Will My Fingers Get Ugly if I Learn the Guitar?

Will My Fingers Get Ugly if I Learn the Guitar?

When I first started playing guitar at an early age. I was so young that I never really considered what the consequences of playing would do to my hands and fingers. Later as a teenager I thought to myself…

I wonder will my fingers get ugly if I learn the guitar? Your fingers will get flat at the end on the finger tips. They will have built up thick skin called Calluses. Your hands will become stronger from repetitive motion.

There are pros and cons every beginner guitar player goes through. Especially with there hands, since they are a big part of “playing” the guitar. Read my story if you want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly.

How do Guitar players fingers change with time?

When you start out playing guitar it is so exiting. You can’t wait to get to it. To start learning new things like chords. With the hopes to soon be able to play your first song.

Ah I remember my first guitar I was as exited as any new guitar player. I couldn’t wait to learn at least three or four chords. I started out slow like most beginner guitar players do.

With lots of trial and errors I finally played my first chord. Then my second, and then tried to play between the two chords. Little did I know there was a name for that.

During this process I discovered not just a little pain in my left hand. My fretting hand, as I am right handed. It was as if my finger tips were bleeding. That’s how much pain my fingers were in.

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Indentations in your fretting hand

When I looked at my hand I could see indentations on four fingers. Where the strings had cut into the skin. Not “cut” like as below a layer of skin, but left a crease deep into the skin.

I tried to keep playing the chords, and even tried to get to the next one that I was learning. To no avail. So I stopped for the day.

The next day I started practicing my chords again. It didn’t take very long maybe 15 minutes, and the same pain was there. I still had imprints of the guitar strings in my finger tips.

This practicing with pain was awful. It was enough to make me want to quit playing. Thank goodness I didn’t what I did do, which at the time it seemed to help was. Every time my fingers felt like they were bleeding. I would  take my fretting hand, and rub it against the wall.  All four fingers.

Related Article: Beginner Guitar Basics: Your First Lesson.

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Peeling Finger Tips from the Guitar

Rubbing them against the wall helped for a minute or so. Well I was doing it and then I would get back to practicing and learning chords. This went on for about a week or longer.

Then I noticed that the ends of my fingers the skin was starting to peel and flake. So now I had very sore fingers and the skin was coming off. It was a bad time at the time. But good thing this only lasted for a short time before I got calluses.


The definition of a “callosity” is: A hardened or thickened part of the skin; Calluses.

Thank goodness for calluses! Without them your ability to push down on the strings or the guitar would be limited. Since Calluses I have been able to play for a longer period of time. My finger tips no longer get sore from playing.

Even better news I was able to learn more than three chords. 🙂

I would say that your finger tips are a little ugly because of the calluses though. Also when you are playing the guitar it is recommended to cut your finger nails. So there’s another strike towards ugly. That is if you are used to longer nails.

So if your OK with the Calluses, and short nails get started today with Guitar Lessons.

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Are Short Nails Ugly?

If your trying to hold the strings down it is not possible with long finger nails. Nails that go past the end of your finger. On the other hand, your strumming hand can benefit from having longer nails. Especially if you are hybrid picking or finger style playing.

Here is a picture of my fretting hand after 30 plus years of playing.

Will My Fingers Get Ugly if I Learn the Guitar?
Pictiure from YourGuitarGuide.com

As you can see my hand could never make any money as a hand model. I say to any beginner guitar player that questions whether or not they should play. Just because of the ends of there fingers not being beautiful. The Pro’s out weigh the cons.

To be able to go on a journey that really can be as long as you want it to be. With the guitar you can go on a journey of a lifetime of learning. But for me it’s not just learning, its fun, exciting, and relaxing. The amount of enjoyment you can get far surpasses the sacrifices of the fretting hand.

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If you are ready to start the journey take a peek at this. Click the link to the 10 things every beginner guitar player needs to know.

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Fake Finger Tips for Guitar Playing

Your strumming hand will only be ugly if it started out ugly. 🙂 There are special tips that can be put on the ends of your finger to help with playing and saving your finger nails.

There are tips, picks and nails for your strumming hand. The picks fit onto the finger. They are used to pick the strings instead of using a flat pick. Better known as a plectrum or guitar pick.

Finger Style Picks 

There are a lot of different styles of picking. Some use a pick on the thumb, but not on the other fingers.  Like Freddie King or like Tommy Emmanuel.

There are picks like butterfly picks designed specifically for finger style guitar playing. Another style of finger tip is a gel. This is a tip that you paint on over your finger nail to protect your nail.

Related Article: Basic Acoustic Solo Guitar Lesson (Easy Beginner).

Gel Finger Nails for Guitar Players

Sure Bond is a non acid nail primer. It is applied to the face of the finger nails. Then take a finger nail extender, and place it under your nail. The Extender is made of a pliable thin cardboard. It wraps around the end of your finger.

Then apply the Builder Gel – clear, to the top of your finger nail. Apply a thick cover down the extender past the edge of your nail. Let the Gel dry 2-3 minutes, using a UV lamp. Then gently, and carefully remove the finger nail extender from under the nail.

Using the nail clippers, clip off the access nail gel. Take a little off at a time to assure that you don’t clip off to much. Get a  hard file, and file the gel nail into the desired size and shape.

After using the hard file finish sanding down the nail with a fine file.This will get all the smaller fragments removed. It leaves you with a smooth finish.

After all the nails are put on in the same manner. Get the rubbing alcohol, and clean the brush.

The Gel nail once dried becomes very hard, and is very effective for using to pick, and strum your guitar.

The Fake Tip finger nail  protects the guitarist from wearing there natural nails out. This can happen to some players when they are strumming the guitar. Also they are used if you play a lot of finger style guitar. The nails are just an added protection.

Fake Tip finger nails are put on with a glue. Usually at a salon, but you can buy and install them yourself if you are handy. (pardon the pun).

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How to Install Fake Nail Tips For Guitar

The Fake nail is installed by putting the glue on the very tip of the fake nail. To apply the tip to your finger. The Fake nail goes under the edge of your finger nail. So if you are like me and have no nails. Then you will not be able to use fake nail tips.

In a few minutes the glue will dry enough, so the fake nail can be cut to size. The nail tip starts out about an inch long. Which is way to long for playing. After the nail is cut, then the nail can be filed into shape.

Then all the filings removed with a brush. Next its time for a polish to help harden the nails. You can apply these fake nail tips to all your fingers. Primarily they are installed on the hand that you use for strumming the guitar.

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