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Guitar Finger Exercises and Stretches

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Learning the guitar can be especially tough on your hands and fingers when you’re first starting out.

That’s why in this article we’re going to go over the guitar finger exercises and stretches you need to do to improve your dexterity, agility and strength.

This will help you with fretting chords, picking the guitar and everything else related to playing.

Make sure you’re doing these daily.

If you want to find a TON more exercises that’ll level up your playing, definitely try out one of our picks for best online guitar lessons.

So what can you do to improve the playing ability of your fingers?

Finger Stretches and Exercises Without a Guitar

Stretching and working with your hand in general is an important part of practicing guitar. The finger, wrist and hand movements you’ll be using when playing require an agile body part.

The first stretch you want to do is the most basic one…

Finger Pull

The finger pull is exactly like it sounds – you’re gently pulling your fingers towards yourself.

  • Put your right hand in front of you with a bent elbow, palm facing away from you
  • With your left hand, gently and slowly start to pull your index finger towards you until you start to feel a light stretch (don’t over-do this or you’ll break your fingers)
  • Release and move on to your middle finger.
  • Repeat for the rest of your fingers plus your thumb, before switching hands and stretching your left hand’s fingers.

You can also use a wall or the edge of a table to help with this. Simply put each finger tip on the wall/table and gently push your hand down toward the floor so your finger stretches.

Remember not to over-do this – don’t be aggressive or fast, be gentle and slow or you’ll risk injury.

After you do the stretch, make sure to wiggle your fingers and shake your hands to relax and release any tension.



In Between Stretch

Now that we’ve stretched our fingers “up and down,” we are going to stretch in between each finger by moving them “left and right.”

  • Put your right hand out in front of you with a bent elbow
  • Spread all of your fingers out as wide as possible
  • With your left hand, gently and slowly start to pull your index finger to the left until you start to feel a light stretch between your index and middle fingers
  • Release and move on to your middle finger (to stretch between your middle and ring fingers)
  • Release and repeat with your ring finger
  • Wiggle out all of your fingers and relax them
  • Spread them out again as wide as possible
  • Repeat but this time start with your middle finger and gently pull towards the right.
  • Do that for your ring finger and pinky as well
  • Repeat for your left hand

Again, don’t be too aggressive with these stretches. Do them gentle and slowly and don’t over-extend the stretch too far.

And remember to shake out your hands and fingers after.


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Guitar Finger Exercises for Strength, Speed and Dexterity

With the below exercises for your fingers, you’ll need a guitar handy. 

Be sure to try each exercise slowly at first so you can get used to the movements.

Once you’re able to move cleanly, you can start to pick up the speed.

It’s great to work with a metronome, but like I said, get used to it (and get decent at it) first before adding time-keeping.

Stretch and Strengthen Your Fretting

This is a basic finger workout that really helps improve the strength of your digits, and trains your ability to fret a guitar correctly.

There’s no need to speed through this exercise. Take it slow and deliberate.

  1. Place your fret hand at the top of the fretboard
  2. Using only the tip of your first finger (index finger) fret down on the first fret using the low E string 
  3. While still holding down with your index finger, fret down on the second fret using the low E string with your next finger’s tip (middle finger)
  4. Continue holding both frets down, while adding each of the other fingers’ tips to the next frets, holding each down until you finish with the pinky on fret 4
  5. Now move your index finger tip to the first fret of the A string (remember to keep holding down the other fingers as you move)
  6. Continue with the rest of your fingers, moving to the frets on the A string.
  7. Repeat for each string moving up until you finish with the high E string.
  8. Once you’ve completed all of the strings, move backwards to the low E string
  9. Now repeat the whole exercise, starting on fret 2
  10. Repeat as much as you want, moving your way up/down the strings and fretboard.

Remember to keep holding down with each other finger as you move to other frets/strings – in other words, only one finger should be moving at any time.

This may seem basic, but it works to strengthen your finger tips, improve your technique and stretch your fingers.

You can even add to the stretch of your fingers by skipping a fret randomly here and there for all of your fingers.

