Pre-Playing Warm-ups

In this lesson, I am going to put some exercises that I do before practicing, or doing a gig. These will include hammer ons and pull offs, string skipping scales (try saying that 5 times fast!), and detailed instruction on which fingers to use. Hope you like it!

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So basically what I do before playing everyday is these quick little exercises to build finger strength and alternate picking skills. Most of the scales I put on here are nothing special, actually, you can pretty much start them wherever you like. Most don't usually sound so good since there is no rhyme or reason to the notes you hit, but these scales serve a purpose. They are patterns to build up skills for quick riffs and soloing.

First what I am going to put down here are basic up and down scale motions. Note which fingers to use (this is critical in order to strengthen all fingers).

Note: For every scale from now on, try doing it by using hammer ons and pull offs after you do it the way shown. Also, always use alternate picking.

Use Index and Middle Fingers here

e-|------------------------1-2-1------------------------|
B-|--------------------1-2-------2-1--------------------|
G-|----------------1-2---------------2-1----------------|
D-|------------1-2-----------------------2-1------------|
A-|--------1-2-------------------------------2-1--------|
E-|----1-2---------------------------------------2-1----|

Use Middle and Ring Fingers here

e-|------------------------2-3-2------------------------|
B-|--------------------2-3-------3-2--------------------|
G-|----------------2-3---------------3-2----------------|
D-|------------2-3-----------------------3-2------------|
A-|--------2-3-------------------------------3-2--------|
E-|----2-3---------------------------------------3-2----|

Use Ring and Pinky here

e-|------------------------3-4-3------------------------|
B-|--------------------3-4-------4-3--------------------|
G-|----------------3-4---------------4-3----------------|
D-|------------3-4-----------------------4-3------------|
A-|--------3-4-------------------------------4-3--------|
E-|----3-4---------------------------------------4-3----|

Alright, now let's start to switch around fingers, shall we?

Use Index and Ring Fingers here

e-|------------------------1-3-1------------------------|
B-|--------------------1-3-------3-1--------------------|
G-|----------------1-3---------------3-1----------------|
D-|------------1-3-----------------------3-1------------|
A-|--------1-3-------------------------------3-1--------|
E-|----1-3---------------------------------------3-1----|

Use Middle and Pinky here

e-|------------------------2-4-2------------------------|
B-|--------------------2-4-------4-2--------------------|
G-|----------------2-4---------------4-2----------------|
D-|------------2-4-----------------------4-2------------|
A-|--------2-4-------------------------------4-2--------|
E-|----2-4---------------------------------------4-2----|

Use Index and Pinky here

e-|------------------------1-4-1------------------------|
B-|--------------------1-4-------4-1--------------------|
G-|----------------1-4---------------4-1----------------|
D-|------------1-4-----------------------4-1------------|
A-|--------1-4-------------------------------4-1--------|
E-|----1-4---------------------------------------4-1----|
You can also try stretching those fingers to farther frets like so...

Use Index and Pinky again

e-|------------------------1-5-1------------------------|
B-|--------------------1-5-------5-1--------------------|
G-|----------------1-5---------------5-1----------------|
D-|------------1-5-----------------------5-1------------|
A-|--------1-5-------------------------------5-1--------|
E-|----1-5---------------------------------------5-1----|
Start mixing these combinations and playing them on higher frets to get better at soloing

Use Index and Ring on the 1&3's: Middle and pinky on 2&4's

e-|------------------------2-4-2------------------------|
B-|--------------------1-3-------3-1--------------------|
G-|----------------2-4---------------4-2----------------|
D-|------------1-3-----------------------3-1------------|
A-|--------2-4-------------------------------4-2--------|
E-|----1-3---------------------------------------3-1----|

 Use Index and Pinky on 1&4's: Middle and Index on 2&3's

e-|------------------------2-3-2------------------------|
B-|--------------------1-4-------4-1--------------------|
G-|----------------2-3---------------3-2----------------|
D-|------------1-4-----------------------4-1------------|
A-|--------2-3-------------------------------3-2--------|
E-|----1-4---------------------------------------4-1----|
Start making your own too! There doesn't have to be a specific pattern to follow every time; however, make sure you use all four fingers for the best results.

Now let's try skipping strings. Instead of just going to the next string, let's jump one!

 Use Index and Ring Fingers

e-|-----------------------------------------------------|
B-|--------------1-3-1----------------------------------|
G-|-----------------------------------------------------|
D-|---------1-3---------3-1-----------------------------|
A-|-----------------------------------------------------|
E-|----1-3-------------------3-1------------------------|
This should improve your accuracy with alternate picking. Let's try some more.

