Technique Studies

Grab Your Guitar and Play Along with These 10 One Minute Exercises Right Now

Pro Tip: Playing clear and precise notes is more important than speed, so if the tempo is too quick, adjust your metronome to practice the exercise at a speed that is doable. It is ok to look at your hands while you practice these exercises. Watch each one minute video all the way through, then practice playing with the video.

Gear/Equipment: I played my Washburn WM-100, using Jim Dunlop Jazz Picks, through my Lunchbox Jr Amp. My metronome is the Korg KDM-2. Like good gear and books? Check out my Guitar Gear page.


PLAY-A-LONG TECHNIQUE EXERCISES

1) 1-2-3-4 with Quarter Notes: http://youtu.be/I1V3lERvpJg

This warm-up exercise for beginning guitar students uses the first, second, third and fourth fretting hand fingers on all six strings. The metronome is set at 60 bpm (beats per minute) and each note is held for a full beat, or a quarter note.

2) 1-2-3-4 with Eighth Notes: http://youtu.be/Aj8WGd4o_K0

This warm-up exercise uses the first, second, third and fourth fretting hand fingers on all six strings. The metronome is set at 60 bpm (beats per minute) and each note is held for half a beat, or an eighth note. I employ alternate picking in this exercise: down, up.

3) 1-2-3-4 with Eighth Note Triplets: http://youtu.be/zlouFp6kZL8

This exercise uses the first, second, third and fourth fretting hand fingers on all six strings. The metronome is set at 60 bpm (beats per minute) and each note is held for a third of a beat, or an eighth note triplet. You can pick eighth note triplets a few different ways. In this video, my picking is: down, up, up for each triplet group.

4) 1-2-3-4 with Sixteenth Notes: http://youtu.be/oTQucuzm0U4

This exercise uses the first, second, third and fourth fretting hand fingers on all six strings. The metronome is set at 60 bpm (beats per minute) and each note is held for a quarter of a beat, or a sixteenth note. Picking is: down, up, down, up, for each 16th note group.

5) 1-2-3-4 with Eighth Notes and Eighth Note Triplets: http://youtu.be/638pCobEsUE

This is a combination of exercises 2 and 3. The rhythm alternates between eighth notes on one string to eighth note triplets on the next string. It’s tricky!

6) E String Root Major Scale Shift up the Neck with the Metronome on 2 & 4: http://youtu.be/zP1YT5ig3XA

This exercise uses the E string root major scale pattern which ascends in first position, then descends from second position, etc. The metronome is set at 60 bpm (beats per minute) and needs to be heard on beats 2 and 4, instead of on 1, 2, 3 and 4, as it was heard in previous exercises. This creates a swing feel which is important to be able to play, although it does take a while for most guitarists to internalize. I use alternating picking to play the scale in eighth notes.

7) 1-2-3-4 Criss Cross up the Neck with the Metronome on 2 & 4: http://youtu.be/fbT6wAw_IzI

This exercise uses the first, second, third and fourth fretting hand fingers on the middle four strings: B G D and A. Each finger plays a note on a different fret, on a different string. The metronome is set at 60 bpm (beats per minute) and heard on beats 2 and 4.

8) 4-3-2-1 Criss Cross up the Neck with the Metronome on 2 & 4: http://youtu.be/F9BSPXj_uBg

This exercise uses the first, second, third and fourth fretting hand fingers on the four middle strings: B, G, D and A. It’s the opposite of exercise #7, and should be followed by it. The metronome is set at 60 bpm (beats per minute) and it is heard on beats 2 and 4.

9) 1-2-3-4 Criss Cross Chords up the Neck: http://youtu.be/nK3X2h5oFyI

I call this the “1-2-3-4 Chord Criss Cross Exercise.” In this demonstration, it works both the fretting and the picking hand. I use what is called, “piano style” picking, which means I am assigning a specific finger to each string and pulling each string at the same time and with the same force so that each note rings out clearly and balanced, like a piano player would strike a the notes of a chord simultaneously. The metronome is at 50 bpm. You may want to practice without a metronome until you get the hang of the exercise.

You can play this exercise all the way up the neck, so practice what is useful for the music that you play. It will build strength and add precision to your playing if you practice it slowly and carefully. You can use different groups of four strings to practice this exercise. I have chosen the middle four, the B, G, D and A strings.

10) 1-2-3-4 Lockdown: http://youtu.be/Zo5QCkJeOBM

I call this the “1-2-3-4 Lockdown Exercise” because it requires you to keep each finger “locked down” on the fretboard until you need to pick up that particular finger to play another note in the sequence. It is very tough to do, even with the slow metronome speed of 50 bpm!

The point of this exercise is to learn to isolate and move each finger independently and to encourage your fingers to stay close to the fretboard. By practicing this exercise, you will develop speed and control.

Most guitarists benefit by starting with a “1-2 Lockdown” across all the strings, and then graduating to a “1-2-3 Lockdown” before attempting this one. Remember not to lift a finger up until it is needed to play another note. That means you are going to get some strange sounds with some of the pairs of notes that ring out simultaneously. That’s a good thing here! This exercise works ascending, but not descending.

QUICK LINKS TO OTHER LESSONS: Standard Music NotationChords, Scales, and TheoryCollege Music TheoryChord Tone SoloingAdvanced Chord StudiesSpecial Topic LessonsJam Tracks in All KeysMetronome and Drum Tracks

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