Finger Strength

author: sqrrloncrack date: 10/11/2010 category: the basics
rating: 8.1 / votes: 26 
So fellow guitar players, this lesson will be all about different finger exercises to build finger strength in all 4 left hand fingers. These will also be good for building coordination between your picking hand and fretting hand. A few things before we begin, however: 1) Use a metronome when practicing these. I cannot stress enough the benefits of using a metronome. Having that steady tempo really forces you to focus on playing in time and gives you a great backing to build technical skills and speed. 2) Don't try to fly through these at lightning speeds. Start of slow, and be accurate. If you start noticing that your notes aren't ringing clearly or you are going out of time, slow down a bit and work your way back up. Speed comes with accuracy. I've seen many guitar players forget about that. 3) Don't numb yourself with drills and finger exercises. Break up your practice time with other things. Play some songs, write some riffs. Don't bore yourself. OK so let's get down to business.. These first few exersizes are spinoffs of your typical chormatic patterns.
EX1
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------1-------1-2-----1-2-3---1-2-3-4-
---------1-------1-2-----1-2-3---1-2-3-4---2-3-4-----3-4-------4---------
-1-2-3-4---2-3-4-----3-4-------4-----------------------------------------
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------1-------
---------------------------------1-------1-2-----1-2-3---1-2-3-4---2-3-4-
-1-------1-2-----1-2-3---1-2-3-4---2-3-4-----3-4-------4-----------------
---2-3-4-----3-4-------4-------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
1-2-----1-2-3---1-2-3-4-
----3-4-------4---------
------------------------
------------------------
------------------------
------------------------
To do that descending, just follow the pattern backwards
EX2
-------------------------------------------------------------1-2-1-3-1-4-
-------------------------------------------------1-2-1-3-1-4-------------
-------------------------------------1-2-1-3-1-4-------------------------
-------------------------1-2-1-3-1-4-------------------------------------
-------------1-2-1-3-1-4-------------------------------------------------
-1-2-1-3-1-4-------------------------------------------------------------
 
-4-3-4-2-4-1-------------------------------------------------------------
-------------4-3-4-2-4-1-------------------------------------------------
-------------------------4-3-4-2-4-1-------------------------------------
-------------------------------------4-3-4-2-4-1-------------------------
-------------------------------------------------4-3-4-2-4-1-------------
-------------------------------------------------------------4-3-4-2-4-1-
 
EX3
 
-----------------------------------------4-3-2-1-
---------------------------------1-2-3-4---------
-------------------------4-3-2-1-----------------
-----------------1-2-3-4-------------------------
---------4-3-2-1---------------------------------
-1-2-3-4-----------------------------------------
 
-1-2-3-4
---------4-3-2-1---------------------------------
-----------------1-2-3-4-------------------------
-------------------------4-3-2-1-----------------
---------------------------------1-2-3-4---------
-----------------------------------------4-3-2-1-
 
EX4
 
-----------------------------------2---4-4---2-----------------------------------
---------------------------2---4-1---3-----3---1-4---2---------------------------
-------------------2---4-1---3---------------------3---1-4---2-------------------
-----------2---4-1---3-------------------------------------3---1-4---2-----------
---2---4-1---3-----------------------------------------------------3---1-4---2---
-1---3---------------------------------------------------------------------3---1-
These next part of my lesson does not require tabs. Individual finger strength is something that a lot of guitarists seem to overlook. I have found a few different things that really help build individual finger strength and independence. These will also help you with control. Trills Trills are an awesome way to focus on specific fingers. Do trills between your first and second finger, first and third, and first and fourth. For a harder challenge, do trills between your second and third, and second and fourth fingers. If you really want to get your fourth finger working, do some trills between your third and fourth finger. Start off slowly, and gradually build up speed. Pressure And Control Here's a great exercise to bring into perspective how tense you are while playing without even noticing. Pick a fret, any fret will do on any string. Now mute the string with your finger and slowly apply pressure until you hear the note ring out clearly. Notice how light you are pressing? Try playing through some chromatic exercises and scales without pressing any harder than that. It takes some concentration doesn't it? An important part of finger strength is being able to control how hard you are pressing down on the fretboard. Having that control enables you to apply many different expressions to your playing. Metronome Again, I cannot express how working with a metronome can help you. Just use one. It is important to note that when you increase your tempo on a metronome, not to increase it by too much. You can overload yourself and get frustrated easily if you do so. Yes, it will take a while, but it will be well worth it in the long run when you can play through a phrase at 200 bpm smoothly. When increasing, try not to increase more than 4-6 bpm at a time. I stick to 4, just because it's a good number for me. All in all, just experiment and find things that work for you. You can take any chromatic pattern and change it to make it more difficult. Instead of 1-2-3-4 try 1-3-2-4 or any other variation. You can even try string skipping, or changing the pattern on each individual string. The possibilities really are endless. Thank you for taking the time to read through this. Hopefully these exercises help you as much as hey helped me. Message me for any questions. Feedback is appreciated!
More sqrrloncrack lessons:
+ All About Scales. Part 2 - Building The Major Scale Scales 05/11/2012
+ All About Scales. Part 1 - The Chromatic Scale Scales 04/02/2012
+ Intervals In Depth The Basics 01/12/2012
+ Breaking Down The Wall Of Writer's Block Songwriting & Lyrics 10/07/2011
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