Finger Strength

Check out this lesson for some different exercises to build finger strength and independence.

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Ultimate Guitar
20
So fellow guitar players, this lesson will be all about different finger exercises to build finger strength in all 4 left hand fingers. These will also be good for building coordination between your picking hand and fretting hand. A few things before we begin, however: 1) Use a metronome when practicing these. I cannot stress enough the benefits of using a metronome. Having that steady tempo really forces you to focus on playing in time and gives you a great backing to build technical skills and speed. 2) Don't try to fly through these at lightning speeds. Start of slow, and be accurate. If you start noticing that your notes aren't ringing clearly or you are going out of time, slow down a bit and work your way back up. Speed comes with accuracy. I've seen many guitar players forget about that. 3) Don't numb yourself with drills and finger exercises. Break up your practice time with other things. Play some songs, write some riffs. Don't bore yourself. OK so let's get down to business.. These first few exersizes are spinoffs of your typical chormatic patterns.
EX1
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------1-------1-2-----1-2-3---1-2-3-4-
---------1-------1-2-----1-2-3---1-2-3-4---2-3-4-----3-4-------4---------
-1-2-3-4---2-3-4-----3-4-------4-----------------------------------------
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------1-------
---------------------------------1-------1-2-----1-2-3---1-2-3-4---2-3-4-
-1-------1-2-----1-2-3---1-2-3-4---2-3-4-----3-4-------4-----------------
---2-3-4-----3-4-------4-------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
1-2-----1-2-3---1-2-3-4-
----3-4-------4---------
------------------------
------------------------
------------------------
------------------------
To do that descending, just follow the pattern backwards
EX2
-------------------------------------------------------------1-2-1-3-1-4-
-------------------------------------------------1-2-1-3-1-4-------------
-------------------------------------1-2-1-3-1-4-------------------------
-------------------------1-2-1-3-1-4-------------------------------------
-------------1-2-1-3-1-4-------------------------------------------------
-1-2-1-3-1-4-------------------------------------------------------------
 
-4-3-4-2-4-1-------------------------------------------------------------
-------------4-3-4-2-4-1-------------------------------------------------
-------------------------4-3-4-2-4-1-------------------------------------
-------------------------------------4-3-4-2-4-1-------------------------
-------------------------------------------------4-3-4-2-4-1-------------
-------------------------------------------------------------4-3-4-2-4-1-
 
EX3
 
-----------------------------------------4-3-2-1-
---------------------------------1-2-3-4---------
-------------------------4-3-2-1-----------------
-----------------1-2-3-4-------------------------
---------4-3-2-1---------------------------------
-1-2-3-4-----------------------------------------
 
-1-2-3-4
---------4-3-2-1---------------------------------
-----------------1-2-3-4-------------------------
-------------------------4-3-2-1-----------------
---------------------------------1-2-3-4---------
-----------------------------------------4-3-2-1-
 
EX4
 
-----------------------------------2---4-4---2-----------------------------------
---------------------------2---4-1---3-----3---1-4---2---------------------------
-------------------2---4-1---3---------------------3---1-4---2-------------------
-----------2---4-1---3-------------------------------------3---1-4---2-----------
---2---4-1---3-----------------------------------------------------3---1-4---2---
-1---3---------------------------------------------------------------------3---1-
These next part of my lesson does not require tabs. Individual finger strength is something that a lot of guitarists seem to overlook. I have found a few different things that really help build individual finger strength and independence. These will also help you with control. Trills Trills are an awesome way to focus on specific fingers. Do trills between your first and second finger, first and third, and first and fourth. For a harder challenge, do trills between your second and third, and second and fourth fingers. If you really want to get your fourth finger working, do some trills between your third and fourth finger. Start off slowly, and gradually build up speed. Pressure And Control Here's a great exercise to bring into perspective how tense you are while playing without even noticing. Pick a fret, any fret will do on any string. Now mute the string with your finger and slowly apply pressure until you hear the note ring out clearly. Notice how light you are pressing? Try playing through some chromatic exercises and scales without pressing any harder than that. It takes some concentration doesn't it? An important part of finger strength is being able to control how hard you are pressing down on the fretboard. Having that control enables you to apply many different expressions to your playing. Metronome Again, I cannot express how working with a metronome can help you. Just use one. It is important to note that when you increase your tempo on a metronome, not to increase it by too much. You can overload yourself and get frustrated easily if you do so. Yes, it will take a while, but it will be well worth it in the long run when you can play through a phrase at 200 bpm smoothly. When increasing, try not to increase more than 4-6 bpm at a time. I stick to 4, just because it's a good number for me. All in all, just experiment and find things that work for you. You can take any chromatic pattern and change it to make it more difficult. Instead of 1-2-3-4 try 1-3-2-4 or any other variation. You can even try string skipping, or changing the pattern on each individual string. The possibilities really are endless. Thank you for taking the time to read through this. Hopefully these exercises help you as much as hey helped me. Message me for any questions. Feedback is appreciated!

