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Best finger exercises for guitar players

if you started playing the guitar recently you will have seen that there is a difference between what you want your fingers to do and what they actually do. This is normal, it has happened to all of us (and still happens sometimes). How to solve it? With really good finger exercises for guitar.

In this post we are going to see 4 simple guitar fingering exercises so you can practice and gain agility, speed and independence with your fingers. And not only that, because we will learn as well how the famous alternate picking works.

And finally, I will give you 8 tips for guitar beginners that will come in handy when practicing these exercises.

Let’s get started!

Why is finger exercise important in guitar?

I’m not going to lie to you, guitar fingering exercises are not the most fun part of playing the guitar, but they are necessary to develop fluidity and independence with your fingers (as well as accuracy and speed).

⚡ Guitar finger exercise tool
A good guitar finger exercise will help you to improve the strength of your fingers and develop different areas of muscle memory.

In fact, these are not only finger stretching exercise for guitar beginners because they are also practiced by musicians who have been playing this instrument for years and years, as they serves as a warm-up before starting to play.

4 Guitar Fingering Exercises

Now that you understand the importance of it, I propose you not one but 4 finger exercises for guitar that in my opinion are the most complete. Practice these exercises a minimum of 5 – 10 minutes a day and you will build a great finger dexterity.

Besides, all the exercises are based on the alternate picking technique, so you will learn to master this important resource as well.

Before you see the exercise, remember the numbers with which we represent the fingers of our left hand in the fretboard diagram.

finger chart for guitar
  • Index finger.
  • Middle finger.
  • Ring finger.
  • Little finger or pinky.

Number 1: the classic 1234 exercise

This is the easiest exercise and the one you will see in all forums and webpages as the first finger guitar exercise to practice. It is really nothing more than an exercise in which you go through the chromatic scale using the alternate picking technique.

The sequence is as follows:

  1. Start out by putting your index finger on the first fret of the 6th string with a downstroke.
  2. Place the middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 6th string and do an up stroke.
  3. Use your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 6th string with a downstroke.
  4. Place the little finger on the 4th fret of the 6th string and do an up stroke.

With this exercise we will play 4 notes per string.

In the image above you have the visual order of the steps to take. The colors blue, yellow, green and purple indicate the sequence your fingers should follow.

fingerboard guitar finger exercise

On the other hand, the numbers in red shows the fingers to use on each fret:

  1. Index: your first finger.
  2. Middle: your second finger.
  3. Ring: your third finger.
  4. Pinky: your fourth finger.

As you can see, when you have finished with the sixth string, you repeat the exercise but on the fifth string and so on until you reach the first string (left side of the above image).

And, when you get to the first string, do the exercise but in reverse, that is, you start on the first string and finish on the sixth string (right side of the above image). As you do the exercise keep in mind that on each string you start with the little finger on the fourth fret and end with the index finger on the first fret.

The tab (tablature) of the exercise is the following (if you don’t know how to read guitar tabs click on the link where I explain it to you in 5 minutes).

finger exercises for guitar

Although the tablature that I show you only covers the frets 1 – 2 – 3 – 4, the idea is that when you finish you repeat the exercise on frets 2 – 3 – 4 – 5, then on frets 3 – 4 – 5 – 6… etc. This way, you will move across the whole guitar fretboard little by little.

Number 2: pinky exercise

This exercise is similar to the previous one but now we start with the little finger to exercise it well. I really like this one because it is a very good pinky finger exercise for guitar.

The sequence is as follows:

  1. Start out by putting your pinky finger on the 4th fret of the 6th string with a downstroke.
  2. Place the ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 6th string and do an up stroke.
  3. Place the middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 6th string and do a down stroke.
  4. Place the index finger on the 1st fret of the 6th string and do an up stroke.
guitar techniques finger stretching exercise

Once you have finished, go down to the fifth string and repeat the sequence. Play this pattern across all six strings until you reach the first string (image on the left).

And when you hit the high E-string go back again to the sixth string but now you move your left hand one fret to the right so repeat the exercise on the frets 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 (image on the right).

