I have a tip you will thank me for later, and it’s all about right hand fingerstyle guitar technique.
Don’t wash your face before you play a gig.
Yes that’s right. Don’t wash your face.
It’s a great tip that my classical teacher showed me when I was 15 years old, and somehow my memory served it up the other night as I was going on stage.
Sometimes when you perform, you’ll find that your hands and guitar get sticky. Yes, if you are not used to it, it can freak you out and make you nervous.
Here’s what happens to me a lot of the time:
The audience finds their seats. So now, lets say 100 people or more are sitting a room and everyone is breathing for 25 minutes, and windows maybe are not open.
Trust me, it gets hot and sticky.
If you are coming in from a place (maybe backstage) where it was relatively cooler and dryer, the sticky-ness will descend upon you and your guitar very suddenly. YUCK!If this happens to you, try this (I only do it with my right hand finger tips, not the left.)
Rub your fingertips (or fingernails) on your greasy nose. Yes, get that grease & oil all over your finger tips. Then rub your fingertips together (one hand only) to spread that lovely nose grease evenly all over the tips – where the strings will touch.
(Try this now if you are at home.)
Now, go to play your guitar and watch with amazement as your fingers slip off the strings more easily.
Cool, huh? You just beat the sticky-ness at least for a few minutes.
And – after the gig, you can wash your face.
If you liked this post, please comment below!
Oscar Méndez says
Cool , great tip Adam.
i like so much your page! you are one of my favorites.
In my opinion try to record a videos about each post of your blog.
Nowadays people don´t like read as before.
see you! master!
Kendrick Koh says
Wow. Um… Thanks for the detailed advice!
Debbie Fleming says
That’s hilarious, Adam! Funny tip!
Paul Walker says
Every little helps, fella. Hope the tour’s going well. Take good care, y’hear?
Brian Totten says
So true. I was attending HSU in the early 80’s when I first learned that.
Fidenciara Orb says
Athletes would rub the soles of their shoes before touching their face; good luck charm.
You are a lot happier…highly reflective of your article!
Wow! That’s very clever, how many layer of grease you build up in your nose before play? You shower once a month or every two months?
Once a week, but only if I need to…
Ben McLaughlin says
Thanks Adam, at my current wash-rate this would only effect one gig pcm, but now I know why that one is a bit sticky…
I watched this practice at the Wertingen Festival – Andy York used it. But meanwhile I forgot about it and now you brought it back to my mind – thank you. Sure to try it.
Doug Dvojack says
Another good tip, I think you sent this before. But for those that missed
it’s a good tip.
I have finally started working on trying to learn finger style. After severely injuring the ring finger on my left hand. It got jammed inside a music stand from the tip down to the bone and then down the finger past the first joint. I also lost the meat on the finger to the finger nail. The finger is now narrower than it was and I am having to adjust to the difference in width.And I am not really sure
what the heck I am doing. I understand the way your suppose to use which for for a certain string. The biggest problem I am having in trying to hit the right string with the right finger because I can’t get used to using my little finger as a stable point. I used to use hybrid finger style. So I would hold the pick into between my thumb and first finger and then use the middle finger, ring finger and little finger to play the notes. It’s determination keeping me going. I am to damn old to quit now. Since I started in 1962.
David Alexander says
This is slightly off subject, but that same facial oil is also great for treating dry lips.
Thanks Dave 🙂
John Morgan says
I’m laughing…and taking your advice:-) That’s a good tip!
I saw Chris Parkening do this, maybe 35 years ago. He had an elegant move to his nose and I thought, “Is he rubbing nose grease on his fingers?” Sure enough, I tried it when I got home and “ta-da!” it worked! Great tips Funky Guy!
roger jaciobs says
Hey Adam how about bugers? just kiddin….you always have greay advice for us and i thank you for that!
Roger – thanks and sorry for the late response! – AR
Joel Badie says
Thanks Adam, will try it!
Maybe I’m alone on this, but personally I can’t stand the feeling of greasy / sweaty fingers. There’s just a weird sense that I’m somehow sucking the tone out of the strings with my moist hands, which is partly true. I use Martin FX strings and they never last long, probably due to my problems with sweaty hands. If you have any tips for me Adam, I’m all ears!
ony, keep a rag nearby. Sometimes my fingers get very sweaty & sticky too!
My first reaction when I started reading was …..WHAT!!
Very simply and practical.
I have been playing guitar since 1961. Since the beginning I have had a problem with my fingers sticking to my strings. I have tried everything, nothing worked this amazing concoction.
First get a little one 1 oz. (or so) container. An empty (large) Visine bottle will do perfectly. Make sure to remove the nozzle at the top.
