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View Full Version : The cure for painful callouses



NatalieS
08-08-2015, 01:39 PM
Ever since switching to my new Kanile'a, I love this uke so much that I've been playing a lot more than before, and ended up with some new painful fingertip callouses. I kept waiting and waiting for them to settle in over the past few months, but every day when I picked up my uke they'd be smarting within seconds.

The cure?

I went away for a week-long trip without my uke, and now that I'm back the pain is gone! I think simply giving my fingers a week off to heal did the trick. I know how hard it is to spend a week away from playing, but I think taking a step back makes perfect sense to toughen up those fingers.

perep
08-08-2015, 02:49 PM
Don't know how you did it, I cannot stay away from mine. You are a miricle to stay away so long, smokers wish they had your fortitude

Fleacia
08-08-2015, 03:21 PM
Glad it worked for you and you're back playing! For me it helped to play in smaller sessions, more often. Ex. say 10-15 minutes, 4-5 times a day, spread out, instead of a half hour or more at once.

k0k0peli
08-08-2015, 03:52 PM
My calluses are rather deeply embedded by now but I've found it useful to vary what my fingers impact. Multi-courses are a bit gentler than single strings. I move between 4- and 8- and 12-string 'ukes. OK, that 12-string is actually a Mexican cuatro-menor -- looks like a thick mandolin, scale length of a concert 'uke, and steel-strung GGG-CCC-EEE-GGG (it's great for slack-key play). Those triple courses are very smooth and flowing. I have my 8-string tenor detuned to F-Bb-D-G for even less string tension and finger annoyance.

Besides changing what you play and playing less, you might also try a topical painkiller like a cream full of methyl salicylate. (That's from willow bark, same as aspirin.) Rub it into your fingertips after a hands-on session. Before crawling off to slumberland, work some hand lotion into your fingertips to humidify the dead, dry, worn skin layers there. That's all calluses are, y'know, only layers of dry dead skin. (You can sandpaper them down later.) Salicylate cream and body lotion -- your nerves will thank you.

PhilUSAFRet
08-08-2015, 11:21 PM
Perhaps you are pressing on the strings a little harder than you need to. It's easy to get "caught up" in the playing. Once in a while, when my fingertips start to hurt, it's a reminder to "lighten up." That usually does the trick. Continue to play pressing too hard, and anyone could end up with the problem you are describing. Remember, that string only has to make clean contact with the fret. Additional pressure only results in tender fingertips.

NatalieS
08-09-2015, 02:14 AM
That's a good point, Phil. I think the action on my uke is a bit high, and I previously had some really high tension d'Addarios on it, so I had to press down a lot. I've since switched to lower tension strings and am hoping to get a professional set up done at some point, not sure where to go in FL for that though...

Rllink
08-09-2015, 03:18 AM
My fingers hurt before I got callouses.

PhilUSAFRet
08-09-2015, 03:40 AM
That's a good point, Phil. I think the action on my uke is a bit high, and I previously had some really high tension d'Addarios on it, so I had to press down a lot. I've since switched to lower tension strings and am hoping to get a professional set up done at some point, not sure where to go in FL for that though... Depends on where in Florida you are. If you were in the Tampa area, someone in the club would know. Perhaps even Donna Loprinzi would do setups....maybe! LOL

thejumpingflea
08-10-2015, 06:42 AM
That's a good point, Phil. I think the action on my uke is a bit high, and I previously had some really high tension d'Addarios on it, so I had to press down a lot. I've since switched to lower tension strings and am hoping to get a professional set up done at some point, not sure where to go in FL for that though...

High action + high tension / thicker strings can certainly cause finger discomfort. What strings did you switch it too?

KikonuMedia
08-12-2015, 07:54 AM
It's true. Played my uke for days straight and I took one day off. The next day my callouses weren't hurting anymore! It's just so hard though because I tried to stop playing because my fingers were so sore but I played through anyways haha.

Dearman
08-12-2015, 06:11 PM
After years of playing I still don't have calluses. I only get mild pain if I press too hard for long periods. I always assumed plastic strings were the reason. I recall steel ones hurting.

coolkayaker1
08-12-2015, 10:57 PM
Natalie, hi.

Isn't that a brand new, first owner, custom, direct-from-manufacturer, less than six month old Kanilea? If so, you are already having to do a paid set-up to lower the string height and improve the action?

NatalieS
08-13-2015, 05:55 AM
^Yes, that's the uke. Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic instrument and I'm very happy with it. I wonder if the nut height is a bit too high though. Barre chords are difficult to do in the first fret, but the higher frets are no problem. Of course I prefer my action pretty low, so maybe I'm just being too picky. :confused:

When I switched my strings and saw improvement, I was going from d'Addarios to Living Waters. While the tension is not so low as some other strings I've used like Worth Clears, the LW feel much more comfortable to me than the d'Addarios.

coolkayaker1
08-13-2015, 12:36 PM
I see. Makes sense, Natalie, to get it dialed in for yourself. I can see what you describe as being bothersome, esp. If you feel it high at the first fret. Troublesome. Might you, like, wicked carefully, take out the saddle bone and sand the bottom of it just a wee bit on flat sandpaper placed flat on the table. Just a teensy weensy smidge off might help enough (not enough to ruin the bone saddle and, should it fail, you can just pay for the luthier set-up that you were considering anyhow). Just a notion, is all.

Always enjoy your posts. As for callouses, bag balm? (You likely know more about that, from your work, than most of us...lol).