I'm bored to tears of the usual exercises - scales, chords, finger independence, arpeggios, etc. Most of my boredom stems from these exercises being musically boring and uninspiring.

Any suggestions for making these exercises musically interesting, or perhaps there are "off the shelf" exercises which will hold my interest?

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    I can recommend Pat Metheny - Guitar etudes. It's basically some of his warmups transcribed. The rhythm is almost without exception jsut eights, so it's more focus on the left hand and picking accuracy. I find them to be quite musical exercises, which are what you're looking for. – Meaningful Username Nov 8 '14 at 9:34
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    I watched some YouTube videos of the Metheny etudes, and yeah its straight eighths. Not really musically interesting to me. I did come across this by Fishman amazon.com/Jazz-Guitar-Etudes-Greg-Fishman/dp/0976615371 I'm looking on YouTube for some samples. – Mark Richman Nov 8 '14 at 12:20

I don't know what style of music you're coming from, but there are a couple of books aimed more at classical guitarists, and they would require reading music. One that I use a lot is "Pumping Nylon", by Scott Tennant. I know, the title sounds really cheesy, but some of the exercises will DESTROY your left hand. There are some really great finger independence exercises in there. A book that takes scale and arpeggio studies and puts them in more interesting musical situations is, "25 Melodious and Progressive Studies", by Matteo Carcassi.

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    I play rock guitar, but I do know the Carcassi stuff you mentioned. – Mark Richman Nov 8 '14 at 3:21
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    Does "DESTROY" here have a positive meaning? – anatolyg Nov 9 '14 at 20:05
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    Sorry about the vague reference. Yes, I meant it to be positive. Some of the exercises might leave your hand sore at first. – Roy Nov 9 '14 at 21:09

I'm the same way as you. I hate drills, they bore me to tears. So I don't do drills. Instead what I do is figure out a way to practice that's actually performance.

So, for example if I'm studying chord inversions and substitutions, rather than drill through them all, I'll play along with a recording of some standard and I'll have a lead sheet for that standard. Then I'll set myself challenges based on that music:

  • Comp as written on the lead sheet at all the positions of the guitar:
    • Comp with all chords open (if possible) at the nut
    • Comp with closed chords at all possible frets
    • Comp with closed chords moving up and/or down the neck
    • Comp with different string sets (1-2-3, 3-5-6, ...)
  • Do chord substitutions for all the comps above.

If I'm studying lead techniques, I'll first lay down a groove on a looper and then improvise using the lead techniques. I may start with a standard or original and just play it straight, then as I get warmed up, start messing with the tunes using the techniques I want to study: hammer-ons, pull-offs, scales, permuted arpeggios, etc.

Life is short. Have fun.

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