How To Develop Finger Strength Speed And Dexterity. Part I

This is a lesson I decided I would make for all the beginning guitarists interested in various styles, particularly blues/rock/shred; hopefully my lesson shall help beginning guitarists develop finger strength, speed and dexterity and also improve their picking skills! All feedback and constructive crriticism very much appreciated and taken into account; thanks!:)

logo
Ultimate Guitar
22
Hello good people; firstly may I say thankyou for spending some of Your valuable time to view my lesson; I hope You enjoy it and get something out of it. Now let's get started. Things You will need: 1. A guitar (stating the obvious, I am) 2. A pick (2mm for shredders;)) 3. An amp (optional). 4. A lot of practice time. 5. A metronome (very helpful!!) 6. A tuner. 7. Some bandages for when Your hands beegin to bleed ;) JOKE. Okay first of all, if Your hands begin to hurt after doing some of the following exercises I am about to show You; STOP! Yeah, put Your axe down right now and go take a break. :) Now the key to building strength, dexterity, speed and general technique is perseverance and a lot of commitment. The first thing I am going to explain to You is something which I feel is very important to help a guitarist at any level, none less than to a beginner. The dreaded METRONOME. A metronome is a mechanical or technical device which is used to set the exact tempo of a musical piece. There are very affordable Korg metronomes with inbuilt tuners for around 15-20, although I personally reckon You could probably find them cheaper on Fleebay. Basically the general tempo to begin learning a piece/scale/exercise would be 60BPM (beats per minute). This would basically mean 1 beat per second 1 beat in each second in a minute (60 seconds) = 1x60 = 60bpm. Okay, now when one has gotten comfortable with that tempo, knock it up by 2-6 bpm and continue doing so until You can play the piece/exercise to a standard which satisfies You and suits Your needs/goals/aims. The next thing I shall talk about is ALTERNATE PICKING. Alternate picking is a playing technique, that employs strictly alternating downward and upward picking strokes in a continuous run, and is the most common method of plectrum playing. If the technique is performed on a single note at a high speed, then it is referred to as tremolo picking. Now there are a few rules for alternate picking; here they are. 1) BE LOOSE AND DO NOT BE TENSE/STRAINED - The less tension you have when you pick, the faster you will be able to play and the less muscle strain you will suffer. Do not clench the pick too tightly when picking really fast. Just chillax and try to be loose. ;) 2) SMALL STROKES = TIGHT PICKING - Economy motion is key essential. This means you must try to avoid as much motion between pick strokes as possible. The less that you have to move your hand, the faster you can return to pick the string. 3) WHATEVER YOU DO - do NOT pick from Your elbow! This can cause injury which can put You out of guitar permanently or temporarily; either way, reversibility is quite likely to occur. It also takes a lot more energy/effort/time to pick from Your elbow as opposed to Your wrist. Here we go with the long awaited exercises!!! Just remember to start slowly with Your metronome set to 60bpm and slowly up the tempo ;) Remember to ALTERNATE PICK!! down-up-down-up; nice and clean. A good idea is to play without an amp or even on clean mode so You can fully hear the notes which You are playing. So here we go.
  D U D U D U D U   D U D U D U D U   D U D U D U D U
e|-----------------|-----------------|---------1-2-3-4-|
B|-----------------|-----------------|-1-2-3-4---------|
G|-----------------|---------1-2-3-4-|-----------------|
D|-----------------|-1-2-3-4---------|-----------------|
A|---------1-2-3-4-|-----------------|-----------------|
E|-1-2-3-4---------|-----------------|-----------------|
Once You begin to get the hang of that, have a stab at this exercise, it is actually a scale, known as the PENTATONIC SCALE; it is a very good chop builder for guitarists of all levels and should not be neglected, this particular little example is shown in A Minor, however this is a moveable scale and so You can play it wherever, for example, Your fingers are unable to stretch very far as You are only beginning guitar playing; You could however, play this at position at the twelfth fret. REMEMBER: ALTERNATE PICKING AND METRONOME AT 60BPM PEOPLE!
    D U   D   U D U  D  U D  U  D  U  D U  D U  D  U  D  U  D U  D
e|------------------------------5--8--5----------------------------
B|------------------------5--8----------8--5-----------------------
G|-------------------5--7--------------------7--5------------------
D|--------------5--7-------------------------------7--5------------
A|---------5--7------------------------------------------7--5------
E|--5--8------------------------------------------------------8--5-
Next up is the A Maj scale, be sure to take Your time with this and play all of the notes cleanly with alternate picking. :)
  D  U  D  D  U  D D  U D  U  D D  U  D  U   D  U  D  D  U  U  U  D
E--------------------------------------------------------------------|
B-------------------------------0--2--4--5---------------------------|
G-----------------------0--2--3-----------------------2--2-----------|
D------------------1--2----------------------------2--------2--------|
A----------0--2--4---------------------------0--4--------------0--4--|
E--0--2--4-----------------------------------------------------------|
Once You get that You're on Your way and so I shall leave You with a few more scales/exercises to practice and I hope You have ofund this lesson very useful; all constructuve criticism and feedback is very much appreciated but please go easy on me! I AM ONLY 14 (well 15 in 5 days) ;)
Bb
e-------------------------------1--3--5--6---------------------------------
B-----------------------1--3--4---------------------------------------------
G---------------0--2--3-----------------------------0--0--------------------
D-------0--1--3-------------------------------0---3------3--0---------------
A--1--3------------------------------------1------------------1-------------
E---------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
E MAJOR
E--------------------------------------------0--------------------------|
B-----------------------------------0--2--4-----------------------------|
G------------------------------1--2-------------------------------------|
D---------------------1--2--4-------------------------2--2--------------|
A------------0--2--4--------------------------------2------2------------|
E---0--2--4------------------------------------0--4----------4--0-------|
 
