You want to be a great guitarist, right? Okay then, let’s do some guitar finger exercises!
You can’t just be a great guitarist overnight. You’ll have to put in hours and hours locked inside your bedroom to improve your skills. And to make some kills when you go onstage.
No, no, no, we’re not talking about bloody murder here. We’re just talking about winning the crowd over with your stellar guitar performance.
Let’s start with some very basic guitar finger exercises; these are designed to improve your guitar skills guaranteed!
1. Improve your accuracy
Before anything else, you need to start out with your accuracy. You can have the fastest fingers on earth, but it still won’t mean squat if you’re just hitting the wrong notes because you haven’t memorized the fret board.
So, how do you improve your accuracy? Well, you need to be familiar with the guitar’s fret board. So, take your guitar out and start by looking at your fingers first and taking note of the sound it produces when you pluck the string you just pressed.
After that, close your eyes and try to remember the sound you make. Pluck the string 10 times for each string and note you play.
2. Improve your speed
Once you know what the notes sound like, it’s time to play some scales. Learning to play scales can do a lot of wonders for your guitar playing. Just having the ability to play a scale is already exciting enough for some people, what more if you can play it accurately and quickly.
Take out your metronome and set it to the slowest beat you can play and start with the Pentatonic Scale. You do know the Pentatonic Scale, right? No? Well get a guitar scale book and learn it fast before you come back to this lesson and the next items on the list!
What you need to do at this point is to play the scale at a constant pace (as dictated by your metronome’s speed) consistently and accurately. Don’t worry. All great guitarists started out this way, and they made a couple of mistakes here and there before finally getting it right.
Start out slowly and keep playing the scale until you can consistently pick all the notes in time with the metronome. Once you can do that, increase the speed of your metronome by increments and do the same thing. Soon enough muscle memory is going to take over, and you’ll be able to play those scales quickly.
Don’t rush, get it right and you’ll be able to shred on your guitar soon enough!
3. Improve your feel
Playing your guitar isn’t all about speed or playing chords. It’s also about showing emotion. We call this “feel”.
You can achieve this by increasing or decreasing the pressure of your fingers on your strings while playing. Try to take a simple guitar scale and this time, instead of playing it consistently as we told you, play it with varying finger pressure. The notes are still the same, but there’s a noticeable difference to the way it sounds, right?
It requires finger strength.
You can do this by regularly playing scales. But this time, you can add more pressure than necessary and your fingers will grow stronger. Your speed is going to be affected by this since your hand is going to tense up while doing this exercise. So, dial your metronome back to the slowest beat, and you can play while strengthening your digits.
4. Building Finger Independence
You’ve got 4 fingers on your left hand that can press down on your fretboard (your thumb only serves as the anchor, so we do not include that). It means you can play four notes per string.
Let’s do a basic chromatic scale starting with G as your Root. With each note, after the root played at half step, you should be able to use all 4 fingers.
Since music isn’t about notes played in that manner alone, you’ll need to mix the notes up. So try different combinations of the chromatic scale on one string. Alternate playing the note sequence produced so that you’re forced to use all fingers. It doesn’t have to sound good as long as it gets the necessary results.
By now you should have an extensive knowledge of the necessary scale. Your speed should also be at a pretty decent clip now. It’s time to play an arpeggio.
Playing Legato is based on “feel” so this exercise hits two birds with one stone.
Again, you’ll notice that this is a feel based exercise. Developing a mean vibrato with just your fingers is going to be pretty impressive not only to your friends but also to other guitarists as well.
The ultimate “feel” exercise. Bending increases the pitch of your note. It also adds a more human quality to your guitar’s voice. Learn how to bend half step and whole step. It will build a lot of finger strength up quickly!
9. String skipping
It is where the first lesson pays off. For string skipping, accuracy is the key. Start out with 2 strings, skipping from 1 to the other. Once you’ve mastered that, add another string. At the end of the exercise, you should be able to skip through strings effortlessly.
And last but not the least, the holy grail of all guitar finger exercises: Tapping. It employs everything from precision to speed and feel. The combination of all three can give you a unique sound.