Are you trying to play a chord that you just can’t quite reach? Does stretching up 5 frets while playing a scale feel awkward to you? There are exercises that can help you build up your flexibility on the guitar. There are many different exercises to help with flexibility, but in this lesson I am going to show you one that I like to use. With this exercise you will find those hard to play chords get easier.
Before we begin I want to warn you against pushing yourself too hard. You want to get a stretch, and when you are done with this your fingers may be a bit tired. What you do not want is pain. If you stretch too hard you should stop to prevent injury. Just like stretching any other part of your body, you should not push yourself too far. You may not be able to complete this exercise at first, but with some patience you will be able to. The First step is to put your fingers in the starting position.
There are 2 of these positions you can start in. The concept works the same way in both, and I suggest you practice both positions for the best results. In both positions the pinky will start on the 12th fret. In position 1 the pinky is on the D string, in position 2 the pinky is on the high E string. Now that you are in the starting position and ready to stretch let me explain how this works.
Hold all the notes down and strum them 1 by 1 to make sure they are not muffled. Move your first (index) finger down 1 fret and strum the strings again. If all the strings are played perfectly you can move your middle finger down 1 fret. The middle finger and index finger are now sitting next to each other. Make sure every note is played and not muffled. If all the strings in the shape are played you can now move your third finger down a fret. Repeat the strumming process. Finally you move your pinky down one fret and you will be in the exact same position that you started in.
How this works is that as you move down the fret board, the frets get wider. This will create more tension in your fingers which causes the stretching. By the time you get all the way down you will be struggling to make the stretch. It is even harder when you play it on a classical guitar which has even wider frets. So don’t worry, there is always a challenge. The hardest part of this stretch for most people is the stretching between the middle and ring fingers. Make sure you play these notes clearly, especially between these fingers.
This stretching exercise will make your fingers more flexible so that playing stretchy chords or scales that require a stretch you will be prepared and capable of executing them. This also makes a great guitar warm-up. Guitar stretching is important so your fingers are not limited in their abilities. I have attached a video below of me playing this exercise so you can see it being played. I apologize for the poor lighting.