guitar available, I only use 3, in keeping with my philosophy
of maximum gain/least effort, (I’m lazy). In my experience,
guitarists have 3 main problems;
1. They can’t stretch far enough.
2. They can’t pick fast enough.
3. They keep picking the wrong strings.
Obviously there are many other potential issues and if you
have your sights set on technical mastery, you will need more
exercises and time. Check out John Petrucci’s 2 hour routine
in his DVD “Rock Discipline” if you’re up to it. (I’m not).
Consider these 3 exercises to be “Rock Triage” instead, just
enough to rescue you from incompetence and enable you to go
on functioning as a guitar player. You can do all 3 of these
exercises in 5 to 15 minutes a day, 4 or 5 days a week and
have a decent warm up/technique program that will make you a
better player in a few months.
In this post I will focus on the first exercise, stretching.
You must have a certain amount of flexibility and reach in
order to play more complex chords and riffs. I generally
start this exercise on the 9th fret. Put your 1st finger on
the 1st string, 9th fret. Put your 2nd finger on the 2nd
string, 10th fret. Put your 3rd finger on the 3rd string,
11th fret. Finally, put your 4th finger on the 4th string,
12th fret. Congratulations! You are making a D major 7th
chord! Pick each note separately, pick down. It should sound
good, if you’re in tune. Now move your 1st finger (only),
down 1 fret to the 8th fret, 1st string. Keep your other 3
fingers the same, don’t lift them! Now pick again making
sure all 4 notes are clear. Then move your 2nd finger (only)
down 1 fret to the 9th fret, 2nd string. Again move only 1
finger, keep the others pressed in place. Pick it all again
making sure all 4 notes are clear. Keep moving your 3rd
finger down a fret (to the 10th fret), and pick and finally
your 4th finger (down to the 11th fret, and pick). If you
did this correctly, moving only 1 finger at a time while
keeping the other 3 in position and picking all 4 cleanly,
it probably hurt a little and sounded terrible until you
moved all 4 fingers (Now you’re playing a Db major 7!).I
have illustrated this in my primitive tab example, below.
time, continue by moving the first finger down another
fret to the 7th fret first string (keeping all the other
fingers in place). Move the 2nd finger down to the 8th
fret 2nd string, etc. The goal is to walk your way down
the neck one finger/fret at a time until you reach the
bottom. Good luck! Do not force this, I doubt you will
make it to the bottom at first. Stop when it hurts and stay
at that fret until you can handle the next stretch. It may
take a couple of months, but it will help you play those
awkward chords and riffs and it makes a great warm-up.