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Calluses are a badge of honour that a guitarist wears with pride. It’s proof of their hard work practicing guitar. However, because the fingers are a piano player’s most prized asset, do guitar calluses make playing the piano more difficult for a guitarist that also wants to learn the piano?
Generally, guitar calluses don’t hurt your piano playing once you get used to playing the piano with them. Though at first, you may find it awkward to play with calluses on your fingers because the piano keys feel different and your fingers become more slippery.
In this article, I’ll go more in-depth into ways guitar calluses can make it harder to play the piano and why ultimately, it’s not a big problem. I’ll also discuss some tips to make it easier to play with callous fingers.
How do guitar calluses hurt your piano playing?
Some guitarists get smooth calluses which gives them a weaker grip on the keys and makes their fingers more prone to slipping, especially when all modern piano keys are made from plastic. Plastic keys are more slippery compared to the old-school ivory keys found on older pianos.
Another problem is because calluses thicken your fingers, the keys on the piano will feel different than before. Thus, you may find that something doesn’t feel right when you play the piano with callous fingers.
These two problems mean that you may not be able to play the piano well initially. However, once you spend some time practicing and give yourself time to adjust, you’ll be able to play like you usually do.
The amount of time you need to readjust to your calluses depends on the person. Some people can play normally with their calluses after a few hours of practice while others may need a couple of days.
Tips to make playing the piano with callous fingers easier
While you’ll get used to playing the piano with callous fingers over time, there are things you can do to speed up that process or at least make playing the piano easier.
To deal with slippery fingers due to smooth calluses, check out this article on How To Stop Your Fingers From Slipping Off Piano Keys
Can you get calluses from playing the piano?
While playing string instruments like the violin or a guitar is a surefire way of getting calluses, does the same hold true for the piano? Is it even possible to get calluses from playing the piano?
It’s unlikely for piano players to get calluses since we press the smooth keys with a relaxed and light hand. When you’re playing normally, there isn’t enough friction or pressure acting on your fingers to form calluses. However, techniques like the glissando could form calluses on your fingers.
When doing the glissando, your finger is constantly bumping into the edges of the keys which is very painful.
That’s why over time calluses will build up on the side of your finger so you won’t feel as much pain when playing the glissando, similar to how calluses form on the fingertips of guitarists to prevent the guitar strings from digging in too deep, causing pain.
With that said, realistically, no one practices glissando for the hours on end to the point of developing calluses.
Furthermore, many piano players use their nails rather than the sides of their fingers to play the glissando. This is to avoid pain and ugly calluses forming on the side of their fingers. They use their thumbnail when going down and either their middle or ring fingernails when going up.