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Finger Separation Exercise

On February 28, 2014

Hand Stretching Exercises

Description: Good exercises to work on stretching your hand – printer friendly instructions for guitar playing finger separation exercise.

In this lesson I’m going to show various stretching exercises for fingers of the left hand. I’m going to say what they are good for and what should be watched out for. The first one is a really easy beginner exercise the others are harder to play. Important:

    • To make exercises easier/harder you can play them elsewhere on the fretboard
    • Don’t force yourself to do too much at once. Take a break if it begins to be painful, but accept that to build muscles in your hand, you will need to accept a bit of an ache. You have my word that it will get easier every day.
    • If you can play all of these exercises, your fingers are in shape anyway.

Exercise No.1:

This is the Chromatic Scale, the easiest stretching exercise. I suppose most of you can already play it with ease. But if you have never played single notes, this would be what to start with. It teaches you to use different fingers for different frets, using every single finger. And it teaches the position of the left hand thumb on the neck, which has to be correct (=not all around the neck) otherwise you’ll hardly reach the fourth fret. Start at the high e string if you have not done it before as it’s the easiest string to play the exercise on. Because you don’t have to reach up to the thicker strings, which makes playing harder for beginners.


Don’t lift your fingers after you’ve played a note, so that you end up with all four fingers on the four frets of the string before you lift your fingers and move to the next string. If you lift a finger before having completed the string it isn’t a real stretching exercise anymore. Once you have mastered the fingerings you can play the scale in a steady position. And you can lift fingers and play the scale note by note from high to low increasing the speed. After going through several scales played in one position you will see the same scales played in a wider range and in lots of positions. (Check the lesson “Church Modes“) A major:

   i m p   i m p   i m p   i m p   i r  p   i r p

G# Locrian:


Notice the parts going over 5 frets? You’ve got to play them and all you have got are 4 fingers. You have got to play them with the index finger, the middle finger and the pinky. So you are going to need a lot of stretching. Besides just playing the scale up and down you can also do some different exercises.

Exercise No.2:
This is a classic riff used in many songs. Play this exercise using your index for the E string and your middle/ring and your pinky for the A string. i … index, m … middle, r … ring, p … pinky

  m m p p m m p p     
  i i i i i i i i     


  r r p p r r p p
  i i i i i i i i 

Practice both. Both versions stretch your pinky, The first gives you more of a middle finger stretch and less pinky stretch. The second gives you a harder pinky stretch than the first. This riff is used in many songs. It is equal to a major chord, the lowest note would be the root. If you’re using it for a song, play the version which is easier to play for you. A, D, and E riffs can also be played with open strings in first position to avoid the stretch. For practice use the two stretch versions as said before. If you want an even bigger pinky stretch this would be for you. This exercise is almost impossible to play using your ring finger, so use index, middle and pinky.


Exercise No.3: In this one there are 4 five-fret approaches. Hasn’t necessarily got to be played with hammer-ons and pull-offs, but it does make your hand stronger than if you leave them out. Note that it doesn’t start on the 1.

 +  1      2      3      4      1      2      

 i  p i m  p m i  p i m  p m i  p i m  p m i


 3      4      1      2      3      4      1

 p i m  p m i  p i m  p m i  p i m  p m i  i


Exercise No.4: Let every note of these shapes ring clearly one by one. Go through them in the given order – the last should be a great relief for your fingers. To improve the stretch move it down a fret or two.


This exercise above will really improve your chord fingering, because as you can see all the fingers are stretched one by one. This important for chords, especially for several “Jazz chords”, as they often use all four fingers and come in very awkward chord shapes. Jazz Chord examples:


Those are just a few jazz chord examples. There also are lots of non-jazzy chord voicings which need flexible fingers too. The exercises should be helpful for chord fingering in general. Despite all the exercises you have still got to practice chord-changing. Hope you enjoyed my lesson.



Guitar Tablature Introduction

On February 28, 2014

Before attempting to drive to unknown location, you would use a map or sat nav which gives you instructions for how to get there. When you are building flat pack furniture, you refer to the instructions explaining the steps for how to do it. In guitar music, when learning something new, you need instructions too. The instructions you need can be found in the form of guitar tablature.

