Guitar calluses and why you need them.
Most of the time , when watching a really good guitarist, it seems like such a natural and easy flowing process that you would never suspect that a painful realization of the truth comes to all great guitarists very early in their careers.
But alas it is not all that grim. The pain does not usually last more than a couple of weeks.
A callus is a rather ingenious adaptation of the human body to the various things that we encounter as we endure the inevitable friction and stresses of encounters with the physical world.
If your shoes don't fit right you are either greeted with a blister if you wear them too long or a callus if you wear them just long enough each day not to form a blister.
Calluses form anywhere on the skin that repeated friction causes irritation and is the result of a protective response of your body to prevent further damage to one of the most important organs of your body. Your skin.
The in-depth explanation is probably not something you want to hear.
You probably want to hear how to get the pain over with so you can play guitar. So I will not have you endure my rudimentary understanding of the subject other than, "Hey you have an amazing body and it knows what to do to form the calluses that you need to play guitar."
Short version, the body lays down some serious protective waterproof webbing that thickens to guard the tender underlying meat that stings like crazy if its exposed to the outside air. I think you probably have experienced something like what I'm talking about.
Here's a link if you need more. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callus
Learning to play the guitar well takes many hours of practice. The careful building of calluses at a safe pace will pay off for you, in the long run, many times over.
Taking it too fast will be a guaranteed way to blisters that slow your initial period of learning and discourages many from even going far enough to play guitar with any amount of skill.
In the beginning of learning guitar, I found that forging ahead too fast is painful and blisters can happen pretty fast.
The best way to develop your calluses is to play guitar. There are other ways and different devices you can use and they do have their place.
Pocket callus builders are great for keeping up your callus building efforts.
The trick is to be in touch with your own body and know when you are just short of a blister.
Then stop! Put some ice on your fingertips (don't freeze your skin) to take the pain away and do something else for right then.
If you get a blister, hopefully, it will be a small one and will go away on its own.
If it's a large one that is between you and your Medical Doctor to decide what to do.
If your calluses get too thick, file them down to a manageable thickness. Thick calluses can catch on things a rip off exposing the meat underneath.
Take your time. Play your guitar. Use ice for pain, but don't freeze your fingers. Don't take it too fast and get a blister.