Finger Stretch Workout

author: libertines4ever date: 06/16/2009 category: the basics
rating: 9 / votes: 26 
In this lesson I'm going to show various stretching exercises for fingers of the left hand. I'm going to say what they are good for and what should be watched out for. The first one is a really easy beginner exercise the others are harder to play. Important:
  • To make exercises easier/harder you can play them elsewhere on the fretboard
  • Don't force yourself to do too much at once. Make a break if it hurts too much. It will get easier the next day.
  • If you can play all of these exercises, your fingers are in shape anyway. Exercise No.1: This is the Chromatic Scale, the easiest stretching exercise. I suppose most of you can already play it with ease. But if you have never played single notes, this would be what to start with. It teaches you to use different fingers for different frets, using every single finger. And it teaches the position of the left hand thumb on the neck, which has to be correct (=not all around the neck) otherwise you'll hardly reach the fourth fret. Start at the high e string if you have not done it before as it's the easiest string to play the exercise on. Because you don't have to reach up to the thicker strings, which makes playing harder for beginners.
    e|1-2-3-4--------------------------------------------|
    B|--------1-2-3-4------------------------------------|
    G|----------------1-2-3-4----------------------------|
    D|------------------------1-2-3-4--------------------|
    A|--------------------------------1-2-3-4------------|
    E|----------------------------------------1-2-3-4----|
    Don't lift your fingers after you've played a note, so that you end up with all four fingers on the four frets of the string before you lift your fingers and move to the next string. If you lift a finger before having completed the string it isn't a real stretching exercise anymore. Once you have mastered the fingerings you can play the scale in a steady position. And you can lift fingers and play the scale note by note from high to low increasing the speed. After going through several scales played in one position you will see the same scales played in a wider range and in lots of positions. (Check the lesson "Church Modes") A major:
       i m p   i m p   i m p   i m p   i r  p   i r p
    e|------------------------------------------7-9-10-|
    B|---------------------------------7-9-10----------|
    G|-------------------------6-7-9-------------------|
    D|-----------------6-7-9---------------------------|
    A|---------5-7-9-----------------------------------|
    E|-5-7-9-------------------------------------------|
    G# Locrian:
    e|-------------------------------------5-7-9--|
    B|-----------------------------5-7-9----------|
    G|----------------------4-6-7-----------------|
    D|---------------4-6-7------------------------|
    A|--------4-5-7-------------------------------|
    E|-4-5-7--------------------------------------|
    Notice the parts going over 5 frets? You've got to play them and all you have got are 4 fingers. You have got to play them with the index finger, the middle finger and the pinky. So you are going to need a lot of stretching. Besides just playing the scale up and down you can also do some different exercises. Exercise No.2: This is a classic riff used in many songs. Play this exercise using your index for the E string and your middle/ring and your pinky for the A string. i ... index, m ... middle, r ... ring, p ... pinky
      m m p p m m p p     
      i i i i i i i i     
    e|----------------|            
    B|----------------|
    G|----------------|
    D|----------------|
    A|7-7-9-9-7-7-9-9-|
    E|5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-|
    or:
      r r p p r r p p
      i i i i i i i i 
    e|----------------|            
    B|----------------|
    G|----------------|
    D|----------------|
    A|7-7-9-9-7-7-9-9-|
    E|5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-|
    Practice both. Both versions stretch your pinky, The first gives you more of a middle finger stretch and less pinky stretch. The second gives you a harder pinky stretch than the first. This riff is used in many songs. It is equal to a major chord, the lowest note would be the root. If you're using it for a song, play the version which is easier to play for you. A, D, and E riffs can also be played with open strings in first position to avoid the stretch. For practice use the two stretch versions as said before. If you want an even bigger pinky stretch this would be for you. This exercise is almost impossible to play using your ring finger, so use index, middle and pinky.
    e|------------------------|
    B|------------------------|
    G|------------------------|
    D|------------------------|
    A|7--7--9--9--10-10-9--9--|
    E|5--5--5--5--5--5--5--5--|
    Exercise No.3: In this one there are 4 five-fret approaches. Hasn't necessarily got to be played with hammer-ons and pull-offs, but it does make your hand stronger than if you leave them out. Note that it doesn't start on the 1.
     +  1      2      3      4      1      2      
     
     i  p i m  p m i  p i m  p m i  p i m  p m i
     
    |5--9p5h7-h9p7p5------------------------------|
    |-----------------9p5h7-h9p7p5----------------|
    |-------------------------------9p6h7-h9p7p6--|
    |---------------------------------------------|
    |---------------------------------------------|
    |---------------------------------------------|
     
     3      4      1      2      3      4      1
     
     p i m  p m i  p i m  p m i  p i m  p m i  i
     
    |---------------------------------------------|
    |---------------------------------------------|
    |---------------------------------------------|
    |9p6h7-h9p7p6---------------------------------|
    |--------------9p5h7-h9p7p5-------------------|
    |----------------------------9p5h7-h9p7p5--2---|
    Exercise No.4: Let every note of these shapes ring clearly one by one. Go through them in the given order - the last should be a great relief for your fingers. To improve the stretch move it down a fret or two.
    e|7----6---6---6---6---|
    B|8----8---7---7---7---|
    G|9----9---9---8---8---|
    D|10---10--10--10--9---|
    A|---------------------|
    E|---------------------|
    This exercise above will really improve your chord fingering, because as you can see all the fingers are stretched one by one. This important for chords, especially for several "Jazz chords", as they often use all four fingers and come in very awkward chord shapes. Jazz Chord examples:
    e|-------------------------|
    B|6----8----1----5---------|
    G|5----9----2----4---------|
    D|3----7----3----3---------|
    A|5----x----x----x---------|
    E|-----8----3----3---------|
    Those are just a few jazz chord examples. There also are lots of non-jazzy chord voicings which need flexible fingers too. The exercises should be helpful for chord fingering in general. Despite all the exercises you have still got to practice chord-changing. Hope you enjoyed my lesson.
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