This way you will gradually move across the fretboard of the guitar. You can do this exercise up to any fret you want, but my recommendation is that you practice it at least until you reach the 12th fret.

The tablature of the exercise in this case would be as follows:

arm and finger exercise for guitar players right hand

Although the tablature that I show you only covers 5 frets, the idea is that you keep on doing it on the frets 3 – 4 – 5 – 6, 4 – 5 – 6 – 7, …etc.

Number 3: finger independence exercise

The third exercise is similar to the first one but with a slight variation to improve your finger independence. This practice is in my opinion the most complete and it is actuallly the one I practice the most.

⚡ how to exercise middle finger and ring finger in guitar

This guitar exercise is really good for the finger independence of your middle and ring finger.

Basically what you are going to do is:

  1. Start out by putting your index finger on the 1st fret of the 6th string with a downstroke.
  2. Place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 6th string and do an up stroke.
  3. Place the middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 6th string and do a down stroke.
  4. Place the little finger on the 4th fret of the 6th string and do an up stroke.
ring and pinky finger exercise for guitar

When you have finished, repeat the exercise but nowon the fifth string, then the fourth and so on work your way down until you reach the high E-string (left side of the above image). When you get to the the first string, do the exercise but in reverse, that is, start from the first string to the sixth and on each string you begin at the 4th fret and end at the first fret (image on the right).

The tablature of this dexterity and independence exercise is as follows:

guitar finger exercise machine

When you have played from top to bottom and from bottom to top the first 4 frets, move your left hand to the right to repeat the exercise but with the following sequence of frets: 2 – 4 – 3 – 5. This way you will move across the neck until you reach the 12th fret.

Number 4: mastering the high E string

In this exercise we are going to focus exclusively on the first string because sometimes it is difficult to reach it (and much more if it is with the little finger).

The sequence is as follows:

  1. Start out by putting your index finger on the 1st fret of the first string with a downstroke.
  2. Place the middle finger on the 2nd fret of the first string and do an up stroke.
  3. Play the 3rd fret with your ring finger and do a down stroke.
  4. Place the little finger on the 4th fret of the first string and do an up stroke.

And now we repeat the sequence but in reverse (image on the right):

  1. Place the little finger on the 4th fret of the first string and do a down stroke.
  2. Place the ring finger on the 3rd fret of the first string and do an up stroke.
  3. Place the middle finger on the 2nd fret of the first string and do a down stroke.
  4. Place the index finger on the 1st fret of the first string and do an up stroke.

These 4 steps would correspond to the left side of the image below.

pinky only finger exercise for guitar

Once you have finished the sequence, move your left hand one fret to the right and repeat the exercise on frets 2 – 3 – 4 – 5. Little by little you will move across the fretboard until you reach the 12th fret.

finger stretching exercise for guitar beginners

Although the TAB that I show you only goes up to the 9th fret, the idea is that you go little by little through the whole fretboard of the guitar, at least until you reach the 12th fret.

8 Guitar fingering exercises tips

In order to practice correctly this basic finger workout and make the most of your time I leave you these tips:

  • Practice using a metronome: the speed should be slow because what matters is precision and accuracy, not speed. At first practice with the tempo at 50 beats per minute, and then you can gradually increase it as you feel more confortable.
  • The note has to sound clearly: it is better if you don’t use distortion effects, fuzz …etc when practicing fingering exercises.
  • Don’t worry if it doesn’t sound perfect at first: it’s obvious that it won’t sound good the first time, as you are just starting out, so don’t worry. But do try to make it sound better over time.
  • Create a routine to practice 5 or 10 minutes a day: better if it is at the beginning as it will help you to warm up.
  • The moment you feel pain, stop!
  • Work on your pinky finger: for this I recommend exercise number 2.
  • Use your fingertips (or fingertips): the finger has to touch the string perpendicularly.
  • Try to practice as relaxed as possible: easier to say than done, but try to be relaxed when playing.

And with this trips we have finished this article of guitar finger exercises. I hope you liked it and that it has helped you a lot.

Download finger exercises for guitar pdf

If you liked this guitar lesson you can download it on this link so you can check it out any time you want, even if you do not have internet acces.

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