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“Below is an exercise I teach all my students, whether they are beginners or professionals. I had been playing for 18 years when I first tried this. I noticed right away my index & ring fingers were the strongest. My middle finger & pinky struggled to keep up. Within a few weeks, everything about my playing was better.” 

exercise 1

exercise 1.png

The numbers are the frets you are to play on each string, in the order written. No open strings will be played in this exercise. Starting on the 6th string at the 1st fret, you will play each fret as it is referred to by the numbers. So each string has 4 notes & each note will be played once with a different finger.

Play the first fret with your index finger, fret two with your middle finger, fret three with your ring finger & fret four with your pinky. Using alternating down & up strokes, (finger pickers should try substituting your thumb & index finger for down & up strokes) play across all six strings to the end of the phrase, then play it backwards from the first string to the sixth, with accuracy being more important than speed.

I suggest you use a metronome to help keep you on track & establish a base line for your efficacy. Do play the exercise as fast as possible, but soon as you start making mistakes, slow it down a little & focus on being accurate. Speed will be a by-product of the accuracy you develop. The metronome will also show how your tempo is progressing.

You should find the weak links in your fingering hand almost immediately. The interaction between your hands can become as natural as breathing.


I would recommend 3-5 minutes of this as your warm up exercise & would encourage you to experiment with variations, such as: 1) relocate further up the neck. 2) create different spacings between your fingers, then repeat on each string. 3) use a different starting finger to create a new 4 note sequence. Again repeat on each string. 4) find ways to mix the picking sequences up by alternating between the strings. 5) another variation could be to hit each note twice. Then try 3 times & so on. Be sure to alternate between down & up strokes.

Email with any ??? you may have...

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