10 Tools and Tips for Playing Guitar with Arthritis

by Frederik Nielsen, Aug 15, 2019 . 3 min read

10 Tools and Tips for Playing Guitar with Arthritis

We recently covered how different kinds of arthritis can affect your guitar playing. We also provided some tips on how to avoid it.

But what if you already have arthritis? Will playing make it worse?

Fortunately, there’s no evidence to suggest that playing guitar causes arthritis or makes it worse. In fact, playing the guitar can actually relieve the pain caused by arthritis!

Since arthritis affects everyone differently, there are no hard and fast rules for playing guitar with it. But here are some tips that might help make your jam and practice sessions easier.

1. Create the Right Environment

Make sure that you warm-up and stretch your hand before playing. Pick a comfortable chair to sit in and try to play in a warm and dry room to reduce the effects of your arthritis.

2. Use a Capo

Full barre chords are not friends of arthritis, so try to stick to open chords if you can. A capo can help you avoid many barre chords without sacrificing the sound of your playing.

3. Play More Comfortably

Play slowly if your style allows for it, and try to keep your wrist straight. Also, keep your fingers as close to the fret as possible so you don’t need to apply as much pressure to the string.

4. Use a Thumb Pick

Guitar picks aren’t friends of arthritis either, so consider using a pick specifically designed for players with grip problems. Thumb picks can help you play longer and more painlessly.

5. Change Your Tuning

Experiment with tunings that allow you to use more open strings. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on alternate tunings that could make your playing easier.

6. Use an Automatic Tuner

Tuning a guitar involves a lot of twisting, which isn’t great for arthritis. Use the Roadie 2 and let a robot do the heavy lifting for you so you can concentrate on your playing.

7. Use a Larger Neck

A larger guitar neck will make it easier for you to grip it and give your hand some rest. Common brands like the Les Paul will do the trick, and Zager Guitars are made for it.

8. Use Finger Caps

Silicone finger caps are designed for people with conditions like arthritis and can help alleviate the pain of pushing down on a string. Consider using them if they won’t impair your playing.

9. Lower the String Action

The string action, or height of the strings, affect how hard you have to push it down on the fret. Lower the strings so they’re closer to the fret and you don’t have to apply as much pressure.

10. Use Lighter Strings

Lighter strings require less pressure, which will be easier on your hands. Acoustic players should invest in steel or silk strings, and electric players should consider lighter gauge strings.

Back on the Road!

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for arthritis — but there are plenty of ways you can make your life easier. Hopefully, you’ve found these tools and tips for playing guitar with arthritis helpful.

Know of anything we missed in this post? Let us know in the comments below!



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit
Get Roadie Tuner

Check out some other similar articles

You have bought your first guitar and are ready to begin your musical journey. But you don’t know where to start.

Frederik Nielsen
Nov 11, 2019 . 3 min read

You want to get better at guitar, right?

Who doesn’t? If you’re serious about your instrument, you’ll do anything and everything to build up your chops.

Alec Plowman
Sep 30, 2019 . 4 min read

Are musicians more prone to arthritis than others? According to a study by the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, the answer is a resounding yes.

Alec Plowman
Aug 7, 2019 . 6 min read

Ray Charles. Stevie Wonder. Art Tatum. There are numerous famous pianists that have proven that a disability is no match for real talent and ambition.

Frederik Nielsen
Aug 2, 2019 . 3 min read

Finger stretches for guitar: do them right, and they’ll unlock next level playing.

Get them wrong, however, and you’re in for a world of hurt.

Alec Plowman
Jul 22, 2019 . 5 min read

So you just bought tickets to attend your first ever summer festival! Best feeling ever. Time ticks as you simply can’t wait to watch your favorite artists do their magic while you sing and dance along.

Karine Janho
Jul 5, 2019 . 4 min read

Practice makes perfect, and clichés will forever be used in blog posts like these. But just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it’s not true!

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 1, 2019 . 6 min read

The beauty of being a musician is that the only musician you can be…is you. Jimi Hendrix left-handedly pioneered blues and rock guitar styles of playing with a head full of lucy.

Randall Nashleanas
Jun 10, 2019 . 3 min read

Making music is a reward in itself. But like many musicians, you’ve probably wondered how to get people to listen to your music so they can recognize your genius.

Frederik Nielsen
May 29, 2019 . 5 min read

What’s the best acoustic guitar for a beginner? If you’ve ever worked in a guitar store, you’ve probably been asked that question. A LOT.

Alec Plowman
Mar 31, 2019 . 3 min read

You are all in for treat! One can never be awesome enough with the axe, so take a look below for the tricks

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 13, 2018 . 4 min read

Embedded in every guitar player’s DNA is an incredibly huge ego (not my opinion, Google it) that needs to be fed on a regular basis.

Frederik Nielsen
May 28, 2018 . 4 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!