Fretting hand feels awkward? Try this exercise (not finger stretching!)

To play fingerstyle guitar fluently, you must have precise coordination between the plucking hand and the fretting hand. Let's learn a simple yet effective exercise that will help improve your coordination.

This exercise is perfect for players of all levels and can be easily incorporated into your daily practice routine. So grab your guitar and let's get started!

A Simple Exercise To Improve Coordination 

Try this simple finger picking exercise as a warm-up. This exercise is to practice finger placement and accuracy when playing fingerstyle guitar.

Place the fretting hand on one string in one position. You will be plucking and fretting only one string. Next, play four notes exactly following this formula:

    1. Pluck with the thumb of the right hand the note fretted with the index finger of the left hand 
    2. Pluck with the index finger of the right hand the note fretted with the middle finger of the left hand
    3. Pluck with the middle of the right hand the note fretted with the ring finger of the left hand
    4. Finally, pluck with the ring finger of the right hand the note fretted with the pinky of the left hand.

Tablature For The Simple Exercise To Improve Finger Picking

If you did this correctly, the tablature notes you played were:


And each note plucked used a separate right hand finger. For example, you would use your thumb to pluck the lowest note, your index finger to pluck the next note, your middle finger to pluck the third note, and your ring finger to pluck the highest note.

The Chromatic Scale As A Fingerpicking Exercise

The notes you played form a chromatic scale on one string. A chromatic scale is a musical scale that consists of all twelve notes within an octave, played in succession, without skipping any notes

The notes that you played in your exercise on the first string are F (first fret), F♯ (second fret), G (third fret), and G♯ (fourth fret).

Move Up and Down the Guitar Neck

Once you have plucked all four notes in this manner, move the left hand up one position (one fret) and begin the exercise a second time.

This time, you would play: 


And so on, all the way to the top of the guitar fretboard.

Developing Finger Independence

The point with this exercise is to develop finger independence, as well as returning to a neutral position after plucking each note. Avoid playing this warm up exercise too fast, even if you are able to or you find it boring. 

This exercise can be done as a simple exercise for beginners to practice coordination between the right hand and left hand fingers.

Your Playing Must Be Relaxed and Fluid

You may be thinking that your playing sounds too stiff and the guitar feels awkward. You may find that your playing is not as smooth as you like. 

In order to play the guitar fluently instrument, you must first have a relaxed right hand position with finger movement from the knuckle. This is crucial to obtaining a fluid and relaxed right hand that can play fast passages and play percussion.

Your left hand must also be efficient and relaxed. It comes down to placing the fingers exactly where they will produce the best sound on the guitar.

Demonstrating correct fretting hand position
A slightly bent wrist helps with proper finger placement, especially on the lower strings

This exercise forces you to place the fingers exactly in the right spot on the fretboard. Pay attention to how your fingers must stretch differently, depending on where you are playing on the guitar fretboard.

Focus On The Sound

You should avoid re-adjusting the fingers after placing them on the fretboard. If proper finger placement is new to you, be sure to practice these exercises very slowly and watch your finger movement carefully. The idea is that you make the sound perfect right off the bat, and you don't re-adjust the fingers after placing them on the guitar neck.

After you finish this exercise you can move on to another warm up, such as scales, or start playing a song.

If you are looking for more fingerpicking exercises and warm ups, check out Play Fingerstyle Guitar Now! This is an online course for learning fingerstyle guitar where we progress from the basics to advanced fingerstyle.

Read More of My Best Fingerstyle Guitar Tips