F MAJOR
E-----------------------------------------0--1---------------------------|
B-----------------------------------1--3---------------------------------|
G--------------------------0--2--4---------------------------------------|
D-----------------0--2--3-------------------------------3--3-------------|
A---------0--1--3---------------------------------0--3-------3--0--------|
E---1--3---------------------------------------1-------------------1-----|
 
G MAJOR
E---------------------------------------0--2--3---------------------------|
B------------------------------0--1--3------------------------------------|
G------------------------0--2--------------------------------0--0---------|
D---------------0--2--4-----------------------------------0--------0------|
A------0--2--3-----------------------------------------2-------------2----|
E---3-----------------------------------------------3------------------3--|
 
RANDOM NOODLING SCALE LOL (FUN WITH HAMMERONS LOL).
|------------------------1-3-4-5---------------|
|---------------------2-4----------------------|
|--------------0-1-2-3-------------------------|
|-----------1-3--------------------------------|
|------0-1-4-----------------------------------|
|-1-3-4----------------------------------------|
Once again, many thanks for viewing my lesson and I hope You enjoyed it and actually learned something along the way. Keep on Rockin' in the Free World :D Peace Out Guitarists :) Many thanks - Carl J Evans.

27 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Sean0913
    In all honesty, your lesson doesn't cover anything new, but I would like to say that while you don't pick from the elbow, you should start practicing from the elbow, which will gradually transition into a circular picking motion and less stress on the elbow. The reason you want to start at the elbow is because you want the pick held at a perfect triangle, but angled sort of like turning a key in the ignition, so that the surface of the pick never comes in contact with the strings, but the edge of the pick "bounces" up and down at the same angle, so in reality you are not picking at all you are moving the pick to the stings and it "bounces over" by sheer contact. The upstroke if you are holding the proper angle should be the exact same angle and the attack on the string will also be the same. The only way TO LEARN this initially is NOT using the wrist. When you use the wrist, you actually change the angle of attack so that it is uneven. A straight up and down orientation using the wrist as fixed and the elbow to do so, helps the student learn their proper attack angles with the pick, and feel the bounce. As time goes by its not a matter of picking fast, its controlling that "bounce". This refines itself with micro motions with the forefinger and thumb and a slight motion of the wrist known as circular picking. Picking the wrong way can lead to long term nerve damage and forearm damage. If you look at the wrist tendon, when you circular pick there is no strain at all. If you use the pick angled backwards you see constant pressure is applied and the center tendon bulges out. It may not hurt today but long term extended playing using this constant tendon pressure can end a players career. Best, Sean
    ShallowEndings
    cire7 wrote: how much is a metronome in american/canadian dollars?
    Probably $10 for a cheap version, $40 for a good one.
    Ryoganno
    Thanks a lot evo... it's been 1 month 1weel and 2 days since my first to play a guitar... this lesson serves as my guide... and keep up the good work evo... btw, i'm 15 yrs old..
    MonsterRob
    meLai16 wrote: sorry for being such a noob..but i was wondering what does it mean to 'pick from the elbow'?
    "to pick from the elbow" means...you keep your wrist "locked", so your plectrum movement is caused by moving your elbow.
    meLai16
    sorry for being such a noob..but i was wondering what does it mean to 'pick from the elbow'?
    mig006
    new here and find the fact that this young man has taken the effort to share his knowledge and enlighten others (like me a beginner) fantastic! your lesson Carl has caused debate and from that we get clarity ! lets hear more
    icantbuyafender
    Ive made it 10 years without alternate picking. I do just fine. I think this will help me finally get around to mastering the alternate picking.
    JohnnyApplecore
    Good lesson, looking forward to the effects of putting it into use. I've heard that picking from the elbow is good though. If you're hurting yourself while playing, you're either being way too rough on your guitar or playing while you're way too tense.
    megadeth_sells
    For anybody who has an iPhone/iPod touch, you can get a metronome for free. I've got 2, and they do the job. I think you can also get paid ones as well. Just search metronome on iTunes.
    illyria
    title is wrong: "How To Develop Finger Strength Speed And Dexterity. Part I" this article doesn't say anything about it.
    promitheas
    Your lesson is very good.And very helpful.But most important is that you are half my age!It's only few days i started playing guitar and it's funny the fact that a teenager is teaching me!Keep the good work
    Zayrank
