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My fiance has no feeling in his thumb, index & half of his middle finger on his left hand due to a wrist injury. He was in an accident where a mirror broke and slit through his left wrist down to the bone.

Because he can't feel these fingers, he has been having a rough time trying to play the guitar again. In order to try and play he has to look at the guitar to see what he is doing, because he can't feel anything. He says it messes him up to look at it while trying to play. It really frustrates him & I was wondering if anyone has any advice on what he can do.

There is no chance in him gaining any feeling back in these fingers, but desperately wants to play his acoustic guitar again.

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I sympathise with him! I don't think guitarists need to use feel in fingers as much as they think they do. It's going to be more down to re-training the fingers to press the right strings on the right frets. More down to repetitive motions, mainly getting the fingers used to all arriving together. As far as knowing how hard they need to push down, since the muscles still presumably work, listen to how clean each chord sounds, and press less until the chord buzzes, then get used to pressing that little bit harder.

As far as needing to look, that's not a good move really, but if it's necessary, he could sit opposite a mirror, which will obviate slouching over to see the fingerboard.

Not convinced that playing lefty would suit, especially if he's been playing for a long time, as the change is cataclysmic, and holding a pick with numb fingers is going to lead to more frustration.

I'd also suggest that if all that ends in disaster, try a different instrument rather than stop music altogether - there are several options which can embrace his needs.

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That's a pretty sad situation :(

I'm not sure if the following will work, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Also, it's going to take a while: if he can still hold a plectrum in his left hand, he could try learning to play guitar left-handed.

(For reference: I am left-handed, but play guitar right-handed, since I learned to play on my brother's guitar.)

  • The digits that are almost always used to hold a pick are thumb, index and middle finger, so this is a pretty tall order, I think. – Tim Nov 11 '18 at 16:07
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    Sure, that's what the 'if's are for. Holding something might be easier than moving your fingers around the fretboard. – Glorfindel Nov 11 '18 at 16:09
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Sad for your husband, but the situation is not dire / difficult. Your husband simply has to rely / use his other fingers. Well-know gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt had a similar issue - unable to use a couple of fingers in his hand.

  • Django had the most useful fingers - index and middle - that still worked. The burnt ones he still used in some way when needed for chords. But I believe that no feeling will produce different problems, especially in the key fingers - and thumb. – Tim Nov 12 '18 at 16:50

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