So, in order to seek an audience from my buddy, Blakemore, I started doing the guitar finger strengthening drills while my computer was running reports.
The truth is the basic ones are still the most important
Warm Up Drill 1: Every Note for a 4 count
First, they start you off with Chromatic Scales which is code for, “every position on the fretboard is a note.” You start on the 6th string / low E / string closest to you when you place it properly in your lap – just touch the edges! Start with just the string, then put your pointer on the string at the first fret just above the line. Strum, hold for a 4 count and strum the second time placing your middle finger on the second fret. Then 4 count, and then 3rd fret with the ring finger. Then hold for a four count and do the same on the 4th fret with the pinky finger.
Now here’s the catch: You have to hold your fingers down the whole time. For example, when it’s time to move up to the 5th string / A String, your fingers have to stay on the 6th string / E string until it’s time to play the note on the fret. Dexterity. Fun times.
Then there’s a couple ways that goes, but eventually you hit the whole board. Go 1-4 up the strings then when you get to that first string and hit that 4th fret, you slide the hand down and hit frets 5-8, then 9-12. And for the bonus, go backwards. Then hit all the notes.
Warm Up Drill 2: Every String, Up & Down, Till It Sounds the Same
It’s generally assumed that the guitar will sound different when you strum down on a string from when you strum up on the note. In fact, songs have been written based on that principle, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
In this drill, you strum down (pick / thumb) and strum up (pick / index / middle / ring) until it sounds the same. Then you go faster until it stops and slow back down until you get it sounding the same. Over time, you’ll be able to do this both ways quickly. You do this for 2 minutes a string.
After one day of this drill and I started getting my speed back. I’m hoping that after 30 days of this I’ll actually be faster on the one-string 16th and 32nd notes. Was never that fast on it.
Warm Up Drill 3: The PIMA Waltz
This ain’t a warmup for pick users. Picks are for pus***.
Swallow the pick and get ready to pick with the four fingers on your right hand (unless you’re playing left-handed):
- Thumb: P
- Pointer Finger: I
- Middle Finger: M
- Ring Finger: A
Why are they named this way? I don’t know. It’s Italian. Renaissance-y.
Anyway, you get to evenly go up the strongs, starting with your P / Thumb at the six string (that Low E closest to you. Yeah, that one). Hit that, then move to the Index / Pointer Finger / I Finger on the 5th fret. Then The Middle / M on the 4th, the Ring / A on the 3rd string, then back to the Middle / M on the 4th. Some call this a Waltz tempo. Anyway, you do that with an old blues chord and, poof, a blues arpeggio.
Here’s where the fun starts: Once you go through it, it’s time to shift up to the strings so now everything starts on the 5th string. Then do it again where everything starts on the 4th, then come back to 5th, then back to 6th.
And for the fun: Time to move down a fret and do it all again.
Day 1 Workout Drill: Finger Picking strings in pairs
The day’s drill was going up the chord scale starting at EbMaj7 (E-flat Major 7th). Overly complex for some damned drills so I just started at C and worked it back to B. Why? I was too lazy to remember the progression for that key. I’ll go back and remember it tomorrow. But, for the record, if you ever need to remember the major scale, it usually goes like this:
- Minor flat-5 (b5)
Why is this all classical major? I dunno, something to do with harmonics and that it sounds purdy.
As for the drill, it was like this: pick two strings at a time. Start with the Thumb & Ring (P, A) and then hit with the index and middle finger (I,M), then back to P/A and go to the next chord. Then go back down the chords. It sounds simple, but it’s simple to f*** up and it’s the details and execution that separates guitarists so, yeah, I’ll spend much time on it.
Given the Holiday, a dinner, a baptism and a thunderstorm, I didn’t even get into the other fingerpick drills I used to do, and given that I only used the Nylon-stringed Washburn tonight and that my fingers are still numb, it’s gonna be one of two things:
- My caluses are returning which means I’m only a few days away from having no fingerprints on my left hand or
- My fingers are in for a world of hurt.
And the reports are done so I have to finish them before I get to bed.
If you want to know how any of this works, a Gumball Head and a few minutes of grace is usually all one needs to get my attention.
Looking forward to Day #2. Now that I know this guy is using classical major scales for the drills, I’ll be prepared to have to relearn the scales he picks.
Besides, it’s either this or watch TV. I stare at enough screens in a day.
BTW – Photo Credit to Ryon Edwards via Flickr. GREAT STUFF!