In this tutorial, we are going to learn an exercise that will improve our left-hand finger placement so that scales, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and chords can be played with more accuracy.
This is a great exercise if you are trying to improve your finger accuracy and finger independence, or trying to work on not muting other strings by accident.
For this exercise, we are going to use fingers 1,2,3, and 4 in a chromatic pattern.
On the guitar, moving chromatically means we go up or down by 1 fret.
The chromatic pattern looks like this:
The next step of the exercise is to add the adjacent open string, while we play the chromatic exercise on a string.
Here are the main points to keep in mind for this exercise:
- Keep your fingers curved.
- Make sure your fingers land on the tips of each finger.
- Don’t mute the open string while playing the exercise.
- It might be tricky at first, but your left-hand accuracy will increase over time.
The Right Hand (Picking Hand)
With the right hand, we are going to keep it simple. Just use your thumb and index finger to play 2 strings at the same time.
If you are using a pick, just down-pick as if you are playing power chords. The goal of the exercise is to improve our left-hand accuracy, so we do not need to worry too much about the picking hand.
Practicing the Exercise in Different Positions
If you are trying this exercise in the first position (the first 4 frets of the guitar) then it might be difficult. This is because the frets are wider on the guitar in the first position.
A simple solution is to move the exercise to a higher position where the frets are closer together.
You can try the exercise at the 7th position (that would be fretting 7,8,9, and 10), which is where I usually suggest to students to try it.
Once you can play the exercise fluidly there, you can move down a few frets. Eventually, you will be able to do it in the first position with no issues.
As with any exercise, there is no need to practice it for hours at a time. 5 minutes of focused practice will have more benefits than 4 hours of practice that is not concentrated.
If you have a warm-up routine, this is an excellent exercise to add to it.
If you don’t have a warm-up routine, I would highly suggest you begin to do one! Musicians often get injuries from bad habits, so a warm-up routine or some basic stretches will help avoid any future injury.