Hand Care for Musicians

How long can you play music before your hands are worn out? How long does it take you to recover? How does your instrument hold up to these marathon pickin' sessions?

Clean hands and proper length fingernails will reduce wear on frets and fingerboards. For people who love long fingernails, the good news is that on your right - or picking hand - any length that you can live with is fine. For people who love short fingernails, the good news is that on your left - or fretting hand - fingernails should be trimmed to about 1/32 of an inch long. Any longer will slow your playing and unnecessarily wear frets and fingerboards. It has been my experience that fingers playing on instruments with ebony fingerboards do not seem to get sore as quickly as with other woods. Clean fingerboards also help to keep you playing. Clean hands, especially the fretting hand, will not grind dirt into frets, fingerboards and strings, making all of these last longer. Also, fingers that are clean will not get as sore as quickly. At the end of a hard (good) nights pickin' if you apply a small amount of turpentine to the tips of your fingers the soreness will be gone by morning and you'll be ready to play again sooner.