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  • Help! Bad finger injury.

    4 days ago I chopped of a chunk of the well-calloused pad of my left index finger, while using a very sharp bread knife. There's now a hole about half the size of a dime where there is no skin, right at the end of the fingertip. I can play guitar with the other three fingers, but there are problems. C and D chords especially. I can manage G, A, Am, E, Em OK. F is impossible, unless I do a barre chord.

    Problem is, I don't use barres much. My way of playing utilizes a lot of droning strings.

    Has any one had something like this happen? I'm interested in any advice, either about ways to promote healing or some prosthetic device that would allow using that finger without putting a lot of pressure directly on the tip. It's extremely painful. We have gigs lined up this summer and I need to fix this!

    I am working on utilizing alternative fingerings for chords. It's surprisingly difficult. I feel like I'm learning guitar all over again.
    __________________________
    She's the lady of the light
    Yellow incandescent night
    Tiger eyes burning bright
    In the understory
    I can't see the forest
    For the branches and the leaves
    But I believe
    I do believe
    by me:

    www.box.com

    "Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."
    Charlie Parker

  • #2
    Yea, but it concluded with healing as the sole effective fix. Now, if you're brave you can place a piece of paper towel over the injury and then wick into it low viscosity superglue (water consistency). After a few moments screaming in pain you have a rather durable patch over the wound. Repeat the procedure for a second application to build up the wound site and you just might have a playable finger again. Problem is the superglue cure causes it to rise significantly in temperature and it's the heat that hurts like a bastid.

    Edit to add: The above method is a battlefield temporary patch developed to close up wounds until they can be properly tended to. Just thought I'd add that so you wouldn't think I was completely farcing your injury.
    Last edited by Idunno; 05-18-2014, 03:15 PM.
    -----------------------------------
    Call me Hoyt. Hoyt Guthrie.
    -----------------------------------
    Interesting...

    "In related essays, I have written of the the many basic errors of fundamentalism, and the virulence of Christianity as a meme complex. Clearly, believing because they want to believe, not because it is true, Christians around the world are making these fundamental errors. It is a sure prescription for ignorance, not wisdom." - Scott Bidstrup

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    • #3
      I read somewhere that Tony Iommi, Black Sabbath's guitarist, wore metal thimbles on the ends of his fingers due to an injury. Not sure how that would work for you, but it might be worth a try.
      Michael D. www.mdlmusic.webs.com "I'm tired of rock-and-rolling Let's get married, Honey, let's go bowling" --Martin Mull

      Comment


      • #4
        I know you don't want to hear this Michael, but you should let that heal before trying to play with it again. Steel strings will tear the heck out of it.

        Big Al
        Instruments:
        Custom Dreadnaught Solid Hog

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        • #5
          Well, Django only used two fingers or you could do a little bottle neckin'.

          Seriously, this might be a good time to experiment with altered tunings. The chord forms in open G or D are much simpler than standard and often you can play entire songs with just a barre and one finger.
          Last edited by Freeman Keller; 05-18-2014, 10:36 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by bigald18 View Post
            I know you don't want to hear this Michael, but you should let that heal before trying to play with it again. Steel strings will tear the heck out of it.

            Big Al
            ^ This but if you absolutely must play then Freeman's suggestion is worthwhile. Also, the 5-string banjo uses open G tuning and is easy to fret so maybe some clawhammer?
            Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
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            • #7
              On the topic of using open chords that are in another tuning and then using a bottleneck/slide method of play, I'm pretty sure MM doesn't play slide, gents, LOL. I also think he's been here long enough that you probably already know that. By the time he's finagled some semblance of music using that method he'll have been healed up for a couple months or more. Just a guess.
              -----------------------------------
              Call me Hoyt. Hoyt Guthrie.
              -----------------------------------
              Interesting...