    Sean0913 wrote: In all honesty, your lesson doesn't cover anything new, but I would like to say that while you don't pick from the elbow, you should start practicing from the elbow, which will gradually transition into a circular picking motion and less stress on the elbow. The reason you want to start at the elbow is because you want the pick held at a perfect triangle, but angled sort of like turning a key in the ignition, so that the surface of the pick never comes in contact with the strings, but the edge of the pick "bounces" up and down at the same angle, so in reality you are not picking at all you are moving the pick to the stings and it "bounces over" by sheer contact. The upstroke if you are holding the proper angle should be the exact same angle and the attack on the string will also be the same. The only way TO LEARN this initially is NOT using the wrist. When you use the wrist, you actually change the angle of attack so that it is uneven. A straight up and down orientation using the wrist as fixed and the elbow to do so, helps the student learn their proper attack angles with the pick, and feel the bounce. As time goes by its not a matter of picking fast, its controlling that "bounce". This refines itself with micro motions with the forefinger and thumb and a slight motion of the wrist known as circular picking. Picking the wrong way can lead to long term nerve damage and forearm damage. If you look at the wrist tendon, when you circular pick there is no strain at all. If you use the pick angled backwards you see constant pressure is applied and the center tendon bulges out. It may not hurt today but long term extended playing using this constant tendon pressure can end a players career. Best, Sean
    I will have to say I don't agree with this statement, I have never met a guitarist who plays like this and none of them have ever experienced ANY pain or tendon damage except for those who have bad posture and playing habits. The best thing to do is to keep your self from using unnecessary effort or straining. The guitar has been designed to be as comfortable and natural for the player as possible. Things that can cause tendon damage and pain other than being tense or straining. are often Mispositioning of the hands due to improper posture, or not having the guitar in a comfortable playing position, for example I have seen many players who want to have their guitars hang relatively low because they have seen other players do it like slash, and then they are curious why they have pain in their hands and wrists. I then tell them hat every one is different and therefor they can not always have their guitars in the same place as others, and after readjusting the strap a couple times then they find they are much more comfortable and the pain is gone.
    strangedata
    @sean & major_shiznick: What do you mean by "pick angled backwards"? I couldn't visualize it...
    UraniYum
    It's a lot more dull than you make it sound. For practise time, people should know it will take years to be able to run through Megadeth note-perfect. There's also a hell of a lot more to be written on the subject, but well, this is only part I innit?
    major_shiznick
    Regarding the rather long and insightful comment from Sean: I myself have been playing for about five to six year and have developed fairly competent technique. However, I do lots of experimenting with various picking styles and I take issue with one or two of your points. Your statement about first learning to pick from the elbow seems iffy to me. In my experience (both with myself and other guitarists I know), picking from the elbow and then incorporating DOES seem to give an even pick attack; however, this is at the cost of comfort. I (and most others that I know) find that picking from the elbow is the most difficult technique to avoid tensing up. I would argue that it's more important that a beginner learn without tension than learn with a perfectly even pick attack. The second point is a bit pickier. I'm not sure I agree with your claim that "bouncing" is best controlled by thumb motions. I can't speak on behalf of everyone, but I find it much easier and relaxed to control the pick with motions from the wrist and then reposition it with the arm while crossing strings. That way I maintain even attack as well as comfort. These are just my opinions. Nobody really knows everything about this topic, and I've heard some pretty nutty things suggested before. I apologize if I have misconstrued/misinterpreted anything you said, Sean. I must say, though, that your last sentence about the backwards angled pickers is spot-on. I've tried it, and I honestly don't know how anyone can bear it!
    YorkieBar147
    i'm like 12 and i'm used to chords so this lesson really improved my plucking and gave me some scales and techniques 2 practice! thank u
    evo62
    thankyou sean for the correction; i siall try and fix up this lesson asap. Many thanks - Carl Evans.
    evo62
    thankyou promitheas for the nice comment; good luck in your future musical endeavors - Carl.
    brookenich1
    Did anyone even notice this kid is 14 years old??!! jeez people!Good job.....and yes, just noticing this was years ago, so congratulations on your drivers license