In this lesson I will be showing you the essential basics of reading guitar tablature. First, we will look at the standard layout used for guitar tablature.

1||-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------||(top string - furthest away from you)
6||-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------||(bottom string - nearest to you)

Each horizontal line represents each string of a guitar. The bottom line/string is the lowest (thickest) string of a guitar (string 6), the top line is the highest (thinnest) string of a guitar (string 1), and the other lines in between simply represent the remaining strings (strings 2, 3, 4 and 5).

Each vertical line represents the start/end of each bar (bar lines) and the spaces in between are where you will find the instructions. Bars and bar lines are are almost like the commas of a written sentence: they allow a player to pace the piece of music he is playing, like the commas allow a reader time to breathe whilst reading. Each double vertical line can either represent the start/finish of an entire piece of music, or the start/finish of a section within a piece of music. If bar lines are like musical commas, then double bar lines are like musical full stops. They can be used when one musical idea ends and another begins, for example: at the end of a verse and start of a chorus. We will now look in more detail at how the strings of a guitar are represented using tablature.



Each zero tells the player that they should play the string without placing any of their fingers on any of the fret spaces. This is known as playing the string/strings ‘open’. The letters that appear before the first double bar line (EADGBe) are the names of the notes that each string makes when they are played open. So then the lowest string when played open will make a low (E) note, the string above will make an (A) note and the highest string will make a high (e) note, which is often represented with a lowercase letter instead of an uppercase letter to show that it makes a higher sound than the low (E) string.It is helpful to make up sentences that are constructed using words that begin with the letters of each string, such as: Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big ears (EADGBe). These sentences can be used as memory aids. We will now look at how the frets of a guitar are represented using tablature.


Each number tells the player that they should play the string, using an appropriate finger to hold down the string in the fret space indicated. The fret space between the nut of the guitar and the first fret is shown as the number 1, the space between the first fret and the second fret is shown as the number 2 and so on. To achieve the best sound, the string should be held down just behind the fret closet to your picking hand.

Finally, I should explain that on a musical stave there are many symbols used to give extra information to the player on how to play the piece of music. These symbols are not displayed when using tablature, however, for the benefit of the players, this extra information may be written in instead. Below are the brief definitions of some of the basic extra information that may be provided to the players.

Tempo – is the speed of the music; indicates the type and number of beats per minute.

Time Signature – is the pulse of the music; indicates the type and number of beats per bar.

Key Signature – is the tone of the music; indicates the essential notes that will be used during the piece. The terms written above will be dealt with in greater detail and with examples of each type as the appear in future lessons. The instructions given in this lesson on how to read music cover the essential basics of reading tablature. A greater knowledge and understanding of tablature symbols and directions will be required for more advanced playing and these will also be covered in future lessons.

Guitar Tab Symbols

On February 28, 2014

Understanding Guitar Tab Symbols

When you come across more complex guitar tabs, you will see certain symbols on the tab. These symbols are instructions. This lesson will explain how to understand those symbols

A Hammer On A hammer on is executed by picking a note and then hammering done with the fretting hand on the second note. The second note isn’t actually picked but kind of echos the first one. Here is an example of how hammer ons are written in tab:


A Pull Off A pull off is the opposite of a hammer on, so the first note is played again then the fretting hand pulls the finger off and lets the one fretted behind it play.


A Bend A bend is represented by the symbol b’, this is where the fretting hand actually bends the string to give a wobbly effect.


A Release Bend A release bend is represented by the symbol r’, this is just like a bend, but it tells you when to release the bend and go to the next note.


A Slide-Up A slide up is represented by the symbol /’. You would play the first note on 7 then slide the finger that is holding that note up to 9.


A Slide-Down Opposite of a Slide Up, slide down is represented by the symbol \’. You would play the first note on 7 then slide the finger that is holding that note down to 5.


Vibrato Vibrato is like a constant rhythmic bending of the string. You do a bend up and bend down quickly to create a moving sound. It is usually represented by v’ or ~’.


Tapping Tapping is much like a hammer-on but you don’t strum any notes. Just tap the notes on the fret board with your fretting hand.