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Beginner 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! You won't improve if you're hurting yourself, you'll just be punishing yourself for no reason. Come back to it later when you're feeling 100%.

Ex. 1

Exercise 1 - Sound clip

This is a very simple exercise used the world over. It's used to build stamina, accuracy and also as a warm up. It goes down from the low E to the top e, then moves along one fret and goes back up backwards. Try playing this lesson picking each note and also using hammers going down, and pull offs coming back up.

Concentrate on playing evenly and in time. When playing with hammers and pull offs it's more difficult to stay in time.

Feel free to continue the exercise along the neck moving along one fret each time you come back up and down the strings.

This exercise is intended purely as a exercise. Musically it sounds awful so do your friends, family and neighbours a favour and turn the amp down low when playing this!

 

Ex.2

Exercise 2 - Sound clip

This example is very similar to the previous. The only difference is we've switched the order of the notes. This is to train our fingers to move in different patterns and not to get to comfortable only being able to move our fingers in one direction. You may be surprised to find this exercise is much more difficult than the previous, this may be because your little finger isn't used to playing after your second finger and it may feel awkward moving your third finger after your little finger.

Some guitarists only feel comfortable moving their third and fourth fingers when following and anchored by the first finger. This type of exercise is designed to break that dependence.

As you can see it's easy to modify the first example to create new exercises.

 

Ex. 3

Exercise 3 - Sound clip

This exercise is even more tough. This time instead of starting with the first finger we're starting with the fourth finger. Starting playing with the first finger and anchoring with the first finger comes most natural to many guitarists. This exercise is designed to help you be able to break from that habit when required.

 

Ex. 4

Exercise 4 - Sound clip

Now we're making you play each four note group along two strings. Playing all kinds of songs in all styles of music will require you to be comfortable playing all four fingers jumping to and from strings. This exercise is designed to help you get used to this.

 

Ex. 5

Exercise 5 - Sound clip

This follows on from the previous exercise but we've switched the order of the notes. Starting from the little finger should prove more difficult.

 

Ex. 6

Exercise6 - Sound clip

This exercise uses hammers and pull offs. Because we're picking less we need to make sure we're making firm contact. This exercise is designed to improve the stamina of all four fingers as well as your legato. If you haven't already, have a look at the legato lesson for tips and a full explanation on playing hammers and pull offs.

 

Feel free to invent and modify these examples to create your own exercises.

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.