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Intermediate 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

In the easy fingering exercises we where just playing examples designed to improve our technique and timing. They weren't based on any musical scale. Now we're going to start exercises designed to get us used to playing real music.

This is a simple exercise in C Major. All we're doing is playing the C major scale across two octaves, up and then back down. We've arranged the scale three notes per string. You can play this in other keys too if you feel like it.

This will get our fingers stretched also. Hitting notes cleanly with our little finger as we stretch it across may be hard at first.

 

Ex. 2

Exercise 2 - Sound clip

Here we're staying in the same C major scale positions but we've just altered the order of notes. In real music and in songs, it's not often we'll just play scale notes in order one after the other, so this exercise is designed to help us being comfortable playing notes out of order.

Notice at the end of the second and fourth bars we've made the effort to finish on a C note. Since we're playing a C major scale it makes sense musically to resolve each segment on a C note. Although there is no rule saying you have to do this.

 

Ex. 3

Exercise 3 - Sound clip

We've mixed things around again by going backwards on each string. This is just to get you fingers and brain used to working in all directions. Moving our fingers backwards when going up to the high strings, and moving forwards when going back down to the low strings.

 

Ex. 4

Exercise 4 - Sound clip

This is the same idea as exercise one, only we're using E minor scale. You can use the ideas from exercise two and three on this one also.

 

Ex. 5

Exercise 5 - Sound clip

Now we're going to try a exercise moving across one string whilst keeping in key. This is based on C major. We start with a C note and play the first three notes in that scale. Then we go back to the second note and play the next three notes from there.Then we go back to the third...and so forth. Once we've gone up high, we come back down in the opposite direction.

Some guitarists are comfortable playing back and forth across the strings but aren't to comfortable playing horizontally. This exercise is designed to help that.

 

Ex. 6

Exercise 6 - Sound clip

This is based on the previous exercise but we've changed the order on notes again to get your fingers used to playing in different patterns.

 

Ex. 7

Exercise 7 - Sound clip

Now we're back to that E minor scale. You can try this exercise with the major scales also, or any other scale you prefer for that matter. This exercise is for improving our legato technique and stamina. It's similar to the final exercise of the easy fingering lesson, only this time we're playing an actual musical scale.

 

Feel free to use these all these examples with other scales and in other keys. As many as you can think of the better.

 

Key points to remember!

  • Timing is crucial. Dont rush parts and slow down in other parts.
  • Pick as cleanly as possible.
  • Accuracy is the aim of exercises, speed develops secondary from this.