alright i was wondering if there was any type of exercise that one could do to build finger speed/coordination/etc...without a guitar. the reason i ask this is because i's currently a student and i was wondering if there was anything that i could do while i was doing nothing in my classes. a while ago somebody told me that if you tap your fingers in different patterns on the table that can benefit your guitar playing as far as coordination. i don't know if hes just full of b.s. or what. any thoughts?

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I go through guitar parts in my head.. that actually helps me remember things.
Also if I'm learning a song from a particular band, I listen to that song during the day I play it...
A squeezy ball helps build strength and the taping your fingers works the same way you practice chromatic warm-ups. Think of your fret finger as 1-4, then do all the possible patterns, 1-2-3-4, 4-3-2-1, 1-2-4-3, etc, etc. It will help with the stretching and you could practice the same patterns with something in your hand like the fretboard. Even a cell phone in your hand would work.
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At my local music store they sell squeezy balls and they also have a finger exersizer made specifically for guitar players. Its $10, I'll post a pic or link if I can...
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Make a replica of your guitar neck out of cardboard and draw the frets and strings as accurately as possible. I made mine up to the 12th fret, but if you have to be a little more discreet, about 5 or 6 frets is really all you need. Use it to practice scales, arpeggios, fretboard notes, stretching, finger independence, pretty much anything for your fretting hand. "I'll look stupid with that" you may be saying. Who gives a f#@k what anybody else thinks. They'll look stupid bowing down to your guitar greatness!

If that doesn't work for you, just take your pick with you and practice upstrokes on the seam of your jeans.
If you learn how to use a computer keyboard properly (touch typing) then that'll help build all your fingers and both thumbs.

I sometimes lay my hand flat on my desk and just try moving my fingers independently, focusing most of the attention on my ring finger as that seems to be the weakest. Just try lifting index, middle, ring, pinky, then try index, ring, middle, pinky, etc. Mix it up and work them all or just try lifting one finger 10 times and then try another finger. You can get a stress ball of one of those finger muscle building contraptions too (though i've heard they're quite flimsy and break pretty quick).

Strength in your arms and shoulders is also important, try doing some push ups or lifting some weights or something; if you've ever tried playing your guitar in the air you may find that it's difficult to lift it and keep it in place while you play. Get buff and the guitar will feel lighter, thus allowing you more freedom to get your shred on.
Last edited by Calibos at Dec 2, 2009,
There's not really anything that will benefit you in any great way - there are two things that are crucial when practicing guitar.

Your "touch" - the way you physically interact with it, fretting the strings with the right pressure so they don't go sharp or go out of tune, planting your finger directly where you want it to go without hitting other strings, bending precisely and smoothly, picking the right string(s) without hitting others, deftly muting nearbly strings to prevent sympathetic vibrations.

Synchronisation - your ability to use both hands together, controlled and in time so you pick and fret simultaneously with no doubled notes or unwanted hammer-ons.

Those are the most important things to focus on when practicing, and it's impossible to work on them without a guitar. Things like stress balls and gripmasters are utter bollocks, strength isn't much of an issue when playing guitar, what matters is dexterity, finger independence and control. To that end tapping out patterns on a desk can help towards loosening things up a bit but that's about as far as it goes.
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