Practicing Techniques

Start out slow and work on only one exercise the first week. The next week start by playing a new exercise or a new variation of an old exercise. Then play last weeks exercise. The next week you start with another new exercise and play then play the previous two weeks exercises. If you are comfortable learning two or more new exercises a week go ahead but don't do more than three or four. The whole idea is to focus on an exercise and make it second nature. The rotation allows you to keep working on an exercise. You may find that what works for you is to have a certain exercise for each day of the week but at least do one or two every day that week. After a while you will playing a large range of exercises.

Using a Metronome

When practicing exercises, it is best to use a metronome. Practicing with a metronome helps to build your internal clock so that when you play without one, you can keep a good lock on the tempo of the song without drifting faster or slower. In some cases this is a desired effect. However, in many cases it only detracts from the song making it sound out of sync with all the musicians. Timing is very important for the drummer and bass player. Guitar players and other instruments can many times get away with it, however, not usually the bass and almost never the drums.

The other reason to play with a metronome is when you practice scales, exercises or new licks, it is much more effective to play slower at first and speed up only when you have mastered the lick at the slower speed. Using a metronome forces you to stay slow and not cheat and speed up in the middle of the lick. Your fine motor skills develop faster when you play slow. All you are trying to do is to teach your finger muscles what to do.

If you are playing at a slower tempo, it is best to use double time or faster so that you hear a click not only on each beat but the beats in-between as well. This is counted as "one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and" and so forth.

When you play the following exercises, play with a metronome and play slowly at first. As you get better at playing it, speed up the metronome just a little bit. Wait until you can play it flawlessly before you try to speed up. The whole thing you are doing with exercises from a mechanical point of view is to train the brain how to move your fingers correctly. Allow your brain to get the information at a slower pace and it will lock it in. Before you know it you will be able to play lightning fast.


This exercise will teach you two main things. The sound of each interval and how the different intervals look. Starting on the C note on the third fret of the A string, play a second interval in the key of C Major (CM). The notes you are starting with are "C" and "D". The second interval is the note "D". Move straight up the string playing the second interval of each interval in the key of C Major. Remember, only use the "A" and "D" strings.

Repeat this exercise by playing thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, sevenths, and octaves.


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Climbing Intervals.

In this exercise, you will start at the 1st interval and then play the 2nd interval then the 3rd interval. Then play the 2nd interval, then the 3rd interval then the 4th interval. And continue up the neck. It looks like so:

1-2-3, 2-3-4, 3-4-5, 4-5-6, 5-6-7, 6-7-8, 7-8-9, and then back down again, 8-7-6, 7-6-5, 6-5-4, 5-4-3, 4-3-2, 3-2-1

You start by playing three note runs, then you will play four note runs, then five note runs then six note runs and so on.


Arpeggios are simply playing one at a time, each note in a scale or chord. Up the scale or chord then back down again. A good exercise with arpeggios is to play each mode starting from the root.


The first part of this exercise is to play a chromatic scale straight up the neck on one string. Learn to get the transition of the left hand smooth. Try not to make any noise. Repeat this with each string.

This variation will teach you how to use the open strings to transition up the neck. This is very useful to make smooth ascending and descending runs. Play a chromatic scale moving up the neck on the E string. Instead of fretting the A note on the E string, play the open A. When you pick the open A, let it ring, and then transition your left hand up the neck to A#. Play the next four notes on the E string and when you get to the D note, use the open D string. While the open D rings, make your left hand transition up the E string to D#. When you get to G, use the open G and continue on the E string at G#. After working on going up and getting that sounding clean, try going down the neck instead of up.

You want to watch how long you let the open notes ring. As you start to play the next four notes after your transition, use the middle part of your fingers to mute the open strings. You are trying to make a clean transition between the open string and the first fretted note after the transition. Don't let the open note overlap the fretted notes.