And if you really want, add your picking hand to pick the string each time you fret it.


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Diagonal Fretting and Picking

This next exercise will help you control all of your fingers more because it requires you to let your fingers mute strings you don’t want to ring out.

You do this while fretting the strings in a diagonal pattern.

  1. Start at the top of the fretboard once again.
  2. Fret the low E string with your index finger tip and pluck it
  3. Continue holding the E string on Fret 1 while you use your middle finger to press down on the A string using fret 2.
  4. Mute the low E and pluck the A string, while holding down both frets
  5. Now use your ring finger to press down on the D string using fret 3
  6. Mute the A string, and pluck the D string (continue holding down with the other two fingers as well
  7. Finally press down on the G string using fret 4
  8. Mute the D string and pluck the G string.
  9. Now move backwards, lifting each finger after you pluck the fretted string, and muting it before plucking the next string.
  10. Repeat as much as you want

You can also move along the fretboard with this exercise if you wish.

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Finger Coordination Exercise

This next guitar finger exercise can be a tough one at first but works wonders for your coordination.

You’re going to be fretting and plucking strings, but in a specific pattern rather than simply up and down.

  1. Start at the top of the fretboard on the low E string
  2. Press down on Fret 1 using your index finger and pluck the string
  3. Release and press down on Fret 3 using your ring finger and pluck
  4. Release and press down on Fret 2 using your middle finger and pluck
  5. Release and press down on Fret 3 using your ring finger and pluck
  6. Now move up to the A string and repeat the pattern (1-3-2-3)
  7. Repeat for all strings, ending on the high E string
  8. Next, starting on the high E string, press down on Fret 2 using your middle finger and pluck
  9. Release and press down on Fret 4 using your pinky and pluck
  10. Release and press down on Fret 3 using your ring finger and pluck
  11. Release and press down on Fret 4 using your pinky and pluck
  12. Now move down to the G string, and repeat the pattern (2-4-3-4)
  13. Repeat for all strings, ending on the low E string

Told you it’d be hard at first.

Do this over and over and you’ll see how the mastery over your fingers improves.

Finger Independence Exercise

This next exercise is similar to the one above, but with an added level of complexity.

It will help improve your fingers’ ability to move independently of each other, but it will take some time getting used to the movement.

But hey… that’s the whole point. Start by learning the pattern.

  1. Start on the low E string
  2. Fret down using your index finger on Fret 1, pluck the string
  3. Release, and use your ring finger to press down on Fret 3, pluck the string
  4. Release, and use your middle finger to press down on Fret 2, pluck the string
  5. Release, and use your pinky to press down on Fret 4, pluck the string
  6. Release, and use your ring finger to press down on Fret 3, pluck the string
  7. Release, and use your index finger to press down on Fret 1, pluck the string
  8. Release and use your pinky to press down on Fret 4, pluck the string
  9. Release and use your middle finger to press down on Fret 2, pluck the string

As you can see the fret pattern you’re playing is 1-3-2-4, followed by 3-1-4-2.

You could just do this pattern on a single string, but that’s basic.

What you want to try and do is alternate strings while you’re alternating frets as well.

So while fretting in the pattern 1-3-2-4, 3-1-4-2, you’re using the strings like this: E-A-E-A-E-A-E-A.

Frets 1 and 2 get played on the low E string while frets 3 and 4 get played on the A string for the first half.

Then, frets 1 and 2 get played on the A string while frets 3 and 4 get played on the low E string for the second half.

You can then continue to move up strings and across the fretboard, ensuring your hit every possibly fret and string.


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Final Thoughts

Stretching and exercising your fingers and hands is an important part of guitar practice.

Over time you will develop better ability to fret and move your hands and fingers in complex ways.

Try to do these everyday, and remember that there are a lot more exercises you can do to help in these areas. 

If you really want to become a better guitar player fast, I highly recommend you check out Guitar Tricks (14 Day Free Trial) – they’ve got a TON of in-depth video lessons on everything you could possibly want to learn.

Thanks for reading our guide to guitar finger exercises and stretches for beginners! I hope it was helpful.

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    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.