a finger exercise

This is one of the first things I share with each of my students. First let me explain the picture you are looking at. Tablature is a series of six lines, intended to represent the six strings on a guitar. The highest line on your screen is the first string, the lowest is the sixth. The numbers you see are simply telling you what fret to play on that string. It is a very simple, albeit incomplete way to read music for the guitar. In later lessons. I will cover the importance, and mechanics of actual music notation.

Finger Exercise

This may look familiar. It is a very common exercise, given to guitar students the world over every day by well-meaning instructors, but unfortunately it's not always adequately explained. First of all, be aware that it is not very musical. Don't expect anyone to run into your practice room upon hearing you play this and ask for your autograph. What it will do is align your fretting-hand fingers in the proper way, and get your two hands working together the way you want them to. This will result in you sounding a lot better when you are playing actual music.

Begin by placing the first finger (index finger) of your fretting hand on the first fret of the sixth string, which is the string farthest from the floor. Be sure to place your fingertip directly behind the fret, otherwise you will get a very unpleasant buzzing sound. Make sure that your top knuckle (the one closest to your fingernail) is bent slightly away from the fingerboard. This will take practice, and at first you'll most likely find your third and fourth fingers wanting to give way and bend in the opposite direction. This is highly undesirable. Developing control of this muscle group is super important once you start playing chords. The amount of pressure you apply is also very important. Too little pressure will result in buzzing and dead notes, while excess pressure will make you sound out of tune! Find the correct amout of pressure to apply by placing your finger lightly over the first fret and pick the string repeatedly while slowly continuing to apply more and more pressure. When the note is perfectly clear you have found the correct amount of pressure to apply, no more, no less.

Once your finger is established as described above, go ahead and pluck the note with your picking hand by holding your pick firmly (not in a death grip) and letting it glide downward through the string.Then repeat this process on the second, third and fourth frets, using the corresponding fingers. While you're doing this I want you to keep your fingers down until you advance to the next string. In other words, after playing the note on the first fret, keep your first finger in place while you put your second finger down. When you put your third finger down, both your first and second fingers remain in place. When you put your fourth finger down, each of your fingers will be in place behind their respective frets. Lift them only when you change from one string to the next. Repeat this on every string.

Once you've got all of your fingers down on the first string, you're going to reverse directions. You will pick the note on the fourth fret again, then lift your fourth finger and pick the note you're holding down on the third fret. Then lift your third finger to expose the note you're holding with your second finger on the second fret. Finally, pick the note you're holding on the first fret. Now advance to the second string and continue working your way all the way back to the sixth string, first fret.
Once you've made it to the second string going backwards it's no longer necessary to hold down all of your fingers. Simply put your fourth finger down first, then lift it as you put down your third. Then lift your third and put down your second, then lift your second and put down your first.

One very important thing to keep in mind when going backwards is to not let your fingers come too far away from the strings. Try to keep each finger within an inch of the string at all times. Don’t think for a minute that this is easy. Also, make sure that both hands are perfectly synchronized. By this I mean that your pick should go through the string at the precise instant your fretting finger touches the string when ascending. It's a little trickier descending, because you've got to synchronize three movements. One finger goes down as you lift the other one up, and the pick has to make contact at the precise instant this switch takes place. Practicing with a
metronome will be of great benefit in achieving good synchronization, and perfectly synchronized hands are one of the little details that make a massive difference in how you sound. Lay the foundation for great tone now.

Here’s a video demonstrating what it should look and sound like:

Doing this little exercise every day will yield positive results for everybody.
Beginners will benefit by getting their hands in shape to play the guitar. Prior to picking up a musical instrument, you probably didn't require a lot of individual finger dexterity. Your fingers are used to doing everything together, but now they’re being called upon to act independent from one another. As you become more advanced, this exercise will function as more of a warm up. Anytime you're doing any sort of physical activity it is crucial to warm up first. In addition it will help you to discover your weaknesses. Since it’s very simple in concept, you’re mind is able to function on pure execution. It’s like putting your technique under a microscope. Pay very close attention to this exercise as you are doing it, and always try to find ways to make it better. The clarity of each individual note is your highest priority. Always remember to keep your fingers close to the frets, and let the pick pass through the string effortlessly, and with quickness.

Finally, don’t play this or anything else faster than you can execute it perfectly. Use a
metronome, start slowly and gradually increase speed as it becomes more comfortable. If you make this exercise the first thing you do every day you will increase your progress drastically. It gets the mind focused on your guitar, where it belongs!