How to Improve Hand Synchronization to Build Your Speed
By Paul Kleff
Single string exercises are an effective way to develop coordination and synchronization between the hands as well as alternate picking technique on the guitar. When focusing on one string only, you can exclusively work on developing your picking, fret hand and position shifting technique without having to be concerned with moving from string to string (which is a separate skill that also needs to be developed.)
Below are four separate exercises designed to develop your and synchronize your right and left hand. The first one focuses on a single left hand fretboard position and the next three all involve left hand shifts. Pay special attention to the fret hand fingerings–they are important here.
All the exercises use straight alternate picking with the right hand. You can start with either a downstroke or an upstroke—it is a good idea to practice them both ways. Once memorized, all the drills should be practiced on all strings and in other areas of the fretboard.
The first exercise is a six note repeating figure in one position:
LH: i p i r p r i p i r p r
The second drill incorporates a one fret shift with the index finger when descending and a one fret shift with the pinky finger when ascending. Take it slow until you are comfortable with the left hand shifts and can maintain perfect synchronization between the pick hand and the fret hand when executing the shifts.
LH: p r i i m p p r i i m p
Similar to the second exercise, the third drill incorporates a two fret shift with the pinky finger when ascending and a two fret shift with the index finger when descending.
LH: i r p p m i i r p p m i
The final exercise consists of two three note sequences ascending and two three note sequences descending.
LH: i m p i r p p m i p r i
As mentioned, take these drills slow to start, make sure everything is smooth and in sync between the right and left hand. Use the minimum amount of pick hand movement in your right hand and the least amount of left hand finger pressure you need to get the notes to sound clearly.
Then work the drills on all other strings and in other areas of the guitar neck. You can also develop your own single string exercises—the possibilities are limitless. Find fingering sequences that give you trouble and come up with your own exercises to conquer them. You will notice an improvement in your playing technique in a short time after working these exercises into your daily practice routine.
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Paul Kleff is a musician and guitar instructor located in Grand Rapids, Michigan USA.
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© 2009 Paul Kleff