Forget bicep curls – for guitarists, it’s all about finger strength! Improving your dexterity and finger strength is one of the top ways to really step up your playing. Here, guitar teacher Brian H. tackles the common question, How do I get a good sound, and build finger strength at the same time?
Frustrated with your sound? You’re not alone. You might know how to play your favorite song, but the sound is not as clean or clear as you hear on the recording. This is a common concern for beginner guitarists, and it can be corrected with a few simple exercises.
In most cases, the problem stems from poor finger placement with your fretting hand, and let’s not forget one of the weaker fingers like the pinky (4th finger). Sometimes we favor the stronger fingers and make it a habit of not using the weaker ones. Fortunately, you can fix this problem by going back to the basics…
1. Learn the basics right and you will go far.
Let’s start by using the first string, the first fret, and the first finger (index). Place the first finger next to the first fret, so close that you are just about touching the fret. You will produce the best sound by staying very close to the fret. The further you go away from the fret; the note might give you that annoying buzz sound. This is because it is harder to press the string down when you are not right next to the fret.
2. A tip for the tip of your fingers.
Now that you are next to the fret, you need to use the correct part of the finger. When you are playing open string chords (first position), riffs, licks, or soloing, using the tip of the finger will help you develop a quality sound.
3. Building those finger muscles is as easy as one, two, three, four!
Using the first string, place the tip of your finger next to the first fret. Now pick that first string. Each finger will follow; second finger and second fret, third finger and third fret and the fourth finger and fourth fret. Make sure to pick each note slowly and with a steady beat.
Now pause, and then go from the fourth finger and fret to the third, second, and end at the first finger and fret. You can use the same pattern with the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth strings. Keep a slow, steady beat so that each note will sound clear. When that feels comfortable, progress to a medium then fast tempo.
Practice all of these steps and you will be on your way to getting a good sound and building finger strength!
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Brian H. teaches bass guitar, guitar, music performance and music theory lessons to students of all ages in Glastonbury, CT. Brian has had 25 years experience playing in rock/pop bands, and currently performs classic rock to today’s rock with Enny Corner. He joined the TakeLessons team in July 2012. Sign up for lessons with Brian, or search for a teacher in your area today!
Photo by Jonesemyr.