Fingerpicking Right Hand Strength

author: chris flatley date: 11/16/2009 category: guitar techniques
rating: 9.6 / votes: 29 
The following exercises are for the right hand only. The left hand isn't involved at all. So these exercises will not only strengthen your right hand but will also help develop your mental stamina. So if you haven't already, you really need to work on banishing that nagging little voice that is always trying to talk you into doing something less taxing and more enjoyable. I find that practicing technical exercises at the same time every day causes the mind to accept the inevitability of things and so it stops trying to rebel. For all of the following exercises, the thumb will be responsible for the 6th(E), 5th(A), and 4th(D) strings. And fingers 1, 2 and 3 will be responsible for the 3rd(G), 2nd(B) and 1st(e) strings respectively. The exercises are based on six permutations for the 3 fingers, and 6 for the thumb. These permutations ensure that your thumb and fingers get an all round work out. The permutations are as follows: Bass Permutations (thumb)
PermStringNote
16 5 4   E A D
26 4 5E D A
35 6 4A E D
45 4 6A D E
54 6 5 D E A
64 5 6 D A E
Treble Permutations (fingers)
PermStringNote
13 2 1G B e
23 1 2G e B
32 3 1B G e
42 1 3B e G
51 3 2e G B
61 2 3e B G

Exercises

Set.1
[Ex.1] 
6 3 2 1 - 5 3 2 1 - 4 3 2 1

[Ex.2] 
6 3 1 2 - 5 3 1 2 - 4 3 1 2

[Ex.3] 
6 2 3 1 - 5 2 3 1 - 4 2 3 1

[Ex.4] 
6 2 1 3 - 5 2 1 3 - 4 2 1 3

[Ex.5] 
6 1 3 2 - 5 1 3 2 - 4 1 3 2

[Ex.6] 
6 1 2 3 - 5 1 2 3 - 4 1 2 3
As you can see from the first set of exercises, we have played all 6 of the treble permutations interspersed with bass perm 1 (6 5 4). For example:
[Ex.1] (6) 3 2 1 - (5) 3 2 1 - (4) 3 2 1
To create the next group of 6 exercises, replace bass perm 1 (6 5 4) with bass perm 2 (6 4 5)
[Ex.7] (6) 3 2 1 - (4) 3 2 1 - (5) 3 2 1
And play through the 6 treble permutations now interspersed with bass perm 2. Continue in this way until you complete the 6 bass perms. This will create a total of 36 exercises. Even playing these exercises slowly and carefully should take little time to complete. Never let accuracy suffer because of timing and tempo; ; accuracy first, timing second, tempo third. Get into the habit of stopping, relaxing and repeating the exercise more slowly and carefully whenever you make a mistake. Never blunder through technical exercises at speed in the belief that if you cram more in you'll progress quicker. WRONG WRONG WRONG! Set.2 (bass notes have been bracketed)
[Ex.1] 
(6) 3 (5) 2 (4) 1 - (6) 3 (5) 1 (4) 2 - (6) 2 (5) 3 (4) 1
(6) 2 (5) 1 (4) 3 - (6) 1 (5) 3 (4) 2 - (6) 1 (5) 2 (4) 3
To creat the other 5 exercises of set.2 simply replace the bass notes with perms 2 through 6. Set.3 Set.3 involves playing pairs of strings simultaneously. These string pairs have been placed in brackets.
[Ex.1] 
(6 3) (5 2) (4 1) - (6 3) (5 1) (4 2) - (6 2) (5 3) (4 1)
(6 2) (5 1) (4 3) - (6 1) (5 3) (4 2) - (6 1) (5 2) (4 3)
Again, we have interspersed the 6 treble perms with bass perm 1. So to complete the set, simply replace bass perm 1 with perms 2-6. Hopefully that was clear enough to understand but just in case, here's a tab of a few of the exercises for anyone who might be unsure of how to play them.
SET.1
 [Ex.1]                   [Ex.2]
|------0-------0-------0-|----0-------0-------0---|
|----0-------0-------0---|------0-------0-------0-|
|--0-------0-------0-----|--0-------0-------0-----|
|----------------0-------|----------------0-------|
|--------0---------------|--------0---------------|
|0-----------------------|0-----------------------|

