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The 3 Best Guitar Exercises To Improve Your Playing Right Now

I’m going to show you some of my favourite guitar exercises that work out your right hand, stretch your left hand and are guaranteed to improve your ability and dexterity even when you only have 5 minutes to practice in the day.

We all have those days where you haven't had time to practice guitar but want to feel like your fingers are progressing and these guitar exercises are all about getting the best results in the shortest amount of time.

These exercises are easy to learn and the great thing about them is that once you've learned them you only need to spend 5 minutes a day playing to see some real benefits in terms of your finger strength, dexterity, independence and reach!

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The Staircase guitar exercise

This guitar excercise is all about the stretch! For this one, we start off higher up the fretboard (where the frets are closer together) and gradually move down the neck which stretches your fingers more and more as the frets get further apart.

The fingering for this exercise is very straightforward - you essentially make a 'staircase' shape with your hand before moving each finger down independently by one fret at a time.

This movement alone will increase your finger strength and dexterity. The added difficulty as the frets get further apart and the stretch becomes larger will give your fingers a real workout and improve your reach.

To make sure you get the most benefit from this exercise, you should pluck all four strings together using the thumb and three fingers of your picking hand and listen for clean, ringing notes.

If you can't quite make a stretch, your finger will partially mute a note and you'll hear the fret buzzing - if this happens just reset your fingers and try again. Eventually, over time the stretches will become easier and you'll be able to make it further down the fretboard all the way to the bottom!

BONUS TIP: Once you've mastered this exercise going down the neck, try going back up from low to high - or alternating directions - it gets very hard!

The Spider guitar exercise

The Spider guitar exercise is a great way to blow the cobwebs off your hands and give them an amazing workout!

The reason that this exercise looks and sounds so crazy is because it's actually two patterns played at once. If you separate them it's a bit easier to understand what's going on - you can also download the Spider guitar exercise tab from this page.

Once you've got those two patterns down, what we do is move one of the patterns down a string at a time, whilst continuing to play the other on the highest string. As the distance between the two gets larger the stretch becomes more difficult.

In this exercise, you're stretching your fingers vertically across the fretboard which works to improve your reach, dexterity and finger independence across strings - which is exactly what you need when you're playing scales and improvising in real playing.

You can play this exercise by plucking the two strings you're using with your thumb and finger on your fretting hand, or it also makes a great alternate picking exercise if you decide to use a plectrum - just remember you want to ensure every note rings out nice and cleanly!

The Cramper guitar exercise

This exercise is great when you want to improve your picking speed, finger indepedence and the synchronization between your left hand and right hand. It follows a really simple fingering pattern of: 1, 4, 3, 4, 2, 4, 3, 4 with your fretting hand and it's played entirely on one string.

Don't let the simplicity fool you, this exercise is difficult and I guarantee it will cramp your hand up very quickly! The constant switching between fingers 3, 4 / 2, 4 and back again is what makes this guitar exercise so tough, but stick with it and you'll see some very real benefits in your own playing!

Want more guitar exercises?

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If you're interested in learning the location of different scales around the fretboard, our Guitar Scale Finder app features over 200 different guitar scale and arpeggio patterns with detailed charts, tabs and scale diagrams for each scale, pattern and key.

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