Help! My Fingers Won’t Stretch To Play Guitar (3 Exercises To Help With That)
One of the most common beginner guitar problems is why my fingers won’t stretch to play guitar, as well as using the right finger stretching exercises.
There’s something important to understand when you first start playing….you are JUST a beginner! Pressing your fingers against the frets and twisting them into place to play notes and chords is going to be weird for awhile.
The other reason many beginners wonder why my fingers won’t stretch to play guitar is that you’ve probably watched too many videos of Buckethead or John Petrucci making insane stretches. Most of the music you’ll play as a beginner won’t require such stretches, thank god.
As my site is focused on video game music, I’m going to show you a few finger stretching exercises for guitar that come from this style of music, but are also appropriate for a beginner.
Ready? Let’s go!
The Importance Of Guitar Exercises
The reasons for using any exercises for playing guitar will vary. Some exercises can help you better learn various principles of music theory, some help you become a better rhythm guitarist, and many will help you improve your dexterity and accuracy so you can shred more easily.
As a beginner wondering why my fingers won’t stretch to play guitar, the main reason you need exercises right now is to increase your comfort doing basic sounds on the instrument. You need to improve your ability to change chords, hit various notes in time, and learn how to efficiently play in a single position.
So that’s the thinking behind the next few exercises. You won’t be making big stretches like the great players you just mentioned, as that takes years, but these will help out tremendously when learning the many video game themes and pieces you’ll see on my site.
Exercise 1: The Tetris Theme
Many guitar finger stretching exercises will have you start on the 1-2-3-4 chromatic variations. However, since I’m teaching you video game music, I wanted to start with something more musical and more appropriate!
This theme will test your right hand ability the most, as it will have you switching strings quite often. This is also a good theme to learn as it’s based in the open fret position and won’t require a stretch going further than the fifth fret (just once in bar 5!).
When playing this, it’s important to keep the open notes from ringing out while playing. This will take practice but the more aware of this you become the more clear your theme will sound.
Also watch what directions you pick each note with your picking hand. At first, it’ll be natural to not pay much attention to your pick hand and more to your fret hand. However, this is another factor that will help your playing become more clear if you carefully plan your downstrokes and upstrokes.
Exercise 2: C Major Chord Exercise
Another common problem when beginners wonder why my fingers won’t stretch to play guitar is playing chords cleanly. So what I’ve done is made an exercise where you’ll play all the chords in C major using some of the most common chord shapes.
You’ll find C major, Dm, Em, F major, G major, and Am all played in one exercise. Some of the chords use open notes and others do not.
Like with all exercises, play this one slowly at first and focus on accuracy. The goal is not to build speed, but to increase your fret hands comfort going between various chord shapes.
You also want to focus on fretting each note fully so they won’t buzz. As a beginner, it’ll be tough to press against the strings, especially on acoustic, to sound out all the notes.
Exercise 3: Mario Underworld Theme
This exercise is a great challenge while also being a fun way to vary the 1-2-3-4 exercises you may already know!
The first part of the theme is in octaves, and I recommend using fingerpicking at first. You can use a pick, but it may be too difficult to play at speed. Try doing both!
For the part starting at 6-5-4, I’d use my pinky finger on my fret hand to play fret 6, then use my ring finger to play the 4th fret on D and 3rd fret on G. Changing positions may be challenging but learning this now will prepare you for all sorts of riffs later on.
Also, the point of using this theme as an exercise is to help you stretch your fingers. It won’t be easy at first, but repetition and a focus on accuracy will help you nail this quickly.
Other Exercises To Explore
Some of the most popular guitar exercises that are recommended online include:
1) Steve Vai’s 10 Hour Guitar Workout
2) John Petrucci’s Rock Guitar Discipline
3) Troy Stetina’s Speed Lead Guitar Mechanics
However, these exercises are not musical like the themes I’ve just shown you so far. Their sole purpose is to increase your dexterity, muscle memory, right hand abilities, and accuracy.
That said, lots of lead guitar solos will be created using many of the fragments and right hand picking techniques that all of these programs will have you run through.
I recommend buying each of these books, or finding some guitar pro files of them through Google.
If you want nothing but exercises that help you stretch your fret hand, then John Petrucci’s Rock Guitar Discipline will be your best bet. There are tons of exercises helping you do wide stretches with legato, economy picking, sweep picking, and more.
In Steve Vai’s 10 Hour Guitar Workout, you’ll get an ample store of the 1-2-3-4 exercises I’ve mentioned before. These are chromatic exercises that are excellent warmups, which can be played all across the fretboard.
If all else fails and your fingers still won’t stretch, then take a break! This is not something you’ll learn in a day. Repetition and patience are the best remedies for this aspect of playing guitar.