Lateral Dexterity

Focusses on positions shifts and improving speed going up and down the neck laterally rather than keeping in position and going accross strings.

Ultimate Guitar
One of my students asked me if I had any exercises the focus on positions shifts and improving speed going up and down the neck laterally rather than keeping in position and going across strings, which was something I must admit that I had never looked at in isolation it just always happened naturally for me. So I told him I would have a think about it and see if I could come up with a few exercises. I also looked on here to see if I could find a lesson of a similar ilk, but alas no. So I actually did some work and came up with 2 exercises and a variation on each one and thought I would post them here in case anyone else was looking for the same thing as my student. Please send questions and comments on a postcard!

Exercise 1

This example is clearly based on the scale of A majorbutobviously can be moved to different keys to suit your mood. Also, if you want more ofachallenge move it closer to the nut for larger stretches. With both this exercise and the variation use the same fingering pattern (1st, 2nd & 4th) throughout. Start off at 60bpm playing 8th note/quaver triplets and build it up to a decent pass and just try and increase your speed every day. Picking patterns are indicated in the usual manner.
  n v n n v n sim.

v n v v n v sim.
Now the variation of the exercise to make it slightly more of a challenge. Again start at 60bpm playing 8th/quaver triplets and the picking patterns are shown in the usual manner.
  n v n  n v n n  v  n  v  n  v  v n v  v n v

Exercise 2

This exercise is a-tonal and spans the whole neck, so there's no easy get out if you want to move it to a different position for smaller stretches! It's a bit longer and more involved than the first exercise too. Start at around 50bpm playing 16th notes/semi-quavers, work it until you 'feel the burn', use the indicated picking patterns and make sure you stick with the same finger for each fret in each position.




And now the variation for a bit more of a challenge. Again start at around 50bpm playing semi-quavers, build up the speed, use the same finger for each fret in each position and use picking patterns as indicated.




Hope that helps anyone searching for more lateral dexterity and if you need any help or wanna contact me about anything else my e-mail address is

44 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Looks good. I will definitely play with this. Exercise #2 looks killer for sweeping practice. =D
    Great lesson! Exercise two is particularly brilliant, as it triples as both help for sweep picking and dexterity/stretching. Awesome work!
    Exercises are great and all.. but you didn't really tell me the meaning of lateral dexterity. Sorry I'm new to guitar, been playing for 8 months. Please reply if you can
    awsome lesson!! position shifts have always been my biggest challenge and this lesson helps A LOOOT. thanks man
    awsome lesson!! i have been playing for about 4 years now and my position shifts have always been the least improved aspect of my playing. this lesson helped me to take humungous leaps. thanks man
    i know that this is too old to be posting on but i have to say that this is just what i neede to keep progressing. i'm all self taught so it can be hard to keep progressing thx for the help
    rian chester
    nice one... nice exercise!!! i'll give it a 9.4? ohhh...cannot be a decimal... maybe 9...
    your lesson helped my alot. I'm new at guitar and just opened a new account. Ive been trying to learn how to move my fingers more quickly and this lesson helped.
    Great lesson, this has helped me a lot...somewhat; this in combination w/ GW have helped me in getting up the neck, though you probably could have gone a bit more in depth, this lesson had some great exercises, nice job dude! Michael
    Wow, that is some pretty good material. I'm definately going to try it later on tonight. Thanks!
    Great lesson. You have helped me so much in improving moving my fingers. I have also found their strength has improved as well. :
    great job, but you should use the Cmaj scale for lateral movements, it is one of my favorite scales.
    syn stout
    I just started the electric and I have found this exercise very useful even for picking Thanks mate top lesson
    you should post a variation of this so its not 3 notes a string. but still very good
    Thanks alot, i have been playign for a few years all self taught and now im looking to get abit more technical and this lesson helped alot