If you’re having a hard time pressing on the strings of your guitar, there can be many different reasons for it. Whether you’ve just bought yourself a new Fender, restringed an old favorite, or you’re learning to play for the first time, getting the strings to press flat against the fingerboard can feel tougher than it should be.
How To Make Guitar Strings Easier To Press?
There are many different things that you can try to make your guitar strings easier to press – you can change the strings or adjust the action, either at the bridge, the saddle, the nut, or the truss rod. There may be other environmental factors, like humidity, at play, or it could simply be a matter of technique.
Getting your fingers into position and having your strings produce the perfect tone every time isn’t easy, but you shouldn’t be fighting against your guitar while you’re playing.
Why Are They So Hard To Press?
If you are a beginner, you may be having issues simply because of a lack of practice, and not warming up properly. The flexibility of your fingers greatly increases once you’ve got a bit of blood pumping to them, and the more flexible and practiced your fingers are, the stronger they will be when you’re pressing the strings.
Another common mistake is trying to press too hard. You only need to apply enough pressure so that the sound is full and sustained, which shouldn’t require much force. Often, you can adjust the position or rotation of your fingers in relation to the frets to get a better purchase and press down more securely.
You may also not be used to the type of strings that you are using. Thicker strings are harder to bend and can be harder to play, so beginners often use strings with a lighter gauge. The material your strings are made from will have an impact as well.
Electric guitars generally use steel or nickel strings, which are tough but thin, whereas acoustic guitars generally use brass or bronze-plated steel, or nylon. Nylon strings are usually used for nylon or classical guitars, and they are the softest.
If you are sure that it is not an issue of strings or your technique, it is probably something to do with the guitar itself that is causing your strings to be so hard to press. Usually, this is because it is too great of a distance between the strings and the fretboard, known as the action height.
How Do I Make Them Easier To Play?
If you are not sure about what to do, it is always safest to take your guitar to a professional who can make the adjustments for you. However, there are some relatively simple fixes that can make your strings easier to press. Either you want to change the strings that you’re using or you want to reduce your action height.
Choosing The Right Strings
Though it may seem common sense to many, getting the right type of string can make a big difference to how easily your guitar plays. Electric guitar strings should be much easier to press because they are so thin, and nylon strings are a lot easier to press than steel strings on an acoustic.
You should be choosing the strings that suit the type of guitar you are playing, but you can also select strings with different coatings, cores, and winding types that might suit your playstyle better. There is a lot of variation between all of the types of strings that you can get, so it is worth exploring around and testing some if you can.
How To Make Acoustic Guitar Strings Softer
If you want strings that feel softer on your fingers, you will want to look at the gauge that you are using first. The gauge of your strings essentially tells you how heavy and thick they are. Lighter and thinner strings will be easier to press so if you are just starting out, you may want to try some extra-light acoustic strings.
If you are playing a classical or a nylon acoustic, then you should be using nylon strings, which are very soft to play with. If you’re using a steel-string acoustic, nylon strings won’t give you the tone that you want so instead, you could also opt for “silk and steel” strings.
Silk and steel strings are a hybrid that is somewhere between a steel string and a nylon string, and they have a softer sound as well as a softer feel.
Reducing Your Action Height
The action height refers to how far away your strings are from the fretboard, and if that distance is too great it can make the strings very hard to press. If the action is too low, you will hear a buzzing, from where the strings touch the frets, when you pluck them.
The typical action on an electric guitar is about 1.6mm on the high E string and 2.4mm on the low E string. On an acoustic guitar, the typical action is around 2.0mm on the high E and 2.8 on the low E.
Electric Guitar Action Height
You can adjust the action yourself, but exactly how to do so will depend on the type of bridge that you have. Some bridges on electric guitars will have points on either side where you can use a screwdriver to change the height of the bridge, lowering or raising the action. Others will need you to adjust the height on each string separately.
Acoustic Guitar Action Height
For acoustic guitars, things are a bit more tricky. The height of the saddle will directly influence your action height, so you will probably need to remove the saddle entirely and file it down or replace it with a shorter one. You can do this by loosening the strings all the way so that the saddle is easy to slide out.
With an acoustic guitar, you can also adjust the height on the nut. Even a small change in nut height will make a big difference to the action height, so it is better to sort out the saddle first. The truss rod can be adjusted too, and its position will affect your action height directly.