Just like it’s important for athletes to do their warm-ups pre-game, it’s equally important for guitarists to warm up their hands and fingers before getting down to play. This is regardless of their skill level. The most common warm-up exercises include running scales and chord shapes.
The essence of a good warm-up is to prevent hand injuries caused by playing repetitive styles and patterns or even fast playing when the muscles are still stiff and tense. In return, it will improve your playing productivity.
Read on as we look at 9 different guitar warm-up exercises for your hands and fingers.
This is the simplest way to get your hands warm. You get to circulate your blood flow all through your hands and fingers. Additionally, it causes an increase in body temperature, which is especially beneficial to your muscles.
You'll be able to execute more demanding playing with ease. As your muscle temperature rises and oxygen becomes more available to your muscles, it facilitates easier contraction and relaxation.
Think about it this way: At the start of practice, your muscles are "cold." Put a rubber band in the freezer. Take it out and now stretch it. It will break shortly after that. And that resembles what you're doing to your muscles when you start with a static stretch.
Stretch your hand and fingers as wide as possible to achieve a star shape. Fold them back into a fist and release them once again following the repeated motion. This helps warm up the muscles around the hand by relaxing and contracting.
Up to this point, we’re good to start some slow playing as we build up.
Beginners should just start with something they’re comfortable with as their first warm-up. Consider something you have experience with and are well-versed in. This is where scales come in.
Scales are the very basic yet important foundation of great musicianship, and there are several kinds of scales, including the following: major and minor scales, pentatonic scales, chromatic scales, and blues scales. Scales have a pattern that does vary and are usually repetitive. They’re designed to be memorized easily and move fingers across the fretboard in a patterned motion.
Here are some of the beginner scales:
A chromatic scale consists of a 12-note scale that’s semitone steps apart. Therefore, if you start playing on the 6th string from the F note, and play every fret until the twelfth, you will have played the F chromatic scale.
You can execute a quick run across the neck, playing each note on all six strings, by beginning, for instance, with a C note on the low E string and playing four notes on each string. You can just repeat the previous step to get back to the beginning after playing a full chromatic scale to complete the practice.
Chromatic scales are ideal for practice since they require the use of all four fingers, which will help you learn and master your use of each finger. "One finger, one fret" is one of the helpful general rules.
Major scales are one of the best exercises that any level guitarist love, since they involve lots of stretches and technique inputs such as legato, hammer-on, and pull-offs.
Running up and down the scale while performing a specific repetition can be fantastic for you. You’ll undoubtedly be pleased if you perform a major scale using the "three notes per string" technique used by many renowned musicians.
You'll need to use a little amount of finger flexibility. It will work miracles if you play it correctly and with all your fingers.
A pentatonic scale is a five-note scale. A minor pentatonic scale is one of the easiest scales, yet it sounds so beautiful. Practice this scale in every position to break the monotony. Enjoy the different timbre, and most importantly get those fingers moving.
Many great solos such as “Black Dog” and “Stairway to Heaven” have been played under the construction of minor pentatonic scales, specifically in A minor pentatonic.
We all know how hard chord changes are for beginner guitarists, especially that single one from C to G and vice versa.
You can always perform a little chord run depending on the chords you’re familiar with. No matter what kind of chords are used—minor, major, or anything else—it doesn't matter. Play a few different chords and practice alternating between them. If you’re familiar with several barre chords, you can practice them in various neck positions.
Your ability to change chords will improve with the use of guitar chord workouts. We all struggled at first, and occasionally our finger positions interfere with our ability to play certain chords. You can perform any song or chord progression after mastering the chord switching with the help of these exercises.
An accent is a great tool that helps to break the monotony of certain patterns that you’re playing. You might give your monotonous practice some fresh life by emphasizing particular notes or strumming patterns.
For instance, let’s say you're using upstrokes and downstrokes to perform a 4/4 strumming pattern. Each beat will require one upstroke and one downstroke, giving you a total of eight strums. Now, if you only use ups and downs to play it, it will sound uninteresting. You can always emphasize a particular beat.
When that beat is accented, you make it stand out from the texture. That beat becomes the focus of attention for the duration that it is present, regardless of what else is happening. Therefore, emphasize the 2nd and 4th beat, and you’ll quickly hear a distinctive pattern with lots of life.
Both novice and experienced musicians can benefit from string skipping. You should quickly get proficient with the guitar pick, as it’s your tool.
By using the string-skipping technique, you can skip one or even two strings between sounds. As a result, you’ll move to the third or fourth string rather than playing something on the first string and then moving to the second.
Repeat this on the skipped string following the same pattern. When you first start, it can be pretty difficult, but it will be worth it in the end. This can also serve as a good exercise for coordination between both hands and picking on the right hand.
Scales sequencing works excellently as both a fingering exercise and a warm-up exercise. Scales sequencing involves playing, for instance, the first four notes of the scale (d r m f), then starting at r m f s, m f s l, and so on. This may help you be able to cover and master your fretboard too.
Rhythm is an important aspect of guitar playing. One of the ways we achieve rhythm is by strumming. As a guitarist, you want to pay attention to your upstrokes and downstrokes and have different combinations of them, to discourage monotony while spicing things up to make your music more interesting.
Listen and play to different songs with different strumming patterns to learn and understand and sharpen more on your rhythm and strumming techniques.
You ideally want to make your fingers be able to spread wide, to cover a wide gap range of notes. You’ll practice this exercise by starting with your left-hand index and middle finger. Stretch as much as possible across the frets. Then switch to the middle and ring finger, and lastly ring and pinky fingers
That sums up our warm-up exercises. We hope that you’ll love to try them out. You don’t have to do all of them every time you warm up. Working through a few of them will be beneficial for your playing. Check them out, and practice to see what works best for you.