Finger Workout User Guide

Finger Workout™ User Guide

About the Exercises

Method To The Madness

If you read the finger mechanics page then you already have a fairly good idea as to how these exercises are structured. Each one is specially designed to train your fingers to become stronger in 1 or more of 6 primary mechanics. I say "or more" because they do overlap each other - not just within the exercises - but in regular guitar playing as well.

There are over 200 hundred exercises in the database. They are divided pretty much equally into 1 of 3 skill levels (beginner, intermediate, & advanced). Categorizing the patterns into skill levels is not an exact science. You'll probably see a few (or more) that you feel should be categorized differently. Don't waste time getting too caught up in that. Skill levels are merely a guide to help keep things organized, and for the most part, they are listed in the appropriate range. Note that skill levels are indicated by the first number of the Exercise (1 = Beginner; 2 = Intermediate; 3 = Advanced)

In the members area, the entire exercise index is divided by skill level... and then additionally, you can further narrow down your list to exercises to particular mechanics. This makes it quick and easy for you to zero in on certain areas if there is something you want to work on in particular. For example, here's a screen shot of Intermediate exercises filtered to show only those involving Lateral movement.

Screen Shot - Exercise Index filtered
click to enlarge

So while there are a lot of exercises in the database, it's really pretty simple to narrow down the list to what interests you most at any given time. Additionally, you will be able to bookmark exercises to your favorites, so you can return to them easily and quickly.

Isolation and Over-Compensation

These two concepts together are the key factors to our finger development. Isolation is pretty self-explanatory. It simply means we practice a pattern that is concentrated on one particular movement or mechanic. Over-compensation (in my opinion) makes perhaps the biggest and fastest impact on a player's development. Over-compensation techniques involve pushing ourselves a little bit farther than we usually do in course of normal playing - not unlike an athlete who lifts weights in the weight room, so real competition on the field is less challenging by comparison.

If you have an area that you feel you are weak in, there are exercises in this program to isolate that particular area. Seek them out. If you're not sure what your weak points are, then you are the perfect candidate to start using the tools in the members area to track your progress. Your weak spots will reveal themselves. The more you log your progress, the more results you have as evidence to locate your weaknesses and hone in on them.

Over-compensation is a terrific way to speed finger development. This can pertain to either single movements or even complete patterns that are more "exaggerated" than you are likely use in your normal playing. However by practicing over-compensation, your normal playing becomes easier. This can happen rather quickly if you stick to a routine and dedicate yourself to a bit of Finger Workout™ every day. Guaranteed.

An example of over-compensation is learning to play a pattern (using a metronome) that involves jumping 3, 4, or 5 strings across the neck... back and forth. By playing exercises of this nature and keeping even tempo, you are in effect training your fingers to make lateral moves that are harder than you probably use in most normal playing, however the lateral moves that you DO typically play become easier to deal with, because you've practiced lateral over-compensation. It's a very simple concept that works wonders.

Over-compensation has an additional side benefit as well. As you learn to get comfortable with an over-compensation technique, it "opens up the fret board." In other words, you begin to realize mentally that you are not bound by any scale or box pattern. The whole neck is yours to play. The proof is right before your eyes and ears, as you master these advanced techniques and start improvising with a little more confidence and abandon. All of the sudden getting "from here to there" is not as hard as it used to be. After while it even gets easy!

Musicality (or not)

Always keep in mind that this site is devoted to training your fingers to move in certain ways. Preferably in ways that are unfamiliar, or at least push you out of your comfort zone. It is very easy (especially for new players) to get used to a certain set of licks and scales and that's where they stay because they've found a place where they sound good. And we all like to sound good even if we're just practicing. However... If you want to grow and develop beyond average, you will need to force yourself out of this comfort zone and learn to move your fingers in new and different ways.

For that reason, many of the exercises are not based on any musical scales. We don't care about scales here one way or the other. Therefore, you'll find some exercises that have absolutely nothing to do with any scale or recognizable pattern. That's fine. In fact it's preferable in a lot of cases.

That said, there are exercises that are based on common scales or other recognizable patterns as well. They may be a little more fun to work with because they sound more musical, but the bottom line is that it just doesn't matter. Always remember that we're here to do physical training. The physical benefit of repeating the pattern is the only thing that matters.

"Swing Feel"

From time to time I will suggest playing a pattern with a "swing feel," This is not a requirement but it adds a little spice to some patterns once you learn them, and mixes things up a bit to keep it interesting. A swing feel is hard to describe. Rather than playing straight time you play "behind" the beat a little bit. It's probably easier to let you hear some demos than to explain it in words.

Below I have posted a few examples of playing the same pattern, once straight time and then again with a swing feel. I purposely played them slowly to exaggerate the difference.

No Swing

  No Swing



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