For our first Monday Exercise, we’re going to take a simple and easy exercise that countless guitarists have used to build dexterity, strength, stamina, and to quickly warm up the fingers.
This type of exercise is sometimes called a chromatic exercise because we’re playing (almost) the chromatic scale. But at this point there’s no need to worry about that. This exercise takes only a few seconds to do and will give you dramatic results as a beginner, as well as serving you well as a fast and easy warmup. We’re going to get all four fingers of the fretting hand involved and beautifully coordinated.
Download the tablature for this exercise here: Guitar Finger Exercise #1 Tab
How To Do An Awesome 3-Minute Practice
As mentioned in the intro, these exercises are designed to give you a fast and powerful practice that you can do when you have a few free minutes, or as part of a longer practice routine.
To start, get your guitar ready and get comfortable. The only other thing you’ll need is a metronome. While practicing without a metronome isn’t going to kill you, it’s a real waste not to use one—practicing with a metronome will help your internal sense of rhythm and your ability to play and listen to another musical cue (crucial for playing with other musicians) immensely.
Start with a very slow setting on the metronome first, and make sure you can play through the exercise completely and evenly without mistakes. Once you can, feel free to speed it up. If you find yourself making errors, slow it back down and smooth out the wrinkles until you have the exercise “under your fingers”.
Starting on the 6th string, we’ll use our index finger on the 1st fret, middle finger on the second fret, ring finger on the 3rd fret, and pinky on the 4th fret. Then we’ll move to the 5th string and do the same pattern. Then the same pattern once more on the 4th string, then the 3rd, the 2nd, and finally on the 1st string.
Then, to easily get twice the benefit, we’ll go backwards! At this point we’ll stay on the 1st string and play the 4th fret with our pinky, 3rd fret with the ring finger, 2nd fret with the middle finger, and 1st fret with the index finger.
You might noticing yourself thinking of your fretting fingers not as “index—middle—ring—pinky” but as “first finger—second finger—third finger—fourth finger”. That’s a good thing, since it’s another way the fretting fingers are commonly referred to.