Playing guitar requires a decent amount of flexibility in your fingers.
When you practice guitar regularly you develop more flexibility but at the same time you need more of that flexibility because your riffs and licks become more advanced as you progress.
Some beginner guitar students blame the lack of flexibility to short, thick, weird or chubby fingers.
Of course guitar players with long fingers may have some advantage, but the majority of guitar players should be able to learn to play barre chords, scales, solos and all the stuff most guitar players do, no matter the size of their fingers.
I know a lot of great guitar players out there with short fingers and they all rock! They increased their flexibility by lots of practice.
In this post I will show you 8 exercises that will improve your technique and develop the strength and flexibility you need.
You might not be able to play all the exercises (in the beginning) but that’s not the point, the point is that you extend your reach so that it becomes easier for you to play your favorite licks and riffs.
Note: If you are a beginner guitar player then first practice the 1-2-3-4 exercises before trying one of the exercises below. If your fingers feel really stiff then also start with the 1-2-3-4 exercises first.
Prevent any injuries! If you feel any pains or warning signs from your fingers, hands, arms or any other parts of your body when you are playing, stop and rest! Don’t hurt yourself. It’s okay to seek challenge but know your limits. Listen to your body carefully.
– Practice these exercises slowly first and then gradually build up to normal speed.
– Place your thumb on the middle of the back of the neck.
– Focus fully on your hands and fingers. Concentrate.
– Take regular breaks between the exercises.
– Don’t do these exercises for too long. Practice in short periods of time.
Have fun and enjoy your progress! Read More »
So what is it that you exactly want to accomplish with your guitar playing? Where are you heading and what is your goal?
Do you want to become a fresh sounding blues guitar player, a fast hell shredding rock dude, an authentic folk singer songwriter or a smooth jazz cat exploring the universe of possibilities?
Do you want to start a band, write, record your own music and build an audience?
Maybe you want to make money playing guitar through teaching and performing. Whatever it is, the stars will all line up for you if you pursue the steps of those who have gone before you.
The most successful guitar players have all incorporated the following habits to ensure their way to success.
Here are the keys: Read More »
The natural minor scale can be played in 5 different positions just like the major scale, the pentatonic scale and all the other scales.
These 5 positions are all one and the same natural minor scale but played in different shapes and areas on the fretboard to give you the freedom to play the scale all over the neck and improvise without restrictions.
The natural minor scale (also known as Aeolian mode) is derived from the major scale. So if you already know how to play the 5 positions / shapes of the major scale you will automatically know how to play the positions of the natural minor scale. The only difference is where the root note is located and the name of each position.
If you don’t know how to play the first position of the natural minor scale yet or haven’t even heard of it before then check out this post first: Exploring the natural minor scale
The natural minor scale can be used to play over songs in a minor key and can be perfectly combined with the pentatonic / blues scale (which can also be used for the minor key). Using both scales gives you a bigger and more varied palette to draw from.
The diagrams below give you a nice overview of how the fingers are placed and move over the neck for each position.
Play each position starting from the lowest root note (the red note) then play all the way up (ascending) to the last note on the high E-string, then play all the way down (descending) to the first note on the low E-string and then play up again to the first root note you’ll hit upon.
The tablature shows you how to play each position ascending and descending.
– Practice with a pick using alternate picking technique (down, up, down, up, etc.)
– Make sure each note sounds clean and clear .
– Practice slowly first and when you feel comfortable gradually build up speed.
– Memorize all the root notes of each position.
– Make sure you can play each position thoroughly before moving on to the next.
– Take your time to get it all down. It takes a while. Enjoy the path before reaching your destination.
Have a great time! Read More »
Most musicians have to deal with performance anxiety sooner or later in one way or another.
There are professional musicians who struggle with it each and every single performance and others who overcome it quickly.
I also was not immune to the fear of playing in front of people. I remember one of my first gigs when I smoked 2 pack of cigarettes before going on stage.
The nervousness was unbearable, but the strange thing was when I got on stage and started playing I was so focused that the anxiety fell away. All that was left was pure excitement.
Once I started playing gigs every week it was no more an issue. I learned that doing more of the same thing takes away the fear.
But then “change” can come along, new things happening, unexpected situations, bigger stages, different people, larger crowds and you have to deal with the uneasiness all over again and that’s a pain in the #ss.
Still, when you’re aware of a few simple rules and take the necessary steps the nervousness becomes tolerant and will eventually disappear completely. A big part of the salvation lies in your own hands and is easy to attain.
Fear simply comes from worrying about the future, the unknown, thinking about what might happen, going through all the ‘what if’ scenarios and torturing yourself with what others might think.
They are all scenarios that arent’ there, cause you’re here now and those situations aren’t. They only live in your mind.
And yes that’s the theory, you still have to deal with it or better said ‘let go of it’.
Well, here are the keys to help you out and truly enjoy the entire experience of your performance. Read More »
I just came back from a holiday in Spain. I didn’t bring my guitar on the holiday and I really missed it from time to time, but I enjoyed great quality time with my wife and three kids.
It’s was also a good time to reflect and evaluate my life. I do that often anyway, but holidays in particular are really suited for some good thinking and gaining new inspiration.
I filled my moleskin notebook with new ideas, things I want to do more or less (more guitar playing, less worrying, more running, less email, more space, less clutter), I wrote down everything that came to mind. Just putting that stuff on paper is good for the soul.
While enjoying every minute of my holiday I also couldn’t wait to start applying all these new ideas when I got come home. It’s great to start over again every time you want to.
Coming back it felt great to feel the strings on my hands again. Later that evening I was watching some interviews and masterclasses of great guitar legends. I always love to do that. There are is so much to learn from that and so many insights to discover. Read More »
Getting a barre chord to sound good is a real struggle for many guitar students, especially on an acoustic guitar.
It takes a while to really get a barre chord to sound clean and clear. Let’s be honest here, barres are nasty pain in the &ss and can be pretty frustrating at first.
It almost feels like impossible to apply the amount of pressure on the fingers to get them sound smooth.
But don’t worry, if you follow the tips and exercises in this post, it’s gonna get better, a lot better. If fact, you’re gonna do great!
The trick is not just about pressing hard. There’s more to it. Yes, it is important to press your index finger firmly down on the strings in order to make it work, but then again, you don’t want to push too hard either. You need to find the right balance. Whatever you do, do not strain! Don’t be a wimp, but if you’re feeling cramps just let go for a minute.
Watch the positioning of your fingers. Alter the positioning of your index finger slightly up or down to see if you can fix some of the buzzes and mutes. Try rolling it to the sight a bit. Make sure your thumb is right behind the neck to give it enough support. Observe all your fingers and hand position carefully.
Don’t expect your barres to sound great in the beginning, it’s part of the process. Your fingers need to build strength but also learn to shape the right way. It takes some time for your fingers to find the right placement onto the strings. So it’s not just a matter of strength but also technique and the latter takes practice and patience. Read More »