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Tips and Tabs

A Lesson From Gordon

A Lesson From Gordon
Improve your Guitar Playing with Gordon's Techniques, Tips and Tuition.

Gordon shares four essential acoustic exercises which he uses to develop finger strength, fluency and speed.

This feature appeared first on Gordon's previous website, but we decided it was worthy of preserving as many players have found it very useful.

All notation and the sound files are situated at the bottom of the page.

"Being self taught, I never used to be the kind of player who uses scales during a practice period. However, after being shown some of these exercises by a classic player recently, I was converted to the idea. Warm up exercises increases finger strength, and can make gigs easier and more comfortable.

The first exercise ( Fig 1, Sound file 1, Byte 1 ) consists of a Dmaj7 shape starting at the tenth fret, and involves moving the fingers down the fretboard, one by one, while keeping the rest of the chord on.

This pattern descends the fretboard, one finger at a time. The challenge is to get each note sounding clearly, and get as far down the neck as you can. ( Note the same sound file covers Figure 1 and 2 ) Byte 1 relates to this figure and is the Dmaj7 shape moved down the fretboard one fret and one finger at a time.

If you can reach the F# at the second fret, first string, give yourself a tick and go to the top of the class, but you will probably find this exercise quite painful at first so go at your own pace and please be careful. I have marked where each to the stretches occurs.

The idea of the two-fret stretch is developed further in the next example ( Fig 2, Sound file 1, Byte 2 ) The second exercise uses the same principles as the first, but is more musical. ( Note the same sound file covers Figure 1 and 2 )Byte 2 relates to this figure and is a development of the first example, which is slightly more melodic and incorporates two-fret stretches.

The first stretch ( from the B at the 7th fret, 1st string ) occurs at the end of bar one, gets more difficult in bar two, and then steadily more so as the fret space widens.

The third exercise ( Fig 3, Sound file 2 ) is the opening riff of the title track from my Fear of the Dark album. This file contains two sound bytes. The first is Fear of the Dark played slowly and the second played at speed. This example incorporates hammer ons and offs over bass notes. I like the rolling, almost sequential-style effects this creates - on the recorded example it is played twice through.

Finally, I've included an exercise called Moto Perpetuo, or perpetual motion, which is a title coined from a Paganini piece ( Fig 4, Sound file 3, Bytes 1 and 2 ) This file contains two sound bytes. The first is Moto Perpetuo played slowly and the second played at speed.Using the whole lot here - pull-offs, hammer-ons, and slides. Start slowly! All the notation is shown in the figures.

With all these exercises, it is essential to start slowly and build up - this is not a competition, but a way to build strength and dexterity. If things start to hurt, stop and try something a little easier. Fingers are fragile things so take care of them and don't overdo it,

Good luck"....