"OUCH!!!! My fingers hurt when I play my guitar. It's hard for me to press the strings down!! I don't want to play anymore!!"
Too often I hear this from children and adults who get frustrated with playing guitar because their fingertips get sore, their skin gets ragged, and I have even seen some extreme cases where the skin gets rubbed so raw, fingers bleed. This is usually the sign of poor guitar action.
A guitar's action is the distance between the fingerboard and the strings. If the action is too high, this can cause difficulty in playing the guitar and damage to fingertips. Bad action is usually caused by strings that are too heavy, or a neck that is out of alignment, and in need of adjusting. These problems can be fixed so that no one ever stops playing guitar because they are in pain. Today we are going to talk about guitars with a neck out of alignment.
A string digging into your fingers will cause some pain until your fingers get used to it, but if your guitar feels good one day, and then a few days later seems to be harder to make work, you probably need to have your neck adjusted. Guitar necks are made from wood and will warp over time due to changes in heat and humidity. Most guitars have a rod that runs the length of the neck called a truss rod. This steel rod helps the neck keep its shape, and also makes it possible for a guitar technician to make adjustments to flatten the neck and improve playability. With the exception of nylon string guitars, guitars without truss rods should be avoided as there is no way to fix the guitar if the neck gets bowed.
Playing guitar should be an enjoyable experience, not a painful fight that makes you want to give it up. When you guitar starts to feel like it doesn’t play so well anymore, you should bring it to a guitar repair person to see if it needs to be adjusted
Come back next week when we’ll discuss string gauge, and how light or heavy string will affect the sound and playability of your guitar.