4 Finger Exercise

author: kingkill_33 date: 04/07/2009 category: the basics
rating: 7.6 / votes: 19 
I have been playing guitar now for 6 years & having no lessons I have picked up some pretty bad habits, one of which is that I have only ever been using 3 fingers to play & not using my pinky. So I decided I wanted to ditch this bad habit and came up with a simple routine that I try to play every day to get used to using all 4 fingers. I would say just downpick at first as the main aim is to get used to using all 4 fingers, once you are accurate then try to play each pattern with alternate picking. Pattern 1. - Repeat until you can play every note comfortably.
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------4-------5-------6-------7-------8-------9-------10--------11-------|
|-----3-------4-------5-------6-------7-------8-------9--------10----------|
|---2-------3-------4-------5-------6-------7-------8--------9-------------|
|-1-------2-------3-------4-------5-------6-------7--------8---------------|

|----------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------|
|---------12----------13----------14----------15-----|
|------11----------12----------13----------14--------|
|---10----------11----------12----------13-----------|
|-9----------10----------11----------12--------------|
Pattern 2. - Same as Pattern 1 but with descending parts added.
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------4-1-------------5-2-------------6-3-------------7-4----------------|
|-----3-----2---------4-----3---------5-----4---------6-----5--------------|
|---2---------3-----3---------4-----4---------5-----5---------6------------|
|-1-------------4-2-------------5-3-------------6-4-------------7----------|

|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------8-5-------------9-6-------------10-7---------------11-8------------|
|-----7-----6---------8-----7---------9------8----------10------9----------|
|---6---------7-----7---------8-----8----------9------9-----------10-------|
|-5-------------8-6-------------9-7--------------10-8----------------11----|

|------------------------|
|------------------------|
|---------12-9-----------|
|------11------10--------|
|---10------------11-----|
|-9------------------12--|
Pattern 3. - Descending on the high strings, start with the pinky!
|-12-11-10-9-----------10-9-8-7---------8-7-6-5---------6-5-4-3------------|
|------------11-10-9-8----------9-8-7-6---------7-6-5-4---------5-4-3-2----|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|

|-4-3-2-1--|
|----------|
|----------|
|----------|
|----------|
|----------|
Pattern 4. - Descending from the high E.
|-1-------2-------3-------4-------5-------6-------7--------8---------------|
|---2-------3-------4-------5-------6-------7-------8--------9-------------|
|-----3-------4-------5-------6-------7-------8-------9--------10----------|
|-------4-------5-------6-------7-------8-------9-------10--------11-------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|

|-9----------10----------11----------12------------|
|---10----------11----------12----------13---------|
|------11----------12----------13----------14------|
|---------12----------13----------14----------15---|
|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|
Pattern 5. - Alternating fingers, get used to the pattern then speed up.
|-----------------------------------------6-8-7-9--|
|---------------------------------5-7-6-8----------|
|-------------------------4-6-5-7------------------|
|-----------------3-5-4-6--------------------------|
|---------2-4-3-5----------------------------------|
|-1-3-2-4------------------------------------------|

And now back down again

|-9-7-8-6------------------------------------------|
|---------8-6-7-5----------------------------------|
|-----------------7-5-6-4--------------------------|
|-------------------------6-4-5-3------------------|
|---------------------------------5-3-4-2----------|
|-----------------------------------------4-2-3-1--|
That's about it for now, if you practise these simple patterns often you will get more speed & accuracy with all 4 fingers and it should also build strength in your pinky. Remember you don't want to strain yourself so if you start to cramp up take a few minutes to relax then when you are comfortable start where you left off. It will help to play with a metronome to keep a steady rhythm, if you don't have one then you can use an online metronome here. Remember to enjoy your guitar playing & this may seem boring now, but once your technique is strong you will enjoy your playing a lot more!
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