How to Create Your Own Guitar Exercises to Build Position Strength and Dexterity

By Hal Leonard Corporation, Jon Chappell, Mark Phillips, Desi Serna

Some people do all sorts of exercises to develop their position playing on the guitar. They buy books that contain nothing but position-playing exercises. Some of these books aim to develop sight-reading skills, and others aim to develop left-hand finger strength and dexterity. But you don’t really need such books.

You can make up your own exercises to build finger strength and dexterity. (And sight reading doesn’t concern you now anyway, because you’re reading tab numbers.)

To create your own exercises, just take the two-octave major scale and number the 15 notes of the scale as 1 through 15. Then make up a few simple mathematical combinations that you can practice playing. Following are some examples:

  • 1-2-3-1, 2-3-4-2, 3-4-5-3, 4-5-6-4, and so on.

  • 1-3-2-4, 3-5-4-6, 5-7-6-8, 7-9-8-10, and so on.

  • 15-14-13, 14-13-12, 13-12-11, 12-11-10, and so on.


You get the idea. You can make up literally hundreds of permutations and practice them endlessly — or until you get bored. Piano students have a book called Hanon that contains lots of scale permutations to help develop strength and independence of the fingers. You can check out that book for permutation ideas, but making up your own is probably just as easy.