Find here some useful exercises for guitar dexterity for beginners. Practice and learn how to get your fingers to do what you want them to do!
What is Guitar Dexterity?
Let’s talk about guitar dexterity! According to Webster’s dictionary, dexterity is, “the readiness and grace in physical activity; especially the skill and ease in using the hands”. Well, that obviously applies to us, guitar players; the more you do a particular exercise or movement, the better you become. In fact, our brains are designed in such a way that it’s impossible for you to not get better when you practice. That means that any amount of playing on the guitar whatsoever is beneficial!
Now when we practice specifically, deliberately and with repetition, we end up gaining a lot of control over our fingers – or anything else that we set our mind to, for that matter. Since our thumb is located so close to our first and second fingers, our third and fourth fingers don’t get called on for the same amount of tasks throughout the day. For this reason, EVERYONE’S third and fourth fingers tend to be lazy when playing guitar. You thought it was just you? Nope! Hendrix, Van Halen, Vai, and any other player that you can think of had to develop their third and fourth fingers with exercises just like this; many times, these exact same exercises.
Guitar Dexterity Exercise
The following exercise was specifically designed to strengthen your fingers and hands, increase your speed, and sharpen your technique. I have used these exercises and have found them to be extremely beneficial!
Get your fingers moving and use a metronome to try to increase your speed as you practice – I advise you to download this app called GuitarTuna to tune your guitar and to use the metronome:
Try to use the following variations on the above “1”, “2”, “3”, “4” picking exercise:
Make sure that you’re using the appropriate finger on the appropriate fret throughout the exercise. For instance, when you start playing frets two and three, make sure you are using fingers two and three. When you’re playing frets three and four, make sure you are playing with fingers three and four.
Tips to Gain Dexterity on the Guitar
Play on your fingertips
First of all, playing on your fingertips makes a guitar player faster and more efficient. That is, the more you play on your fingertips the lighter your touch will be and the less hand fatigue you will experience. Guitar players that play on their fingertips tend to play chords cleanly. Guitar players that play on the pads of their fingers tend to play chords sloppily.
Play the notes right behind the fret
Secondly, playing right behind the fret requires much less pressure than playing further back. Think about the leverage of a seesaw. The position of the fulcrum – that part under the center of the seesaw that balances it – determines how much leverage you have. So, if the fulcrum is in the correct place, a small child can easily lift a large man off the ground. Similarly, leveraging your finger closer to the fret will allow you to play more quickly and efficiently.
Play with all your fingers
Thirdly, playing with all your fingers is very important because, as you become a more accomplished guitar player, you will most likely be playing faster and/or more complex arrangements. Running out of fingers sucks! So be proactive and use that third and fourth finger!
Leave space between the palm and the guitar neck
Lastly, it’s helpful to leave some space between the palm of your fretting hand and the guitar neck because it allows you to more easily play on your fingertips and ultimately have more control of your hand. At first, this can be a little awkward. Most beginners grab the guitar neck like a shovel and their thumb comes right over the neck!
In conclusion, if you ask me “how long should I practice this exercise for?”, I would pose this question, “how good do you want to get?” Obviously, the more you practice, the better you’ll become. In fact, if you want to become fast, you should practice it a lot. Alright, enough talk. Off you go!
Check other posts I’ve written about playing the guitar in the Guitar section of my blog