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Old 06-07-2008, 09:47 PM
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Should playing the guitar make my fingertips go numb?

So, I've been taking acoustic guitar lessons for a couple months, and I've never felt the finger pain other people here have complained of. I have, on the other hand, had a lot of numbness in my fingertips. Sometimes it's kind of tingly numbness. (All this is just in my left hand.) I feel it in whatever fingers I've been using the most right after I play, but in my index finger it's there all the time now. Is this supposed to be happening? (Is it just the prelude to getting callouses?) Or am I having some sort of issue with my posture or hand position that isn't correct? Will I move past this, or is this fingertip just going to be numb as long as I play regularly?
Old 06-08-2008, 03:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
So, I've been taking acoustic guitar lessons for a couple months, and I've never felt the finger pain other people here have complained of. I have, on the other hand, had a lot of numbness in my fingertips. Sometimes it's kind of tingly numbness. (All this is just in my left hand.) I feel it in whatever fingers I've been using the most right after I play, but in my index finger it's there all the time now. Is this supposed to be happening? (Is it just the prelude to getting callouses?) Or am I having some sort of issue with my posture or hand position that isn't correct? Will I move past this, or is this fingertip just going to be numb as long as I play regularly?
I'd go see a doc. I've been playing for 20 some odd years and never had any numbness. Or at least I don't remember any, but I started a looong time ago. I do have calluses on the finger tips though. Is the numbness solely on the tip or does it spread down the finger? If it is just the tip it may be callus but that still doesn't sound right to me.

My guess would be that you probably have your left arm tucked into your body which is turning your wrist at an odd angle. Most new guitarists want to keep their left elbow tucked into their side. This puts a bend at the wrist which makes it harder to fret chords correctly. When holding the guitar your left arm should be close to perpendicular to the guitar neck, elbow out away a bit from your body. Your fingers should be close to parallel to the frets with your thumb about in the center of the neck*. If you have a twist in your wrist because you are holding your arm in too tight it might cause all kinds of issues with your hand.

Slee

*This isn't set in stone and your thumb might go up over the top of the neck depending on what you are playing but for most chords the thumb will be behind the neck about in the center.

Last edited by sleestak; 06-08-2008 at 03:11 AM.
Old 06-08-2008, 12:03 PM
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I'll have to try playing in front of a mirror. It's just in the tip of the finger, say exactly where your finger touches a computer keyboard - in other words, it's where the string does touch my finger, not some nerve pain that's affecting the whole front quadrant of the finger. (My dad's actually having exactly that and saw a neurologist for what turned out to be a neck issue. So now he has this terrifying neck stretching machine that goes over the top of a door that he has to use.)
Old 06-08-2008, 02:00 PM
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I've sometimes lost feeling in the tip of my ring finger and part of my pinkie, for unknown reasons. It does feel odd, especially playing guitar, but its probably not anything to panic about. You've just pinched a nerve, and the numbness will go away in a few days to a few weeks. Also, if you're practicing diligently, you're building calluses on your fingertips, which is also a loss of sensitivity right at the tip of a finger; your ideal callus will feel something like the bottom of your foot, though not as thick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sleestak
elbow out away a bit from your body.
This is precisely the opposite advice I was given long ago by a guitar teacher, and by my son's current guitar teacher. "Elbow in! Elbow in!" was the mantra, but I think that was used mostly as a hint to pull the neck closer, rather than as a relief for the wrist. I just now picked up my electric guitar and played a range of open chords, and I keep my elbow pretty close to my body, for all except stretchier chords. I realize that this technique might differ for acoustic (esp. classical) players.
Old 06-08-2008, 02:16 PM
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Per what the others have said, it's not about about the contact with the fingers on the strings, but that the wrist/arm angle you are maintaining is likely compressing a nerve.
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