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Guitar Aerobics

Karl Holder (154) · [archive]
Style: Basics · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Guitar Aerobics
A bunch of technique drills that work both hands.


Non-musical technique drills are somewhat controversial because, well, what are you really learning? I think that these things can definitely be overdone, but have a place in any structured practice regimen. I've also found that some very musical ideas make great technique drills. I titled this lesson "Guitar Aerobics" because these should definitely be viewed that way, definitely do not do these only and call it "practice". I usually divide a serious practice session into stages, doing these first but not exclusively.

Some pointers that have helped me:

1) Do these absolutely perfectly, even if it means playing one note per hour. You will only grow technically by enforcing good habits, not learning bad ones real well! Play on those fingertips and alternate your picking.

2) Keep both hands and wrists relaxed and be careful about over-stressing your hands. While I was in college, we had something like a 60% down rate for the entire sophomore guitar class due to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and tendonitis.

2) Practice these with a metronome or drum machine. Find a tempo where you execute cleanly and practice there 90% of the time. Add ten clicks to the speed and TRY 10% of the time. You should progress pretty rapidly this way.


I never skip this. These not only help avoid repetitive-motion injuries, but are really what give me that feeling of being "warmed-up". Let's try one:

Stretch One

Finger this major 7 chord with your first finger at the ninth fret of your high "E" string. Play, making sure all notes are clear. Move your first finger down a fret and play. Move your second finger down a fret. Move the third, move the pinky. Repeat until you run out of neck. Try to make all chords ring clearly all the way down. If you find a point where you are starting to feel a muscle tug, hold the chord shape for a few seconds. Don't force this!


This exercise can be repeated on the middle four strings, and the lowest four strings.

Stretch Two

This stretch is quite musical. You'll be playing ii-V progressions down the neck. The first move is A-7 to D7b9. Again, move this down the neck a fret at a time until you either run out of gas or fretboard.

Next page, single note drills...