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Advanced Fingering Exercises

These exercises are designed to improve accuracy and finger independence. Finger independence is the ability to use each of your four fretting fingers, without any of them depending or interfering with the movement of others.

Above the tabs, above each note, is a number from one to four. These tell you which finger to use. One being your index finger through to four which is your little finger.
you can use strict alternate picking or economy picking depending on your preference. If you're unsure about these terms have a look at the short picking lesson which explains both these methods.

Important: Don't try to play these exercises too fast. The most important thing is accuracy. Playing every note in time and cleanly without any duff notes. If you're playing everything perfectly without any mistakes, then speed it up slightly. When you can play at this new speed perfectly then speed it up slightly again. It's an old guitarist cliche but it's very true, speed is a by-product of accuracy. Speed comes from accuracy, never the other way round. Trying to play to fast right away and making lots of mistakes won't help you improve.

If you get tired or sore take a rest! Come back to it later when you're feeling 100%. You won't improve if you're hurting yourself, you'll just be punishing yourself for no reason.

 

Ex. 1

Exercise 1 - Sound clip

This exercise forces us to move horizontally and vertically. Based on the E minor scale we're moving from the open low E note, through to the twelfth fret E note on the top e string. We then go back in the other direction. If you know a scale across the whole fret board, or if you have a full fret board diagram, you can try this with other scales.

You can try mixing up the order of the notes also.

 

Ex. 2

Exercise 2 - Sound clip

This exercise is again based on E minor. We start on a E note and then play six notes of the scale in order. We then jump back to the second note of that scale and then play six notes in order again. And then we just repeat this pattern. The exercise has all been arranged to be played on the top b and e strings. Exercises like this are designed to familiarise us with scales across the neck. Some guitarists can become to used to playing scales in limited positions.

Try this type of exercise with other scales.

 

Ex. 3

Exercise 3 - Sound clip

This exercise gives all our fingers a workout using string skipping. When skipping strings it can be difficult to jump over strings without accidently hitting or touching them. It can also be difficult to hit the right notes when we're leaping across like that. It can be surprisingly easy to miss the intended note if you're not used to string skipping, especially with the fourth finger. String skipping is more common in classical and more traditional music, but it's well worth getting used to it.

 

Ex. 4

Exercise 4 - Sound clip

This exercise combines arpeggios with quick horizontal movement. Depending on how fast you can play this exercise you may need to use sweep picking. If you're unsure about sweep picking take a look at the advanced arpeggios lesson. When we shift positions, in order to keep in key the shape of the arpeggio changes also, be careful not to get caught out.

 

Ex. 5

Exercise 5 - Sound clip

This exercise is based on D major. It combines picked notes with legato, helping you get used to jumping in and out of the two methods. The legato parts use both hammers and pull offs and require you to use your fourth finger, which is often the weakest. If you've not already done so, take a look at the legato lesson which has some useful tips on making hammered and pull off notes sound clearer.

 

Ex. 6

Exercise 6 - Sound clip

Finally we have a exercise that combines chords with leads. This type of exercise should help us get used to jumping quickly between the two. This exercise is played in the key of E minor.

Hopefully all of these exercises should have helped improve your accuracy and technique. If you repeat the exercises often, these ones and also ones of your own invention, it will have the knock on effect of improving your speed also.

 

Key points to remember!

  • Timing is crucial. Try not to rush parts.
  • Pick as cleanly as possible.
  • Accuracy is the aim of exercises, speed develops secondary from this.