              "In related essays, I have written of the the many basic errors of fundamentalism, and the virulence of Christianity as a meme complex. Clearly, believing because they want to believe, not because it is true, Christians around the world are making these fundamental errors. It is a sure prescription for ignorance, not wisdom." - Scott Bidstrup

              Comment


              • #8
                Michael, I have no useful advice, but I wish you speedy recovery.
                R.I.P. TAH & Dak

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Michael Martin View Post
                  4 days ago I chopped of a chunk of the well-calloused pad of my left index finger, while using a very sharp bread knife. There's now a hole about half the size of a dime where there is no skin, right at the end of the fingertip. I can play guitar with the other three fingers, but there are problems. C and D chords especially. I can manage G, A, Am, E, Em OK. F is impossible, unless I do a barre chord.

                  Problem is, I don't use barres much. My way of playing utilizes a lot of droning strings.

                  Has any one had something like this happen? I'm interested in any advice, either about ways to promote healing or some prosthetic device that would allow using that finger without putting a lot of pressure directly on the tip. It's extremely painful. We have gigs lined up this summer and I need to fix this!

                  I am working on utilizing alternative fingerings for chords. It's surprisingly difficult. I feel like I'm learning guitar all over again.
                  Will it ever heal back? The idea of a steel thimble is interesting.

                  You can substitute. Play a partial Am7 for a C. Start on the 4th string.

                  On a D - deaden the 3rd string with your bandaged finger. Play the others and start it on the A string.

                  OR

                  Play C,D, F chords with partial 'A' barres using only your ring finger.
                  You lose something. But it's an easy position. And what choice do you have besides a steel thimble or Super Glue?

                  Last edited by Etienne Rambert; 05-19-2014, 05:36 AM.
                  Youtube , ​Murika , France

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bigald18 View Post
                    I know you don't want to hear this Michael, but you should let that heal before trying to play with it again. Steel strings will tear the heck out of it.

                    Big Al
                    Ouch! Sorry to hear this, Michael - bad luck.

                    I agree with Al, let it heal then play nylon strings for a month or so (you can just restring your regular guitar - psst - did I ever tell you about my nylon string dred? )

                    Howard

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                    • #11
                      Hey y'all thanks for suggestions and well-wishes. It's true I don't play slide. And I don't like barres and avoid them except where necessary. My routine now is to endlessly practice playing C and D with the other three fingers--but it's very difficult. Am and E shapes are easy to switch to the other three fingers because of barre chords. My G already had no index involvement except for C suspensions and such.

                      I suppose that the short-term solution is barres. But it really changes my sound--loss of droning strings, plus all the pull-offs and adds/suspensions that I do. My last V.O.M. submission is the best example of what I can't do now. On "City of Refuge" those first two alternating chords are 079900/079700, which requires all four fingers (capo 1, so these are some sort of F rather than E).

                      Thanks MDLMUSIC for the reference to Tommy Iommi (Black Sabbath guitarist). I did some research--he cut off two fingertips on his fretting hand when he was 17, and did utilize some sort of improvised prosthetic. An hour of clicking around from there led me to something called the Galaxy FT-1 Finger Protector™, which works by relieving pressure from the tip and distributing it to the sides of the finger. I ordered one, so we'll see how that works.

                      I love the nylon idea Garth--in fact I am about to re-string a dread that way, but not for me--it's for one of the girls in the band who is having a bad time learning guitar with steel strings. As for me, at this moment, and probably for a long while, I won't be able to use that finger (unadorned anyway) for any sort of string. The lightest touch, much less pressure, is extremely painful.
                      __________________________
                      She's the lady of the light
                      Yellow incandescent night
                      Tiger eyes burning bright
                      In the understory
                      I can't see the forest
                      For the branches and the leaves
                      But I believe
                      I do believe
                      by me:

                      www.box.com

                      "Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."
                      Charlie Parker

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Fabulous news! First, the soreness has subsided (1 week since injury), although the wound is still healing and I'm a long way from having an intact finger. I've been going about my daily business with a glass slide over the finger, rather than bandaging it up, and just using a dab of that liquid bandage stuff to cover the missing skin.