Next take a spray can of Fingerease and spray it in the bottle filling the Visine bottle only 1/10 of the way. This will about one eight to one quarter of an inch from the bottom depending on your preference. Use a little at first you can make adjustments on your next batch.
Next fill it 1/2 of the way with is isopropyl alcohol and shake it Real well.
Next using a funnel add Johnsons baby powder with your corn starch untill the container is 3/4 full. Again shake real well. Use baby power with corn starch and talcum. I know what you are thinking sticky corn starch, but please give this a try.
It is very important to follow the directions. If you put talcum on your hand and spray it with Fingerease it will not work. You need the alcohol and the silicon that is in the Fingerease to to bind. This causes a chemical reaction mixing with the corn starch talcum which makes this remarkable lotion. You must remember to shake it vigorously before using each time. Let it dry on your hands before you touch the finish of your guitar (there is alcohol in it) . Just use a little depending on your preference .
The baby powder that worked great for me was Johnson’s baby powder with pure cornstarch with aloe and vitamin E.
Please let me know what you think .
All of this is great advice Bob, thanks for sharing with the readers! AR
james scott says
I just discovered your blog! And, this tip is fantastic. Going to definitely share this one with my students!
One of my teachers from years ago, great player too…Stan Lassiter. Do you know of him? He lives here in Nashville. Anyway, he turned me onto using baby powder. Have you ever tried it? I suppose it’s not a new secret weapon, but definitely helps with cutting back the moisture.
Happy to have found your blog, and your site!
Hope you are doing well!
Hey Adam! Loved this post (enjoy and learn from all of your posts) because when I was in college and studying Classical guitar and Jazz, my Classical guitar instructor gave me the very same advice, except he would advise me to run the finger tips of my picking hand across my forehead, but for the very same reason; there’s OIL up in them thar hills and it works great to allow the fingers of the picking hand to just glide over the strings when you play, no matter what style of finger picking you do. It works wonders! Anyway, thanks again Adam for another great article. You actually remind me very much of my Classical guitar teacher in college, with your teaching style and attention to important details, that most might miss unless they’re paying attention. Thank you for reminding us all, beginners and advanced players alike, to pay attention to the little details that make up the oh so important BIG picture! Keep up the good work my friend. We are ALL behind you 100%. Peace and love to you and yours. God bless.
I’m reading this on April 1st……I wonder……………………..
Martin (Reid) says
Wow adam! That’s a new one on me, and I’ve been playing the guitar (you’ll notice that I’m writing from England?!) for 50 years. And you’re right – it works! Great stuff – keep it up! Thanks again Adam, and for your brilliant videos – love them!
Ryan George says
Hey Adam, I am glad I came across your page. I was actually doing a Google search to see if any body else did this trick or if I was just weird. I used to tour quite a bit when I was 18-21 and this trick came in handy while I was in some of the more humid states. Glad to know I am not the only one haha
That’s a nice tip. Never thought of using this for playing, but I know the trick.
I’m an immigrations officer and when folks come to our office to have their biometrics taken, sometimes their finger prints are poor. Then we ask them to rub the fingers over their cheeks. The body grease improves the quality of the scan dramaticly. Usually people are amazed when they see this.
I’ll try it on the guitar one of these days. And I perfectly understand why you don’t do this with your left hand fingers. You don’t want all that grease on the fret board!
Alan Smee says
Toby H. says
That would destroy steel strings in short order through rust/corrosion. Nylon strings I could see it though.
Mark Miller says
I learned to do this when connecting a fishing pole together. Worked great and I can see why it would help playing as well. Never had any trouble dismembering my fishing pole.
Eric Bergholz says
Found wd40 spray on picking fingers reduces scratching sounds.
Adam Rafferty says
Cool – I’ll need to check it out!
Sounds like a great tip based on comments. I’m a newbie fingerstyle (~4 plus yrs) techie kinda guy and haven’t tried this yet. So I’m thinking if you change strings (non-nylon ) often, like Adam, great! But if not, what about the strings? BTW, Adam is just AWESOME!
Adam Rafferty says
Mike – thanks for the post. Strings won’t get too gummed up, all u need is a little slippage 🙂
Joseph Corbett says
So… I’m a massage therapist. I also play guitar. Imagine that? I bring my guitar to work. If I get a cancellation or no show I’ve got an hour… that I can practice guitar. My hands are always oily due to my profession.
Having a little bit of mineral oil on your hands does wonders for playing… It happened out of laziness. I wouldn’t use sesame seed, jojoba, safflower or grape seed oils… they are too sticky. Mineral oil or almond oil.
I’ve never played live… though. I’d imagine some cork grease would work well too…
Adam Rafferty says
Joe – someone suggested WD40 here! LOL. Yes – always helps to grease up 🙂