Finger Independence Exercises

These are just a few exercises I've made up/come across that help build fretting hand co-ordination and get your fingers to move smoothly without affecting their neighbors.

Ultimate Guitar
Before I start, I should point out that these may or may not be my original ideas. I learn a lot of stuff just by the way when I meet interesting musicians/teachers and I would never claim that I devised all these exercises - even though I might have made up one or two of them. I do, however, know that they work really well for me. Also, it's best to do these with the aid of a metronome. Take it from someone who had to take backward steps to correct simple timing deficiencies, it's best to practice controlled rhythm from the start. Try setting the BPM to 60 if you're just starting out and adjust it slowly until it's set to a BPM where you're just able to do the exercise properly for multiple repetitions (with NO mistakes) without setting it so slow that you don't challenge yourself. From there, it's all about staying in sync with the ticking. 1, 2, 3, 4 Drill (No Plain White Ts pun intended) The idea behind this drill is to improve fretting hand co-ordination by "teaching" your fingers to move individually without affecting their neighbors much. Basically, what you want to do is align your four fingers with the first four frets - 1st string - and play the notes on each string in successions as shown in the tab below.
Then, just as if you were practicing scales, you'll want to take it back down to the 1st string again - but this time play the notes on each string in reverse order (i.e. 4, 3, 2, 1). 1,2,3,4 Pairs Drill Basically, you'll be keeping your fingers in the same positions as above but instead of hitting the 4 notes in 1st position on each string you'll be moving with pairs as shown below.
The objective of this exercise (I made it up although it's inspired by concepts I've learned elsewhere) is to make you use all possible finger combinations (pairs) - thus improving the finger independence I talked about earlier. As I write this I'm getting the idea to apply a similar technique but using 3 notes at a time - maybe I'll figure out an efficient way to do that and put it in a subsequent lesson. That's all for now - hopefully these little exercises will get you well on the way to better fretting hand coordination (and better playing - especially if you're into playing lead). If you liked this lesson, check out my website here and please post comments below to let me know how I did with my first lesson (and if you'd like me to do a part 2 to this) - I come up with new exercises all the time and I'd compile them into a much bigger article after I run them by my teacher in class. :)

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I think that's not too much material for a lesson, but it's good. Make your next one, but make it bigger, that's just a little advice, imo Still, good job. 6/10
    Thanks for rating! I was somewhat apprehensive to put too much into a big lesson and then have it rejected and feel all bad about it (especially when I have so much work to do with exams coming up) so I kept it short and sweet. Next one will have a lot more put into it now that I've got some confidence that they'll use my work
    This goes back to the basics that so many people neglect. Good read
    aah! looking from a beginner's point of view i think concept wise this tutorial was good. but honestly, i found this stupid since i have already done all this (in my own way, kind of) the first is very common (ofcourse), i did a variation of this chromatic scale which i will mention later as i know many will already know it but anyways... ok, the second will be useful to absolute beginners and could have helped me initially but i got my way around after doing the pentatonic scale. it was fun to play and helped free up my fingers. -- the chromatic scale i used to do just for fun was: |1-2-3-4-----| |-----1-2-3-4-----| |-----1-2-3-4---- -| |-----1-2-3-4-----| |-----1-2-3-4-----1-2-3-4-| |----- 1-2-3-4-----| |-----1-2-3-4-----| |-----1-2-3-4-----2-3- 4-5-----| |-----1-2-3-4-----2-3-4-5-----| |1-2-3-4-----2-3 -4-5-| |-----| |-----| |-----| |-----2-3-4-5-| |----- 2-3-4-5-----| |-----2-3-4-5-----| |-----2-3-4-5-----| |2- 3-4-5-----2-3-4-5-----| |-----2-3-4-5-----| |2-3-4-5---- -| |-----3-4-5-6-----| |-----3-4-5-6-----| |-----3-4-5-6- ----| |-----3-4-5-6-----| |-----3-4-5-6-----| |-----3-4-5 -6-| and so on... so basically, you start 1234 on 1st string and you go up, then come down. now you should start to go up again so your next string will be #2 (B) but instead of 1234, you do a 2345 this time and go up and down. Repeat till 2345 becomes 3456 and then 4567 etc. (you go one half step down every cycle) repeat this till you, preferably, run out of frets yes, boring and time consuming but still worth it as it helps in alternate picking, understanding & memorizing the distances between different frets on the fret board, fluidity in finger movement esp at the lower most frets. same thing i would do in reverse 4321 instead of 1234. i always thought this helped my pinky somehow. -- sorry if i offended anyone, i didn't mean to.