What to Do If Your Thumb Hurts Playing Guitar? (Explained)

Thumb Hurts Playing Guitar

When you are learning how to play guitar it is common for your fingers to hurt, and in fact, this is one of the reasons it can be difficult to learn guitar and also frustrating at times. Although it is not as common, you can also feel that your thumb hurts playing guitar.

There are clear reasons why this happens, and ways to overcome it. In this article, we will explore some of the reasons why your thumb is hurting when you are playing guitar, and we’ll also give you a few tips on how to prevent your thumb from hurting.

Why does my thumb hurt when I play guitar?

There are a few potential explanations for why your fingers might hurt when playing guitar. One of the possible reasons is that you are not used to playing guitar frequently, and this is very common among beginner guitar players.

Both your left hand and right-hand thumb can hurt, whether you are playing a fingerstyle guitar or holding the thumb against the neck of the guitar. With enough practice, you can overcome this as your thumb gets used to the movements and positions required to play guitar.

Another possible reason is that you are using the wrong technique or hand placement. This can also cause your thumb to hurt. It is important that you learn how your thumb should be positioned to play different chords or melodies on the guitar. Avoid gripping the guitar neck too tightly because this does not allow your fingers to move freely on the fretboard.

You may also be trying to play barre chords, which force your thumb to be almost completely straight on the back of the neck and this can also contribute to your thumb hurting.

It is also possible that you are playing for extended periods of time without taking breaks, which can also lead to your thumb hurting. So make sure you take breaks in between your practice sessions.

How should you hold your thumb when playing guitar?

To hold the guitar neck your thumb should wrap around the neck as naturally as possible, and this is why different guitars will have different neck shapes depending on the guitarist’s preference. In the beginning, it will feel slightly uncomfortable for your thumb to be around the neck of the guitar, but as you practice it will become easier with time.

When it comes to the hand you use for fingerpicking, you want your thumb to be horizontally aligned with the strings, to prevent it from hurting. You may also feel that your thumb is hurting and even creating blisters because your fingers are not used to picking the strings. Developing calluses on your fingers is a must to be able to play guitar, and it is also common to develop thumb calluses, especially if you are fingerpicking.

Should you play guitar with your thumb?

Using your thumb to play guitar is very common in fingerstyles, that typically involve an acoustic or a classical guitar. Some people also use the thumb to strum the chords, and although it does not sound as good as a pick it is still a technique you can use.

Why does my thumb get tired when playing guitar?

When you are learning guitar it is extremely common for your fingers and thumb to get tired, and even hurt. You are essentially demanding that your fingers do certain exercises that they are not used to doing, especially for long periods of time. 

For this reason, it is important not only to practice a lot, so your fingers start getting comfortable with the required movements to play guitar but also to take breaks in between each practice session. This allows your fingers and thumb to rest, and recover.

How to avoid your thumb hurting when playing barre chords

Thumb Hurts Playing Guitar

Barre chords can be one of the most difficult techniques for beginners to master because they require unusual movement and finger stretching. One thing that really helps is to try and keep your thumb in the same position. You also want to use your thumb as a support on the guitar neck, and you do not need to have the thumb constantly touching the neck of the guitar. 

How to deal with pain between thumb and index finger guitar

Guitarists often struggle with a strong pain between the thumb and index finger, and the reason is that to play certain chords you have to stretch the distance between the thumb and your index finger. Your hands are not used to this movement and this is why it can be painful at times. The best way to deal with it is to take breaks when you are practicing. This allows your hands to recover, and heal, and under no circumstance, you should force your fingers once it is already hurting. This can cause additional pressure and pain.


There are a few potential things that could be causing your thumb pain when playing guitar. It’s important to figure out what the cause is so that you can address it and hopefully get relief. Always take breaks when you are practicing and do not push your fingers too hard when you are just learning the basics. 

It takes time for your hands and arm muscles to get used to the movements necessary to play guitar. It is a process that requires practice and rest, and you should start improving over time.

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