I am playing the piano and I have started to learn guitar.

I had asked a similar question asked from the guitar perspective on this site.

Do calloused fingertips (due to playing guitar fretboard fingers get calloused) negatively affect the piano playing? That can be sensitivity of fingers to the touch, tone quality, piano-forte, crescendo diminuendo quality etc.

Does this concern has any foundation? I wonder should I be concerned about this at all.

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    If you reach a point playing piano where you are a world renowned concert pianist on the regular rotation at Carnegie Hall and other such venues as that - and are playing highly nuanced repertoire, then you might want to give up guitar. Until then - I would not worry about it. Guitar is my main instrument but I play some piano and keyboard. At my level of piano playing skill, my callouses do not have any noticeable impact on my ability (or inability depending on frame of reference) to play piano or keyboard. Jun 4, 2016 at 19:26
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    As a long time piano and guitar player, at least for my fingers the answe is no. Jun 4, 2016 at 19:39
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    I wouldn't expect it to have any impact whatsoever on piano. If you use a real piano (or even a nicer electric keyboard) just playing a lot and listening to how you touch the keys affects the sound can get you a pretty good picture of sensitivity even if you have no feeling in your fingers, in my ever-so-humble opinion. Jun 4, 2016 at 19:41
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    Actually, many pianists have calloused fingertips as well, from playing the piano.
    – Johannes
    Jun 4, 2016 at 19:46
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    Long nails (classical/fingerstyle guitar) cause more problems for me.
    – user18490
    Jun 5, 2016 at 0:12

4 Answers 4


Alfred Brendel was notorious for having his fingers bandaged when playing. I've read several contradictory justifications for this, but the most credible, attributed to a personal interview, is that his fingernails broke easily and he had to protect them like this:

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(I found this picture on the web, it is not attributed and I have no assurance that it is a photo of Brendel's own hand, it may not be, but the way the bandages are applied is consistent with the memory I have of Brendel's televised recitals that I recall).

Whatever the reason, these bandages did not stop Brendel from being one of the greatest interpreter of Beethoven and Shubert.

I enter this as a supporting example to Tim's answer (it should be a comment, but I wanted to include the picture).

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    When I was in the Essex Youth Orchestra we had a guest piano soloist who practiced so much that his fingers were split and bleeding, requiring constant bandaging. It didn't seem to do his playing much harm. (I had forgotten his name. But from the evidence of his compulsive personality, addiction to Lucozade and being Australian, I think it must have been a young David Helfgott, subject of the film "Shine".) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shine_%28film%29
    – Laurence
    Jun 5, 2016 at 20:48

Can't believe all this about calloused fingertips caused by playing guitar. It's not necessary. But in any case, I play both, don't have callouses ( I play bass guitar as well), but do not believe that callouses will affect piano touch. It's how you address the keys rather than the feel of the fingers on ivory/ebony. Do not be concerned at all.

  • When I was playing the guitar professionally my calluses were such that I had no fingerprints on the finger ends. 40 years after I stopped I can barely play at all without the calluses.
    – user207421
    Jun 5, 2016 at 4:43
  • @EJP - I have no fingerprints, but equally, no callouses. Never did when I was gigging 3-4 times a week, on gtr., and playing pno. too.
    – Tim
    Jun 5, 2016 at 17:52
  • I have callouses on every finger from guitar and violin. Fingerprints are sort of there. They don't affect my playing any instrument, except possibly in a positive way, in that I don't need to press hard to get a solid point of contact.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Jun 6, 2016 at 17:17

Calluses do have an effect, but nothing that can't be overcome. In fact, most professional pianists have calluses, and many string players with heavy calluses also play piano without issues. Some even say that the firmer contact points help control the gradations of pressure in key strokes. The main negative effect is that the callused fingertips are slippery, especially on the modern plastic keys, and you can't grip the keys the way you can with softer fingertips.


One point is that "touch" on a piano is mostly a matter of "weight" or "velocity" in striking the keys. Callouses screen the surface nerves but the feeling of "weight" (to me, when playing) seems to depend more on muscle feedback than fingertip sensitivity. One doesn't want to bleed though (as mentioned in other answers) as that makes a keyboard slippery and in need of cleaning.

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