 [Ex.3]                   [Ex.4] 
|------0-------0-------0-|----0-------0-------0---|
|--0-------0-------0-----|--0-------0-------0-----|
|----0-------0-------0---|------0-------0-------0-|
|----------------0-------|----------------0-------|
|--------0---------------|--------0---------------|
|0-----------------------|0-----------------------|

 [Ex.5]                   [Ex.6]
|--0-------0-------0-----|--0-------0-------0-----|
|------0-------0-------0-|----0-------0-------0---|
|----0-------0-------0---|------0-------0-------0-|
|----------------0-------|----------------0-------|
|--------0---------------|--------0---------------|
|0-----------------------|0-----------------------|

 [Ex.31]                  [Ex.32]
|------0-------0-------0-|----0-------0-------0---|
|----0-------0-------0---|------0-------0-------0-|
|--0-------0-------0-----|--0-------0-------0-----|
|0-----------------------|0-----------------------|
|--------0---------------|--------0---------------|
|----------------0-------|----------------0-------|

 [Ex.33]                  [Ex.34]
|------0-------0-------0-|----0-------0-------0---|
|--0-------0-------0-----|--0-------0-------0-----|
|----0-------0-------0---|------0-------0-------0-|
|0-----------------------|0-----------------------|
|--------0---------------|--------0---------------|
|----------------0-------|----------------0-------|

 [Ex.35]                  [Ex.36]
|--0-------0-------0-----|--0-------0-------0-----|
|------0-------0-------0-|----0-------0-------0---|
|----0-------0-------0---|------0-------0-------0-|
|0-----------------------|0-----------------------|
|--------0---------------|--------0---------------|
|----------------0-------|----------------0-------|

SET.2
 [Ex.1]
|----------0-|------0-----|----------0-|------0-----|
|------0-----|----------0-|--0---------|--0---------|
|--0---------|--0---------|------0-----|----------0-|
|--------0---|--------0---|--------0---|--------0---|
|----0-------|----0-------|----0-------|----0-------|
|0-----------|0-----------|0-----------|0-----------|

|--0---------|--0---------|
|----------0-|------0-----|
|------0-----|----------0-|
|--------0---|--------0---|
|----0-------|----0-------|
|0-----------|0-----------|

SET.3 
[EX.1]
|----0-|--0---|----0-|--0---|0-----|0-----|
|--0---|----0-|0-----|0-----|----0-|--0---|
|0-----|0-----|--0---|----0-|--0---|----0-|
|----0-|----0-|----0-|----0-|----0-|----0-|
|--0---|--0---|--0---|--0---|--0---|--0---|
|0-----|0-----|0-----|0-----|0-----|0-----|
 
 [Ex.6]
|----0-|--0---|----0-|--0---|0-----|0-----|
|--0---|----0-|0-----|0-----|----0-|--0---|
|0-----|0-----|--0---|----0-|--0---|----0-|
|0-----|0-----|0-----|0-----|0-----|0-----|
|--0---|--0---|--0---|--0---|--0---|--0---|
|----0-|----0-|----0-|----0-|----0-|----0-|
Tip: I prefer to mute off the strings by placing a cloth up behind them. This is a strength exercise and not a musical one so there's no need to have all those strings ringing out. As long as there's enough tone to be able to distinguish the different strings it's fine. It also makes things a little easier not to have all those strings vibrating so much. And with the sound damped you wont drive your family nuts. Final Thought: If you want to train a dog not to pull on the leash, you need to stop walking whenever the dog pulls ahead. Pull the dog back to your side and wait a few seconds. Continue walking. As soon as the dog pulls ahead, repeat the above steps. The dog will eventually learn that the quickest way to the park is to trot calmly by it's master's side. If you want to meet your musical goals, don't strain at the leash!
More chris flatley lessons:
+ Improving General Rhythmic Coordination For Beginners 12/04/2012
+ Relieving Fretting Hand Tension Correct Practice 08/01/2012
+ Useful Exercises For Chicago Blues And Old School Rock Soloing 07/30/2012
+ Picking And Fretting Fundamentals Correct Practice 07/17/2012
+ How Well Do You Know Your Stuff? Correct Practice 06/29/2012
+ A Simple Blues Lesson Soloing 05/04/2012
+ view all
Comments
Your captcha is incorrect