27 October 2008

Build Your Guitar Finger Independence

Here's a simple exercise you can do to build independent control of your guitar fretting fingers. The ability to control the fingers of your fretting hand individually is very useful in more advanced styles of guitar playing. It also helps you to play and change chords more easily and faster.

Independent control of the fingers is most useful when playing notes around a basic chord to embellish the rhythm part. This kind of playing can make for a great sounding guitar backing. It is quite a lot more challenging than just playing chords and changing them on the bar so it is well worth spending some time to work on it.

Here's a simple exercise you can do to help you develop your finger independence in the context of the chords you play already. In the example we're going to work with a couple of open chord positions. It is quite easy to extend the exercise to use with other chords you know, open chords, barre chords, or closed position chords without a barre.

So, let's get to work on the exercise. This first one uses the E major open chord position.

Place your fretting fingers in the E open position chord shape to get ready to start.

1. Lift up your index finger from the strings without moving any of the others.
2. Put the index finger back down on the string.
3. Lift the second finger off the strings then put it back down.
4. Lift the third finger then put it back down.
5. Return to step 1 and cycle through the exercise again.

You can cycle through this pattern a few times. If you find it easy then speed up a little and try again. Try it, too, with some different finger patterns. For example, start on the third finger, start on the first, as in the example, and work back down when you get to the third. Here are some example finger patters you could try.

2 1 3 2 1 3...
2 1 3 2 3 1...

This exercise is easy to do and can be applied to all the chord positions that you know. It will help build better finger control. What's really good about it is that it gets your fingers used to moving around in the chord positions you know. This is a good skill to have as it will allow you to play those chords and use hammer ons, pull offs, and other techniques to embellish them with extra notes. But more on that in another post...

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Anonymous said...

OK, OK, and ok...

So, at first I poo pooed this blog entry but after re-reading it from another posting: http://www.notplayingguitar.com/2008/10/build-your-guitar-finger-independence.html, I have to say that this is great stuff. Thanks for helping me and the rest of the fellow guitarist. Since I am at work, I am finding this "Without the guitar" entry very useful.

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi MJK, thanks for dropping by and glad to hear you're getting something useful done at work ;-)

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