The Best Exercises for Improving Your Guitar Skills

Once you become a guitar player, you should never stop learning and practicing, no matter how much of an advanced guitarist you’ve become. It’s important to keep on improving your guitar knowledge and keeping your playing skills sharp so you can truly be the best guitar player you can be.

So keep going with your practice routine and spice it up with more challenging drills with these guitar exercise ideas. Get your metronome, your go-to electric guitar and try these out!


It’s important to begin every practice session by warming up your hands and fingers. A good, thorough warm-up allows you to play your best during practice and performances when hand dexterity and muscle memory become crucial. Warm-ups also help prevent hand injuries and keeps you from getting fatigued easily.

One of the best warm-up ideas to get yourself all pumped up and ready to play is to do four-finger exercises. These will loosen up the fingers on both your fretting and picking hand.

There are plenty of four-finger exercises you can do according to your skill level but don’t hesitate to challenge yourself with a more difficult pattern. When doing warm-ups, make sure to start at a slow tempo first. This will give you the chance to ensure you’re hitting the right notes and avoid sloppy playing as you increase your speed.


Practicing scales allows you to improve your guitar technique in a number of ways. It develops efficiency of movement, picking hand articulation and synchronization. It also teaches you to stay relaxed while you play and also improves your improvisation skills. In addition, practicing scales improves your fretboard visualization so your mind is focused more on how notes are laid out across the fretboard instead of what your fingers are doing.

A favorite drill among guitar players for practicing scales is playing all the shapes of a specific scale along the length of the guitar neck. The challenge here is that you need to be able to know what each scale shape looks like in your head before you start playing it. This does a lot for fretboard mastery and keep your brain active and not on autopilot when practicing.

Tricks and techniques

How adept are you at different guitar playing techniques such as fingerstyle, hybrid picking, string skipping, tapping, playing arpeggios and legato techniques like slides, pull-offs and hammer-ons? If these are new to you or you find these too tricky, now is the best time to learn and practice them.

If you find a particular trick or technique too easy, take things up a notch and increase your speed while maintaining accuracy.

Thumb work

The thumb of the fretting hand is used for support and leverage while bending, but it can do a lot more than that. Putting your thumb to work allows you to enhance your playing skills in a couple of ways.

First, you can use your thumb to fret the root note of some chord shapes at the sixth string. By doing so, your remaining fret-hand fingers will be free to form chord shapes on other strings. Second, you can use your thumb in single-note passages when you have wide intervals.

Those are just a few ideas for your next practice session. Do explore the other different ways you can spice things up and sharpen your guitar-playing skills. Always remember to set an attainable goal every practice session and keep track of your achievements so you can be motivated to become the guitar player you’ve always wanted to be.

Written by Jennifer Hughes from Know your Instruments.