Honestly, starting to learn how to play guitar is one of the best decisions that you can make. The instrument, in all of its forms, is so engaging and accessible. Pretty much any genre can be performed on it. However, the pain in your fingertips is unbearable. So you might have wondered how to tape your fingers for guitar playing? Some believe you should avoid this measure.
However, this doesn’t mean that taping your fingers is the wrong way to go. Honestly, there’s nothing in the world of guitar that’s “right” or “wrong,” just things that might make your experience easier or more difficult. Whether or not you’re a beginner and finger taping is essential for you, reflect on this article to discover the basics!
To tape your fingers you require a classic masking tape. Take a shorter strip of the tape and place it above your knuckle. Afterward, continue taping it over your fingertip. Whether taping your fingers works for you in the longer run, then it’s a viable option.
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Why Should You Tape Your Fingers in the First Place?
Now, some may wonder why one should tape their fingers in the first place. The practice is not that common among guitar players. It’s almost unheard of in the world of guitar.
It’s more of a thing among sitar players. But even in this case, it’s not a typical thing to do. You’ll never see an experienced sitar or guitar player tape their fingertips.
So what’s the deal with this? Well, a beginner might find these early callus-forming stages of playing a bit painful. The same goes for a casual player who wants to come back to the instrument after a lengthy hiatus.
How to Tape Your Fingers for Guitar Playing
The process of taping your fingers is relatively simple. But there are some things that you should bear in mind. After all, you can’t just tape over your fingertips randomly with duct tape and expect it to work.
Firstly, I suggest using a classic masking tape, also known as the “painter’s” tape. It’s made out of thin paper and it’s really easy to tear. In case you need a thicker layer, you can just use another round of tape over your fingers.
Firstly, take a smaller strip of the tape without tearing it from the roll. Take just enough so that you can tape over your fingernail and the top knuckle. Then place it over your knuckle and fingernail at about a 30-degree angle from the finger’s direction.
Then you should continue taping it over your fingertip. When you’re done going over it, the tape should easily proceed back over the nail and the knuckle, right on the other side of the finger. Essentially, you’re making a small loop with an “X” sort of shape going over right over your knuckle. In some ways, the shape looks like an awareness ribbon with your fingertip going through it.
It’s really important to make it one piece that fits tightly over your finger. But it shouldn’t be too tight as the tape might tear up easily. If it’s more than one piece, then your tape cover will easily “disintegrate” not long into your practice routine.
At the same time, you should pay attention to covering the part of the finger which you use to apply the pressure on a string. There would be no point to leave it uncovered, wouldn’t it?
After that, you can try playing for a while and see how it feels. If you’re still feeling a lot of discomfort, you can simply apply another layer on a particular finger or all of your fingers. However, make sure that you don’t put these tape layers too tight as you may lose circulation in the fingertips. Additionally, I wouldn’t advise using more than three layers. One should be enough in most cases.
I also advise that you start playing without a cover and only apply the tape when your fingers start feeling sore. This way, you’d start forming your callouses properly, but would be able to continue doing longer practice sessions.
Now, bear in mind that there’s no such thing as a standard practice or a “proper way” to tape over your fingers. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to do it. But, of course, everyone’s hands and fingers are different. And you might find a different method that works better for you. But I advise you to try this one first and modify it if needed.
Advantages of Taping Your Fingers
Look, not everyone has the ambition to become a professional guitar player. Someone just wants to be able to play a couple of dozen songs for their friends or family. Someone just wants to strum along, play a few riffs, or maybe a simpler lead section. And if a certain method, like taping your fingertips, makes your experience better, then it’s a good thing to do.
The same goes for beginners who just don’t feel like dealing with that much pain. Although not a common practice, it can be a viable method in the early stages. Or, as I already mentioned, you can do it if you’re coming back to the guitar after a long hiatus.
Another potential reason to tape your fingers is if you suffered an injury and need time for your fingertips to adapt. In this case, the method can be a real lifesaver and you can continue playing without any unnecessary pain.
Tip: Is it bad to tune your guitar up? Whether you are asking yourself this question, tuning up your guitar is not bad in essence, but it makes the life of your strings shorter.
Disadvantages of Taping Your Fingers
In my honest opinion, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. If there’s not any kind of a special reason for it, like a recovery from injury, there’s no need to do it as it could even be counterproductive.
You see, every guitar player’s fingers should adapt to the instrument. It’s of absolute importance that you properly form your callouses. Sure, the process takes a lot of time, sometimes many months until you adapt to the strings. But you must go through it.
No matter the genre or playing style, callouses can’t be avoided. If you want my honest opinion, backed by more than a couple of decades of playing and performing – just don’t do it. The only exception to this rule is – as I mentioned – recovery from an injury.
However, the most important thing that should be noted here is that you simply need to have direct contact with the strings. This way, you’ll be able to have full control over your tone, vibratos, and dynamics. Having tape over your fingertips, no matter how thin, will hinder your performance. Even in the early stages of playing, you should start getting a hang of it all.
Now, after ranting so much against using the tape, it would be useful to mention a few alternatives. In case you’re bothered by these issues and have a hard time forming callouses, some solutions aren’t counterproductive.
For this issue, I propose two solutions:
- Playing a nylon-string guitar
- Reorganizing your practice routines
As you may already know, nylon strings feel a lot different compared to those made of steel. There’s way less tension involved and the stings are thicker, smoother, and softer. Of course, you’ll still experience pains, but nowhere near what you would with steel strings.
Just bear in mind that you’ll need a classical guitar or any other guitar designed especially for nylon strings. Don’t worry – there are great beginner options. And who knows, maybe you’ll like them more! Can nylon strings go out of tune easily? Yes, at least compared to steel strings.
The other solution is to completely reorganize your practice routine. Practice in shorter bursts of 15 or even 10 minutes. Instead of doing a single hour-long session, spread it into four 15-minute sessions throughout the day.
No Pain, No Gain: There’s No Going Around It
Sure, the whole “no pain, no gain” thing is a bit of an overblown cliché. But the point still stands. If you want to learn to play guitar well, it’s best not to use any protection. Your fingertip calluses should form properly and you should have a proper technique in the whole process.
And this is a pretty painful and tiresome process. Yes, I know, it’s a real bummer. You started playing guitar thinking of all the great things that you could do with the instrument.
However, every single guitar great went through this same painful process. And if you want to be good at it, you’ll just have to go through the same things as well.
I’ve seen other “protective” tools that are supposed to “help” young and new guitarists play effortlessly and without any pains. I’m referring to stuff like the “Chord Buddy” device or other similar gadgets.
But seriously, don’t buy into this. It will turn your precious guitar into a toy and you won’t be able to learn proper fretting hand techniques. You’re supposed to have direct contact with strings, not buttons of a weird contraption attached to it.