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I used to play the guitar since puberty for a decade or so, then I stopped, and now I picked it up again. I meanwhile discovered vibrato, I play accustic with high strings and play BB Kingish vibrato (not touching back of the neck), and I think it may be very hard on my fingertips. The first time I started it was different, I had even higher strings but only played cords, my old skin simply peeled off and new, more resiliant skin grew instead. I played througout the process and my finger tips ended up unpiercable. I don't fear pain. But it has been a long time. Now I am somewhat wiser, my finger tips are soft again and the feeling is different. Is it safe for me to continue?

  • Ask your doctor. Things to tell him/her: Do you feel any tingling when touching other stuff during the day? how far up does the feeling go? – Carl Witthoft Jul 11 '18 at 12:26
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I'm a bit confused.

Are you experiencing pain or tingling?

And are you using the same guitar as before (with "higher strings")?

Does high string refer to gauge or action?

Being a tough guy (or girl) isn't going to win you anything in the long run. It is true the the guitar takes time to master and get used to, and it will alter your physiology a bit (at least with the left hand skin). During the process there will be "pain", and "injury", ripped skin, skin peeled back from the nail, infected cuticles, etc? But tingling in the finger tips sounds like a neurological issue, like carpel tunnel syndrome or other pinched nerve. I'd ask, what do you do for a living? If something that requires a lot of typing (like programmer) you may have developed CTS and the playing is making it worse or aggravating it.

Without more details it's hard to say what the issue is. And more importantly I am not a doctor. But in general there are types of good pain that result from the growth process. An example is the development of calluses, muscle development in the fore arms, etc. But bad pain indicates that there is something wrong. Other than fatigue and the types of pain I just mentioned anything else could lead to a more serious problem.

Tingling and numbness in the fingers is not a good pain.

Sharp shooting pains in certain postures is also not good.

swelling and pain to the touch in the finger joints could be arthritis.

If you cannot associate the pain with something like callus development or fatigue I would recommend seeing a doctor ASAP. If everything is fine get back to playing and get your guitar adjusted with good action and a decent set of light or medium strings (this is all subjective as there are players who have high action and fat strings, but those players may not be having problems). It could be that you are over playing now that you're into it again and in time it will even out. If everything checks out with a doctor, in addition to the other recommendations I'd look at your hand posture and make sure you are playing properly, not squeezing too hard, good wrist angle, etc.

  • Thank you for the answer. I couldn't help it and played some more meanwhile. It is tingling, no pain. It hasn't gone away in 24 houts. Strings are medium steel with high action (I can easily slide my finger under other strings while bending). Yes, I feared it may be neurological. I have no pain, no cuts etc. I indeed worked as a programmer for years. I will see doctor then. My posture is weird, I try to touch the neck as little as possible with my thumb, except for barres. – Jan Kokes Jul 11 '18 at 12:09
  • I too do a lot of programming, scientific modeling. I have CTS in the right hand but not the left. I have been able to keep it under control and avoid surgery by using a brace when I type. Do you play "Jimmy Page" style, left wrist bent back with thumb over the edge of the neck, or with a more "classical" style, thumb behind and wrist straight-ish? All the evidence seems to point to CST. You need to change your posture at the very least to be able to continue, both typing and guitar. – ggcg Jul 11 '18 at 12:13
  • Scratch that question about Jimmy Page, I just realized you said you said you don't really touch the neck. – ggcg Jul 11 '18 at 12:14
  • I will try to switch sides meanwhile. It seems serious. – Jan Kokes Jul 11 '18 at 12:16
  • For typing or playing? Are you ambidextrous? – ggcg Jul 11 '18 at 12:19

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