Are You Missing These Finger Exercises For Guitar?

finger exercises for guitar

Once you make up your mind to learn guitar, it is hard to resist the urge of playing some iconic riffs on it.

Have you ever wondered how guitarists play so fast and effortlessly that it looks like an easy job?

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day‘, the same goes for guitar as well. Fluency in the instrument comes from years of practice and dedication.

Honestly, there is no better way than practicing a few finger exercises for the guitar to step up your playing skills.

These compositions are easy, fun, and great for improving your finger skills, as well as offer other benefits. Hands down, playing the finger exercises is the best way to practice guitar.

You already seem curious, let’s find out.

Use A Metronome For Effective Practice

Metronomes are highly recommended for musicians, especially beginners. You can effectively practice most of the finger exercises with the help of a metronome.

If you go through the history of guitars, you will find metronomes as trusted equipment for guitarists (or any other musicians) since the origin of the instrument.

Although there’s nothing wrong in playing these exercises without a metronome, the metronome makes the exercises more accurate and develops a sense of tempo.

What Is A Metronome?

Metronomes are simple devices that produce a clicking or ticking sound at a set interval of time.

You can manually set the intervals (beats per second) according to the desired tempo of a guitar piece.

Practicing with a metronome enables you to track half notes, quarter notes, whole notes, and even dotted quarter notes.

2 Reasons to Use Metronome

1. To Build Up Speed

Using a metronome is a popular method of increasing the tempo of the player.

This simple method encourages you to start playing at a comfortable tempo (let’s say 100 bpm) and once you get comfortable, you should gradually increase the tempo (105 bpm or 110 bpm) and try to keep up to it.

Improving your speed will not only help you play difficult and fast compositions, but it will train your hand-eye coordination for the maximum impact.

2. To Slow Down

Although this method is not as popular as the first one, believe me, controlling your tempo (rather, slowing it down) is an important job and also necessary for classical guitarists.

Playing at a high tempo is difficult, but playing at an incredibly low tempo is even more difficult.

Practice your finger exercises at a slightly low tempo from the tempo you are used to. It will take time, but the result is worth waiting for.

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Essential Finger Exercises for Guitar

1. 1,2,3,4 Exercise

This chromatic exercise is the most popular finger exercise for beginners. It is simple yet effective to stretch your fingers.

Maybe that’s why it is so popular among guitar teachers all around the world.

This finger exercise has proven to be beneficial for improving muscle memory and synchronization between fretting and picking hands.

How to practice:

  • Make sure you are holding the right posture.
  • Start by playing the 5th fret of the 6th string (low E) with your 1st (index) finger.
  • Simultaneously, place your 2nd finger (middle finger) on the 6th fret, 3rd finger (ring finger) on the 7th fret, and finally 4th finger (pinky finger) on the 8th fret of the same string.
  • When you are done with the low E string, shift your fretting hand to the 5th string (A string). 
  • Now, lift the 2nd finger to play the 6th fret of the 5th string.
  • Repeat this pattern with every finger.

Suppose you are shifting your fingers from the 6th string to the 5th string, place your 1st finger on the 5th fret of the 5th string, but hold the other three fingers (2nd, 3rd, and 4th) on the previous position on the 6th string itself.

Often beginners make the mistake of removing all the fingers from the previous string.

In the beginning, you might face some difficulty stretching your fingers, but if you practice daily, it will become easier.

This chromatic exercise is perfect for guitarists of all levels to stretch their fingers and build hand dexterity.

2. Angular Chromatic Exercise

As you can guess by the name, this finger exercise is angular in motion. It will help you develop muscle memory, hand-eye coordination, chord plucking skills, and improve your arpeggios playing capability.

Angular Chromatic Exercise

How to practice:

  • Look at the tab carefully. This exercise starts on the 1st fret of the 4th (D) string.
  • Now you need to move your fingers down in an angular motion to the 2nd fret of the 3rd (G) string, 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd (B) string, and finally place your 4th finger on the 4th fret of the 1st (high E) string.
  • Now you need to move up the strings by placing your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the 1st (high E) string.
  • Similarly, in an angular motion, place your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 2nd (B) string, 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 3rd (G) string, and finally the 4th finger on the 4th fret of the 4th (D) string.

Remember to use your 1st finger for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th finger for 1st, 2nd , 3rd, and 4th frets respectively.

This exercise empowers your picking ability and string judgment capabilities.

3. Single String Finger Exercise

Fun fact: The single string exercise is known as the tongue twister for fingers. Also, you have to play a single string at once, making this a great exercise for beginners.

This finger exercise creates the ground for playing complex solo and guitar riffs by easing up your fingers.

Single String Finger Exercise

As you can see in the above picture, the jumbled notes are designed to train your fingers.

How to practice:

  • Start with the high-E string by placing your 1st finger on the first fret.
  • Now, move your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the same string.
  • Then again, play the 2nd fret with your 2nd finger and lastly the 4th fret with your 4th finger.
  • Similarly in the second bar, play the 2nd fret with 1st finger and jump to the 4th fret with 3rd finger.
  • Now, move your 2nd finger to the 3rd fret and the 4th finger to the 5th fret.
  • Repeat the same structure and motion for all the bars.
  • Once you are done with a string (from 1st fret to 12th fret), move up to the next one.

I understand that it is a bit confusing at first, but the trick to mastering it is to practice it at a slow tempo at first. Once you get adjusted, increase the tempo of playing this sequence.

