The first section of your practice session should be devoted to a warm-up. You
shouldn't just pick up the guitar and try to play full out.
After all, you wouldn’t go to the gym and start to sprint as fast as you could
without a warm-up, would you?
Of course not!
You know that you need to warm-up your body at the start of any workout. The
same should be true of your guitar workouts.
What is a Warm-Up?
A warm-up allows your body to perform at an optimal level and prevent injury.
Think for a moment about what is required of your muscles when you play the
guitar. There are 34 muscles that move the fingers and thumb---17 in the palm and
18 in the forearm. And that’s not counting the muscles in your upper arm,
shoulders, back and neck!
Doesn’t it make sense that you should warm-up?
The first warm-up exercise we will look at uses alternate picking
Alternate picking is the most common and efficient way to play notes on individual
Alternate picking requires that you strike the first note with a down-stroke and the
next note with an up-stroke. The pattern is repeated for each successive note.
Here is how to play the first warm-up alternate picking exercise shown below.
To start the exercise, begin on the first string, 1st fret. The number
combination 1-2-3-4 represents your fret-hand fingers. Remember that your
fret-hand fingers are numbered from one to four (index to pinkie).
To play this exercise, place your first finger on the 1st fret and pick the note
with a down-stroke.
Next, place your second finger on the 2nd fret and strike this note with an
Place your third finger on the third fret and play this note with a down-stroke.
Finally, position your fourth finger on the fourth fret and pick this note with
You are now ready to repeat this pattern starting on the second fret. The
exercise 1-2-3-4 should be repeated on each fret until your first finger
reaches the twelfth fret. You can then play the exercise backwards (4-3-2-
1) to the 1st fret.
Next, repeat this exercise on the remaining strings.
Warm-up Alternate Picking Exercise # 1
Start slow and build up speed only as your hands warm-up. When you first start to do this warm-up exercise, you may feel like
your fingers are tripping over each other. This is normal. With some practice, you will be able to play this exercise without even
having to think about it. It will become automatic, just like tying your shoes.
Always start slow! Start your warm-up slow and build up speed only as your hands warm up.
© Copyright 2012 Don J. MacLean. All Rights Reserved.