Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

How do you deal with callouses

I have went many years and kept my fingers from growing to much callous on the ends. but since I have got back into serious practice I had to sand my fingers down enough to keep the middle finger from catching on the string during a pull off. Does any one have a way of keeping them manageable .

It’s not real often that I get those little callous tabs that hang up. When I do, I often play until they wear or pull off. I’m sure there are better methods for removal.

The best way to deal with thick, torn calluses is to not get them in the first place. I have found that when my fingers start to tear, it is best to take a good dab of aloe gel (100% pure aloe gel is best) and put it on the affected area. Let that dry (it takes a while, and then do it again.

You can GENTLY sand off (with a heel/foot pumice stone?) some of the torn area when the finger tip is completely dry, but be careful not to remove too much skin. Use the aloe to help heal the area and strengthen the skin.

Again, the best thing to do I not get one in the first place. Often, torn calluses come from thick skin that has been pulled at too hard. Practicing touch technique can help you avoid this problem to begin with AND will help speed up your left hand fingering technique.

Touch Technique is practiced like this. Instead of pressing down the strings with your left hand, just touch the string where you would normally press down. You should only touch the string hard enough to mute the note (the note should not be heard). Relax your left hand while you do this. You can practice this technique while playing fiddle melodies and scales, but be aware, if you can hear any clear note come through, you are pressing too hard.

What this will teach your hand is how to press only hard enough to get a clean tone but not so hard as to cause thick, tearing calluses. It will also help teach your left hand to relax so that you can play faster and cleaner.

Good luck.

That was a great idea and I will try doing that . I have been playing for many years but most of the time it has been on the Strat . no pressure at all on those frets . but since I have been playing a flat top it is like starting all over again I never really tore the callouses but they would get to the point of sort of hanging on the string when I did a pull off . That could very well cure my sore finger problem . Blue grass is intensive to say the least and we must have those clear tones . I will use you advice and I hope I can come to it as I did on the strat . Have a good day all that replied to me and it is all good . I could drop the tuning back a step or maybe a half and that would loosen the string tension . I will try your idea first Doc . Lonnie Mac tuned his flat top down for that very reason . Well he did on the Flying V also .

I might add here that lately I have been pulling marathons on learning the next tune, when you constantly play the same thing over and over you fingers will get sore and the callouses will grow .  obsessive learning behavior or OLB  I am still going to use all the ideas given me .  I used the pumice since I was here last and used the aloe on the finger tips   Nice very nice .

By the way, if you are doing a song with a bunch of slides, that can wear your finger in a hurry. Watch out for those slides during your marathons!

Followed through with the advice and I now have usable finger pads . We learn something new every day. Thanks to both of you for the good advice . Now I need to learn how to get the mud out my skull so the brain might work a bit better LOL :smiley:

I have to sand down my callouses periodically. It usually doesn’t take much effort to get any rough spots worked out.