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20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    moshredder
    another thing that can help you work on finger strength , it may looks stupid but it's working, is finger weight. you can find them online
    sqrrloncrack
    moshredder wrote: another thing that can help you work on finger strength , it may looks stupid but it's working, is finger weight. you can find them online
    this is actually not a really good idea..it can lead to carpel tunnel and arthritis..
    dreamerthinker5
    I like it I like it! I was looking all around to find some way to improve my finger strength cuz my pinkie finger is a little weakling. Thankyouu! Can lessons be added to favorites like tabs can?
    sqrrloncrack
    TynieDancer wrote: Thanks for all the helpful ideas. I hadn't even considered that using different pressure could make that much of a difference
    you will be amazed if you put it to effective use. i have found a lot of people don't realize it
    TynieDancer
    Thanks for all the helpful ideas. I hadn't even considered that using different pressure could make that much of a difference
    Ian127
    I increased my finger strength by practicing pen spinning. It is great fun in class and really helps you fingers.
    mkrulez
    thnx a ton 4 d lesson....very helpful and as i am teachin myself thnx 4 providing such gud exerxises .....n that pressure control thing was awsum.....i wil work on it!
    sqrrloncrack
    lockdown91 wrote: If you press lightly, no way you're gonna develop finger strength. If I go to the gym and exercise with smallest weights around, no way I'm gonna get any stronger.
    building finger strength leads to control over how hard you press. you have to have strong fingers in order to be able to vary you tension
    SmellKellHell
    i did this for two semesters in high school.. the teacher called it warming up. i hated it, because we could hear the class across the hall actually playing music. warming up is good, but it doesn't mean anything if it's the only thing you do. no wonder most school boards dropped the arts programs, when they listened to crap like my old class. its a shame the arts aren't taken more seriously
    gynther flynt
    lockdown91 wrote: If you press lightly, no way you're gonna develop finger strength. If I go to the gym and exercise with smallest weights around, no way I'm gonna get any stronger.
    what A better title for this article would be Finger Control. If you press with too much strenght all the time, you're just gonna hurt yourself and be out of tune.
    lockdown91
    If you press lightly, no way you're gonna develop finger strength. If I go to the gym and exercise with smallest weights around, no way I'm gonna get any stronger.
    krypticguitar87
    theking4everr wrote: Apart from the chromatic exercises that you showed,what i really found interesting and helpful was your pressure and controltechnique.I just tried that out and apparently i apply more pressure than i should.So thanks for that..ill try to work that out. Other than that,Average lesson.You cant really teach finger strength exercises IMHO.I make my own stuff up!haha..it helps me!
    lots of people press too hard, because when we first start playing we need to "push harder" to get the note to sound (really you just have to put more effort into it than you're used to)..... as you build stregth in your fingers your body still tries to exert just as much effort, because you never realize that you don't need as much anymore.... kind of like how a 10 lb weight no longer seems as heavy as it did when you were like 5 years old..... the only difference is because your lifting the weight you can tell that it doesn't take as much effort to lift, however just pushing on the strings yeilds the same result as it did, as far as your mind is concerned nothing changed..... Also I agree that the pressure and control thing was really cool, a much different way to look at finger strength than what you usually read.....
    theking4everr
    Apart from the chromatic exercises that you showed,what i really found interesting and helpful was your pressure and controltechnique.I just tried that out and apparently i apply more pressure than i should.So thanks for that..ill try to work that out. Other than that,Average lesson.You cant really teach finger strength exercises IMHO.I make my own stuff up!haha..it helps me!
    robertito696
    Snowman388 wrote: what's a trill?
    You rapidly hammer-on and pull-off two notes. The best example I can think of is the main riff of Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath.
    Skiilz Mitchell
    Woa! That's pretty fun.. I think I'm gonna warm up with this every morning, mixing in some hammers and pulls - good stuff!