Guitar Practice Update

Posted on 10 April 2021

Feeling like I needed some structure, I recently started working through Frank Vignola's Modern Method for Guitar on Truefire.

I made a list of what I should be practicing in a Notion page, and I refer to that each practice session.

One of my main goals is to build up strength and agility in my fingers. I can feel some muscle memory from previous years of playing, but my fingers are clumsy and I can't really play anything.

Here are some of the exercises I've chosen to try to improve my current situation. All of them are practiced with a metronome.

Horizontal and Vertical Chromatic Scales

I play every note on the guitar fretboard. The videos suggested playing the exercise at about 190 bpm.

I also play a chromatic scale from A on the 6th string to A on the 1st string.

Vertical chromatic scale in A

Finding All the Notes on the Fretboard

I find every note on the fretboard in order of the circle of fourths. The circle of fourths is just the circle of fifths in a counter-clockwise direction: C, F, B♭, E♭, etc. So I find all the C notes on the 6th string, then all the C notes on the 5th string, then the 4th, and so on. After I find all the C notes on the fretboard, I find all the F notes in the same way. I continue until I've named every note on the fretboard.

Circle of fifths

Image used under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Slur Exercises

In the book Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar (mentioned here), I found a couple of slur (hammer-ons and pull-offs) exercises that I like. They are on page 10 and 11.

You start at the 6th string, first fret and pick the first note. Then hammer on from 1-2-3-4. Move to the 5th string and do the same there. Continue to the 1st string.

Then slide your hand to the 2nd position. Pick the first note and pull-off from the 4th finger (1st string, 5th fret) to the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st fingers. Repeat on all the strings until you get to the 6th string.

Keep repeating it while moving up the neck until you're at the 10th position/fret.

There are five patterns:

  • 1-2-3-4 / 4-3-2-1
  • 1-2-4 / 4-2-1
  • 1-3-4 / 4-3-1
  • 1-3-2-4 / 4-2-3-1
  • 1-4-3-2 / 4-1-2-3

The other exercise is similar but these patterns are all performed on one string before moving to the next string. It's more intense, so I only do it in one position.

  • 2-1-2-1 2-1-2-1
  • 3-1-3-1 3-1-3-1
  • 4-1-4-1 4-1-4-1
  • 3-1-3-1 3-1-3-1
  • 3-2-3-2 3-2-3-2
  • 4-2-4-2 4-2-4-2
  • 4-3-4-3 4-3-4-3
  • 4-2-4-2 4-2-4-2

All of those are played on the 1st string in the 1st position, then on the 2nd string in the 1st position, then on the 3rd string in the 1st position, and so on.

Major Scales

I've organized major scale patterns by starting string and finger. For example, 6/1 is the major scale pattern that starts on the 6th string and 1st finger.

I'm experimenting with playing 1-octave scales in various patterns while cycling through the circle of fourths. The target speed is 8th notes at 120bpm.

Update: see also the major scale patterns page.

Major scales for guitar


The above exercises are played on my electric guitar (with amplifier so I can hear the notes clearly), but these peices are practiced on my classical guitar.

For right hand finger practice, I'm working on Villa-Lobos' Étude No. 1.

For songs that I like, Tristeza:

Barrios' El sueño de la muñequita:

and the Sarabande from Francois Le Cocq's Suite en La Mineur:

(Someday I'm going to get a real Baroque guitar, but the time isn't right yet.)