I've been playing guitar for close to two years now, and still at quite a novice level. I play on a nylon string classical and I want to get better at moving up the fret board with my fingers and playing notes accurately. My hands are small and the fret board on my guitar is rather wide, so I really would like to learn some exercises that can help me improve my accuracy, technique, and strength. Thoughts? Thanks!

  • Just for info and not an answer - but have a read through this post (especially the one by kfisherx). classicalguitardelcamp.com/viewtopic.php?t=12420
    – Andy
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 11:28
  • 1
    Thanks, Andy! Yes, I agree! I don't think having small hands should in any way inhibit me from playing, or serve as an excuse for not playing as well as I should. I just need to practice. But it's comforting to know that simply playing a lot can improve skill... I just don't want to go too easy on myself and play only easy and comfortable things--which is why I need some guidance. 😊thanks for the read, very encouraging.
    – Megan
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 16:15

2 Answers 2


I was a rock guitarist playing gigs in the early 70's and I note that I did much of my scale and riff practice on a wide neck nylon string classic guitar. When I picked up my Les Paul on stage I was pretty fast on the light gauge metal after dealing with the nylon strings (the Les Paul has a relatively wide neck more similar to classical guitars than, say, a Fender Strat).

However, I was playing with a pick and typically using some combined classical finger picking combined at times.

So, with that proviso in mind (my own context), I would tell you I found practicing scales very useful. For example, start in E chord position open 6 string and run up and down the major scale from there holding that position (to 4th string E and back for example). As you get faster and more precise in each run, take it on up to the 2nd string E shifting left hand up to 2nd fret position to reach the E on fret 5 2nd string. Think of the base chord underlying each position when possible. For example, when you reach the 2nd string E on fret 5, try moving left hand to the E chord formed there (with little finger on 5th string 7th fret E 4, 2nd finger on 2nd string 5th fret E note). Run E major scales up and down from that new position. Continue this process, moving your base of operations up to E chord position on 11th fret (I won't bore you with the exact fingering, it's the concept I am communicating).

As you get fluid from hours of daily practice on these scales, begin to run the scales down from higher positions to lower and vice versa, without dropping a beat. You will discover technique to accomplish that intuitively if you have the notes spatially mapped into your spatial and motor memory. I think of a colleague of mine (in another field) who referred to guitars as "6 by 15's," i.e. 6 x 15 matrices.

Anytime you find a rough transition in a scale, repeat that section slowly with perfect attack until you can flow through it without error (up and down).

As a matter of fact, simply double and triple picking a single note is a very useful excercise to teach by repetition and strengthening your fingers (picking hand and position hand) to accurately attack the string (picking) repetitively. Practice for increasing speed with metronome precision, then apply that speed to the scales as discussed.

Include new scales as you acquire speed and fluidity, e.g., relative minor, harmonic minor. Always map the underlying chord position with your mind and hand as you move position to extend the scale run. Stop and form triplets on occasion. Use hammer on hammer off to vary the transition from one string to another (grace notes more or less).

Once you have the full matrix of the fingerboard in memory, try running hammer on/off scale segments down single strings (the 1rst E string is a good target, then use the others). Going back up is more difficult and usually is facilitated by moving chord positions as already discussed.

I'm describing non-classical techniques (to the extent that they are my own techniques developed since I began playing a 6 string Silvertone in 1965), but I imagine they are applicable (and perhaps used by classical artists also).


First practice just moving your hand and arm in an agile yet relaxed way up and down the neck of the guitar. Basically, you have your arm that floats up and down the neck of the guitar, and your fingertips that clamp onto the neck to create chord shapes.

Using that knowledge, try and work smoothly /@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@!//////

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