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So, you have just recently decided to join the majestic League of Guitarists—a vast musical community with so much potential for awesomeness. Naturally, you probably can’t wait to pick up your guitar and practice that new chord progression you learned over the weekend. Or perhaps you just finished learning a new scale, riff, or lick and can’t wait to get a hold of your guitar so you can try out your soloing skills.
But slow down there, buckaroo! Before you get to playing, it is crucial to go through a few warm-up exercises. Warming up before playing not only stretches your fingers but also helps you to avoid unnecessary injury.
Here are ten beginner guitar warm-up exercises to add to your practice routine.
1) Off The Guitar Hand Warm Up
Now, before you even start playing, there are some warm-up exercises you can do to get your fingers ready. These exercises are good if you are still new to the guitar because you don’t need any guitar skills to do them.
Start by simply shaking your hands from your wrists up. This movement action will help get blood to your fingers. It can be helpful when your fingers are cold, as blood warms up your fingers, countering stiffness. Do this for about 10 seconds.
To follow this up, stretch out your hands in front of you. Curl your fingers into a fist and hold for five seconds. Stretch out your fingers so that your hand is wide open. Alternate between the fist and hand about ten or more times. Once done, you can pick up your guitar!
2) Chord Warm Ups
As a beginner, chords are among the first things you learn on guitar. For this reason, they serve as a good, easy way to get your fingers ready.
Start with a single open chord. Any open chord you know can work; the less complicated the chord, the better. Hold the chord for four counts and release it for four. This exercise also doubles up as a way to master chord shapes. So, feel free to experiment with a different type of chord each time.
You can also warm up with multiple chords. Here, you will simply play a few chord progressions, starting with slow tempos and gradually increasing speed. You can use a metronome. Make sure the chords are simple when you start and switch to more difficult ones as your fingers loosen up. Additionally, you can switch between different strumming patterns to give your strumming hand a good workout.
Here are a few sample progressions you can try out:
3) Four Note Warm-Up Exercises
The 4-note per-string guitar warm-up is a good option for beginner lead guitarists. As the name suggests, the exercise is straightforward. You simply have to play four notes on each string.
Assuming your guitar is in standard tuning, start from the topmost string (low E). You can start anywhere on the fretboard. Play four notes, one for each finger, and jump to the fifth string. You want to land on the note directly below where you started on the sixth. Play four notes on the fifth string and jump in the same manner to the fourth. Do this until you reach the first string (high E). Once on the first string, start ascending following the same procedure.
For your picking hand, you can use down picking when beginning. Switch it up to up-picking. As you improve, you can use alternate picking.
There are many variations of this you can try. As you grow in your playing, you can learn new variations. You can also create variations of the exercises you know by skipping a few fingers every time.
Here is another example of a four-note warm-up exercise:
4) Scale Pattern Warm-ups
Scales are the backbone of all music. For this reason, they serve as good warm-up exercises for guitarists of all levels. There are many types of scales. You are likely to come across a few as a beginner. Their repetitive nature, coupled with the leaping from note to note, can serve as a way to stretch your fingers. Including them in your warm-up routine will also help you with their memorization.
Beginners can incorporate the following scales into their warm-up routines;
A pentatonic scale is a five-note musical scale. There are many variations of pentatonic scales in the musical world. Even then, as they only contain five notes, they are easy for beginners to memorize. They are also usually easy to incorporate into conventional music for soloing.
The minor and major pentatonic scales can be an ideal place to start. When it comes to scales, Repetition is King. Start by practicing slowly and gradually increase the tempo.
The major scale is the most used in music. It is the most crucial scale you may have to master. It comprises eight notes ascending and descending. There are many ways to play major scales on the guitar. Some are simpler than others. It is up to you to find a pattern that works for you.
The chromatic scale is another simple scale you can use as a warm-up exercise. A chromatic scale is a twelve-note scale with all notes a semitone apart. The most simple chromatic scale on the guitar is the F chromatic scale. Just play every note a semitone apart on the low E string. Start from the first fret to the twelfth fret. Like the major scale, there are many variations of the chromatic scale on the guitar. Start by learning the most simple and work your way up.
When it comes to warm-ups, there is no limit. Your fingers are also going to adapt if you play often enough. You will notice eventually, you won’t need to take a lot of time warming up to get your fingers moving. Even then, warm-ups should always be a part of your routine.
I have been playing guitar for the past 15 years, and my knowledge and passion for guitars prompted me to start Guitaresque to share my knowledge, tips, and tricks with other guitar players. The sole purpose of this website is to help and inspire guitar players worldwide, to improve their playing and their love for guitars.