Guitar Exercises For Dummies book cover

Guitar Exercises For Dummies

Authors:
Mark Phillips ,
Jon Chappell
Published: July 21, 2020

Overview

A guitar-playing practice guide with hundreds of warm-up and technique-building exercises 

If you already play some guitar but need some practice, you’re in the right place. Guitar Exercises For Dummies is a friendly guide that provides just enough need-to-know information about practicing scales, chords, and arpeggios in the context of specific skills and techniques to help you maximize its 400+ exercises and improve your guitar playing. (If you need instruction on topics like buying or tuning a guitar and playing basic chords, check out Guitar For Dummies.) 

This practical book starts off with warm-up exercises (on and off-instrument) and then logically transitions to scales, scale sequences, arpeggios, arpeggio sequences, and chords, with a focus on building strength and consistency as well as refining technique. Each section helps you to practice correct hand and body posture and experience variations, such as fingering options and hand positions, and then ends with a brief musical piece for you to try. You can also practice incorporating other facets of musical performance in your exercises, such as: 

  • Tempo 
  • Time signature 
  • Phrasing 
  • Dynamics 

The book wraps up with tips to help you maximize your practice time (like setting goals for each session), ways to improve your musicianship (such as studying other performers’ body language), and an appendix that explains the accompanying website (where you can find audio tracks and additional information). Grab your guitar, grab a copy of Guitar Exercises For Dummies, and start perfecting your finger picking today. 

P.S. If you think this book seems familiar, you're probably right. The Dummies team updated the cover and design to give the book a fresh feel, but the content is the same as the previous release of Guitar Exercises For Dummies (9780470387665). The book you see here shouldn't be considered a new or updated product. But if you're in the mood to learn something new, check out some of our other books. We're always writing about new topics!

A guitar-playing practice guide with hundreds of warm-up and technique-building exercises 

If you already play some guitar but need some practice, you’re in the right place. Guitar Exercises For Dummies is a friendly guide that provides just enough need-to-know information about practicing scales, chords, and arpeggios in the context of specific skills and techniques to help you maximize its 400+ exercises and improve your guitar playing. (If you need instruction on topics like buying or tuning a guitar and playing basic chords, check out Guitar For Dummies.) 

This practical book starts off with warm-up exercises (on and off-instrument) and then logically transitions to scales, scale sequences, arpeggios, arpeggio sequences, and chords, with a focus on building strength and consistency as well as refining technique. Each section helps you to practice correct hand and body posture and experience

variations, such as fingering options and hand positions, and then ends with a brief musical piece for you to try. You can also practice incorporating other facets of musical performance in your exercises, such as: 

  • Tempo 
  • Time signature 
  • Phrasing 
  • Dynamics 

The book wraps up with tips to help you maximize your practice time (like setting goals for each session), ways to improve your musicianship (such as studying other performers’ body language), and an appendix that explains the accompanying website (where you can find audio tracks and additional information). Grab your guitar, grab a copy of Guitar Exercises For Dummies, and start perfecting your finger picking today. 

P.S. If you think this book seems familiar, you're probably right. The Dummies team updated the cover and design to give the book a fresh feel, but the content is the same as the previous release of Guitar Exercises For Dummies (9780470387665). The book you see here shouldn't be considered a new or updated product. But if you're in the mood to learn something new, check out some of our other books. We're always writing about new topics!

Guitar Exercises For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When you’re practicing guitar, use these diagrams to show the finger positions to play major and minor scales, as well as the notes on the neck of your guitar. The latter will help you change starting notes in chords, scales, and arpeggios.

Articles From The Book

47 results

Guitar Articles

Minor Seventh Arpeggio Patterns #3, #4, and #5 for Guitar

A guitar arpeggio is a chord whose notes are played one at a time instead of simultaneously. It’s sort of the exploded view of a chord. Seventh chords sound richer and more complex than basic major and minor chords, and they’re prevalent in many types of music, including jazz, pop, classical, rock, and blues. Minor seventh chords can be derived in different ways, but one way is to start with a major scale and play 1, b3, 5, b7. So in the key of C, a Cm7 (C minor seven) chord is spelled C, Eb, G, Bb. Minor seventh chord arpeggio patterns #3, #4, and #5 span a bit less than two octaves. So you have fewer notes with which to illustrate a minor seventh idea. You can fill the space by repeating notes (by double striking them), switching directions more often, or repeating groups of notes.

