Luke Moderwell

Calluses Don't Hurt Forever

Today I was playing guitar when Indigo, my 3 year old daughter, came over and asked if she could play the "Cuttar" with me. Let me assure you that, as a musician, the moment your kids get interested in music is one you look forward to. So far, in spite of the amount of music that is both played over speakers and live, our kids have been relatively tepid towards music. But all that was about to change when I showed Indigo the basics of the guitar! I was on the precipice of a major musical breakthrough. I could feel the genius that was about to be discovered. Or not.

My chunky, callused fingers holding a G major chord. This is what you have to
look forward to kids.

After putting one finger on the high E string, she yelled "ouch that hurts!" and scampered away. Turns out that playing the guitar requires callouses. Calluses that you've built up over years of playing the guitar. Suddenly I was transported back to around age 9 when I first tried playing. I had completely forgotten about calluses.

Calluses are not cheap. You cannot buy calluses (that I am aware of). There are no “life-haxxx” for acquiring calluses other than doing something that by its very nature produces calluses.

In a way, calluses are a sort of metaphor. They are special beginner tax paid when starting to learn something. Usually they are enough of a roadblock that most people don't want to go through the trouble of developing them. But calluses, whether physical, or metaphorical, don't hurt forever. Someday, long after you've mastered whatever it is you are after, you won't even remember them.

-- Originally posted on