                        Second: the Galaxy FT-1 thing arrived today, and it works! It's going to take a bit of getting used to it, but I'm able to use the finger. I was getting pretty despondent about my inability to adapt with new chord fingerings; now, thankfully, I can give that up. The device is way overpriced IMO considering it's just a bit of plastic with a leather pad attached, but well worth it for what it allows me to do. I have a practice tonight, a jam/song circle tomorrow night, and a gig next Tuesday. Me so happy!

                        Moral of the story: Fully engage brain and give full attention before a using sharp knife.
                        __________________________
                        She's the lady of the light
                        Yellow incandescent night
                        Tiger eyes burning bright
                        In the understory
                        I can't see the forest
                        For the branches and the leaves
                        But I believe
                        I do believe
                        by me:

                        www.box.com

                        "Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."
                        Charlie Parker

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Good news. I play everyday so the frustration of being prevented form that can weigh in. A few years ago I had a picking hand nerve problem from an old misadventure that involuntarily flexed a couple fingers. Very weird and pretty uncomfortable when it happened. Overall, though, it frustrated my playing to an extent that I was calling it quits and had listed my guitars. Didn't make sense to hold onto them if I couldn't play, so, yea, been there.

                          How does this contraption you bought work? It slips onto the finger and places the pad in a non-contact position with the tip?
                          Last edited by Idunno; 05-21-2014, 06:15 PM.
                          -----------------------------------
                          Call me Hoyt. Hoyt Guthrie.
                          -----------------------------------
                          Interesting...

                          "In related essays, I have written of the the many basic errors of fundamentalism, and the virulence of Christianity as a meme complex. Clearly, believing because they want to believe, not because it is true, Christians around the world are making these fundamental errors. It is a sure prescription for ignorance, not wisdom." - Scott Bidstrup

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Idunno View Post
                            How does this contraption you bought work? It slips onto the finger and places the pad in a non-contact position with the tip?
                            It's really just a domed-shape cap (supposedly some super-duper hard high-tech plastic) with a suede leather strip that runs on inside and outside--so the leather part is what contacts the string and fretboard. I think it wouldn't work if the finger was still extremely sensitive. I think there's a bit of air space between the inside of it and the finger, so pressure on the fingertip is minimized.

                            It doesn't work great for sliding the finger up and down fretboard, but maybe I can get better at that with practice. It's also not great for making the standard F chord wherein you span two strings with that finger. And on barres, it's best to get it off the fretboard entirely and use only the skin of the index finger; otherwise you could dislodge it.

                            I played for about 2 hrs last night at a practice session, and it was fine. I had been worried that it would be disappointing and a waste of money (they do not allow returns), but this thing is a miracle. What's it worth to regain the ability to play? Priceless!
                            __________________________
                            She's the lady of the light
                            Yellow incandescent night
                            Tiger eyes burning bright
                            In the understory
                            I can't see the forest
                            For the branches and the leaves
                            But I believe
                            I do believe
                            by me:

                            www.box.com

                            "Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."
                            Charlie Parker

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Not happy to hear this has happened to you. Hope you heal quickly.

                              I've told this story before, so I apologize for the redundancy. I once cut a huge gash in my chording hand index finger. I taped it and braced it with a popsicle stick (true story). Should have gotten it stitched but being young, stupid and poor, it didn't seem workable at the time.
                              I continued to play my guitar using the three healthy fingers on that hand. It was a nightmare that lasted about 6 months before I was confident enough to begin utilizing the index. Took an additional couple of months before I was conditioned enough to ignore the sensitivity. To this day, that finger feels a little "weird" every so now and again. That's the bad news.

                              The good news was that I learned to use my pinky in ways I never thought I would be able to. After a while I was able to make most chords with the 2, 3 and 4 fingers, freeing up my index finger for substantially more bottom notes. What it did more than anything was require me to use the pinky for lead notes on top of chords, While I never was the best guitar player, LOL, my playing was actually improved by the experience. Thanks to that incident, I went from a three finger player to a four finger player.
                              _________________
                              Strangers passing in the street
                              By chance two separate glances meet
                              I am you and what I see is me . . .

                              Roger Waters
                              Echoes
                              from the MEDDLE LP

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