Building Left Hand Dexterity on Guitar

One of the first exercises most beginning guitar students learn is the chromatic-type exercise where each left hand finger plays consecutively (1234) across all six strings.

This is a great exercise for beginners, but once you have the 1234 left hand combination down it's time to move on to other finger combinations.

Here are all of the four finger combinations for you to explore:

  • 1234 1243 1324 1342 1423 1432
  • 2134 2143 2314 2341 2413 2431
  • 3124 3142 3214 3241 3412 3421
  • 4123 4132 4213 4231 4312 4321

    If you take one pattern per day to warm up with, you'll cover every possible four finger combination in less than one month.

    The obvious benefit of this exercise is the dexterity your left hand will gain as all four fingers are worked equally. (No more weak pinky!) But there are other, not so obvious benefits to be reaped from this exercise.

    The dexterity you develop will increase your rate of improvement in all areas of your guitar technique. New scale and arpeggio patterns will be mastered faster than before. You can also use this exercise to "dial in" your left hand in terms of the force applied to each string. Here's a tip...most guitar players play with too tight a grip on the neck. See how lightly you can fret notes yet still have the notes ring clearly.

    Here's my challenge to you. Spend 5 minutes at the beginning of each practice session warming up with one of these patterns for the next month. Chances are you'll notice greater ease in all the music you play because of it.

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