Do you want to develop guitar muscle memory real quick?

4. Spider Finger Exercise

This is the only finger exercise on the list that covers all the 6 strings on the guitar. You may have heard about this exercise before, but this version is a bit different than the ones you see on the internet.

Spider Finger Exercise

How to Practice:

  • According to the diagram, you have to start this finger exercise in an ascending order. Move your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the 6th (low E) string and eventually come to the 2nd fret of the 1st (high E) string with your 2nd finger.
  • Play the ascending part by placing your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the 6th string, 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 5th string, 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 4th string, and 4th finger on the 4th fret of the 3rd string.
  • Again, move your 3rd finger to the 3rd fret of the 2nd string, and finally the 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st string. 
  • Coming to the descending part, place your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the 1st string, 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 2nd string, 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 3rd string, and 4th finger on the 4th fret of the 4th string.
  • Again, move your 3rd finger to the 3rd fret of the 5th string and place your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 6th string.
  • Finally, pick the 1st fret of the 6th string with your 1st finger.

Remember to use your 1st, 2nd , 3rd, and 4th fingers for 1st, 2nd ,3rd, and 4th frets respectively. Make sure you start slow in a comfortable tempo and gradually increase it.

5. Two Finger Guitar Exercise

This finger exercise will improve your overall technique, left and right hand coordination, and speed of playing.

Two Finger Guitar Exercise

How to practice:

  • For the ascending order, play the 1st fret of the 6th string with your 1st finger, then move to the 2nd fret of the same string with your 2nd finger.
  • Now move up to the high E string (1st string) following the same ascending pattern.
  • While descending, press down the 1st fret of the 2nd (B) string with 1st finger and obviously, 2nd fret of the 2nd string with the 2nd finger. Follow the pattern to move down to the low E (6th string).

This is a two finger exercise, so you should start with your 1st and 2nd finger, then move to the 2nd and 3rd finger, and finally your 3rd and 4th fingers.

This way, you can engage all your fingers to build dexterity.

The best thing about this practice is that you can do it with any two frets, but as per the diagram, I am using the first two frets to demonstrate.

6. 6 Notes Exercise

This finger exercise is in a triple form and it stretches your fingers, builds dexterity and independence.

Six Notes Exercise

As per the guitar tab, every string has 6 notes where there are actually 4 notes with 2 repeated notes. In this particular exercise, the 2nd and 3rd notes are repeating themselves.

How to practice:

  • Just like the previous exercise, you have to use your 1st finger for the 1st fret, 2nd finger for the 2nd fret, 3rd finger for the 3rd fret, and lastly 4th finger for the 4th fret.
  • The repeated 2nd and 3rd notes are to be played by the 2nd and 3rd fingers.
  • The last note (4th note) should be played with the 4th (pinky) finger.
  • Repeat this pattern for ascending and descending order.
  • Slowly increase your tempo to increase the level of difficulty.

7. String Skipping Finger Exercise

Do you find it hard to jump up and down the strings while playing a cool riff or a solo? Then this finger exercise is perfect for you.

This exercise helps to develop hand-eye coordination and improves playing speed.

String Skipping Exercise (Ascending)

String Skipping Exercise (Descending)

How to Practice:

  • According to the ascending tab, the combination of the notes start from the 1st fret of the 6th string (low E).
  • Then you have to move to the 5h string where you will play 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fret with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers respectively.

Now, follow the same pattern in ascending order up to the 1st string. The descending order comes with the opposite placement of the notes.

Start with a lower tempo and gradually increase your speed.

Finger Stretching Exercise Without The Guitar

Finger exercises before playing guitar is like doing warm up exercises before hitting weights in the gym. Do the stretching exercise before hitting for practice.

It will make your fingers flexible and save your hands from muscle cramp. Although, don’t overdo it.

How to Stretch:

  • Sit beside a table.
  • Push the tip of your index finger on the edge.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds and repeat the same thing with other fingers.
  • Don’t forget to stretch your thumb, as it is a vital finger to hold the fretboard for a long time.
  • Now, with the support of the fretting hand, slightly twist and stretch your strumming hand.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds and repeat the same for the fretting hand.
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FAQs

What are the benefits of finger exercises for guitar?

Finger exercises for guitar have many benefits. First of all, practicing a few finger exercises improves hand dexterity and the strength of your fingers. Other than that, finger exercises improve hand dexterity, fluency, and tempo.

How can I improve my finger strength?

You can improve your finger strength by doing finger exercises. These exercises can improve your muscle memory, hand dexterity, and tempo. Once you improve the flexibility of your hand, the strength will automatically improve.

Is it better to play guitar with a pick or fingers?

It depends on what you are playing. Picks are used for mostly fast picking. Most of the solos or guitar riffs are played with picks and the chords and progressions are played with fingers. It is up to you which one you will choose.

Conclusion

Now the only gap between achieving greatness and you is practice. Now that you have learned the amazing finger exercises for guitar, don’t waste any more time, and sit for practice.

Regular practice, dedication, and love for the instrument will bring you closer to your dreams. You can also consult some beginner exercise guitar books, such as Teach Yourself Visually Guitar, that will teach you some of the helpful finger exercises on guitar.

If you are looking for inexpensive online guitar classes, check the customized EnthuZiastic guitar course.

I hope it helps.

Practice till you achieve your goal, cheers!

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