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As a beginner, I find my fingers going everywhere but the places I want them! This is especially true when I'm attempting scales/licks that use my 4th finger a lot or requires quick interchanging between my 2 and 3rd finger.

What is the best way to work on my fret hand finger independence?

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If you are a beginner, don't worry about scales. Play basic chords, work on your timing, make you rhythm playing smooth and groovy. Finger independence is not that big deal. You will get there but first work on your basics. – user3038 Oct 11 '12 at 7:54
I appreciate your reply but it doesn't actually answer the question. Rather it provides some useful info to 'Absolute' beginners on getting started. Also doesn't the ability to form chord shapes also require finger independence? – Mick Oct 11 '12 at 13:08
up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think the key is muscle memory. The only way to improve this is by specific repetitive movements. In your question you state: "quick interchanging between my 2 and 3rd finger." Presumably there is a song you are working on that requires this, so the part you are having trouble with, do that move over and over again until you no longer have a problem doing it. After a while, "rewind" a little and play the lead up to that bit and then play a little beyond it, repeating this on a loop.

The key is to do this with every movement you find yourself having any difficulty with. Identify it, repeat it, get comfortable with it.

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Thanks for this! I like this logical thought process: "Identify it, repeat it, get comfortable with it." As regards the 2nd-3rd finger thing I have since learnt that these two fingers share a tendon in your arm. This makes it difficult to move one without the other moving also. As you have said, A lot of practice is needed to retrain your brain into moving these independant of each other. – Mick Oct 12 '12 at 10:15
@Mick: You could probably gain from practicing troublesome note/fingering sequences using different rhythmical patterns as well. I was taught to do this by a piano teacher and found it very productive in terms of learning difficult fingering sequences. – Ulf Åkerstedt Oct 13 '12 at 21:48
@UlfÅkerstedt, I've found that technique useful on every instrument I've ever played. It prevents you from getting hung up on difficulties related to the rhythm, and it also better trains your muscles to play other phrases that are similar in the future. – Josh Fields Oct 14 '12 at 13:21
Another thing to keep in mind is the accuracy of the movement. It is good to initially practice this very slowly and accurately because you are training your fingers the correct movement and you want it to be correct if that makes sense. – M3NTA7 Oct 18 '12 at 21:25

Don't worry! Every new guitar player goes through this.

The key is to not disregard the 3rd and 4th finger and use them a lot especially when practicing dexterity exercises. Your thumb is close to your 1st and 2nd finger, so that makes those finger more capable of playing these exercises.

Don't disregard the 3rd and 4th finger, push through on your dexterity exercises and this will come to you.

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A systematic set of exercises can help. Try to practice every possible move in isolation. Do these at each fret position to get comfortable all over the neck.

Index-Ring, Middle Pinky.

$6 1 3 $5 1 3 $4 1 3 $3 1 3 $2 1 3 $1 1 3 2 4 $2 2 4 $3 2 4 $4 2 4 $5 2 4 $6 2 4

The "spider" (can be mirrored 4 ways):

$6 1 2 $5 1 $6 3 $5 2 $4 1 $6 4 $5 3 $4 2 $3 1 $5 4 $4 3 $3 2 $2 1 $4 4 $3 3 $2 2 $1 1 $3 4 $2 3 $1 2 $2 4 $1 3 4

Buddy Holly riff (do it with Index-Middle/Index-Pinky and Index-Middle/Index-Ring).

$5.1.$4.3 $5.1.$4.3 $5.1.$4.5 $5.1.$4.3 $5.1.$4.3 $5.1.$4.3 $5.1.$4.5 $5.1.$4.3 

Drop D Power Chord Scales. Play with Index Barre, Middle Barre, Pinky Barre, and shift up to higher positions. You want to be able to go up and down each string as well as across all 6.

$6.0.$5.0.$4.0 $6.2.$5.2.$4.2 $6.3.$5.3.$4.3 $6.5.$5.5.$4.5 $6.6.$5.6.$4.6 $6.7.$5.7.$4.7

Search for "The Steve Vai 10 Hour Workout" for a really excellent set of exercises.

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Thanks man, I will definitely get practising these. – Mick Nov 18 '12 at 13:22

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