Scales are a great tool for helping you build your technique. They help develop hand coordination and finger dexterity, amongst other things. Since you’re playing a simple sequence of notes and not actual music, it allows you to focus more on your technique.

If you’re new to fingerstyle, or have never practiced it seriously, scales are also really useful for developing strength and independence in your right hand.

The thing with fingerstyle though, is that we’re not just dealing with downstrokes and upstrokes like when we play with a pick. We have three fingers to practice with: index, middle and ring…four if you include the thumb. And we want to practice all possible combinations between them.

So let’s take a regular old C Major scale, and do just that.

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We have three combinations to practice wih: index-middle, index-ring, and middle-ring. Let’s start with index middle.

First we play each note of the scale twice, once with the index finger, once with the middle finger. We’ll start by playing eighth-notes at a very slow tempo. I suggest you start with 60bpm and see how it goes.

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Now play the same scale at the same tempo, this time playing each note once and always alternating between index and middle fingers.

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Then comes 8th-note triplets. Notice we’re repeating 3 notes at a time now. If things get tricky for you here, bring the tempo down.

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And finally 16th-notes. Again, if it’s too fast for you, bring the tempo down.

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Take note of the tempo you end up with. That’ll be the one you start with next time. Once you get comfortable with it, you can go up a few bpm’s, but don’t worry too much about speed. We’re focusing on accuracy here. Make sure you play each note cleanly and in time.

Now you can take the other combinations through the same process. Middle-ring is particularly fun :)

These scale exercises will help your fingerstyle technique immensely and are also a great warm-up. Try to do them every day, and you’ll start seeing results fairly quickly.

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