These eight advanced finger exercises for advanced guitar will help you improve your dexterity and speed on your instrument. They’re perfect for incorporating into a warm-up routine and will help you build coordination between your picking and fretting hands.

The exercises you’re learning today come straight out of Jamey Arent’s list of daily warm-up exercises. Jamey is one of our top instructors at Pickup Music – he’s a masterful guitarist with years of experience in education, touring, and recording!

Here are a few tips from Jamey before you dive in to these exercises:
  • Bake these exercises into your practice routine over time
  • Don’t try to tackle everything in one sitting.
  • Practice every exercise with a metronome – we have a free metronome here!
  • Start slow and gradually increase the tempo.
The following finger exercises for guitar cover three concepts:
  • Picking mechanics
  • Harmony (AKA chords)  
  • Rhythm

Let’s get into it!

Guitar finger exercises for picking, speed, & dexterity

Before you play any of these, let’s talk about the outcome. 

Your goal:
  • Develop a solid picking technique
  • Build up speed
  • Gain control over the sound of each note (tone and dynamics) 
Don’t forget your metronome
  • When you set up your metronome for these exercises, start slow
  • Probably slower than you first think. 
  • Use a metronome if you need it.

Using a metronome for guitar practice will help you track your progress in regards to speed. 

  • A metronome will also reveal to you when you’re going too fast. 
  • When your playing gets sloppy because you’re trying to keep up with the click, turn the tempo down.

In general, we recommend using alternate picking (down, up, down, up, etc). 

  • If you’re not familiar with alternate picking, or you’re just starting out with using a pick, you can use all downstrokes at first.

Here we go!

Guitar finger exercise 1: Chromatic scale

Guitar finger exercise 2: C major scale

Guitar finger exercise 3: C major scale in thirds

Guitar finger exercise 4: Am pentatonic string skipping 

Exercises to improve your rhythm

There’s no reason why scale exercises should be boring. One way to make practicing scales and finger exercises musical is to explore different rhythms.

Below is an example with triplets, but we encourage you to try out all kinds of rhythms. Get creative!

C major scale triplet pattern (8th position)

You can practice this one to a metronome first, but the next step up is to play these with backing tracks. 

  • You can sample our massive library of backing tracks here
  • You can transpose these exercises to different keys or find a backing track that fits the original exercise.
  • We even have a playlist with drums-only backing tracks!

Guitar finger exercises for harmony

Scales are a great way to practice picking mechanics, but don’t stop there! Below are three exercises that highlight ways in which you can combine picking exercises with chordal concepts.

Focus on the shape of each arpeggio and triad – memorize them, and you'll have a brand new set of tools to highlight chords while you're soloing!

C major arpeggio

C minor arpeggio

F major triad inversions all string sets

With all of these exercises, start off at a slow pace. 

Once they feel really comfortable in your hands, you can modify them by playing them:

  • At different tempos
  • In different keys
  • In a different tonality (minor vs. major)
  • Using different rhythms
  • As quietly as you can and as loudly as you can

If find these finger exercises to overwhelming, check out these five finger exercises for beginner guitarists!

If you’ve enjoyed these exercises and want to explore more, or if you need more guidance in your guitar journey, try a free 14-day trial of Pickup Music for guided guitar Learning Pathways, 5-minute lessons, and so much more.

Author: Julia Mahncke