Minor seventh arpeggio pattern #3

What follows is the neck diagram and corresponding music and tab for minor seventh chord arpeggio pattern #3, in 5th position in the key of D minor. This is one of the easier ones because it contains no out-of-position notes (which means no stretching!) and it doesn't have any alternate fingerings. It just lies perfectly under your fingers.
Click here to download and print this arpeggio pattern. Here’s an exercise in the key of F# minor in 9th position. Even though you don’t have to turn your 1st finger into a barre to play this exercise, try it anyway and see how you can create a sustained, harp-like sound by letting the strings ring as long as possible.

Minor seventh arpeggio pattern #4

Minor seventh arpeggio pattern #4, shown here in F minor, includes an out-of-position note on the 1st string. Because this note occurs one fret below (lower on the neck) where the finger naturally falls, you must stretch down with your 1st finger to reach it.

The downward stretch is less common in out-of-position playing than the upward stretch, so try isolating just the stretch by playing the top three notes of the pattern starting from the 2nd string. Practice this three-note segment up and down before playing through the entire pattern.

Click here to download and print this arpeggio pattern. The following exercise, in the key of E minor in 4th position, is a good stretching workout between your 2nd and 1st fingers. Leave your 2nd finger on the 2nd string (and let the string ring out) as you play the 1st string notes. This technique really tugs apart those 1st and 2nd fingers and is good for getting limber in a hurry!

Minor seventh arpeggio pattern #5

The following neck diagram, music, and tab for minor seventh chord arpeggio pattern #5 is in the key of G minor. This pattern emphasizes the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers, which are traditionally a weaker set than the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers. Practice pattern #5 after you’ve been playing a lot of barre chords (which give the 1st finger a workout), and isolate the move between the 4th and 2nd fingers on the top two strings if this motion feels less familiar or comfortable than other combinations of fingers. Click here to download and print this arpeggio pattern. Check out the following exercise in the key of Bb minor in 8th position. Notice that an eighth rest ends the measure. This rest may leave you feeling that the exercise ended a bit short. If you fill in that eighth rest with a played note, you can create a repeatable loop that allows you to easily practice the pattern over and over. Simply re-play the note before the last one — the 11th fret on the 4th string — and loop the pattern.

Guitar Articles

Major Seventh Arpeggio Patterns #3, #4, and #5 for Guitar

A guitar arpeggio is a chord whose notes are played one at a time instead of simultaneously. It’s sort of the exploded view of a chord. Seventh chords sound richer and more complex than basic major and minor chords, and they’re prevalent in many types of music, including jazz, pop, classical, rock, and blues. You can derive a major seventh chord in many different ways. One way is to start with a major scale and play 1, 3, 5, 7. So in the key of C, a Cmaj7 (C major seven) chord is spelled C, E, G, B. Major seventh chord arpeggio patterns #3, #4, and #5 span a bit less than two octaves. With a short pattern like #3, you may find yourself having to repeat notes to fill out an idea for a given arpeggio. Repeating notes is okay, but it means you have to think more creatively than when simply running a long pattern.

Major seventh arpeggio pattern #3

The following figure shows the neck diagram and corresponding music and tab for major seventh arpeggio pattern #3 in the key of D.

This pattern can be tricky to master because it has two out-of-position stretches and a mini-barre option. But because the pattern is relatively short, you don’t need to isolate the passages. Instead, just run the pattern in its entirety until you can effectively execute the challenging aspects as smoothly as the straightforward ones.

Click here to download and print this arpeggio pattern. Try the following exercise in the key of B. This pattern is placed in 2nd position — the second lowest possible on the neck — and it includes two stretches on widely separated strings, making it an ideal stretching exercise.

