It is challenging to learn to play the ukulele, and it can be hard when your hands or fingers hurt. The key is to get through this so that you avoid pain and give your fingers time to adjust to playing this instrument. Your strumming hand may have bleeding near the fingernail, while your fretting hand may develop blisters in the fingertips and aching finger joints. Take a look at the following seven tips to stop hurting your fingers when you are playing the ukulele.
7 Tips to Stop Hurting Your Fingers When Playing Ukulele
1. Don’t Overplay the Ukulele
One of the main reasons that people get sore fingers when they play the ukulele is that they overplay. You might be excited about the progress you are making, which leads you to continue playing when you should stop. The problem is that it is a little bit uncomfortable at the time, but it can lead to finger pain.
You should determine your practice time and stick to it to prevent this from happening. It is a good idea to limit it to 15-minute chunks of time, and then take a break before playing again. This will allow your fingers to build up tolerance, and you won’t hurt them too much.
2. Let Calluses Develop
As you practice and improve in playing the ukulele, you will eventually develop calluses on your fingers. This is especially true of your fretting fingers, but you will also develop them on your strumming and picking fingers. These calluses will actually help you and toughen up your fingers so that you can play better. If you play any string instrument, including the ukulele, guitar, or even the harp, you need calluses to reduce pain and soreness in your fingers. You will be able to play better, and you won’t be distracted by your fingers hurting.
3. Pay Attention to the Action on Your Instrument
The action is the height of your strings above the fingerboard. When the action is higher than it needs to be, you have to press harder when you are pressing the strings to create notes and chords. You can look at the nut, which is the small white bar that leads the strings up to the tuners. If it is set too high, you can actually find a ukulele instrument technician who will help you lower it. It is important to find an expert because if it isn’t done correctly, it can ruin your ukulele.
4. Use Finger Protectors
One way that you can play the ukulele longer and prevent your fingers from hurting is to use finger protectors made of silicon or rubber. You can slip them right over your fingers and they give you a bit of a cushion when you are pressing down on the strings on your fretboard. It is important that they fit your fingers well, and they come in different sizes. You should use them while you are letting calluses develop, but don’t rely on them all the time. Try playing for 10 or 15 minutes and then put them on to extend your sessions.
5. Do Finger Exercises
If you are just starting out with the ukulele, you can do finger exercises to build up strength. You can actually buy a device to help you strengthen your fingers. The device has valves on it that are similar to the valves on a trumpet, and if you practice regularly, you will gain a lot of finger strength. Using one of these devices will help a great deal and reduce finger soreness because they are going to be a lot stronger.
6. Try Using Lighter Gauge Strings
When you use heavier gauge strings on your ukulele, your fingers will have to be stronger and can suffer from soreness or damage. If you are learning, you are better off to use lighter gauge strings such as nylon or composite while you are building up your finger strength. When you use heavy gauge strings, such as steel, they can dig into your fingertips while you play.
You can use this lighter gauge string while you are practicing, and build up your fingers so that you can play the heavier gauge strings once you have some experience. It is hard to improve as a ukulele player if you are fighting finger soreness, so this is a way for you to get through your practice sessions without hurting your fingers.
7. Develop Different Techniques for Playing
It is less likely that you will have finger soreness on your hand that strums and picks, but it can still happen. People often play with the pads on their fingers, which can lead to some discomfort or pain. You should develop different techniques for playing so that you don’t put too much strain on your fingers. If you grow your nails and play with them, you won’t have a problem at all, but if you use your fingertips, you may find that the flashy parts of your finger or thumb are sore.
One solution is to grow your nails. You can also use acrylic nails if you aren’t able to grow yours long enough. You don’t need to put acrylics on all of your fingernails, but you can place them on the fingers you use for strumming and picking. You need to make sure that the shape of the false nail mimics the shape of your finger. Then, cover it with nail varnish so that it is strong enough not to break. This reduces wear and tear, and it helps you prevent finger soreness.
If you are learning to play the ukulele, you will want to find ways to reduce the strain on your fingers. They can get sore, blistered, or have joint pain, and you will want to do what you can to minimize it. There are a lot of tips that will help you prevent pain in your fingers. Don’t overdo it when you practice, and use fingertip protectors. You can also try finger strengthening exercises. This will reduce your finger soreness when you play the ukulele.