In our classic Practice Tips feature from the magazine, we brought you practice and warm-up techniques from your favorite guitar players. Here's one from the late, great Dimebag Darrell.
01. Play trills.
Whenever I feel my chops are slacking, I’ll play some widestretch trilling exercises and take them up and down the neck as well as across it. I’ll start off with a two-fret stretch trill between my index and middle fingers and do that until I feel a burn. Then I’ll do the same thing with a three-fret trill between my index and ring fingers, and then a four-fret one between my index and pinkie.
02. Run through scales.
Play the pentatonic blues scale, just for fret- and pick-hand dexterity and to mesh them both together.
03. Practice to records.
Learn licks and songs from records.
04. Play with yourself.
Set up up a four-track or a jambox, lay down a rhythm track off the top of your head and then jam a solo over the playback.
05. Play from the heart.
Even though I’ll do finger warm-ups that go up and down the neck to build up my chops and dexterity, I never, ever sit around and practice the actual licks I’m gonna play live. If you do then you’ll be all worried about the complexity of getting the fingering right and everything else about it, as opposed to the feel…and to me the feel overrides everything.
Recommended Book: Riffer Madness by Dimebag Darrell (Warner Bros. Books)
I don’t use books or videos, so the only one I can really recommend is my Riffer Madness book, not because it’s mine but just because I know this one isn’t a bullshitter and that the techniques in it really do work.