Developing a solid technique is often a perplexing issue for guitarists of all levels and experience. Jazz and acoustic guitarists typically do not have the same pedagogical resources as classical guitarists, and “good technique” can mean a variety of different things. Assuming that technique should always be at the service of the music, we’re going to adopt a broad definition: good technique allows effortless channeling of music through the instrument.
In fingerstyle guitar music, the fretting hand is responsible for more than just finding the right notes—it also plays a major role in creating a dynamic feel in the rhythm and articulation of a song. In this section, we’ll look at a series of exercises to help develop coordination and independence in the fingers of the fretting hand.
Example 1 shows a common chromatic exercise many guitarists use as a warm-up. In this case, pick only the first note on each string and then slur the other notes using a combination of hammer-ons and pull-offs. Work through this exercise very slowly and focus on making each note sound clear and even. Example 2 is a variation on this, but with a more challenging finger combination: 1–3–2–4 ascending and 4–2–3–1 descending. This one will get your fingers thinking independently!
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