Major seventh arpeggio pattern #4

What follows is a neck diagram and corresponding music and tab for major seventh arpeggio pattern #4 in the key of F. This pattern invites only one alternate approach — a mini-barre with your 1st finger between the 3rd and 2nd strings. Click here to download and print this arpeggio pattern. Try your hand at the following exercise in the key of G. In 7th position, where this exercise is placed, everything becomes easier, including mini-barre substitutions. So try playing this exercise at a brisk clip.

What you may discover is that while the left hand poses no problems, playing four notes in a row each on a different string can be a challenge for the right hand — especially at fast tempos. Here are two solutions: The first is to simply slow down and work up speed gradually. And the second is, if you started out playing with a pick, go to fingerstyle, which makes consecutive-string playing a little easier than alternate picking.

Major seventh arpeggio pattern #5

On to major seventh arpeggio pattern #5, shown here in the key of G. In addition to an out-of-position note, you have the opportunity to employ several alternate fingering solutions. Here’s one to try: Instead of using the 3rd finger on the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings, bring up your 1st finger and plant it across the first three strings at the 7th fret immediately after you leave the first note of the exercise. Keep it there until the very last moment when you have to move it back to the starting note on the 4th string, 5th fret. Click here to download and print this arpeggio pattern. Now check out this exercise, which is in the key of F# in 4th position. This exercise is only one fret lower than the previous pattern. So what changes? You probably practiced the previous pattern with the notes in groups of two or four to the beat. Here, however, you have to think of grouping the notes in threes, because this exercise is in triplets. Remember to apply those accents on the first note of each group of three.

Guitar Articles

Major Seventh Arpeggio Patterns #1 and #2 for Guitar

A guitar arpeggio is a chord whose notes are played one at a time instead of simultaneously. It’s sort of the exploded view of a chord. Seventh chords sound richer and more complex than basic major and minor chords, and they’re prevalent in many types of music, including jazz, pop, classical, rock, and blues. You can derive a major seventh chord in many different ways. One way is to start with a major scale and play 1, 3, 5, 7. So in the key of C, a Cmaj7 (C major seven) chord is spelled C, E, G, B.

Play each arpeggio in this section from low to high slowly, loudly, and deliberately at first. After practicing a few rounds, play each one faster and lighter. No matter what, be sure to maintain your starting tempo and dynamic level throughout the arpeggio.

Major seventh arpeggio pattern #1

The following figure shows an A major seventh arpeggio in 5th position in both a neck diagram and in music and tab. Major seventh arpeggio pattern #1 includes three out-of-position notes — on the 6th, 2nd, and 1st strings. You have to stretch up (toward the bridge) with your 4th finger to reach these notes because they occur one fret above where the finger naturally falls.
Click here to download and print this arpeggio pattern. The following is an exercise in rhythm in 8th-position C major.

In a major seventh chord arpeggio, the seventh is a half step away from the root, and so it’s powerfully drawn back to the root. Here’s a good habit to get into: Whenever you play major seventh arpeggios, always end on the root, not on the seventh.

Major seventh arpeggio pattern #2

Here's the neck diagram and corresponding music and tab for major seventh arpeggio pattern #2 in the key of C. The middle part of this pattern can be tricky, so create a mini exercise-within-an-exercise by playing just the notes on the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings ascending in a five-note loop that goes, by fingers, 1-4-1-1-4. Then go back down again.

You can flatten your 1st finger to play the consecutive notes on the 3rd and 2nd strings, which both occur at the same fret (the 5th in this example). Use this technique when you want to create a more legato sound between the notes.

Click here to download and print this arpeggio pattern. Try the following exercise, in the key of D in 7th position, for some practice. You may notice that this pattern doesn’t use the 2nd finger at all, so try watching that finger throughout the pattern to make sure it stays relaxed and hovering above the 8th fret — even during those stretches when the 4th finger reaches the 11th-fret note on the 4th string.