Keith Richards’s hands and fingers are really a mystery as to how he is still able to play in those conditions. What happened to his hands and fingers? What is the cause why it has happened to his hands and fingers? How was he able to play even with his condition?
Keith Richards is a legendary guitar player, but maybe you still do not know that he has a health problem that is really a huge problem for a guitar player, especially with his stature. So now, it is time for you to find out the truth about Keith Richards and his physical condition.
So, who is Keith Richards? Keith Richards is an English musician, songwriter, and singer. He is famous globally as he is the co-founder, lead guitarist, secondary vocalist, and co-principal songwriter of the legendary band, The Rolling Stones. He is considered by many as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
He was born on December 18, 1943, in Dartford, England. He grew up in the same place and studied at the Dartford Technical School and Sidcup Art College. After his graduation, he befriended Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Brian Jones and consequently joined the Rolling Stones. As a member of the band, he is the only one who sings lead on some of their songs except for Jagger.
Keith Richards was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 1989 and into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004 with the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stone magazine named him as the fourth on their list of the 100 best guitarists of all time. The same magazine lists fourteen of the songs that Richards personally wrote with the Rolling Stones’ lead vocalist Jagger on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
Most of his colleagues call his playing style as direct, incisive, and unpretentious. Keith Richards’ playing style focuses on chords and rhythm, as he avoids playing flamboyant, and he tries not to be the “fastest gun in the west.” He prefers to play along with another guitar player, as on almost all of their tours, he has never played alone as the only guitar player.
Keith Richards has collected an approximate number of 3,000 guitars in his lifetime. He is widely known for using Gibson and Fender guitars, as he often thanked Leo Fender and other guitar companies for the guitars he has used all over his career. He usually runs two guitar amplifiers simultaneously, a small amp like a Fender Champ for its overdrive tone and a Fender Twin Reverb to run its clean tone.
Keith Richards And His Hand Condition
Keith Richards is known to have been battling Hand Arthritis already for a long time. The swelling and tenderness of one or more joints are what arthritis is. Its main symptoms are joint pain and stiffness, which usually worsen with age. The two most common types of arthritis that you usually have are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Richards had developed osteoarthritis on his fingers, which is really a problem for him, especially since he is a rock guitarist. In his old age and despite the condition of his hand, he was able to remain in the music industry for a very long time, and that is already a miracle in itself.
With the condition in his hands, he needed to change some techniques in his style of play. He adapted to using a 5-string guitar instead of the standard 6-string guitar, as he was able to perform easier in this setup, and he also got more comfortable with it as he got older.
Keith Richards is able to continue to perform at high levels, and it is because of the adjustments he has made to keep himself and his fingers in tip-top shape. Aside from changing the string setup, Keith Richards also attributed his longevity in playing the guitar despite his osteoarthritis to his physical activities.
Keith Richards’ lifestyle is really healthy for his age. His diet consists of meat and potatoes. He also does not smoke and stays active physically, although he does not work out that much. He never carries heavy loads and always makes time for his family and friends, as it relieves him from all the stress of being a legendary guitar player. He also still continuously practices.
Even though his fingers are already gnarled with arthritis, he insists that he does not feel any pain at all, and it does not affect his guitar playing. His condition did not hinder him from being one of the best guitar players of all time.
What Are The Adjustments To Make If You Are A Guitar Player With Hand Arthritis?
If you already have hand arthritis at this moment, then maybe you should follow what Keith Richards did with his guitar setup, or you can follow these steps to make it easier for you to play the guitar.
The first adjustment is for you to try to stay away from playing barre chords. Playing open chords is easier and is better for your hands as it requires less from your fingers. If a song requires you to play many barre chords, it is ideal for you to use a capo, as it will allow you to play on it using open chords with the same key.
You should also play slower as it will be easier for your hands and wrists. Try to play with a straight wrist like holding a guitar in a classical position. When fretting the notes, it would be better if you fret your finger closer, as it gives less pressure to your fingers and hand.
The next step is to try to learn some open chord tunings for you to take advantage of playing more open chords as they put less pressure on your fingers. You should also use lighter gauge strings as they will be easier for your fingers. Lastly, it would be better for you to use guitars with large necks like a Gibson Les Paul.
Overall, Keith Richards’ hands and fingers did not really hinder his status of being one of the best guitar players to have ever lived. Even with his arthritis, he could still make some adjustments to his playing style, which helped his longevity as a guitar player. Hand arthritis can be a huge problem for a guitar player, especially for those professionals, but you can still pursue your dreams without a doubt with some adjustments.