Before you even lay a finger on
the guitar fretboard, it's beneficial (and
important) to spend five or so minutes doing some simple finger stretching
Just as you would warm up and stretch before working out at
the gym or playing sport, the same applies for using your fingers!
A lot of guitarists neglect the warm up and then can't believe how much
better they play once they start adding these exercises to their
routine. They really do loosen up your fingers and allow you to make
more awkward, quicker movements on the neck.
Finger Stretching Exercises Without the Guitar
First, we need to stretch the joints in our individual fingers.
You can use
the edge of a table or desk to stretch each finger. Simply
place the tip of each finger on the edge of the table/desk, keeping
your finger straight and in line with the top surface. Slowly push
down so your finger bends back and you can feel it pulling.
slowly and carefully!
Stretching my index finger...
Apply the same method for all four fingers. Notice how my other fingers
are closed against the
palm. This helps to encourage finger independence.
Let's not forget the thumb, which has to endure a fair bit of pressure on the back of the guitar neck. You'll also want to stretch your thumb if you're playing fingerstyle.
This time I'm simply giving the "thumbs up" and gently pulling the thumb to the side with my other hand. It might help to open and close your other fingers while the thumb is held in this position.
can also use a similar method against a wall (or just use the flat palm
of your other hand as the "wall").
Point to the wall using
each of your fingers, again keeping the other fingers clenched against
your palm. Slowly push your hand towards the wall, keeping the finger
Index finger. Keep the top
pads of your finger flat against the wall as you let gravity pull the
rest of your hand down...
finger. It looks more painful than it actually is! The redness and
white spots are just where the blood flow has been momentarily
Next try stretching all the fingers together by pushing them back with
the palm of your other hand as demonstrated...
Now, slowly clench that
same hand into a fist, tighter and tighter.
Make sure it's a gradual tightening. No sudden movements.
probably feel a weird burning sensation because your fingers will still
be in their stretched position from the other exercises. Unclench your
fist and then clench again. The sensation will soon disappear.
Again, slowly clench and unclench (your fist...) about 10 times and then
desk/wall and fist exercises a couple more times.
the same for the other hand, especially if you're playing fingerstyle.
Wiggle your fingers around a little. Shake your hand as you would if
you'd washed your hands and there was no towel to dry them!
All that should only take you 3 minutes max.
OK, now it's time to pick up the guitar for some more finger stretching
Finger Stretching Exercises Using the Guitar
Before we actually use our fingers on the fretboard to warm up, we can use the neck of the guitar for one final stretching exercise.
Simply create a V shape between two fingers at a time and lodge the
neck between them, pushing them apart.
might want to hold the top of the neck as you do this (close to where
the neck meets the guitar's body) so you don't put too much pressure on
against the neck to stretch out your fingers. Do this for each finger
pairing for a total of 2 minutes. If you prefer, you could simply part
your fingers into the V shape using your other hand, but I find using
the guitar neck gives you a more solid pressure point.
Again, wiggle your fingers.
fingers should now be loose and ready to play and it should have only taken you about five minutes in total!
Don't break the habit.