Exercises For Beginners

Things you can do to build up your initial finger strength, dexterity and become acclimated to the instrument.

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I'm gonna start right here with the basics. Certain excerises and tips to help you become a proficient guitarist in no time! The purpose of this exercise is to stretch out your hand, build the callouses on the tips of your fingers, and build up your finger strength. One thing to keep in mind while doing these is that you'll have a natural tendency to bend at your wrist to reach the notes on the low E string, and probably the A and D strings. You should try to avoid doing this because it prevents your hand from fully stretching out and, more importantly, bending your wrist and repeatedy finger movements puts unnecessary strain on your wrists and could ultimately lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. A few notes before we get into it: -make sure you understand tablature -know that above the tabs I may indicate which finger you are to use on each fret(1=index, 2=middle, 3=ring, 4=pinky) For this first exercise, what you will do is simply pluck each fret starting in first position, then second, third, fourth, and fifth ascending and descending. As you are doing so, be sure to keep your index finger down as you ascend to ensure that your hand begins to stretch out. While doing this exercise be sure that you are alternate picking (using an "up/down" motion when picking the strings). The purpose of this exercise is to stretch out your hand, build the callouses on the tips of your fingers, and build up your finger strength.
   1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 3 2 1 4 3 2 1 4 3 2 1 
e|-----------------------------------------1-2-3-4-3-2-1-------------------|
B|---------------------------------1-2-3-4---------------4-3-2-1-----------|
G|-------------------------1-2-3-4-------------------------------4-3-2-1---|
D|-----------------1-2-3-4-------------------------------------------------|
A|---------1-2-3-4---------------------------------------------------------|
E|-1-2-3-4-----------------------------------------------------------------|

   4 3 2 1 4 3 2 1 4 3 2 1 
e|-------------------------|
B|-------------------------|
G|-------------------------|
D|-4-3-2-1-----------------|
A|---------4-3-2-1---------|
E|-----------------4-3-2-1-|
Now do the same pattern and fingering beginning at the second fret, then third, fourth and fifth. The second exercise I have is one to aid in moving up and down the fret board with increased accuracy. Notice the different pattern on the string, this means you will have to raise your ring finger to play the second fret notes. Again, alternate pick.
   1 3 2 4 1 3 2 4 1 3 2 4 1 3 2 4 1 3 2 4 1 3 2 4 1 3 2 4 1 3 2 4 2 3 1 
e|---------------------------------------------------------1-3-2-4-2-3-1---|
B|-----------------------------------------1-3-2-4-------------------------|
G|-------------------------1-3-2-4-----------------1-3-2-4-----------------|
D|---------1-3-2-4-----------------1-3-2-4---------------------------------|
A|-----------------1-3-2-4-------------------------------------------------|
E|-1-3-2-4-----------------------------------------------------------------|

   4 2 3 1 4 2 3 1 4 2 3 1 4 2 3 1 4 2 3 1 4 2 3 1 4 2 3 1
e|----------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------4-2-3-1------------------------------------------|
G|-4-2-3-1-----------------4-2-3-1--------------------------|
D|-----------------4-2-3-1-----------------4-2-3-1----------|
A|---------------------------------4-2-3-1------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------4-2-3-1--|
Once again, do the same pattern and fingering beginning at the second fret, then third, fourth and fifth. This third exercise will work on the dexterity and agility moving along the neck of the guitar. Beginning at the first fret work your way one full octave (12 frets) up the neck using alternate picking.
   1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4 1 2 4
e|-------1-2-4-------2-3-5-------3-4-6-------4-5-7-------5-6-8-------6-7-9-|
B|-1-2-4-------2-3-5-------3-4-6-------4-5-7-------5-6-8-------6-7-9-------|
G|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
 
   1 2 4  1 2 4  1 2 4  1 2 4  1 2  4  1 2  4  1  2  4  1  2  4  1  2  4
e|--------7-8-10--------8-9-11---------9-10-12----------10-11-13-----------|
B|-7-8-10--------8-9-11--------9-10-12---------10-11-13----------11-12-14--|
G|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
 
   1  2  4  1  2  4  1  2  4  1  2  4  1  2  4
e|-11-12-14----------12-13-15----------13-14-16---|
B|----------12-13-15----------13-14-16------------|
G|------------------------------------------------|
D|------------------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------|
And descending:
    4  2  1  4  2  1  4  2  1  4  2  1  4  2  1  4  2  1  4  2  1  4  2  1
e|--16-14-13----------15-13-12----------14-12-11----------13-11-10---------|
B|-----------16-14-13----------15-13-12----------14-12-11----------13-11-10|
G|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
 
    4  2  1 4  2  1 4  2 1 4  2 1 4  2 1 4  2 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 
e|--12-10-9---------11-9-8--------10-8-7--------9-7-6-------8-6-5----------|
B|----------12-10-9--------11-9-8--------10-8-7-------9-7-6-------8-6-5----|
G|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
 
   4 2 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 4 2 1 4 2 1
e|-7-5-4-------6-4-3-------5-3-2-------4-2-1----------|
B|-------7-5-4-------6-4-3-------5-3-2-------4-2-1----|
G|----------------------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------------------|
These are some good exercises to get your fingers ready to rule the neck of the guitar, even now I still use them as a warm up before any intense practice sessions.

24 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    MatuK
    Is it not recommended to use finger 1,2 & 3 once I've gone over the 12've fret? I am a begginer and I am not sure if I should try correcting that, but after the 12ve fret I can jump two frets without needed to jump a finger. (Not sure its clear). Anyway, thanks for the lesson!
    Darkangelseyes
    I am having trouble understand finger position and even the first line of what he is trying to explain Can anyone possibly link a youtube video for proper beginner usage? when I say I'm new to all this I mean I'm really new lol, but I am eager to learn to if anyone doesnt mind helping it's greatly appreciated
    kellsywells
    hi - cant wait to try this. Ive just invested in a Taylor 314ce today and i cant wait to spend every second getting better and better - this is so helpful
    tesop
    Thanks for the great lesson idea. For those of us that are needing a visual complement, here's a youtube video that will help.
    leo9z
    Thanks you, it is very easy to fellow, I am new to learning guitar, Fingar Daxterity Exercise, should be the first thing I should have have been taught, I m practicing it and will come back for more. Cheers
    dave normart
    my ring fingers bent at the tip to the point where it hits my middle finger when playing,,any tips on getting around this,it really interfers with my playing....
    Exis88
    Best lesson I could find for me as a complete beginner Thanks!
    Rachael_Rae
    Geez! Small hands do not bode well for me right now (glares at short pinky)... I hope it doesn't take too long to build up this finger strength! haha, thanks!
    3333360
    Amazing!!! I usually don't do this kinda exercises (maybe that's why i suck), but i'm gonna start doin it!!!
    dave_peters
    ah ok its just im new to finger exercises etc and im finding it hard to understand them thats all
    humalogmix
    at that point i would say what is most comfortable for you. this was mostly just intended as a tool to get your hands stretching and building strength
    hamishhammer
    Good lesson- I have taught this type of thing for 20 years to my students- it is the most important thing to do- don't start playing open chords- do this. You can do all sorts of things chromatically and it sounds unbelievable when you do it quickly. It is great to spread this tip through the world- Love your work
    Newfietwitch
    Awesome lesson. Just gettin back to playin after a few years and really need to work finger str/dex. Thnx for this post!
    Amazonia
    You know, I was googling sheet music because I JUST bought a guitar, and I stumbled across this website. These techniques are great! I can't believe how lucky I was to find you guys!