Tag Archives: Practice

Fingerboard Exercises

Hey all!

While thinking up stuff to post, I thought to myself:

“Why don’t we kick this off like how we would with guitar playing: with finger exercises?”

So here we are.  I decided to gather up three basic but very useful exercises I have picked up from various sources and experimentation.  Give these a try!  Once you get used to these, try rearranging your own.  It can be as simple as playing the patterns on other parts of the neck, or making up your own finger combinations.  If they are uncomfortable, you are on the right track*!  The point of exercises, much like going to the gym, is to build your abilities up and to sharpen them.  They are also meant to work your mind, as playing music is as much of a mental thing as it is physical.  So working on things that give you a hard time will gradually make other things easier in the long run.

*note that this does not include physical pain.  If you are hurting, then stop and take a break!

Ex 1: 4 Straight Down

This one is your typical semi-chromatic run.  If you are green when it comes to note picking, this is an excellent way to build a few chops.  If this is well and good for you, try different picking patterns, such as down picking every note, up picking every note, or alternate pick as shown (down, up, down, up, etc.):


The rectangle with the bottom missing represents a downstroke while the “v” represents an upstroke.  The numbers below the tabs represents the fingerings.  Assume the pattern continues throughout the piece.

Ex 2: 1234 2341

Taken straight out of the Steve Vai guitar workout book I have, this one is similar to example one except that the finger pattern changes in a specific order per string.  Pay attention to which finger starts off on the next string:


Ex 3: Skipping Madness

This one is a doozy!  It is a combination of skipping fingerings with skipping strings.  Great way to get your mind thinking as well as come to grips with string skipping:


Try these for a few minutes before you get into practicing or playing, as well as come up with your own.  Start slow, and steadily build up the speed from there!