaking your hands in vinegar also helps, but I've never tried it so I've no idea if that's true or just a myth conjured up by trumpet players to make guitar players act stupidly.
Ra Er Ga.
Ninjazz have SuperChops.
Your action may be set high. Have a luthier(sp) check the setup. At the very least change your strings to the lightest gauge you can find. For noobs like us we probably won't notice the loss of sound quality.
Another tip is to get a capo and set it on your first fret. This will get the strings closer to the frets and will enable you to practice longer especially if you are practicing open chord C, Am, Dm, etc.
It took me 10 days to get my calluses. They still hurt after an hour of practice but not near as much as they used to.
bend the strings as close to the headnut as possible. this is the hardest place to bend and as such puts the most pressure on fingertips and finger muscles alike.
the first few times i played full length band/jam sessions my finger tips went blue with bruising...
but now i dont even feel heat through them :P
one way you can harden them up (if heard about this but was never game/dumb enough to try) is to heat up a frypan (no oil!!) and sear the ends of your fingers....apparently it works...but....depends if your that into getting callouses... :O
As far as tuning your guitar goes, get a cheap electronic tuner, at least it will take the guesswork out while you are learning to tune.
How long have you been playing for? It took about a month for my calouses to develop but about 3-4 months for there to be no pain at all.
Like everything else it takes time and practice. My callouses have come in finally but I try to play a little every day, even if I'm just doing scales. What's weird is that two fingers are more calloused than the other two. So I'm trying to practice scales using different fingers to build those up. I also recommend getting a decent tuner to help stay in tune. Lots of things can throw your guitar out of tune: frequent bending, playing really hard, winding too much string when you change them, the quality of your guitar. The last one is something I'd frequently do and sometimes still do.
"I use heavy strings, tune low, play hard and floor it. Floor it, that's a technical term." - SRV
Besides putting your fingers through credit cards, frying pans and any other methods, you can play a guitar strung with 13s and having an action of 1 metre at the 12th fret. That will develop the calluses very fast.
Or, you can practice for half an hour everyday for 6 months to develop finger strength, finger dexterity and callouses in the process to being a better guitarist.
Choice is yours.
One handy trick for stable tuning that is sometimes overlooked is to always tune up to the pitch you want - ie, if you go too high and have to tune back down, go too far down, and then bring it back up to pitch. This way helps to stop the tuning peg slip, and you'll notice that the strings stay in tune for longer.
You've also probably got a little screw on each peg somewhere, if the pegs are too easy to turn you can tighten this screw a little to make the peg a bit stiffer and less liable to slip.