sorry for the newbie question. Just started and was wondering, being they are nylon strings how long before calluses are present? Hoping that helps with my atrocious fretting. Thank You.

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  • Hi Jim, with nylon strings, you generally will not develop calluses. If you do, you may be pushing down too hard on the fretboard. One practice tip is to play very lightly as you learn compositions. You may want to explore the various types of string choices. There are many different gauges. This is a good question. Best...

  • I think it depends on too many variables. How much are you playing? What is your skin like? That said, I wouldn't be surprised if within a month you have some calluses. I've been playing for over 40 years now, so I can't even remember not having left hand calluses. They were more pronounced probably when I was playing a steel-string acoustic more often, but they are definitely there when I compare my right and left hand fingertips. As Stephen says above, however, maybe it's just a sign that I am pressing too hard.

    • clay boyd
    • clay_boyd
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    One of the things I wish someone had told me when I started.


    On your fretting hand, place your fingers as close to the fret as you can.  Then put the lightest pressure required to make the note clear.  The lighter the pressure, the better.  This will enable you to move the finger faster later on.


    experiment with finger placement with respect to the frets.  You have to use the most pressure if the finger is in the middle of the fret (hence more calluses).  When you practice your scales, go as slowly as necessary to get ideal finger placement on the fret.


    on barre chords, put the bar as close to the fret as possible.  Hence, less pressure required.


    use the lightest pressure that sounds good.  Your hand won鈥檛 get as tired and you鈥檒l have more fun.


    on YouTube, look for Soren Madsen.  He has LOTS of arrangements for popular music.  He sells the music w/ tabs for just a couple of bucks. I鈥檓 working on Classical Gas currently.


    have fun!

    • clay boyd Soren Madsen is very good. I also like Alexandra Whittingham. 


  • Hi Jim 

    I don't know if I am qualified to answer as I have only been trying to play classical guitar for 12 months. But in that time I have not developed any calluses and I practice a lot. 


  • As others have pointed out, it depends on how much you play. Usually callusus are inescapable with steel strings. For me, it took a while to develop them on a classical guitar (3-4 weeks). Since, the 4th, 5th, 6th strings are metal bound, fretting them regularly speeds up the process, I guess. That's been my experience. One thing to note with LH callus is that they can lead to string squeaks on the bass strings, especially during shifts. But this can be overcome with good technique. 

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    • Brian
    • Retired Software Designer/Developer, Inventor, Dog Lover
    • Brian_Bowman
    • 1 mth ago
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    Started with a steel stringed acoustic 50 years ago and it probably took 6 painful weeks for calluses to develop.  

    Didn't begin serious classical guitar studies until 18 years later, so I've never really known what it's like play Nylon string guitar without calluses.

    There are several factors involved, but I can't imagine advancing on  classical guitar and never developing  calluses to some degree.  

    Others may have different experiences, but to get a full range of dynamics out of a classical guitar means having a reasonably high action and often hard tension strings.  Instruments setup like this will most assuredly require some degree of calluses -- at least this has been my experience.

    I practice several hours a day split between Concert level, classical guitars setup as mentioned and acoustic steel string archtop guitars for Jazz..

    Playing on nylon strings alone definitely wears on my calluses (keeping them developed), especially with technique exercises or pieces that require lots of LH legato.

    Thanks for tolerating this long response. Hope it helps a bit!

  • Thank you !! Have a lot to work on and some great tips. Appreciated!

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  • Hello Jim, I have one more thought to add to this excellent set of responses. I suggest that you practice scales and arpeggio patterns - slowly and with a very light touch. In addition, I would only practice a few notes on each scale at the outset, graduating to a few arpeggio patterns. Look through tonebase's library for exercises. However, there are many available. Pumping Iron is a good exercise book. The point is to work with your technique. You can also make up your own exercises. Try playing one passage from a composition that interests you, or even a measure at a time. Best of luck to you ...

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