Use Middle and Pinky

e-|-----------------------------------------------------|
B-|--------------2-4-2----------------------------------|
G-|-----------------------------------------------------|
D-|---------2-4---------4-2-----------------------------|
A-|-----------------------------------------------------|
E-|----2-4-------------------4-2------------------------|

 Use Index and Pinky

e-|-----------------------------------------------------|
B-|--------------1-4-1----------------------------------|
G-|-----------------------------------------------------|
D-|---------1-4---------4-1-----------------------------|
A-|-----------------------------------------------------|
E-|----1-4-------------------4-1------------------------|
Try some different strings

Use Index and Ring Fingers

e-|--------------1-3-1----------------------------------|
B-|-----------------------------------------------------|
G-|---------1-3---------3-1-----------------------------|
D-|-----------------------------------------------------|
A-|----1-3-------------------3-1------------------------|
E-|-----------------------------------------------------|
Ok, ok you get the point. Try using all of the patterns so far and skip around with them. As you probably know, songs don't always have notes on the string directly next to the one you are already on.

Also, think about trying to stretch up to higher notes and using more than two notes with these same patterns like so...

1=Index 2=Middle 3=Ring 4=Pinky

e-|------------------------------2-4-2------------------------------|
B-|------------------------1-3-5-------5-3-1------------------------|
G-|--------------------2-4-------------------4-2--------------------|
D-|--------------1-3-5---------------------------5-3-1--------------|
A-|----------2-4---------------------------------------4-2----------|
E-|----1-3-5-----------------------------------------------5-3-1----|
You obviously get the point if you've continued reading my text up until now. Note that you can start these patterns on any fret.

For example: If you would like to practice soloing on the higher frets, you could take one of the above patterns and start it around the 12th fret or higher. Try these...

12=Index 13=Middle 14=Ring 15=Pinky

e-|-------------------------------13-15-13-------------------------------|
B-|-------------------------12-14----------14-12-------------------------|
G-|-------------------13-15----------------------15-13-------------------|
D-|-------------12-14----------------------------------14-12-------------|
A-|-------13-15----------------------------------------------15-13-------|
E-|-12-14----------------------------------------------------------14-12-|

12=Index 13=Middle 14=Ring 15=Pinky

e-|-------------------------------12-14-12-------------------------------|
B-|-------------------------13-15----------15-13-------------------------|
G-|-------------------12-14----------------------14-12-------------------|
D-|-------------13-15----------------------------------15-13-------------|
A-|-------12-14----------------------------------------------14-12-------|
E-|-13-15----------------------------------------------------------15-13-|

If you are an extremely serious soloist, then try starting the two above patterns on the 15 or even the 17th frets! As you do them more and more, try and speed up the tempo.

Another warm up I use, especially for soloing, is the Em Pentatonic scale. I'll jot it down here for ya:

Em Pentatonic: 12=Index 14=Ring 15=Pinky

e-|--------------------------------12-15-12--------------------------------|
B-|--------------------------12-15----------15-12--------------------------|
G-|--------------------12-14----------------------14-12--------------------|
D-|--------------12-14----------------------------------14-12--------------|
A-|--------12-14----------------------------------------------14-12--------|
E-|--12-15----------------------------------------------------------15-12--|
So basically, that's how I start playing guitar before I get into all the other stuff like songs and such. You don't have to do any of this exactly how I wrote it; I just want to give you and idea of how I warm up and show you ways to build dexterity, speed, and strength in your fingers. Another way to practice these techniques is by taking small sections of solos or riffs from your favorite songs and learning those, or even using them as warm ups. I hope you enjoyed, and hopefully learned something from this lesson!

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Ckaliban
    Not only are these good exercises for the fingers, but it's good for hand/eye coordination!
    lectrician
    Seriously. I would say learn all your major keys in position 1 and use those as your warm up instead. They really give me good workout and get my fingers rollin pretty good. And then of course if you know what key a song is in you know all the notes that go with it in position 1 and 13. It's a really good start for beginners to learn melody and scale for soloing.
    progrock
    pretty good... I understand this is designed for alternate picking and finger strength but there are some other warmups that really increase left hand accuracy and independence, which is really more for classical guitar. For its purpose, the article covers the stuff well. 10*'s
    420ismybday
    wow. this is some powerful $hit did you blog this stuff privetively....O's & A's not oats.
    Babio
    Was just noodling around for some different warm-ups & found this treasure. -Thanks!!
    David Blackbird
    Also, this lesson isn't about scales so much as finger stregnth... and finger stregnth is more important than scales. Good job, A3r0sm1th
    Blas3
    A3r0sm1th wrote: Wow...I submited this over 5 months ago
    I think they work fast at UG or just left this over a bottle of vodka.... BTW, nice excercises!
    classicrockboy
    nice one dude. i tried doing these while reading and i sucked. haha. guess i should practice this. i rarely ever use my pinky except for chords. i need to build strength in my pinky and ring fingers. thanks! 5*'s
    A3r0sm1th
    Yes but to me, there are plenty of lessons on scales. The point to this lesson is strictly finger dexterity and speed build up...there are tons of other people who have already done the scale lessons.
    frethappy
    I appreciate the work that A3r0sm1th put into this lesson, but.... This can help you play random notes faster, but why waste your time warming up with something that you can not apply? Learn some real scales that use 3 notes (fingers) per string... otherwise you will need to learn the scales later anyway. If you are going to play 2 notes per string learn the A Minor Pentatonic Scale 5---8 5---8 5---7 5---7 5---7 5---8
    A3r0sm1th
    Hey thanks man! Yeah my little pinky is weak too, but I've been told to try and work with it more